Sermon delivered November 11, 2000 by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted.

Jacob's Celestial Escalator

I'm going to call today's sermon, Jacob's Celestial Escalator because it is not a ladder that you can climb your way to heaven. So many people think, Every round goes higher and higher and I'm climbing my way to heaven. Folks, we don't get there on our own steam, we get there on Jesus Christ. I want to talk with you about that today.

Last week we left Jacob where he impersonated his brother, Esau, and fooled his dad, and stole the birthright from his unsuspecting brother. That's very similar to what the devil is going to do in the last days. The devil is going to come and impersonate the second coming of Jesus Christ and only the elect will not be fooled. Was Esau fooled? No. But was Isaac fooled? Yes, he was. He must have been one of the very elect. suppose everybody wants a blessing even if they have to steal it. That's what Jacob did.

Children do need a blessing, but they need the approval of their parents. They need Godly parents. Now, I'm not sure that Jacob had a Godly mother. Unfortunately Esau became the unblessed child because of her shenanigans. Don't you think good parents will have a blessing for each of their children? And good parents don't wait like Isaac until they are on their death bed to bless their children.

Did Esau actually deserve the earthly birthright? No, I don't believe he did. He was disqualified for spiritual leadership because of his pagan lifestyle and his marriage to two Heathen Canaanite women. Genesis 26:34. When Esau was forty years old he got married to two Hittite, pagan, heathen women. One was named Judith and the other was Basemath.

Rebekah robbed her blind husband of his freedom of choice. He wanted to bless Esau, but instead he ended up blessing Jacob. He didn't have that freedom of choice. He was blind. You know, Rebekah could have worked for the CIA. She was invariably behind the tent, listening. She was a master spy. And Tricky Jacob was not far behind. He robbed his brother. Father Isaac gave all of the blessing to the son he thought was Jacob. You should never give all the blessing to one kid, should you? He didn't save anything for the other one. When the real Esau finally came back from the hunt dragging in fresh venison, there was nothing left to bestow upon his favorite son. The blessing was all gone. Sin takes it all away.

Rebekah and her son Jacob paid dearly for their shifty success. You can't cheat. God can forgive people like Rebekah, but God often times when He forgives, He does not remove the consequences of sin. Do you notice that? You still have to pay for your sin. They paid dearly, because that was the last time she would ever see Jacob. He plead for his life and she told him to go, and she would never ever see him again. That's too bad. Their smiles faded fast because the wages of sin ultimately produces frowns.

Rebekah figured Isaac would soon die and her favorite son would be back home in a few weeks. Actually, she never saw him again. We humans underestimate the consequences of our sins. Is it best to run from your problems? No. Did God tell Jacob to run? No. Rebekah took matters into her own hands to fix the self-created problem. They should have prayed about it. Prayerlessness produces problems.

Should Jacob have run? Was Esau going to kill him? Yes, he said he was. Genesis 27:41 Revenge! Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, "The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob He hated Jacob because he had stolen his blessing, and he said to himself, "My father will soon be dead and gone. Then I will kill Jacob. Then I will be the oldest son. We can figure this thing out one way or another. I'll get the blessing. I'll take care of this." He was going to take matters into his own hands. Rebekah took matters into her own hands. The whole family was dysfunctional. You never want to take matters into your hands. You want to put your matters into God's hands, and then you're okay.

So, should Jacob have actually run for his life from his brother? His mother told him to do it. And he did. He should not have done it. Should we ever run away from our problems? We shouldn't. We should stay and face our problems. God didn't tell Jacob to run. In fact, they should have prayed about it. They didn't pray about it. Prayerlessness* produces problems. Now, that's what they had to face. Rebekah's sinister plan backfired. Now Jacob must run for his life. Sin will make you homeless. It will leave you devastated. Jacob was now alienated from both his parents. He would never see his mother again. Jacob would soon be hunted like one of Esau's animals. He probably feared one of Esau s deadly arrows would soon be sticking out of his back. It wasn't too good. Jacob had to leave his whole inheritance and flee for his life. Sin does pay, but you won't be happy with its wages.

Was God's will done, actually? What was God's will in this? His will was that Esau would not receive the blessing and that Jacob would. Was that accomplished? Yes. Was it accomplished in a correct way? No, it wasn't. Not at all! God's divine will as prophesied to Rebekah was fully reached despite their sinful behavior. In reality God used their sins to bring about His ultimate will. Can you see that? In your life, God is able to achieve His will despite your sins. Can you imagine God using sin to bring about His plans? Did God need them to sin that Jacob receive the birthright? NO! God had some other plan so Esau would not get the blessing. I don't think Isaac could have blessed Esau anyway. Remember Balaam tried to curse God's people? What came out? A blessing. He couldn't curse God s people. The words wouldn't come out. When you try to curse the wrong people a blessing would have come out. If you try to bless the wrong person, I think maybe a curse would have come out. God could have dealt with that in some way. God is able to take care of things in His own way.

