Beyond Jacob's Ladder
The Simplicity of Salvation
by Carscallen, Lois K.
Families often have children who do not get along well when they are growing up. My family was no exception. There were three brothers who shared a large bedroom and usually cooperated with each other, but every now and then, the rest of the family would become aware of quarrels they had between them. I remember one day my father came home with a pair of boxing gloves. He showed them to all the family and the next time there was a dispute between the boys, he made them don the boxing gloves and fight until they were willing to give in and be at peace with each other. It was a great lesson for me at the age of five; I never wanted to be in a fight. I tried my best to please everyone! And it must have worked for my brothers because later in life they became business partners.
It was not that simple with Isaac’s sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob had deceived his brother Esau into selling his birthright, due him as the first-born, for a bowl of lentil stew. Later, he deceived Isaac, their father, and also received the blessing which should have gone to Esau.
Esau had sworn to kill Jacob after their father died, so in order to protect him, his mother, Rebecca, who had been instrumental in convincing him to deceive his father, helped to hasten his departure. She did not live to see him again, but I am certain that she never forgot him and the events that led to his escape. Jacob left home with the blessings of his father to go to his uncle’s home and find a wife, rather than marry one of the daughters of Ishmael as Esau had.
Tired and weary from travel, Jacob laid down to rest, troubled with the fear of his brother’s wrath. God, in His mercy, gave him the dream which is beautifully recorded in the Bible.
Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: “I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” (Gen. 28:10–22)
When I learned that the ladder is God’s glorious light, Jesus, reaching down to us so that we might rise up higher to Him, and that Christ Himself actually brings us up the ladder, it became an inspiration to me. Ellen White talks in detail about Jacob’s dream.
Jacob in the night vision saw earth connected with heaven by a ladder reaching to the throne of God. He saw the angels of God, clothed with garments of heavenly brightness, passing down from heaven and up to heaven upon this shining ladder. The bottom of this ladder rested upon the earth, while the top of it reached to the highest heavens and rested upon the throne of Jehovah. The brightness from the throne of God beamed down upon this ladder and reflected a light of inexpressible glory upon the earth. This ladder represented Christ, who had opened the communication between earth and heaven. In Christ’s humiliation He descended to the very depths of human woe in sympathy and pity for fallen man, which was represented to Jacob by one end of the ladder resting upon the earth, while the top of the ladder, reaching unto heaven, represents the divine power of Christ grasping the Infinite and thus linking earth to heaven and finite man to the infinite God. Through Christ the communication is opened between God and man. Angels may pass to and fro from heaven to earth with messages of love to fallen man, and to minister unto those who shall be heirs of salvation. It is through Christ alone that the heavenly messengers minister to men. (Confrontation, p. 46)
Jacob must have remembered this dream many times as he dealt with his Uncle Laban. He had to go through many trials before he really understood the meaning of the ladder that God had given him in his dream on the way to find a bride. Once Laban came to think unfavorably of Jacob, Jacob ran away with his children, wives, and flocks, but Laban decided to chase after him. Jacob grew in frustration toward Laban, and ultimately, toward God. “Then Jacob was angry and rebuked Laban, and Jacob answered and said to Laban: ‘What is my trespass? What is my sin, that you have so hotly pursued me? Although you have searched all my things, what part of your household things have you found? Set it here before my brethren and your brethren, that they may judge between us both” (Gen. 31:36, 37).
Even though God made His care of Jacob a sure promise, Jacob’s vow to God was conditional. God had told Jacob that He would not leave him, but Jacob counted on God’s visibility in his life. When it seemed God wasn’t there for him, Jacob, like most of us, came to doubt God’s word. But in the end, God was the one to be trusted and I am assured that God will do what He promises if we obey.
One way that we can obey God is in regards to tithing. Jacob knew what God’s Word said about tithing, for he said, “ … I will surely give a tenth to You” (Gen. 28:22). His grandfather paid tithe. Moses wrote of Abraham: “And he gave him a tithe of all” (Gen. 14:20).
And we are told to give a tithe of our increase to God. “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,’ Says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it’” (Mal. 3:10).
My mother paid tithe, which I am sure was like the widow’s mite because she had little money, so I should have known that was what God wanted me to do. I did learn, but it was many years later. I can still remember that she had a box containing a year’s supply of tithe envelopes which the Baptist church provided. She kept it on the mantle above the fireplace in her bedroom, and when we went to church, she would put some money in one of the envelopes and put it in the offering plate when it was passed. It made me feel proud that she was doing what the other adults did. Usually, I was given a nickel or dime to put in. As children, we were not given allowances for doing chores like most parents give their children today. We had to ask for whatever we wanted, and if my mother could, she would provide it for us.
God really loved Jacob; He loves everyone. But He said He hated Esau. “As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’ What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? Certainly not! For he says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion’” (Rom. 9:13–15).
Does God really hate anyone? This strong expression does not imply positive hatred, as the term is used today, but that God had preferred Jacob above Esau to be the progenitor of the chosen race. It seems to have been common in Bible times to use the term hate in this sense. Jacob’s preference for Rachel is compared with his hatred for Leah. In the New Testament, Jesus speaks about hating one’s father and mother and hating one’s life. “He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (John 12:25). The idea is that Christ takes special care of those that give Him their devotion. I, myself, had to learn that my love for God must be first in my life.
“Christ never forces His company upon anyone. He interests Himself in those who need Him … But if men are too indifferent to think of the heavenly Guest, or ask Him to abide with them, He passes on. Thus many meet with great loss.”
The Desire of Ages, p. 800
Jacob realized that God had given him the dream, and he set up an altar as was the custom when something significant happened in a certain place. It would be remembered when he returned and saw it again. However, it was a dream that God wanted Jacob to take with him, a promise which was intended for him to cling to. God was pointing the way for Jacob to save the nation so they in turn would save others. He never forgot the dream.
Jacob was deceived by his Uncle Laban many times, and he was not free from his own practice of deception himself, but he finally made his escape. He had bargained with Laban and gained his wealth by God’s blessings. However, it was not until God met with him the second time that he became an honest man. Jacob had received a vision of Jesus in the dream of the ladder when he was fleeing from his brother Esau. Now, he was fleeing from Laban. When they finally confronted each other, Jacob said:
These twenty years I have been with you; your ewes and your female goats have not miscarried their young, and I have not eaten the rams of your flock. That which was torn by beasts I did not bring to you; I bore the loss of it. You required it from my hand, whether stolen day or stolen by night. There I was! In the day the drought consumed me, and the frost by night, and my sleep departed from my eyes. Thus I have been in your house twenty years; I served you fourteen years for your two daughters, and six years for your flock, and you have changed my wages ten times. Unless the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had been with me, surely now you would have sent me away empty-handed. God has seen my affliction and the labor of my hands, and rebuked you last night. (Gen. 31: 36–42)
“For twenty years Jacob remained in Mesopotamia, laboring in the service of Laban, who, disregarding the ties of kinship, was bent upon securing to himself all the benefits of their connection. Fourteen years of toil he demanded for his two daughters; and during the remaining period, Jacob’s wages were ten times changed. Yet Jacob’s service was diligent and faithful.”
Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 190
In a dream God had sent an angel to warn Laban not to harm Jacob, so they departed in peace. In spite of his spending twenty years as a servant of Laban and being deceived many times, Jacob kept his word and was always faithful. Now his worry was for Esau.
Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the LORD who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’ … And he arose that night and took his two wives, his two female servants, and his eleven sons, and crossed over the ford of Jabbok. He took them, sent them over the brook, and sent over what he had. Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, ‘I will not let you go unless You bless me!” So He said to him, “What is your name?” He said, “Jacob.” And He said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked, saying, ‘Tell me Your name, I pray.’ And He said, “Why is it that you ask about My name?” And He blessed him there. So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: “For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.” Just as he crossed over Penuel the sun rose on him, and he limped on his hip.” (Gen. 32:9–12, 22–31)
Jacob was willing to continue in battle unto death in defense of his family. So must we. He received a name change when he refused to let go, and the angel knew that his repentance was heartfelt. He held fast to Jesus, and so must we.
Through humiliation, repentance, and self-surrender, this sinful, erring mortal [Jacob] prevailed with the Majesty of heaven. He had fastened his trembling grasp upon the promises of God, and the heart of Infinite Love could not turn away the sinner’s plea. As an evidence of his triumph and an encouragement to others to imitate his example, his name was changed from one which was a reminder of his sin, to one that commemorated his victory. (The Great Controversy, p. 617)
We are told that we will receive a new name as well. I wonder what my new name will be. I didn’t like my name when I was growing up. But when I learned that it means faithful, it became special to me—what better name could I have? My desire is to be faithful. But no matter what my new name is, I am sure I will like it because it will come from God. “… To him who overcomes … I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it” (Rev. 2:17).
It took the second meeting with God on his return trip home to enable Jacob’s true conversion. Jacob’s Pentecost came when he would not let go of the angel until he received the blessing. He was broken in the process and suffered from this wound the remainder of his life. But God honored his true repentance, and changed his name to Israel—the nation that would lead the world in the direction God would have them go.
This was not the first time Jacob had a wrestling match. Before he was born, he wrestled with Esau in the womb, but he did not win the battle and come out first. It took God many years to teach him the lesson he needed to learn. Hosea refers to Jacob’s struggle before his birth.
He took his brother by the heel in the womb, And in his strength he struggled with God. Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, And there He spoke to us—That is, the LORD God of hosts. The LORD is His memorable name. So you, by the help of your God, return; Observe mercy and justice, And wait on your God continually. (Hosea 12:3–6)
After wrestling with the angel, Jacob had experienced enough deception. His mother had favored him above Esau because of Esau’s defiance of God. And even though Jacob did not want to leave home, he honored his mother by being obedient.
Before he died, my oldest brother told me that I was favored by my mother; however, I was anxious to leave home when I graduated from high school. Although my father told others how much he loved his children, I did not feel that love, but I was obedient.
It was through the love of the man God sent to be my husband that I began to get a glimpse of what God’s love was really like. As I look back, he reminds me of Jacob. I saw resemblances in my husband’s experience to compare with Jacob’s. He left his home, not of his choosing, but of a call to be drafted into the army during World War II. Neither did Jacob leave home by his own choice. He was fleeing from the wrath of his brother, Esau. Jacob had gone in search of a wife, and that, too, was the hope of my future husband.
When Jacob saw Rachel at the well, it was love at first sight. My future husband and I were invited on a blind date by a couple we both knew individually. The wife worked with me, and her husband was in the same Air Force unit with my future husband. It was love at first sight also or perhaps, at least, infatuation, which grew into love. He was the kind of person that was easy for me to relate to, and he made for a good, kind husband.
I can identify with Rachel also. She did not know God, but her father’s idol worship meant so much to her that she stole his idols when she and Jacob were leaving. As a child, my mother taught me to sing Jesus Loves Me, to be “good” and say my nightly prayer by rote, “Now I lay me down to sleep, etc.,” and go to church, but I didn’t know Jesus. It was much later in life when I was wounded and broken from failing to receive the expectations I had that God opened my eyes to His leading by the power of the Holy Spirit. It took a lot of searching for me.
After having four children, my husband and I were baptized together in the Palouse River and accepted into the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Years later, three of our grandchildren chose to be baptized in the same place. What a blessing!
When our children reached the ages five to twelve, we began to wonder how we would ever finance their education. God helped me through many trials, so I enrolled in college. I finally realized that He was the source of my help, but I still did not have that relationship of really knowing Jesus.
Now I enjoy studying my Bible more and more. It is as though I “hunger and thirst after righteousness.” God continues to teach me, and He will as long as I am willing to obey. There are still many things I do not understand. However, He keeps revealing more and more of the mysteries that have been hard to understand, even by the clergy.
I felt like the chickens must have when they had to scratch for their feed among the straw. I had a lot of scratching to do! You see, when I was a very young child, one of my chores was to feed the chickens. My father grew the corn we fed them, but there was a lot of work to do to get the corn ready for the chickens to eat it, and that was part of my job.
First of all, I had to go to the barn and get the ears of dried corn out of the corn crib. Then I had to shuck them. We had a corn grinder that separated the corn from the cob, so that came next. To operate the grinder, I had to hold the ear of corn with my left hand and push down on it while I turned the handle of the grinder with my right hand. Actually, watching the corn fly off the cob was sort of fun. After I had ground enough corn for the day’s feed, I took it out to the chicken yard and scattered it in the straw. The chickens had to do a lot of scratching to find enough grains of corn to satisfy their hunger for the day. But the scratching gave them the exercise they needed, so it was a good thing that I made it a little hard for them to get food.
It was different for the baby chicks which my mother hatched in an incubator every spring. Their first food was mash, which I put into a small feeder easily within their reach. Then when they grew older, the mash was replaced with cracked corn—just the size they could handle. After they became pullets, they joined the hens in the chicken yard and had to scratch for their own food among the straw.
That is the way God led me—one step at a time as I was ready. When I saw the dream that Jacob had of the ladder reaching from earth to heaven, I began to understand what I was lacking. My spiritual growth had been stunted.
I came to learn that we are utterly dependent upon God dispensing His grace to us through the heavenly hosts. I must remember this, and I must also remember that while I am ascending that ladder, I must invite others to come with me. But I found that I had a problem. I became critical of others if they were not living by my standards.
As the Holy Spirit began to help me fit certain scriptures into my life, salvation began to appear simple, yet sometimes I made it hard for myself. My critical spirit turned to bitterness, but I learned that “the heart knows its own bitterness” (Prov. 14:10).
Criticism and bitterness do not come from God. They are the fool’s simplicity. God does not want us to have this kind of simplicity, but I’m afraid I was in that category. The following verse explains the idea of simplicity. I believe it can most certainly be in reference to those who like to sit on the sidelines and criticize other’s actions or the efforts of their fellow church members. And many times this leads them to pluck away at the foundational doctrines of the Christian faith itself. I was guilty of this, but God gave me a wake-up call.
“Then set your mark high, and step by step, even though it be by painful effort, by self denial and sacrifice, ascend the whole length of the ladder of progress. Let nothing hinder you. … A character formed according to the divine likeness is the only treasure that we can take from this world to the next. … The heavenly intelligences will work with the human agent who seeks with determined faith that perfection of character which will reach out to perfection in action. To everyone engaged in this work Christ says, I am at your right hand to help you. As the will of man cooperates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enabling.”
Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 331-333
“How long, you simple ones, will you love simplicity? For scorners delight in their scorning, And fools hate knowledge” (Prov. 1:22).
God says, “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works” (Heb. 10:24, KJV).
The idea of provoking others unto love and good works, without being considered critical or judgmental, eludes me most of the time, but God reminds me to let Him take control through Ellen White’s counsel. “In matters of conscience the soul must be left untrammeled. No one is to control another’s mind, to judge for another, or to prescribe his duty. God gives to every soul freedom to think, and to follow his own convictions” (The Desire of Ages, p. 550).
My problem is that I try to tell people what to do, instead of pointing to Jesus, and letting Him be the one to draw them to the ladder through the power of the Holy Spirit. I have been like Rebecca and Jacob, trying to make things happen with others, especially my children. Rebecca wanted so badly for her children to follow the God of Israel that she led Jacob into deceiving his father. I wanted my children to follow Jesus; and like Rebecca, I tried to do it in my own way. The sad part for me is that, like Paul, I thought I was doing things God’s way.
There were times when I was told “You never listen to me.” But that is not like Jesus.
He listened and reasoned with the people as He directs us to do. “‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD … ” (Isa. 1:18).
In spite of all my mistakes, I know my children love me, and God has promised to save them even if they should rebel for a period of time. Thankfully, God forgives when we ask, even in our ignorance, and I’m holding Him accountable to this promise!
“Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
When Jesus was choosing the twelve disciples who would be His companions and students, He referred to angels ascending and descending. Look at what He said when He was speaking to Nathanael: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man’” (John 1:50, 51).
When God spoke to Jacob about the ladder, His words were: “The angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (Gen. 29:12).
God did not have to give Nathanael a vision as He did Jacob. He was present to tell him in person. Jesus, the Son of man, is the ladder. It is His power, through the Holy Spirit; we have no power of our own. But there is another power which intrudes—the power of Satan. We choose which one we want to operate within us. If we choose Jesus, we have the power we need to lift us up the ladder. God did not give me a dream like He gave Jacob, and He did not speak to me like He did Nathanael. He speaks to me through the knowledge I get from the Word of God, the Bible. And it is my responsibility to study it daily and always be in an attitude of prayer. God has given us the gift of repentance. Even when we don’t have godly sorrow, God will provide it if we open ourselves to receive it. “He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God” (Rev. 19:13).
“The angels of God are ascending, bearing the prayers of the needy and distressed to the Father above, and descending, bringing blessing and hope, courage, help, and life, to the children of men. The angels of God are ever passing from earth to heaven, and from heaven to earth.… And it is through Christ, by the ministration of His heavenly messengers, that every blessing comes from God to us. … Christ is the medium of communication of men with God, and of God with men.”
The Desire of Ages, p. 143
Some Bible translations use stair-steps instead of a ladder. In our day of a mechanized society, Jacob’s ladder might best be described as an escalator. An escalator fits the description of Jesus’ angels, constantly propelling us upward toward the heavenly city. Whatever we call it, we must take the journey on it, for Jesus is that ladder.
When I learned about the ladder, I wondered how I would ever reach the top. I had not been a Bible student before I was married. After we joined the church, we faithfully took the children to Sabbath School and church. We read Bible stories to them at bedtime and had prayer, but we didn’t really study the Bible with them.
I knew that I could not teach my children as they should be taught, so we enrolled them in church school and depended on the teachers to teach them the Bible. I hoped that as they learned, they would help me understand more, but that didn’t happen because I really didn’t let them know how little I understood.
I was so busy with the duties of home; I was taking care of four children, keeping books for the partnership we were in with my husband’s three brothers, and later, attending college myself, so I spent my time in general busyness and studying college textbooks. Thankfully, I had a husband who had been taught when he was a child, and even though he had not always followed the Lord, all I had to do was ask him a question of whether something was right according to the Bible.
I had never realized exactly what Pentecost was all about, but God has revealed at least a tiny picture to me. I know that if we are to have the experience of Pentecost, we must first meet the requirements of Pentecost, and the work of Pentecost will follow. At Pentecost, the believers were all of one accord and spent their time in prayer. I knew I must do the same, and I knew Jesus would help me. Ellen White makes an interesting point.
We are living in the perils of the last days. All heaven is interested in the characters you are forming. Every provision has been made for you, that you should be a partaker of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Man is not left alone to conquer the powers of evil by his own feeble efforts. Help is at hand, and will be given every soul who really desires it. Angels of God, that ascend and descend the ladder that Jacob saw in vision, will help every soul who wills to climb even to the highest heaven. (Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 86)
I have learned that I need only be concerned for my own salvation, not anyone else’s, especially my children’s. He has promised to save them even if they resist Him for a while. “The love of God still yearns over the one who has chosen to separate from Him, and He sets in operation influences to bring him back to the Father’s house” (Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 202).
He even tells me how He does it. “Angels are rearranging environments, changing circumstances, weaving about disinterested souls a network of influences which will some day lead to a surrender. God never forces Himself on a single life, but there is one way to connect a man to heaven in spite of himself and that way is through prayer” (The Story of the Seer of Patmos, p. 147).
“It is not the fear of punishment, or the hope of everlasting reward, that leads the disciples of Christ to follow Him. They behold the Saviour’s matchless love, revealed throughout His pilgrimage on earth, from the manger of Bethlehem to Calvary’s cross, and the sight of Him attracts, it softens and subdues the soul. Love awakens in the heart of the beholders. They hear His voice, and they follow Him.”
The Desire of Ages, p. 480
God gives encouraging words to parents. “Thus says the LORD: ‘Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; For your work shall be rewarded,’ says the LORD, ‘And they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future,’ says the LORD, ‘That your children shall come back to their own border’” (Jer. 31:16, 17).
We are given the true motive for children or anyone to follow Christ.
We are told to share our own experience with others when we have opportunity, and we are given specific instructions regarding our children. “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
This was Jacob’s experience. His father had taught him to worship the true God, but it took the wrestling match with the angel when he was older to bring about his true conversion.
I am thankful that over the years, God has taught me many things; and many of His lessons have made their impression as I placed the gospel of salvation on the steps of Jacob’s ladder. When I first saw the significance of the ladder God let down for Jacob to see, what joy I experienced! As a sinner, separated from God, most of us see His law from below, and it seems impossible to be kept. Perhaps, like me, you have repeatedly tried to please God, only to realize that you have selfish motives. Or perhaps you feel that He is not interested in your desires, and you don’t even try. In either case, what relief you will feel when you see Jesus with open arms offering to lift you above the ladder; He wants to take you directly to God! Once Jesus lifts you into God’s presence, you are free to obey—out of love, not fear, through God’s power. You know that if you stumble, you will not fall back to the ground. Instead, you will be caught and held in Christ’s loving arms, for He is the ladder, and I believe the Holy Spirit is the safety net that will keep you from falling. “But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” (John 15:26). “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you” (John 16:14).
We must never forget how much God loves us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:16, 17).
God is love—that is His essence, His character. He was willing to die for sinners. There are records of others besides Jacob who were willing to die to save another soul. Moses was one of those people. He was trying to lead God’s people out of Egypt to inhabit the land God had promised them, but they were rebellious. While he was away communing with God, the children of Israel under Aaron’s leadership, made a golden calf to worship. Moses was so angry when he saw them sinning, he broke the tablets of commandments God had given him. But despite their betrayal, he was still willing to plead for them with his life.
“Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, ‘Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written’” (Exod. 32:31, 32).
God inflicted death upon many, but out of His infinite love and mercy gave Moses another copy of the Ten Commandments. Most of us, I believe, would be willing to die for our children, or our spouse, or someone we love dearly in order for them to be saved. There was a time when I thought if I were truly willing to die for my children, it would give me the assurance that they would be in heaven with their dad, and I prayed as Moses did. But God does not accept the death of anyone to save another except His Son, Jesus. Then I discovered this verse: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:37).
Jesus died for you just as He did for me and my family. He is the one who will save everyone who is willing to love, trust, and serve Him through obedience; for He has promised: “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6–8).
I learned that each must have his own relationship with Jesus. He has the power to save all who come to him in faith. He has shown us what the necessary steps are to go from the kingdom of grace at the bottom of the ladder to the kingdom of glory at the top.
These three words described my condition: weak, ignorant, and unworthy. Thus I set out to do just what He invited me to do: to seek to join myself to Jesus and unite my weakness to His strength, my ignorance to His wisdom, my unworthiness to His merits.
“It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Our precious Saviour invites us to join ourselves to Him, to unite our weakness to His strength, our ignorance to his wisdom, our unworthiness to His merits.”
The Great Controversy, p. 623
Jacob wrestled with the angel until he prevailed, but he was injured in the process and limped for the rest of his life, but he never gave up on God. The apostle Paul received a wound, which he called a “thorn in the flesh,” when he met Jesus on the road to Damascus, and he became God’s servant. I am often wounded by the words of others.
God has mercifully answered my prayers and given me the desire of my heart—that I might have a living relationship with Jesus, share that relationship with others, and trust in Him to do the saving of all those whom I love and pray for each day. King Solomon said, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3:5, 6).
Now, I trust Him to lead me every day and to give me the strength to follow Jesus.
Christ does not weigh character in scales of human judgment. He says, “I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me” (John 12:32). Every soul who responds to this drawing will turn from iniquity. Christ is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto Him. He who comes to Jesus is setting his feet upon a ladder that reaches from earth to heaven. Teach it by pen, by voice that God is above the ladder; the bright rays of His glory are shining upon every round of the ladder. He is looking graciously upon all who are climbing painfully upward, that He may send them divine help, when the hand seems to be relaxing and the foot trembling. Yes, tell it, tell it in words that will melt the heart, that no one who shall perseveringly climb the ladder will fail of an entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; those who believe in Christ shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of His hand…. If we reach heaven it must be by binding the soul to the Mediator. (Selected Messages, book 1, pp. 181, 182)
I am still unworthy, but my Savior, Jesus, is worthy. And His love draws us to Him. “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1).
In spite of this, God had mercy and Jacob experienced the victory of faith after God showed him the shining ladder. I have ascended the ladder with him, and my faith is strengthened. Now, my desire is to help others learn about the ladder that God provided for all to have the opportunity to reach the top. We can ascend if we accept the gift of His Righteousness.
“For every soul struggling to rise from a life of sin to a life of purity, the great element of power abides in the only ‘name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved’” (The Ministry of Healing, p. 179).
Will I be wounded when I meet Jesus on His ladder? I’m willing to take the risk just as Jacob did. “Not until he fell crippled and helpless upon the breast of the covenant angel did Jacob know the victory of conquering faith and receive the title of a prince with God” (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 62).
Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates! Lift up you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the KING of glory. (Ps. 24:3–10)
Jacob knew the victory of conquering faith when he fell helpless upon the breast of the covenant angel, so I have placed faith at the top of Jacob’s Ladder. If we surrender our will to God, He will bestow upon us that same faith through which we are saved.
The foundation of our next ladder is faith. Let’s go to Peter’s ladder now and learn what he tells us that we must do with our faith.
End of preview.
Here is the Table of Contents of the complete book:
Chapter One - Jacob’s Ladder: Jacob’s Dream
Chapter Two - Peter’s Ladder: Love
Chapter Three - God’s Ten Commandments
Chapter Four - Jesus’ Ladder
Chapter Five - Paul’s Ladder: The Fruit of the Spirit
Chapter Six - God’s Creation Ladder
Chapter Seven - Moses/John’s Ladder: The Sanctuary