Jacob met God in the wasteland. What wasteland are you experiencing today? No matter what it is, you can rest assured that God will meet you there.
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Transcript: Welcome to Five Minutes With Pastor Lutzer. I’m so glad that you’ve joined us today as we have the study of the invisible world. The invisible world is a world of demons and angels and God, and eventually we’re actually going to be looking into heaven itself. We’re gonna be looking at the invisible world through the lens of Scripture.
Today, I want to introduce you to a man who met God in the wasteland. His name was Jacob. Jacob, you remember, had a twin brother by the name of Esau. And Jacob and his mother Rebecca schemed against Esau; and as a result, Jacob had to flee. His first night away from home, he puts down a rock as a pillow. I assume maybe he put a blanket over the rock, but be that as it may, the Bible says in Genesis chapter 28, “And he dreamed, and behold there was a ladder set up on the Earth; and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, angels of God were ascending and descending on it, and the Lord stood above the ladder.”
We’ve all heard about Jacob’s Ladder, haven’t we? What’s very interesting is that Jesus refers to this in the New Testament. As a matter of fact, when He is introduced to Nathaniel, Nathaniel knows that Jesus is the Messiah; because this is the passage that Nathaniel was actually meditating on and Jesus knew it. And after discussing that with Nathaniel, He said, “From now on you’re going to see angels of God, ascending and descending upon the Son of man,” a clear reference to Jacob’s ladder.
A couple of comments about that ladder. First of all, it’s a ladder that was built by God and not man. It’s contrasted, of course, with the story of the Babel—remember the tower of Babel, where they intended to build, in effect, a ladder to get to God. But human ladders never get there. The divine ladder is God’s ladder that reaches from heaven to Earth, and makes that connection.
Something else, however, I want to point out in the passage that I think will be a great blessing. After Jacob rises that morning, he says to himself—and it’s here in verse 12 in the 28th chapter of the book of Genesis—he says, “God was in this place, and I didn’t know it here in the wasteland.” By the way, he names it Bethel. I actually was in Bethel many years ago back in 1968, when we studied in Israel. Some of us had that privilege. It is a wasteland. And there, God revealed Himself.
Now I want to tell you today that you might be in your own wasteland. Maybe a lonely apartment, maybe a broken relationship, maybe some kind of a difficulty has come into your life and you feel absolutely alone, but God is there. His presence is with us even when we don’t discern it. Even when we don’t have a dream that reminds us of His presence, God is there.
You say, “Well, Pastor Lutzer, but Jacob was able to connect with God directly, because this ladder was given to him and he understood.” As a matter of fact, he actually refers to it as the gate of heaven. “What about me,” you say? Well, here’s the good news. Jesus Christ says this: “No one has seen God at any time, but the only begotten Son”—the only begotten God, as some translations have it—“in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” You want to see God? You want to connect with the invisible God? Jesus said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.”
Of course, we haven’t seen the Father directly. We don’t see the invisible Father that I believe we shall behold someday, but if we want a representation of God, or even more specifically, God in the flesh, we look at Jesus. And He turns out to be the gate to heaven.
My point simply is this: God is with you today. No matter where you find yourself, in circumstances that you didn’t expect, circumstances that were very very disappointing; filled with hurt, unexplained issues, and pain. The Lord is with you in that place, even if you don’t know it. Reach out to Him through Jesus Christ. By the way, I wanna leave you with a quotation from Augustine, the great theologian and philosopher. He said, “Oh God, Thou has said no man can see thee and live. Let me die that I might behold Thy face.”
My friend today, someday the invisible world is going to be very visible, and we will be in God’s presence and will be able to see Him. Until then, we cleave to Jesus, the gate of heaven, the one who said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” Today, you have every reason to believe and count on God’s presence. And today, you go with God.