And I think regardless of who is elected president of the United States, whether it Gore or Bush, God is still in charge. And I'm not worries about that. One thing this election has taught me is the importance of one vote. Do you know that Adolf Hitler the chairman of the Nazi party by one vote. Your votes count. The devil's against you, God is for you, who is going to break the tie? You are. Your vote certainly counts toward eternal life.

Now, the book of Hebrews muddies the water here about the story of Isaac and Jacob and Esau. You won't believe what Hebrews 11:20 says: By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, (even) in regard their future. Is that actually true? It says, "by faith." Did Isaac really bless Jacob by Faith? It was by accident wasn't it? He was fooled. He was deceived. Jacob dressed up like Esau. He didn't really bless him by faith. It was by accident. And did Isaac bless Esau as Hebrews says? There was no blessing left. In what sense can this be true? It really muddies the waters doesn't.

Did Isaac have faith? Yes! Isaac did believe that God would richly bless his seed. He did have faith that God would honor the promise and keep His covenant that he made with Abraham and repeated to Isaac. Did Isaac have faith in God. Absolutely he did. He had faith in it so supremely that he was willing to take things into his own hands to give it to Esau. You might pay tithe to get a blessing (a wrong motive) and God might bless you despite your motivation. Yes Isaac did have faith. Hebrews is right.

I wonder if Isaac ever discovered his wife's sly shenanigan. Unless she confessed it to her husband she had to live with the guilt of her secret sin the rest of her days.

Now let's go ahead to Genesis 28. Young, seventy seven year old Jacob went out to find a wife, and he went out to escape from his brother who was going to kill him. So he fled for his life hoping to find a wife. Two reasons to run. His mother told him to do it. That's another reason. Maybe he could marry a believer in God. So she said, go to my home town where your uncle Laban lives and there you will be able to find a wife. I think also his dad told him to go. I really believe by this time Isaac had forgiven Jacob for what he had done. So he set out for Padan - Aram, where his uncle Laban lived. There he would be safe until Esau simmered down.

Have you ever thought why God even loved Jacob to start with? Why would God want a deceiver, somebody who was a liar who would try to steal the birthright, why would God want that type of person? Why would He love that type of person? Come to Malachi 1:2,3. "I have loved you, says the Lord, but you ask, 'How have you loved us?' 'Was not Esau Jacob's brother?'" The Lord says, "yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated." Does God hate people? That must be a bad translation. If you look it up in Romans 9:13 it repeats it word for word. The King James Version say love and hate. What's going on here? I believe that what God was looking at, God doesn't see as we see, He was looking at Jacob's heart. He didn't love Jacob's deception any more than we would. But he looked at Jacob and He saw in Jacob something that He liked. He saw a willingness to do His will. And when God looks at you, He doesn't see you as you are today. He sees you as you will become later in your life. And that's how god judges you. I'm thrilled that we have a God like that. I don't want god to be looking at me like I am today. I'm not where I want to be. I still have some growing to do.

I believe that God loved Jacob because of what he could be. And he loved Esau less would be my translation of that. I believe God saw that Jacob had a heart that was willing to be changed. God can't do anything with the Esau's of life. Esau did not want to be changed. Esau was happy the way he was.

Come back here to Genesis 28. Jacob became the father of the twelve patriarchs, progenitor of all the Hebrew people, the Israelites, because his heart was willing. And Genesis 28:7 says that Jacob obeyed his parents. What a kid! Seventy seven year-old, but what a son! He obeyed his parents even at that age. Do you, who are seventy seven years old, obey your parents? Your parents are probably gone, aren't they. Well, things were different there. We should respect our parents whatever age they are and whatever age we are. God looked down in his heart. And God looks at the best for us. And God doesn't shower His blessing upon the Esau crowd, but on the ones who are like Jacob. Now listen to this: Jacob was not perfect. Jacob had character flaws. But his heart was hungry for God and that's what God saw. And when God looks at Don Gettys, He does not see a perfect person. There is no such thing as a perfect preacher. But He sees me for what I want to be and that's why He loves me. He loves you for what you will become, not for what you are, not because you are perfect.

Genesis 28:10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. It was dark. He was running. He covered 50 miles that day! That's pretty good for being on foot. Imagine the intensity of his pace, Jacob was exhausted and lonely and it was already dark. Fear had propelled him. Esau might appear on the horizon behind him at any moment. It is hard to make fast forward progress when you look behind you every few steps to see if Esau is after you. He stopped in the dark because he was afraid Esau would find him in the daytime, but he would be secure in the dark.

Tired, hungry, frightened, Jacob had chanced upon the ruins of Luz, that ancient Canaanite city. Luz means a place of deception! God certainly has a sense of humor. Here the deceiver comes to the place of deception. He finally comes home. Eventually God directed in the renaming of both Jacob and Luz. It was called Bethel. I have seen many churches called Bethel. Bethel means the House of God. And He also changed Jacob's name from being a deceiver to Israel.

Have you ever tried to set up camp in the darkness of the night? He dare not build a fire to attract Esau. Groping around he found one of the stones from the ruins of Luz for a pillow. In ancient Egypt head rests were sometimes made of metal. Imagine sleeping on a cast iron pillow! Imagine a rock for a pillow! He must have slept hard!

