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Jacob's Vision

The key to the Scriptures is Christ. No matter how much men may study the word of God, nor how much they may know of it, none can ever understand it until they come to a personal knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour. Once that takes place, once God has revealed to such His beloved Son, then the Bible becomes a new book, its old, old stories have a fresh appeal, the types and shadows of the Old Testament become full of light, Christ is seen everywhere; He is in all the Scriptures. Happy indeed are all who have had this most blessed experience. A man may believe on Christ, and see Him in the Scriptures, yet if he receives from God the further revelation of the great truth of the House of God, then the Bible becomes increasingly to him a new book, and he understands in a fuller and better way the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, for apart from a knowledge of God's House we can never understand certain phases of the work of Christ, which are related to the House of God. In the purpose of God these two great truths, the knowledge of Christ, and of the House of God, should go together; they are joined together in the Scriptures, and if they are separated to-day, then it is certainly not the will of God that it should be so. To have our eyes opened to see the beauty of Christ., the One in whom men saw no beauty that they should desire Him, is a most wonderful thing, but to have our eyes opened to see the beauty of Christ in relation to the House of God is very wonderful too, and happy indeed are those to whom God has granted this further revelation of His beloved Son, as Son over God's House. It is with this then in view that we turn to the portion of Scripture regarding Jacob's vision at the place called Bethel, for it is there that we have the first mention of the House of God in the Scriptures, a truth that ever afterwards was to be vital and fundamental in all God's dealings with His people, not only in the Old Testament, but also in the New Testament.

"And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went towards Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took one of the stones of the place, and put it under his head, and lay down in that place to sleep" (Genesis 28.10,11).

The R.V. margin (Heb. the Place) is very important. We know from what took place there, and from subsequent scriptures, that Jacob did not come there by accident, it was the place to which God had destined him to come, it was the place of God's choice. It is most important, in considering the truth of the House of God, to note that anyplace, or every place will not do, it is not man that chooses, but God. This important truth cannot be stated more clearly than in the words of Deuteronomy 12.5, relative to offering sacrifices in the Land,

"But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of

your tribes to put His name there, even unto His habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come" (see also vv.18and14).

Jacob came to Bethel fleeing from the face of his brother, weary and alone, and he lay down to sleep with one of the stones of the place for a pillow, and in this place, and in this condition God met him. He was the object of the choice of God, even before he was born, for that was God's word to his mother when she went to enquire of the LORD,-

"Two nations are in thy womb ... and the elder shall serve the younger"

(Genesis 25.23).

The apostle Paul, in commenting on this in Romans 9.11, 12, says, "For the children being not yet born, neither having done anything good or bad, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth, it was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger."

Genesis 28.12 tells us

"And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it."

Now of what would the ladder speak to us? Surely we can see Christ in it, the One who said, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by Me" (John 14.6). In that ladder set up on the earth we see a shadow of Christ, who is the Way, and the only Way to God. He alone is the link between God and men, and it is through Him alone that men can ever reach heaven. "The way" is also associated with the together-people of God entering into the holies on a Lord's day morning;

"Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by the Way which He dedicated for us, a new and living Way, through the veil, that is to say His flesh" (Hebrews 10.19, 20).

"And behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD, the God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac" (Genesis 28.13).

Not yet is Jacob's name added, the trio of the fathers is not yet complete, but ever afterwards God was to be known to His people as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob, as He told Moses out of the Bush (Exodus 3.6). God here gives to Jacob the very same promises which He had given to Abraham and Isaac, included in which is the precious promise of Christ. "In thee and in thy Seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed." See Genesis 12.3; 17.7,8; 26.34,etc.

"And Jacob awaked out of his sleep" (Genesis 28.16).

His words and his actions are of the utmost importance, and should be very prayerfully considered by us all.

"And he said, Surely the LORD is in this place ... How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the House of God, and this is the gate of heaven. And Jacob ... took the stone that he had put under his head, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it, and he called the name of that place Beth-el: (The House of God), but the name of the city was Luz at the first" (verses 16-19).

This then is the first mention of the House of God in the Scriptures, the great truth which was to find fuller expression in the Tabernacle

in the wilderness, with its curtains, and boards and bars and wonderful furniture, and later on in the magnificent temple which Solomon built, and in the New Testament a more wonderful expression still, not in the Church which is His Body, but in the spiritual house of 1 Peter 2.5. The House of God to-day is not made of curtains, or boards or bars, nor is it built of stones hewn out of mountains, but what is infinitely more precious in the sight of God, of living stones, sinners redeemed by the blood of Christ, baptized and added together in churches of God, which churches together form the House of God (see Ephesians 2.21, 22; and also 1 Timothy 3.15).

"Surely the LORD is in this place."

Can anything be more precious than that to the longing soul that pants after God, to the exercised believer who in the perplexity of his soul, amidst the many places that abound around him, cries out, "Oh, that I knew where I might find Him"? If any such should be reading these lines, we point to the House of God; here, and here alone on the earth to-day, is to be found the One who has lordship and authority. (It is obvious of course that we speak not of sinners finding Christ as Saviour, but of saints desiring to follow the Lord and to obey His word). Again, can anything be more solemn and sanctifying to our hearts than this, "Surely the LORD is in this place" ? Because of this there must be right behaviour in the House of God, reminding us of Psalm 93.5, "Holiness becometh Thine House, 0 LORD, for evermore," and also of what Paul says in 1 Timothy 3.14, 15,. "That thou mayest know how men ought to behave themselves in the House of God."

All this proves that the House of God is not in heaven, but on earth, and that it is not the Church the Body of Christ, for behaviour good or bad has nothing whatever to do with our being in that Church. We should also take particular notice that it was the stone upon which his head had rested that Jacob set up for a pillar, and poured oil upon. Surely this points us to our Lord Jesus Christ and to Him in association with the House of God. He is the One in whom we have found rest, and He is also the One who is the Chief Corner Stone of Ephesians 2.20, and the living Stone of 1 Peter 2.4. To Him we come and "as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Peter 2.5). Now in all that Jacob said and did here, in the vow that he vowed, and in his anointing the pillar it is evident he was in the mind of God, for God identified Himself with it. Years afterwards, when Jacob's sojourn with Laban the Syrian was drawing to a close, and when he was troubled because he saw that Laban's countenance was not towards him as before, God again appeared unto him in a dream and said, "I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst a pillar, where thou vowedst a vow unto Me" (Genesis 31.13). And, later on, God again says unto him, "Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there, and make there an altar unto God" (Genesis 35.1). God loved Bethel, it was the place of His own choice, and He

wanted Jacob to dwell there. In this we see the will of God for all believers to-day. Alas, too many never come to the place, but happy are all those who obey the voice of God and dwell in Bethel, the House of God, for as Psalm 84.4 declares, "Blessed are they that dwell in Thy House, they will be still praising Thee."

In closing we would like to point out in reference to Jacob's vow, "If God will be with me, and will keep me and give me bread to eat," that when his end was nigh, and he was blessing the sons of Joseph, this man of God, who had seen much suffering and trial, was able to say, in words touching and tender, "The God which bath fed me all my life long unto this day; the Angel which hath redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads, and let my name be named upon them" (Genesis 48.15, 16). What a testimony to the faithfulness and the watchful care of God! "Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help" (Psalm 146.5). Yea, "This God is our God for ever and ever: He will be our guide even unto death" (Psalm 48.4).