Commented Bible Passages

These Bible meditations are meant as a way of seeking God in silence and prayer in the midst of our daily life. During the course of a day, take a moment to read the Bible passage with the short commentary and to reflect on the questions which follow. Afterwards, a small group of 3 to 10 people can meet to share what they have discovered and perhaps for a time of prayer.

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Genesis 28:11-15: A Message from Heaven

Far away in the wilderness, after having escaped from his brother’s anger, Jacob is moved by a dream. He sees angels going up and down on a “staircase”. Going up, the angels carry to God the fear, the guilt feelings and the suffering of Jacob. Going down, they bring to Jacob God’s presence, God’s words and promise (v. 13-15).

What does Jacob discover through his dream? Above all, that God speaks personally to him. Up to that point Jacob did not have any personal experience of God. Earlier, he spoke to his father about “your God”, not “my God” (Genesis 27:20).

The dream shows the meaning of the situation Jacob is in. Seen from the outside it is hopeless: Jacob is running away, and he is very afraid. But the dream shows him his circumstances in a different light. Beyond this reality another reality is hidden: God, who accompanies him and who upholds him. Jacob needed the dream in order to recognise this. Mere thinking and reflection would not have been enough. Now he can continue on his way with trust. He is an exile, but not an exile without hope. He is lonely, but not alone. Far from home, he can keep going because of this dream and God’s promise. His feelings of fear are no longer the only reality.

For the first time in his life Jacob recognises that he is not the centre of the universe. Jacob did not go up the staircase to heaven. He is a receiver and not an activist like he was before, someone who always wanted to be in control of things.

The dream came to Jacob at a time of crisis. Earlier, when his life went along planned paths, he would not have been so open to God’s message. In our life, too, fixed certainties have to be shaken sometimes, so that we can become open for what God wants to say to us. And then we can have the healing experience that we are not the masters of our life.

- Did you ever have something like a meeting with God? Did this happen at a good or bad time in your life?

- Have you experienced situations of uncertainty which were healing for you? Through which you found new trust in God?

- What would you like to be brought up to God along the “staircase”?

Other bible meditations:

Last updated: 1 July 2024