2.20 Meeting God at Bethel
God reveals Himself in many different ways in the Bible. He spoke to Abraham, He visited Abraham in person, He sent an angel. To Jacob at Bethel, He appeared in a dream (Gen 28:11-17). In the dream, a ladder stretched between heaven and earth, and Jacob saw angels ascending and descending it. Actually, it was more likely a staircase up a ziggurat than what we know of as a ladder. God at once identified Himself as the God of the covenant with Abraham and Isaac, but He personalized the promises to Jacob:
a. the land on which Jacob lay was given to him
b. his descendants would be as numerous as the dust of the earth
c. all nations would bless themselves by him
d. the Presence would go with him, and bring him back to Canaan.
This dream touched Jacob at the core of his life.
He was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven" (Gen 28:17).
This passage represents the "passing of the baton" from Isaac to Jacob. The "baton" is the covenant promise of God to Abraham. This is Jacob's "burning bush" moment (see the call of Moses below in Exodus) -- the time when the God of Abraham and Isaac showed Himself to be the God of Jacob as well.
We note that this revelation did not "solve" any of Jacob's family problems or remove his sufferings in exile. He faced many long years of servitude ahead of him. Yet the hand of God was upon him wherever he went.