The Gate of Heaven

October 23, 2022


The Gate of Heaven

Trinity 19 T Genesis 28:10-17



Ever since day one in Catechism class,

You’ve heard that God is omnipresent,

Which means that God is everywhere.

That’s just a characteristic of God,

As a being who is outside time and space.


So it may seem silly to us when Jacob says in the Old Testament reading,

“Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”

Because God is everywhere!

But truly, the LORD wasn’t in that place in any ordinary way –

The Lord wasn’t there in the same way as when Jacob would go golfing,

or taking a walk by the Dead Sea.

Rather, the Lord was there to do something specific – to bless Jacob.

The Lord’s blessing made this place special.


If you’re unfamiliar with the story of Jacob,

He was a deceiver and trickster!

He got things that weren’t his in a way which would appear right,


He traded some lentil soup for his starving brother, Esau’s birthright,

And then he tricked his dad, Isaac,

Into giving him, the second born son, the familial and godly blessing before he died.

Now, this blessing wasn’t just some words –

It was the covenantal blessing God originally gave to Abraham –

That through Abraham’s seed, God would bless all the nations.

That’s the blessing that Jacob stole from Esau by pretending to be him.


God reinforced the covenant made to Isaac and Abraham,

By coming to Jacob in a dream.

In this dream, a ladder was set up –

the bottom of it on earth, and the top of it being in heaven.

On this ladder, the angels were ascending and descending.

Yet at the top of the ladder from heaven,

The blessing of God came down upon Jacob –

The same blessing that was promised to Abraham and Isaac,

That was to bless all the nations of the earth through the offspring and line of Jacob,

And in this blessing was the promise to have God’s people dwell on that land.


Then, Jacob woke from the dream,

And remarked “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”

“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

That is to say, Jacob recognized that this was where heaven met earth.

And God gave the blessings of heaven to a conniving deceiver like Jacob.

In response to God’s blessing, Jacob called this place “Bethel”,

which means house of God.


The story of Jacob’s ladder shows that even in the midst of Jacob running for his life,

Away from his angered brother Esau,

God sought to bless Jacob, even in ways he didn’t expect.


Throughout God’s people’s history,

rabbis and priests have speculated about Jacob’s ladder,

because there’s a great deal of mystery around it.

What was it all about? What does it mean?

Are the gates of heaven opened to bless us?


The church has found it’s answer in the person and work of Jesus.

Jesus said in John’s Gospel – “you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Just as the angels ascended and descended on the ladder,

so do they ascend and descend on Jesus.

Jesus equates Himself as Jacob’s ladder,

Jesus being that thing which connected heaven and earth –

That HE, is the fruition of Jacob’s blessing given by God.

He, Jesus, is the fruit of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’s loins by whom all the nations are blessed –

Jesus is the connector between heaven and earth.

He is the bridge by which the blessings of God descend on all mankind.

Apart from Christ, who is Himself the ladder,

God’s blessings remain in heaven.

Even though God is present everywhere,

God blesses through His Son alone.


The gap between earth and heaven is bridged by the cross.

For Christ’s bloodshed is the blessing sent to you by your Father in heaven.

God stoops down to earth here in the Divine Service to bless you with the forgiveness of sins, won by Him.

And He teaches you to live as His child with the blood-stained marks of the cross on your forehead and heart.

By this faith which has been placed on you by God,

God’s blessings go out with you from this place.

Surely, the Lord is in this place, and we didn’t know it.


Perhaps we know this deep down in our hearts,

but don’t know the full impact of it–

God’s providence and blessing for you doesn’t stop after the Divine Service.

It’s not as if the blood of His Son is all He has to give to you.

Or that once you leave the church building,

you’re free to live a life not defined by GOD’S blessing, but your preferences –

that you checked your “go-to-Sunday” box,

thus fulfilling your obligations as God’s child,

and you don’t have to live like a Christian again until next Sunday.

May that never be!


God’s blessing on Jacob was fixed at that special location for that special moment But when Jacob departed, it’s not as if God’s blessing stayed there at Bethel.

That blessing rested with Jacob and went with him for the rest of His life.

That blessing was passed on to generations after Him.


Monday morning when you wake up from your sleep,

What drives you? What motivates you? What energizes you?

Some days, it may feel like your coffee energizes you,

And what drives you is slavery to making a buck.


But according to what we teach and confess,

God’s blessings drive, motivate, and energize your living.

Specifically, the blessings received in Word and Sacrament from Sunday energize you.

That’s what we pray in the post communion collect –

“We give thanks to You, almighty God, that you have refreshed us through this salutary gift – that is, the body and blood of Christ in the Supper – and we implore You that of Your mercy, You would strengthen us through the same in faith toward You and in fervent love toward one another.”


We receive the love of God from His holy throne on Sunday.

This is the place where heaven and earth meet for just a moment.

This is our Bethel, where God’s blessings change us.

This is where the Divine serves us.


How does the Lord serve us? What is it He gives?


God has created you to be His own.

Not only to be recipients of His blessing,

But He’s given you a life blessed by His provision and providence.


And so when you wake on Monday morning,

God’s gifts from Sunday have changed your lives from slavery to service.

That’s what faith believes.

Thus, you’re energized to get up and be God’s hands and feet in love and service to your families, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.


In this blessing, your vocation is met with Christian joy and praise,

For you go about your day and week with the Lord.

You aren’t alone and unequipped in your tasks,

God is with you, giving you what’s needed.

He bound Himself to you in His means of grace,

Through which the Lord energizes you with His love and joy.


There’s little on the earth that could provide you with as much –

But that’s what’s special about this place.

Here, heaven meets earth.

And we are surely blessed by all the company of heaven.


This sort of blessing cannot be received hunting in the woods on Sunday,

Or playing a round of golf with friends,

Or even watching the preacher on TV.

Yes, God is everywhere.

But He’s here to give a very specific blessing to be received by His children here in church –

By hearing the preached Word and receiving the blessed Sacraments in faith,

Trusting that with these things,

the Lord strengthens our faith as we live Christian lives together as a Church body,

But He also strengthens us to faithfully walk in our Christian vocations Monday through Saturday –

Whether our vocation be Father, Mother, son, daughter, Co-worker, friend, neighbor –

The Lord equips us to live up to the calling and blessing He has given.


And so we can say along with Jacob –

“Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it.”

“How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God,

and this is the gate of heaven.”




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