Genesis 28.10-22; Psalm, 90; Matthew 9.18-26
One of the worst of popular religious songs is one that claims that ‘We are climbing Jacob’s ladder’. The ladder set between earth and heaven that Jacob saw in a dream was a ladder populated by angels of God going up it and coming down. This is not a picture of a way that we can by determined effort climb our way into God’s favour. Rather it is a picture of God’s own determination to fuse the gap betwixt heaven and earth.
That separation between God and his creation, was made explicit when Adam and Eve were thrust out of the Garden of Eden, the gates to the garden being secured by an angel with flaming sword. The ladder represents God’s work to close the gap, the angels testifying to its heavenly provenance; mystical theologians have often seen in it a picture of Christ’s cross.
Jacob, no less than you or I, was a child of Adam, an heir of the sundering of relationship between heaven and earth. That separation spoilt the relationship between God and Jacob, but it also cast its shadow over Jacob’s relationships with his father, his mother, his brother. Jacob’s pilgrimage was far from over that night on the road to Haran. By the time God finished with him he had lost everything he held dear, and had gained it back again.