Jacob, having tricked his father Isaac into blessing him over and above his brother Esau, is now on the run. He is in fear for his life as his brother has vowed to kill him for what he had done. Alone and afraid, Jacob travels through the wilderness. He is not seeking an encounter with God, nor is he searching for some deeply religious explanation of his life. Jacob is between places, the place of his father which is his home, and the place to which he is traveling where he hopes to find a new life. Yet, through a dream, God makes His presence known and the gospel, the good news of God’s deliverance comes to Jacob. “Behold, I am with you!”
In the narrative of Jacob, from his stealing of his brother’s birth rite and blessing to his fleeing into the wilderness, we can see the human response to sin. All too often trouble, worry and guilt drive people deeper into the wilderness of a fallen world. We wander in search of moral high ground, a solution to our problem or perhaps even search for a God who seems to be absent. Yet, as with Jacob, it isn’t until we let our guard down and become vulnerable, open to divine presence, that we realize God is with us.
Jacob’s vision of a ladder reaching from earth into heaven teaches us that the world is not a place absent of God’s presence. Rather, there is intersection between the realm of earthly life and the heavenly realm of God’s kingdom. Angels, messengers of God, travel to and from bringing tidings of good news and God’s divine protection to those who live within the family of faith. God’s children are not alone; there is someone who walks with us, powerful enough to take on our troubles and wash away our guilt. Because God loved the world so much, we have a Savior through whom we are reconciled to God and therefore may find sweet comfort in words God spoke to Jacob, the same words of Jesus at the mount of ascension, “Behold, I am with you!”
How often do we find ourselves wandering through the wilderness? How often are we between places in our lives? When are those instances when we search for God, yet He seems distant? These are the times when we must become quiet and still, open our hearts and minds to the presence of our Lord Jesus, and allow the Holy One to invade our time and space, surrounding us with His love and reassuring us through the good news of Christ our Lord.
Lord God, heavenly King, we give you thanks that even in our wandering you are with us. Guide us by your Holy Spirit and guard us with your angels. Help us to see always, your power and presence in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.