Through the Word: the Stairway to Heaven

Genesis 28

Leaving Beersheba, his parents and his angry and bitter twin brother Esau behind him, Isaac set out for Harran. After sundown he stopped for the night at a place called Luz and he laid down with a stone for a pillow. It can’t have been a comfortable sleep, but sleep he did.

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!”

Genesis 28:10-17

Using the stone that he’d put at his head, he set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top if it. This is the first of four pillars.  

Jacob renamed the place Bethel, meaning House of God. He made a conditional vow that if God provided for him he’d follow him; “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.”

How many of us have come to the LORD making conditional vows?

“Sulam Ya’akov” (Jacob’s Ladder) sculpture in Givat Mordechai, Jerusalem.

Now do you want to dive deeper? The Hebrew word for ladder only appears once, it is sullam. It appears nowhere else in scripture. This must be something different. A Hebrew word study on the word sullam is in the links. The top of the ladder reached Heaven and the LORD stood above the ladder the angels were ascending and descending on.

Here’s a case of Jesus being hidden in the Old Testament.

When Jesus was choosing his disciples at Bethabara (Bethany) beyond the Jordan, Nathanael acknowledged him as he said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”

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 1:48-50

Jesus is The Way, The Truth and The Life. He is the only way to Heaven. It’s Him that Jacob met.

Links

The Mystery in Sullam: The Hebrew Word for Ladder

Jacob’s Dream and the Ancient City of Bethel

Biblical Bethel, Beit El, Israel Overview: Site of Jacob’s Dream, Jeroboam’s Altar, Tabernacle

Through the Word: Types

Genesis 21:1-21

Isaac, the son of promise, was born. Sarah was 90 and Abraham 100. Abraham threw a feast on the day he was weaned and Sarah, seeing Ishmael scoffing, said, “Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.” Genesis 21:9

Abraham was displeased but God reassured him that he would make a nation from Ishmael, as Ishmael was his seed. But he said, “Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.”

Why did God choose the younger brother over the older?

Adam: the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.

I prayed about this, and the answer I got was it’s because of Adam. What has happened here is a type. One is the son of the flesh, the other the son of the spirit.

For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead.  For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

We read in 1 Corinthians 15:46 that the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.  The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven.  As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.  And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.

When Jesus referred to himself as “the Son of Man,” he was identifying with us as “the second Adam.”

Adam was the first son of God, Jesus the second, THE begotten Son of God. Jesus did for us what Adam could never do, resurrect us;  “So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.  It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.  It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.  And so it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.” 1 Corinthians 15:42-45

Hagar and Sarah: the women represent two covenants.

George Segal, Abraham’s Farewell to Ishmael, 1987. Pérez Art Museum Miami.

Hagar and Sarah were also a type, explained in Galatians 4.

For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. His son by the slave woman was born according to the flesh, but his son by the free woman was born as the result of a divine promise.

These things are being taken figuratively: The women represent two covenants. One covenant is from Mount Sinai and bears children who are to be slaves: This is Hagar.  Now Hagar stands for Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present city of Jerusalem, because she is in slavery with her children.  But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. Galatians 4:21-27

Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise.  At that time the son born according to the flesh persecuted the son born by the power of the Spirit. It is the same now.  But what does Scripture say? “ Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman’s son.”  Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman. Galatians 4:28-31

Note, this is not supposed to demean Hagar and Ishmael, for God cared about them and saved them out of the desert wilderness, promising he would make Ishmael into a great nation.

Links

Hagar and Ishmael: Genesis 21:14-21

Related post: Through the Word: Esau and Jacob

The Kingdom of Heaven suffers violence

Have you ever read the verse about the kingdom of heaven suffering violence and the violent taking it by force, and wondered what it meant?

"And from the days of John the Baptist 
until now the kingdom of heaven suffers 
violence,  
and the violent take it by force."  
Matthew 11:12

John the BaptistThe context for the verse is “the days of John the Baptist.”

