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The Gate of Heaven

Have you ever passed an antique wardrobe and wondered if there might be a wintry world on the other side? In C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, a wardrobe provides a gateway to Narnia. Lewis seemed fond of these passageways to another time and place. In Prince Caspian, Aslan creates a “door in the air” and in The Last Battle, the characters pass through a stable door into a new world as the old Narnia ends.

Imagine Jacob’s surprise when he was presented with a similar amazing door! One could hardly imagine a less likely time for Jacob to be given a vision of heaven. He was running away from a messed-up family situation, including an angry brother and an offended father. That night, he saw in a dream a “stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (v. 12). What was it? Probably a stairway on the side of a ziggurat, a pyramid-like building that would have been culturally familiar as a kind of temple. The angels were going up and down, going about their Lord’s business.

In the dream, God renewed His covenant with Jacob (vv. 13–15). Why now? Jacob was at a low point and needed encouragement. He was leaving the Promised Land and received assurance that he would return. God chose this moment to remind Jacob that the covenant was not about his own merit or worthiness, but about God’s faithful love and glory.

Jacob responded: “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven” (v. 17). He set up a memorial stone and named the place Bethel, or the “house of God” (vv. 18–19).

>> Perhaps, like Jacob, you’re struggling today, maybe from a dysfunctional family situation. How can God work in our lives when people make such a wreck of things? Fear not! Jesus Himself is the “stairway to heaven,” bringing the life and truth of heaven to earth (John 1:51).

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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