Genesis 28:12. In a dream that night God removed the curtain between the visible and the invisible world. Jacob could see actual angels going about their daily duties ministering to the needs of this earth. God's unseen angels still camp about his people. They still protect and lead God's children.

Jacob sees a ladder extending from heaven to his campsite. Now I think that's a description that the writer of Genesis gives to it. NIV says "Stairway." But I think today that if they had described it it would have been a ladder with moving rungs, more like an escalator because we don't climb to heaven on our own steam. You know that. We ride, but we do have to get on. And so he sees this ladder, he sees this staircase and it comes down and it extend right to him. What does that tell us? The on ramp to heaven begins at the spot where you live. And it take you all the way up. God was standing the top of the staircase. That's where it's going to take you. So, he sees this ladder and God is standing at the top, God opens the windows of heaven and down this chute a big load of blessings, a big load of power and strength comes down for you to live the Christian life. And He delivers it right in your backyard right where you are sleeping, right where you live.

Now, notice the three things that Jacob saw in his dream:

  1. Jacob saw a ladder. What was that? Jacob's ladder is actually Jesus. How do we know that? Do we just take someone's word for it? Let's look in John 1:51. He then added, "I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the (ladder) Son of Man." The ladder is Jesus. Make no mistake about that. John 10:7- Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep." Jesus is the gate of heaven.

    He is the way, as He says in John 14:6 Jesus said: "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." By faith Jacob entered into life through that gate.

  2. Jacob saw Angels on this ladder. Jacob knew heaven was accessible to him, and the angels were there to help him go on this ladder.
  3. He sees God himself standing at the top of the ladder. Jacob clearly saw his spiritual destiny.

For the first time in his life Jacob had a personal visual, verbal encounter with God. Each of us needs to know that God is real. I have had several such experiences. Have you? I think Jacob was riding on the coattails of his forefathers. You can't get to heaven on your mother's apron strings. It is not enough to be raised in a Christian home. You've got to have an experience with God yourself. And I believe that night Jacob experienced a new birth. I think he knew that God is real. He experienced justification by faith that night.

Notice what God promised Jacob in Genesis 28: 13-15. He promised him several thing: All the land he saw would belong to him and his descendants; Verse 14, "Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.; Verse 15, I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

What a promise. God partnered with Jacob. They became partners. God is saying, "Jacob, I'll be with you wherever you go." The Fear of God replaced the fear of Esau. That day, Jacob stopped running. From that day he walked on all the way up to Mesopotamia, 450 miles, across the Euphrates River. No more running. He had the fear of God.

From that day on, where ever Jacob went within the framework of God's will, he would never be alone. God follows us to bless us. God is there In the kitchen or as you mow the grass or drive your car to work. Your office becomes the on-ramp to connect with God. Your workbench is the port where God comes to be near you. That stairway comes down where you are.

You are blessed when you like Jacob make the discovery that wherever you go, God is there to work in your behalf. He's your partner. Jacob learned to trust the Lord; he could not trust himself.

Jacob woke up to a whole sky full of stars. He believed the promise. He knew his children would be as numerous as those stars. It was credited to him as righteousness (like Abraham -Gen 15:6).

Notice his response here in Genesis 28:20-22. His works demonstrated his faith.

  1. He made an altar out of the stone he slept on. He took that stone and poured oil on it and made an altar out of it and gave it to god.
  2. He renamed the place Bethel, which means the house of God.
  3. He promised to be faithful to God.
  4. He worshiped God.
  5. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a tithe envelop. He vowed to return 10% of his increase to God.
Did he have any increase at that point? Had he earned any income? He was operating in faith, wasn't he. "When I get an income, I'll give you ten percent every time." Did he have a tithe envelop? Probably not. Did he pay tithe? Yes, he did.

After he was born again, he immediately began giving proportionately as God would bless him. If we are neglecting to have family worship, if we are neglecting to build a family altar, if we are neglecting to rename our place, if we are neglecting these things we are neglecting our time, our talents, our tithe and treasures, are we like Jacob o more like Esau? True conversion always results in a new life where love for God changes everything we do.

Well, he experienced new life. He experienced conversion. I want to tell you today that you can experience the same thing that Jacob experienced because Jesus Christ is alive today and Jesus is your celestial escalator if you get on board Jesus. But you must get on board. You must step onto Jesus. You must trust Him with your life. If you get on board, He will take you all the way to where the father is waiting at the head of the stairs. He'll take you there free of charge because the full price of the ticket has already been paid by your Older Brother on the cross of Calvary. All you have to do is get on board. But I want you to know that you will have results in your life because these five things that Jacob did proved his faith. Your works will be there. They don't save you but they are the proof of the pudding. There will be a change in you life. There was a change in his life. You can't be the same and come to Jesus. I urge you to come to Christ right now. Get on that escalator and let's go home together.

Hymn of Praise: #8, We Gather Together

Scripture: Genesis 28:10 -15
Hymn of Response: #627, Jacob's Ladder


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