Jacob was one chosen by God even from his mother’s womb, but even though he knew this, he still struggled, cheated, and did things to steal the birthright and the blessing from his elder brother Esau.
God intended that Jacob would have the birthright, and he himself wanted it, but he did something that was not according to God – he exercised his natural strength, ability, and cleverness to procure the birthright. Even from birth, Jacob was a heel-holder, a supplanter, and throughout his life he was a crafty, shrewd, and clever person to obtain the birthright (even though his brother Esau was older than him).
What Jacob wanted was what God intended, but his way of obtaining it was absolutely wrong, and this afforded God the opportunity to expose his natural ability and cleverness, which is unqualified for God’s plan, unworthy of God’s blessing, and needs to be cut off.
Because Jacob stole the blessing his brother Esau should have had from their old father, he had to flee from his parents’ house and run to his uncle Laban’s family. On the way, in Gen. 28 we see that he arrived to a place in the wilderness, a desolate place in a lonely situation. He took a stone and set it as a pillow and went to sleep.
During the night, he had a dream: there was a ladder set up on the earth with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. In his dream God appeared to him and gave him a wonderful promise concerning the land, the seed, and how he – Jacob – would become a blessing to the whole earth.
When Jacob woke up, he said, Surely this is the house of God; this is an awesome place, this is the gate of heaven! And he took the pillow and turned it into a pillar, pouring oil on it, and called the name of that place, Bethel.
Jacob, a supplanter and a cheater, was forced to run away from his comfortable home and wander through the wilderness, and there God met him and gave him a dream that became the most crucial thing in Genesis and in the entire Bible.
In our personal life there comes a time when we are in an empty, lonely, and far away place from God, and there the Lord meets us, we have a personal contact with Him, and have a dream, a spiritual vision. God is waiting for us just as He was waiting for Jacob and just as the Lord Jesus was later waiting for the sinful woman at the well. He wants us to have a dream, God’s dream, which will become our dream!
Jacob’s Dream at Bethel was God’s Dream – the House of God
Jacob’s dream at Bethel was the dream of God’s goal, the dream of Bethel, the house of God (see Gen. 28:10-22). This dream is fulfilled today in the church (1 Tim. 3:15) and will consummate in the New Jerusalem as God’s eternal dwelling place with His redeemed elect (see Rev. 21:3, 22).
Jacob’s dream was a dream of God, a dream of God’s goal and intention in eternity. What God dreams of is a house, a mutual dwelling place of God and man. Today God’s house is the church of God, and in eternity future this house will be the New Jerusalem, the eternal dwelling place of God and man.
In the Old Testament God’s house was the tabernacle and then the temple, but today God’s house is the church as the house of God! We should see this dream, and it will become our dream! Today we are in the partial fulfillment of Jacob’s dream, the church as God’s dwelling place, His satisfaction and rest, the mingling of God and man.
God had a dream – to have the New Jerusalem, a built-up city, as the consummation of His economy! This building is the building of God into man and of man into God — God’s building is a God-man, a building in which God is man’s home (Psa. 90:1; 91:1, 9) and man is God’s home (Isa. 66:1-2; 57:15; John 14:20, 23; 15:5; Rev. 21:3, 22). Wow!
God’s dream is to have a house, a building, a corporate and mutual dwelling place of God and man. This is not a physical or material building, but it is God built into man and man built into God, a mutual building process which results in a mutual abode in which God becomes man’s home and man is God’s home.
The whole Bible speaks of God’s thought and desire to make us His home and become our home, and in the ultimate consummate scene in the New Jerusalem God will gain the fulfillment of His dream – a universal building and composition of God and man mingled, blended, and incorporated together!
Our dream as believers in Christ is also to become God’s dwelling place, that is, to become the New Jerusalem as the consummation of God’s economy! We have a dream: our dream is God’s dream, which is also Jacob’s dream. Our dream is to become the New Jerusalem as the consummation of God’s economy.
May we have this dream as we’re being infused with God’s dream revealed in His holy word, and may we never wake up from this dream!
Something Impossible and Wonderful is Happening to us: God is our Home and we become His Home!
The principle of a dream is that something wonderful and impossible happens to us. Every spiritual vision is a dream, and every spiritual experience is a dream.