“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord. Make His paths straight.’ ” 
Matthew 3:1-3

After hearing him preach, what do you think the Jews were looking forward to?

They wondered if John was the Messiah, or Elijah – who Malachi prophesied would be sent before the day of the Lord (Malachi 4:5.)

The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem asked who he was: “Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was.  He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Messiah.”

They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said, “I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered, “No.””  John 1:19-21

Jesus indicated John was a type for Elijah when He said, “And if you are willing to receive it, he is Elijah who is to come.” Matthew 11:14 

The Day of the Lord is yet to come and so is Elijah.  He may be one of the two witnesses described in Revelation 11.

Elijah will explain both Testaments and unite Jews and Christians, as he shows how Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament.

And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Malachi 4:6

Elijah will probably also heal a generational divide which I fear will happen as our children are being taught a different version of end-times after receiving an Agenda 2030 based green gospel at school.  Imagine being a climate skeptic with a child like Greta Thunberg.

Hitler said, “He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.”  It doesn’t bear thinking about.  If it’s uncomfortable now – what will it be like in the future?

But getting back to Jesus’ day, the Jews believed John the Baptist when he announced the Kingdom of God was at hand.  When Jesus fed the crowd of 5000 bread, they intended to make Jesus king by force. (John 6:14-15)

Were these people violent or enthusiastic and desperate?  I don’t know, but Jesus separated Himself from the the crowd.  Their idea of the kingdom of God was not His or His Father’s.

Before the Kingdom of Heaven can come, a false messiah and a false kingdom headed by ten kings will come first.  Jesus warned us not to be deceived.

Will we have to go against the crowd at a time when truth is nowhere to be found, and whoever shuns evil becomes a prey?
(Isaiah 59:14-15)

Matthew-11-12-How-to-Enter-the-Kingdom-of-Heaven


I’ve written about the Kingdom to come in my second book “The Wayfarer’s Guide to the Apocalypse.”  It’s a unique peek at the happenings in Heaven and on earth as the world lurches through the apocalypse.   Book link: https://books2read.com/u/3RaOvG

The Kingdom within

When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, he answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” Luke 17:20-21.  Some translations have him reply “The Kingdom of God is in your midst.”

How could the Kingdom of God be within the legalistic Pharisees – religious leaders who shut people out of the Kingdom?  Jesus said “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” Matthew 23:13

How could the Kingdom of God be within them, or in their midst?  Well, they had the Word of God.  That’s it, plain and simple.  They were the scribes.  The Word was in the scrolls they read and taught from in the synagogues and temple. As for the Kingdom of God in their midst – they should have known from the Word who the King was.

The Kingdom of God is accessed from the Word of God.

god-s-word-translationThe Bible is no ordinary book, as I discovered.  It’s a door.  Reading and seeking the Kingdom of God through the Bible will change you.  What does it look like when a person travels through the Word of God?  Come with me and find out.  I wrote what I learned and experienced in my story “The Kingdom, Here Be Dragons, Here Be Dreams.”

What happened when Jesus rose from the dead …

happy-easter

Weeping broke the early morning silence.  It was the first day of the week.  While the world woke up, an uncomprehending woman cried her heart out beside a tomb. 

It was a world stricken with death.  It came to them all, sooner or later.  But this was a day unlike any other.  Resurrected feet trod the earth.

“Woman, why are you crying? Who do you seek?” the King asked, approaching her.

Standing at the empty tomb, Mary Magdalene didn’t recognise him.  With the light and the tears blinding her eyes, she cried “They’ve taken away my Lord, and I don’t know where they’ve laid him. If you have taken him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.”

Mary,” the King said.

“Teacher!” she cried in recognition, turning to him.

The risen Lord had been in the belly of the earth for three days and nights, even preaching to those who’d perished in the flood of Noah.  Now, he had returned from death.  (1 Peter 3:19)

He said, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren, and say to them, I ascend to my Father, and your Father, and to my God, and your God.” (John 20)

Obeying him, Mary, Joanna and Mary the mother of James went and told the disciples the Lord had risen, but they were not believed.

