Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Bible and the Supernatural: Jacob’s Ladder

 Scripture: Genesis 28:10-22

Background: Many years have passed since the last passage we looked at. Abraham and Sarah have both died. Isaac has married, raised twin boys, and now is well advanced in years. But the younger twin, Jacob, has stolen Isaac’s blessing from the elder, and the elder is ready to kill the younger. So under the guise of seeking a wife, Jacob has fled his family, and one night during that journey, Jacob has a dream about a ladder which stretches from earth to heaven.

Observations: Jacob’s ladder is one of those lessons we may remember from childhood Sunday School, often favored for its surreal quality. But it is a story which we often fail to revisit as adults—maybe because of its surreal quality.

Yet these verses offer us a rare glimpse into the “other side” where the supernatural dwells. As such, it also has much to tell us about the supernatural:

1. The supernatural is active, whether we can see it or not. Jacob did not know there was anything special about this place he stopped. He himself said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” (Emphasis mine) It simply looked like a good place to spend the night; he couldn’t see the activity going on around. But the passage makes it clear that the ladder existed and the angelic activity was going on well before he began to dream about them.

2. Sometimes dreams reveal what we cannot otherwise perceive. Now many dreams are just imaginings that our brains contrive while we sleep and have no grand significance or meaning. But this passage makes it clear that at least occasionally dreams can reveal what our eyes would not see and give us ears to hear God more clearly.

3. Heaven and earth are connected. While sin caused many separations and divides, God did not throw up His hands and leave us to our own devices. Rather, as this passage reveals, God and those who serve Him continue to engage with this broken world.

4. Likewise, angels are moving between heaven and earth. Angels exist. They are active. They come from heaven to earth and go from earth back to heaven.

5. An encounter with the supernatural should move us to action. Jacob didn’t merely yawn and shrug his shoulders when he awoke from the dream. Rather, his increased awareness moved him toward the worship of God (not the angels!) and the making a vow in accordance with what God had spoken to him.

Significance: In our modern scientific world, sometimes those things that cannot be seen, touched, heard, or measured in some way are dismissed as imagination and fiction. Jacob’s ladder warns us to not be hasty in such judgments: The supernatural does exist and is currently active. While we don’t need (or want) to become superstitious, neither should we dismiss all that happens around us as a natural phenomenon.

As a result, we should develop a sensitive and discerning spirit. God may not speak via dreams often, but He does speak. He speaks through His creation. He speaks through the Bible. He speaks through the collision of circumstances. He speaks through other people and through implanted thoughts. He speaks in ways both natural and supernatural. The method ultimately is not what matters, but whether we are listening, in order that might hear and recognize His voice, whatever form it takes—and then act accordingly.

No comments: