With New Testament Eyes: 7 – Bethel – The House of God
By Henry Mahan
Blessed is the man who can read the Scriptures and find the key of knowledge–Christ Jesus! ‘Had you believed Moses, you would believe me, for Moses wrote of me,’ said the Lord Jesus (John 5:46). God spoke to these Old Testament believers by the prophets, by pictures and types, and by dreams and visions to reveal his redemptive purpose and grace through Christ Jesus.
Jacob is a man difficult to understand, but the one thing we know about this man is that he was one of God’s elect and ‘God loved him’ (Gen. 25:21-23; Rom. 9:10-13; Gen. 35:9-13).
1. His name means supplanter, which is to take the place of another through force or plotting (Gen. 27:35- 36).
2. He tricked his brother, Esau, into selling him the birthright (Gen. 25: 29-34).
3. Through his mother’s influence and help, he deceived his father, Isaac, into giving him the blessing reserved for the first-born (Gen. 27:19-24).
4. He had to flee from his father’s house and from the wrath of his brother (Gen. 27:41-44).
5. God met Jacob on his flight from Esau; and what a night that was as God spoke to Jacob, promised his presence and mercies, and revealed to Jacob the way to God–Christ Jesus!
vv. 10-11. There is one reason why Jacob is out here in the desert alone, away from his home and family, and fleeing for his life; and that is his sin. What we are (proud, covetous, lonely, unhappy, depressed) and where we are (away from God, under the curse of the law, without strength, help, or hope) is because of our sins. ‘Your sins have separated you and your God.’ How undeserving and unworthy is Jacob and all of us Jacobs. As David said, ‘God is just in condemning us and clear when he judges us’ (Psalm 51:3-4). Every man who is an object of God’s love and grace judges himself, stops his mouth, and justifies God in his righteous judgments against our sins.
vv. 12-14. The Lord revealed his mercies to Jacob in a dream. What a blessed time it is when the Lord is pleased in his grace to speak to us on our road to destruction and reveal his mercies in Christ Jesus to the chief of sinners (Eph. 2:1-7; Rom. 5:6-8).
Jacob, the sinner, was still and quiet: and God spoke, revealing Christ in the dream.
The ladder stood upon the earth, but the top reached to heaven. So Christ Jesus, although he stood on the earth in the flesh, yet he is the Most High God, who never left the bosom of the Father (Phil. 2:6-8; John 1:14).
The angels went up and down on the ladder, which declares to us that we are able to ascend to God only in and by Christ Jesus (John 14:6) ; and it is by and through Christ that God comes to us. ‘God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself.’
The Lord God stood above the ladder and made all of his rich promises to Jacob; so God in Christ and through Christ makes all the promises of spiritual blessings, eternal life, and glory to us (Eph. 1:3-7.).
v. 15. What God spoke to Jacob in this verse is his promise to all believers in Christ Jesus.
‘I am with thee’ in covenant mercies, in redemptive grace, and in constant indwelling love (Rom. 8:28-39).
‘I will keep thee.’ None whom God has chosen, for whom Christ died, and who are brought by the Spirit to believe shall ever perish (John 6:37-45; John 10:24-30).
‘I will bring thee into this land.’ Canaan is but a type of heaven. Christ, our surety, will bring to glory all of his sheep. In heaven there will be plenty of room but no vacancies. Every place prepared will be occupied by those for whom it is prepared (John 14:1-3).
‘I will not leave thee until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. ‘ Our Lord shall not fail. The pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand (Isa. 53:10- 11).
vv. 16-19. Jacob called the place ‘Bethel,’ house of God and gate of heaven. This cannot be church buildings, which men call the house of God. This can only be where God actually dwells.
The house of God is where God is, where God dwells, and where God reveals himself. The gate of heaven is the door; and Christ said, ‘I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.’
vv. 20-22. Jacob responded to God’s call, to God’s revelation, as all of his called ones respond. ‘Thy people shall be willing’ (Psalm 110:3). Christ said, ‘Other sheep I have, them I must bring and they shall hear my voice, and there shall be one fold and one shepherd’ (John 10:16). The people of God are not saved against their wills but are made willing (2 Thess. 2:13).
No man can, is able, or has the desire to come to Christ except he is taught of God, called of God, and has learned of God; but those who are called, taught, and drawn to Christ shall come (John 6:44-45).