Ascending to his Kingdom, the King was greeted with songs, shouts, and cries of joy.  Walking across the sapphire pavement, the resurrected Son of God approached the throne of his Father, the keys of Death and Hell in his hands. The gates of Hell had not prevailed against him.

All of Heaven rejoiced.  The eyes of the creatures hailed their creator as the angels formed a rank of honour.  All bowed down as he passed.

A throne awaited him.

But first, before mounting the stairs to take his place at the right hand of the Father, the Son of God presented himself as the first of the harvest.

Looking ahead to the harvest of mankind that awaited, the angels sang for joy. The creatures added their voice, “Hail to the First-fruits of the earth.”

All of Heaven rose to their feet as the Father rose from his throne, accepting the sinless offering of the earth.

The Son of Man would serve as the High Priest of the New Covenant in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

The sanctuary built by Moses was a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: “See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. (Hebrews 8)

The only man-made thing in this place were the scars on the King’s body.

Now all of Heaven would await the arrival of the Church of the Firstborn.

And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Colossians 1:18


This story is taken from Mark 16 and Luke 24.

Heavenly creatures

Do you believe there are animals in the Kingdom of Heaven?  Let’s imagine we can have a peek in the Kingdom from the Bible. 

Here’s the throne of God, with a floor of sapphire, and encircled by an emerald rainbow.
In front of the throne on what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. In the centre, around the throne, were four living creatures, and they were covered with eyes, in front and in back.” Revelation 4:6

Covered with eyes?  I can’t really picture it.  The creatures described in Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4 aren’t like anything we have on earth.

Perhaps God has tried to show us with the peacock!

peacock-new-zealand_10933_990x742

The Hebrew word for eyes is ‘ayin‘ which represents consciousness – the idea of seeing and watching as well as knowledge.  Do we not see it in the eyes of our animals?  Before the throne of God, I can imagine their innocent eyes reveal intelligence and spiritual insight.

These creatures are in the midst of the throne so we can see that God has his companion creatures, just as we do.

The living creatures are of four types, and of four in number.  Four is the “earth number,” for they have something to do with the earth.

The creatures on earth wait in hope for the children of God to be revealed.  “They wait in eager expectation for children of God to be revealed.” Romans 8:19.

Animals have a soul.  God had given his creatures breath, “ruach”, a soul – just as man has been given breath, a soul.  “In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.”  Job 12:10

Does God care about our animals?  I’d say yes, for he writes that a righteous man cares for the needs of his animal.” (Proverbs 12:10). He cares about us all.

He knows if even a sparrow falls.  He watches over them.  Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  Matthew 10:29

job-12-10-cat-550x320

The animals belong to God, and he knows each one.  “Every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.”  Psalms 50:10-11

It says in Revelation 4:11 that God created all things, and they were created for his pleasure.

Although the creatures are God’s, God placed them under Adam’s dominion.  After the fall of man, all creation suffered when the Earth came under a curse.

Job, the oldest book in the Bible deals with suffering.  Job spoke of the life of the creatures and the breath of all mankind being in God’s hand.  He said, “Ask the animals, and they will teach you.”  Job 12:7-10

Cat in arms of JesusThe creatures can’t tell us, but they have this hope of being released from suffering. They’re looking forward to the day when they can join us in the new Kingdom, where there will be no more death or suffering.

For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.  We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.  Romans 8:19-22

Adam named the creatures.  When Adam, or mankind is restored, all creation will be restored along with man.  They will be brought into a world where they can live as God intended.

The wolf will live with the lamb, 
the leopard will lie down with the goat, 
the calf and the lion and the yearling 
together; 
and a little child will lead them.  
Isaiah 11:6

If you’ve lost a pet, I hope this comforts you.  It is okay to grieve for your animal, God understands.  There is a rest for the creature, for from God are all things, and to God are all things.  Worthy Of It All – David Brymer (David Elango acoustic cover)

Cat & Psalm 23