If there were Olympic Games for the person with the saddest story in all the Bible, obviously Job would take the gold medal, but do you know who I think would take silver? Jacob. His story has always fascinated and attracted me. It’s not only sad, though; it’s also redemptive and, in the finish, even hopeful.

I recently wrote an entire seven-part sermon series on his life titled Jacob: The Faking, Breaking, and Making of a Man. The goodness of God and echoes of the gospel are found throughout his narrative. In the sermon series, I highlight many of these. Here’s one of my favorites.

Within the larger narrative flow of the book of Genesis, Jacob’s vision at Bethel of the divine staircase (Genesis 28) is seen to be the reversal of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11)! And that reversal of Babel profoundly illumines the love of God as revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. How so?

I’m so glad you asked.

Put simply, the Tower of Babel went up while Jacob’s staircase went down.

Humankind cannot reach from earth up to heaven, but God can reach from heaven down to earth.

The goal of the Tower of Babel was to build “a tower that reach[ed] to the heavens” (Genesis 11:4). That is, humankind was planning, by their efforts, skill, and considerable ambition, to reach the very dwelling place of God Himself. This makes the Tower of Babel the perfect illustration of humanity’s attempt to save itself. It was, we might say, “salvation by architecture.”

We will reach the very heavens ourselves!

Jacob’s staircase is the utter antithesis of this ambition. Humankind did not build the ladder up; God brought it down. “And there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it” (Genesis 28:12, NIV). This architectural marvel is not a symbol of human ambition, effort, and rebellion, but a monument to God’s love, mercy, and humility. The message, in its simplest form, is this: earth and heaven are connected. Humankind cannot reach from earth up to heaven, but God can reach from heaven down to earth.

Jesus is Jacob’s staircase! He said so to young Nathanael: “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John 1:49).

God showed Jacob—deceitful, fearful, guilt-ridden Jacob—the gospel. Yes, all the way back in Genesis! God then gave him a glorious assurance that echoes down to us today: “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go… for I will not leave you” (Genesis 28:15).

Friend, hear those words to you, and to all who believe in Jacob’s staircase, Jesus: “I will not leave you.”

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David Asscherick
Speaker/Director at Light Bearers

David is a speaker/director for Light Bearers and ARISE co-founder and instructor. Since his baptism in 1999, David has traveled the globe preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. He and his wife Violeta are the happy parents of two boys, Landon and Jabel.