Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Reading the Bible 19 Gen 28: Jacob’s Dream

Jacob’s ladder is one of those stories that everyone knows – or thinks they know.  Those stories are always a bit of a challenge and therefore an opportunity when they are the subject of sermons because many people will turn their minds off when they begin to hear a passage that they are sure they know well.  They also may pay attention to what the preacher is going to say to see if he or she has anything new to say.  The danger and challenge is that they will turn off if you don’t have something to say they haven’t heard before.  However, that also means that if you can present some perspective that is new to them it will have a better chance of making a lasting impression.

I like the opportunity to preach on this passage as one way I understand the image of Jacob’s ladder as  representing the way God communicates with up through dreams.  The image of angels (God’s messengers or messages) ascending and descending on the ladder between heaven and earth give us a picture of God sending messages to people through dreams.  Jacob’s dream of the ladder happened while he was asleep so that it is reasonable to see this as a dream.  In that sense it is a dream of how dreams work – messages from God coming to earth from God.  Like Jacob we have an opportunity to respond to our dreams by working with them and trying to understand what God is saying to us - admittedly it is not always clear which is why dreams have been referred to elsewhere as God’s forgotten language. 
Jacob responded to the dream by recognizing he was in a sacred place.  He set up the stone he had been using for a pillow as a pillar to mark the place, consecrated it with oil and named it Bethel – the house of God .  We can respond to our dreams by first recording the dream content and then seeing what associations we have with the images in the dream.  It is also very helpful to read some books on the meaning of symbols in dreams.  There are many such books available and as you may be aware I favour one that uses a Jungian approach to understanding them.

I invite you to consider dreams as something which can bring you information – if not from God then about aspect of yourself that you are not aware of consciously.  If you would like more information please don’t hesitate to contact me at   

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