12 And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.
13 And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;
14 And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
15 And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.
In this moment of lonely isolation Jacob lays down to sleep and has a heavenly vision. We have not been told what sort of spiritual encounters he had before this moment, but surely this was his first time experiencing anything quite like this.
Let us examine a few of the details from this vision.
First, the image of a ladder between heaven and earth and angels climbing up and down it is a wonderful testimony of God’s active interest in the world. This is showing a direct conduit between God and man, and God’s servants being constantly busy with carrying out God’s work among the mortals.
Second, God introduces Himself as the one who blessed and prospered Jacob’s father Isaac, and his grandfather Abraham. Surely Jacob was aware of how those men had flourished under the hand of their God, and now he knows that he is being welcomed into the same covenant that they enjoyed.
Third, God now gives to Jacob the same covenant that He instituted with Abraham and continued with Isaac. I have always loved this scene because it shows that God does not give a blessing to our ancestors and then leave us to assume that we have just inherited it also. There are no implicit or assumed blessings when it comes to God, all of them are made directly to each of his children when they are ready to receive it. Rather than being left to assume “God loved my father so he must love me,” Jacob has his own manifestation of that love directly.
Fourth, God speaks directly to Jacob’s worries in that particular moment. He concludes the vision by assuring Jacob that He is with him, that Jacob is not alone, that he will be preserved in this strange land, and that he will be brought back safely, all because he is safely held in the hand of God. What a sweet sign of God’s intimate knowledge of Jacob’s heart and His immense desire to comfort it.