This particular event in the life of Jacob is one which many of us are very familiar with. It’s the story that is commonly referred to as Jacob’s Ladder. This significant event has had a great impact on people all around, so much so that the title – “Jacob’s Ladder” – has been used to label just about anything you can think of. For instance, Jacob’s Ladder has been used as the title of a movie and a mini-series, it’s the name of a plant, a type of body piercing (don’t look this up), a kid’s toy, electric companies, even workout equipment, among other things. Often times when this story is told or replayed in our minds, the thing that is focused on the most is the ladder and the angels ascending and descending upon it. What is often passed over, or seldom remembered, is the fact that Jacob was unknowingly in the presence of Almighty God. Some of us have been in the presence of God and we didn’t know it. Some of you right now, have no idea that God is in this place! We’ve totally missed God at work in our lives.
My goal and hope today is to encourage you and to inspire you to look for God whenever you are going through periods of darkness in your own life. Today, we’ll look at 3 key pieces from the life of Jacob. We’ll look at the darkness that surrounded Jacob, the place Jacob was in, and Jacob’s confession about God.
In this passage, Jacob is on a journey. Earlier in this chapter we can see that Jacob has been blessed by his father Isaac and he is sent to Padan Aram to find a wife. As Jacob travels, “he [comes] to a certain place” and that, because the sun was setting, because it was getting dark, he stayed at this “certain place” all night. You see, it was customary and rather wise, during these times for sojourners to end their travels once night began to fall, and for good reason. So, let’s talk about darkness for a minute.
Darkness is a reality that often times we aren’t prepared to deal with. I’m not just talking about the darkness of night or an unlit room, but the darkness Paul referenced in Ephesians when he said, “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (6:12) . There is a darkness that is more terrifying than the darkness of night. I’m talking about spiritual darkness! I’m talking about a life which totally excludes Jesus. I’m talking about demonic events planned against the lost, in order to keep them enslaved to sin. Demonic events planned against us as the people of God in order to prevent us from trusting in, obeying, and testifying about the Lord Jesus. Darkness that tries to blind us to the faithfulness of our God!
Darkness can present some very threatening challenges that doesn’t bother us a bit when have light. In darkness, we are more susceptible to attacks. It’s easier to trip is up. In the Gospel according to John, Jesus said “…if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him” (Jn. 11:10). Just how darkness can limit our vision physically, darkness can also limit our vision spiritually. Trees outside of our windows casts shadows on our bedroom walls that may look like creepy figures from horror movies. Your darkness may be casting shadows that look like despair, depression, doubt, or anxiety. Your darkness might be the loss of a child you hoped to hold some day, like it was for Alicia and me when we found out that she had miscarried a few years ago. Your darkness may look like a troubled marriage or children who have gone astray, like I did and found myself in the darkness of a prison cell, but it was the Light of Jesus that brought me out. Your darkness may look like same sex attraction, physical, emotional, or verbal abuse, pornography, or promiscuity. The darkness might be cancer; it can be an ongoing bout with alcoholism, or drug addiction, causing you to question the sovereignty of God. You may be going through the darkness about some life-changing decision and you need to hear from God and the devil is telling you that because you haven’t received your answer yet – God doesn’t love you. That is a lie! Wherever you are right now, you need to know that God is there! It’s possible to see Him in the darkness. Doesn’t God do some of His best work in the dark?
It was in the darkness that God began the creation of our worlds (Gen. 1:1-2).
It was in the darkness of the lions den that He saved Daniel (Dan. 6:16-22).
It was in the darkness of a grave that Jesus brought Lazarus back to life (John 11:41-44).
It was in darkness out on the Sea of Galilee that the disciples could see Jesus and in the darkness, it was Peter who received power – because of his faith – to walk to Jesus on the water. And when He started to sink, Jesus was there to lift him up (Matt. 14:22-33)!
And in the spiritual darkness of this world, Jesus is the True Light of the world! He is the Light that shines brightest and the darkness cannot overcome him (John 1:1-9)! In the dark, He is – Emmanuel! Surely, God is in this place!
A CERTAIN PLACE
And so it was, when night began to fall; when the darkness grew thicker by the moment, Jacob “came to a certain place.” Whatever or wherever this place was, we aren’t told. All we know about this place is that it was somewhere between Beersheba and Haran. However, what we can deduce by reading this story is that in this “certain place” Jacob was safe; he found comfort and rest. Finally, we know that this place of safety, comfort, and rest was a place IN the darkness of his journey.
