September 30, 2008 - Tuesday of the 19th Week after Trinity

Today's Reading: Genesis 28:10-17

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 1:37—2:15; Matthew 6:1-15

And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! (Genesis 28:12)

Jacob was on his way to Haran in search of a wife. On his way, he camped for a night. With a rock for a pillow, out in the open air, Jacob had a dream. He saw a great ladder connecting heaven and earth, and angels ascending and descending on it. There the LORD revealed Himself to Jacob as the God of his fathers, and repeated the covenant promise He once made to Abraham - of land, of descendants, of blessing to all nations through his Seed.

What was this great ladder that Jacob saw? It wasn’t a ladder he could climb. Only the angels could ascend and descend on it. Sometimes salvation is wrongly pictured as a climb up a stairway to heaven. That was tried once at the Tower of Babel, but God put an end to the project before it got too far off the ground. A sinner cannot climb up to God. He can only lie in the dust with a rock under his head. But, God reveals Himself to us as we sleep in the dust of our own death. He comes down to meet us, to be with us, to save us, in the Person of His Son Jesus.

Jesus identified Himself with that ladder when He met Nathaniel under the fig tree. “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.” Jesus is the ladder that Jacob saw! The angels ascend and descend on Jesus, because He is the One who brings heaven to earth and earth to heaven by His dying and rising.

We cannot climb up to heaven, but heaven comes down to us in the Word of Christ and the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. He brings us to heaven in His crucified, risen, and gloried humanity. And He does so humbly and hidden. As Jacob says, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I did not know it.” At least until we hear His Word. And then we know that we are in an awesome place, the house of God, the gate of heaven.

Almighty God, grant to the Church Your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes down from above, that Your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith we may serve You and, in the confession of Your name, abide unto the end through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.