We never dreamed of believing into the Lord and enjoying Him – we thought it would be impossible to believe into someone whom you cannot see. But lo and behold, something seemingly impossible happened to us: we have a dream! With God nothing is too wonderful, and He desires to do wonderful things for us in this heavenly dream!
Every spiritual vision and experience is a dream, something impossible and hard to experience – yet we see it, enter into it, and have it.
Just like Jacob, we came to a dry and lonely place with nothing outwardly to trust in, and there and then we had a dream. When we were saved, it was like a dream. The day we touched the church life in the Lord’s recovery it was like a dream.
In the last days the young men will see visions and the older ones see dreams (Joel 2:28; Acts 2:17) – in a very real sense, today we are the people of visions and dreams, and the more dreams, the better! We need to have dreams every day in our spiritual life – we need to experience something new and wonderful of Christ every day of our life!
This dream is not some sort of hallucination but it is our entering into something that already exists in the spiritual reality but we now see it. The Apostle John saw many dreams in the book of Revelation: he saw many spiritual realities which already existed, and he dreamed them!
The atheists may say that there is no God – but when they see Him, they will believe into Him and love Him! There is a God – they just haven’t seen Him yet. There are many wonderful aspects of Christ and of God’s house that exist in the spiritual reality: we are now in the process of dreaming them and entering into them!
Our whole Christian life is a life of dream after dream, experience after experience of Christ. And most such heavenly visions come to us in times of sufferings, when we are cut off from what is of man and put our trust in what is of God (as seen in Gen. 28:10-12).
If Jacob would have been home, he probably wouldn’t have seen the dream of Bethel. He had to go, wander in the wilderness, suffer extreme loneliness, and being forsaken by everyone; then, when there was nothing outwardly for him to rely on, God appeared to him.
When we are apart from so many things, away from distractions and daily preoccupations, sometimes even being forced to get into such a place, we will see a dream – God is there! The center of every spiritual dream is Christ Himself as the ladder, the One who brings heaven to earth and joins earth to heaven (see John 1:51).
Every true spiritual dream has Christ as the center, and it joins us more to God. The proper experience in life is to have a dream of Christ as the heavenly ladder set up on earth and brings us into heaven, joining heaven and earth. Hallelujah!
Lord Jesus, grant us a clear and open sky to see Christ, the heavenly ladder, joining earth to heaven and bringing heaven to earth! Lord, we believe that we are the fulfillment of that dream. Usher us in a deeper dream to see more visions of Yourself. Lord, carry us away in spirit to see something we have not seen yet. Cause us to see in a clear way the dream of Bethel! Lord, we like to dream the dream of Your predestination, promise, transformation, maturity, reigning with You, and all Your heavenly blessings on the church today! Make us dreamers, those who see the dream of God and enter into God’s dream to become the fulfillment of His dream today!
Read this blog post in Spanish also via, El Sueño de Jacob en Betel fue un sueño en cuanto al propósito de Dios, el sueño de la Casa de Dios.
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my Christian experience, bro. Minoru Chen’s sharing in the message for this week, and portions from, Life-Study of Genesis (msg. 68), as quoted in, the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Genesis (3), week 1 / msg 1, The Dream of Bethel (you can buy this morning revival book here).
- Hymns on this topic:
# God has a dream, this is what He’s wanting. / God has a dream, and we are part of it. / God has a dream…that we may be one with Him. / God has a dream…realized in you and me! / God, you and me…a dwelling place to be. / God in man, and man in God: one entity. / Now, it’s my dream…my vision and life to be! / God has a dream…realised in you and me! (Song on God’s Dream)
# My words cannot express… / Dear Lord, You’re just the best! / Lovely Jesus, precious Jesus. / No other one will do, / My Love, I just want You. / Lovely Jesus, precious Jesus. / He’s far beyond your dreams, / Heaven and everything. / Lovely Jesus, precious Jesus! / He’s far beyond your dreams, / Surpassing everything. / Lovely Jesus, precious Jesus! (Song on Being Saved: what a Dream!)
# Never did I dream before, / Such a place could e’er be found, / Where the tears of sorrow cease, / Songs of endless joy abound. / One who seldom ever sang, / Now delights his voice to raise; / Singing hymns with all the saints, / Echoing the ceaseless praise. (Hymns #1238)
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