A lot of times, when we are going through darkness in our own lives, we convince ourselves that shelter, comfort, and rest only comes after we have left the darkness. We want peace, but we want it without the storms of life. We want victory, without a battle. We want to be more than a conqueror, with nothing to overcome. Something we fail to realize is that we don’t always have to wait until the storm passes, we CAN find shelter in the mists of a storm. There is a hiding place “in the dark”!
In Psalm 32:7, David said of the Lord, “You are a hiding place for me. In Psalms 91:2 we learn that God is a shelter and those who dwell in Him will rest! In vv. 14-16, David says The Lord is a refuge! He is an impenetrable fortress! That’s why Jacob could rest in the darkness .
Because he loves Me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.
Let God be your resting place in the dark!
You may have come to a “certain place” in your life where God is calling you to let go of some earthly things you cherish in order to lay hold of the spiritual blessings He has in store for you in the heavenly places in Jesus (Eph. 1:3). Maybe you’re at a place where you need to forgive some folks for what happened years ago. You may be at a place where you have to surrender to God and trust Him to provide for you. You might be at a place where you need to repent from your sins so that you can find comfort in the saving grace of Jesus. No matter where you find yourself, “today is the day of salvation!” “Behold, the kingdom of God is at hand!” Surely! God is in this place!
GOD IS HERE
When the darkness began to cover him, Jacob came to a place of rest, peace, comfort, and safety. You can imagine that when he got to that place, how he must’ve taken the baggage he was carrying and let them fall to the ground. Whatever he was carrying that had grown heavier and heavier as the journey continued no longer weighed him down. The Bible reminds us that when he got to that certain place, he put a rock under his head as a pillow and he stayed there all night and slept.
When Jesus is your Rock, you can lay your heavy burdens down!
When Jesus is your Rock you don’t have to worry about your situation!
When Jesus is your Rock you can rest!
When Jesus is your Rock you can endure the darkness for a little while!
Jacob was asleep under the dark night sky dreaming. As he slept, God visited him and made him a promise. Jacob and his descendants would be blessed and they would be a blessing to all the families of the earth. Finally, God encouraged Jacob with these words; “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” After hearing those words, Jacob woke up from his sleep and he said, “Surely the Lord is in this place and I had no idea!” What about you? Do you realize that right now you are in the presence of God? Do you realize that God is here and that He wants to reveal Himself to you today?
In this life- Jesus said – you will have trouble, but when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, when the darkness grows thick around you and don’t know where to go, when you can’t see your ending from your beginning; when you can’t see the face of God – you can still feel His hand on your life. Will you TRUST HIM this morning?
Sometimes our problem is that we don’t stay in our place long enough to be comforted. Sometimes we don’t stay long enough to be delivered. Sometimes, we leave before our provision arrives! Too often we give up too soon. But according to the Word of the Sovereign Lord, you need to “Be still and know that He is God”! He is with you, when it seems like there is no way out. He is with you, when the burdens of this life start to get too heavy. And if you will stick around long enough you will see the salvation of the Lord! Even now, you and I must endure the troubles of this life with the confidence that God is aware of our situation AND that He can and will do something about it. That He is here whether we see Him at work or not. And that there is a promise from God to accomplish in you what He has planned. Through the prophet Isaiah, the Lord said, “So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; It shall not return to Me void, But it shall accomplish what I please, And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it (Isaiah 55:11). Hold on to your profession of faith, for He who promised is faithful (Heb. 10:23). Surely, God is here today and you have no idea!
Call to respond
One last thought and I’ll close. Darkness can sometimes give us false perceptions about the level of danger we are in. When we are going through dark times we may find it hard to see that God is providing what we need, that He is in control and then to trust that He will protect us while we are in the dark. Certain Place: However, if we will come to the place, in our hearts and minds, where we will continue to trust the Lord and we will obey His Word, our eyes will be opened to His glory and we will discover that He has been with us the entire time. How do we do that? Through prayer, through BIble study, through fellowship with other Christians, through doing the “next thing” you know God is telling you to do. God is Here: Sometimes, when we can’t “see” God we can still trust that we are under His watchful eye. David said in Psalms 139:7-8,
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
Today you may be in the dark and you’re looking for a way out. What you need to know my friends is that God is here today. The kingdom of God is present and He wants to reveal Himself to you! The Apostle Paul said, “For it is God who has commanded light to shine out of the darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). In John 1:51, Jesus said that He is the Ladder the angels were ascending and descending on. He is the bridge between heaven and earth; between God and man. Let Jesus be your hiding place today. Let Jesus be your shelter. Let Jesus be your Light in the darkness. Call upon the name of the Lord and you shall be saved!