“When Jacob awoke from his dream, he was overcome with awe and said, ‘Yahweh is here! He is in this place and I didn’t realize it!’ Terrified and overwhelmed, he said, ‘How awesome is this place! I have stumbled right into the house of God! This place is a portal, the very gate of heaven!'”Genesis 28:16–17 TPT
As Jacob—on the run from his brother and sleeping with a rock for a pillow—stirred from his supernatural slumber, he awakened with the exclamation, “Yahweh is here! He is in this place and I didn’t realize it!” How many times have we been led to a place where we were not comfortable, only to encounter the Lord? Looking back over your life, you have likely said, “Yahweh was there all the time in all that I went through, and I didn’t even realize it!” We often meet with God and miss it. He can be an unexpected visitor. There’s actually nowhere on earth that he can’t visit you. Ordinary places can become holy places.
We were all meant to live under an open heaven and in a realm of unlimited possibility. We were born to live in two worlds. When our eyes are opened, we begin to see the Lord in everything. Heaven will open up before you, and you can access resources for your journey on earth. When Jacob arrived at this place, he was afraid and convinced that he had stumbled into a dreadful place. So it’s possible to be in the house of God and not even realize it. But Jacob finally discerned it clearly and rightly called the place “the house of God” and “the very gate of heaven.”
Only under an open heaven can we truly see the house of God before us. Clarity is revealed between the realm of God’s dominion (house) and what is happening on earth. This is actually the first mention of God’s house in Scripture. God’s house is a place filled with his presence, a gateway to heaven, and a stairway with angels. Jacob had great respect for this place of divine encounter. He saw it as the house of the Lord, the residence of divine majesty, the gateway to heaven, where God and man meet. The more we respect God, the more we realize how awesome he is. But if we walk in our old identity and have no respect for God, the house of God is a dreadful place.
The day would one day come when the house of God would be born among us, born of a virgin. Jesus came to be the dwelling place of God and men under one roof, living in one body. Jesus is the God-man, the house of God. As the house, he invites us to dwell in him as one with the Father. And even though Jesus was the initial fulfillment of the house of God, he was not the ultimate fulfillment. Today, the gate to heaven could also be a description of the church—us. We’re God’s house because the Father dwells among us as his people. And we are the gateway for others to come to God and to be delivered from the power of their sins (John 20:23). What Jacob saw was actually a prophetic picture of the church that would come, a place where angels would ascend and descend.
So a stairway becomes a house that becomes a gate. A gate is a place of transition and access. We walk from one place to another through a gate. When we speak of the church being a “gate to heaven,” that means everyone on earth should be able to access the reality and resources of heaven through us. Are we an open gate dispensing heaven to our land?
Jesus told Peter (and us) that there is the “power of death,” or gates of hell, established by demonic powers that keep people from heaven (Matthew 16:18). So where are those gates of hell? They are in the minds of people, strongholds of darkness that live in our thoughts. For the devil is always empowered by human agreement. And that agreement takes place in our minds. There are gates within us. The gates of hell are destined to be overcome by the house of God, and the gates of heaven are destined to release miracles and majesty to the earth. Our goal must be to agree with heaven at all times so that we become the gate of heaven, the house of God. We’re to release heaven freely into every doubt-filled corner of the earth. We’ve been called to be a gateway people for the free-flow of heavenly realities into our planet.
“Early in the morning, Jacob took the stone he had under his head, set it up as a pillar and anointed it by pouring oil over the top of it.”Genesis 28:18 TPT
Jacob built a memorial to remember this gateway or portal to heaven, using the stone he had placed under his head. The very Christ on whom we rest becomes the house of God for us. Jacob built a pillar from his pillow. This pillar is a picture of the church. For Paul describes the church as a “supporting pillar and firm foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). As Jacob poured oil on the stone, he consecrated it as a memorial to God (Leviticus 8:10–11). And as the stairway had its top in heaven, Jacob anointed the top of the pillar with oil.
Just as Jacob used a stone to build the altar, so the Father uses living stones to build his house, his people. He places his living stones together and anoints us with oil, the oil of the Holy Spirit. The Father is in the business of transforming us into precious stones, which will make up the celestial city, the New Jerusalem. And he is building this house here and now on the earth. The Father brings heaven to earth as he mingles himself with those who are his.
The anointed stone is Jesus, covered with the oil of the anointing. He is the chief cornerstone. The stone that David threw at Goliath represents him (1 Samuel 17:48–50), and he is a picture of the stone that came and conquered kingdoms in Daniel 2. And like Jacob, we can lay our heads upon him and rest.
So Jacob gives this place a new name. It used to be called Luz, which means “separation,” but now he calls it Bethel (Genesis 28:19), which means “house of God.” In order for us to be the house of God, we separate from the ways of the world. Jacob had to be driven from his world to discover the house of God. We receive revelation when we separate our hearts for the Lord in first-love devotion. As we leave the flesh, we enter into his house. This is place that God speaks to us (Hosea 12:4; Psalm 27:4).
Jacob had two things: a heap of stones and a revelation. This is how God begins. What may look like only ruins today (people who feel overwhelmed with problems), God will use to build his house. God is working on that heap of stones to shape and fashion them according to his will. We are his habitation in the Spirit. He is taking us from a heap of stones and fashioning us as he so desires until we are his beautiful dwelling place, his family, the house of God!
The Lord renewed his covenant with Jacob, and it was then time for Jacob to make a vow to God.
“Then Jacob committed himself to God, saying, ‘If you will always be with me and protect me on this long journey, and if you give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safely to my father’s house, then Yahweh, you will be my God! See! I have set up this sacred stone pillar and it will be your house, God. I promise to set aside a tenth of all that you give me as my gift to you.'”Genesis 28:20–22 TPT
Jacob vowed to make God his God. But Jacob started out with an “if”: “If you will always be with me and protect me…and give me bread…and clothing.” The “if ” here could also mean “Seeing that God will be with me.” Jacob furthermore vowed to give back to God a tithe, or a tenth, of all that God gave to him. This is clear proof that he was making a fresh covenant with God. We prove our faithfulness and real commitment by our finances. If you’re not committed to God in your finances, you’re not committed to God.
And so Jacob was changed from a wanderer to a worshiper. It’s time to make an altar of worship out of the place you’re in right now. Whether things are going well or you’re dwelling in the land of faith for what is to come, it’s time to worship him and rename your place Bethel.
Lord, I know I need to be changed, to be transformed by your presence. So I offer my heart to you today. Change me, O God! Let me see my life the way you see me. Inspire me to keep moving up the “stairway” until I am completely changed. I want more of you in my life. I want to live at Bethel, the house of God. I want to be one who ascends the stairway to heaven. Take me higher into your ways today, in Jesus’ name. Amen.
This post was an excerpt from The Blessing: Uniting Generations. In The Blessing, Brian and Candice Simmons continue their in-depth study of the book of Genesis in this second volume, covering chapters 12 through 35. Gain fresh insight from rich footnotes that include commentary, word studies, cross references, and alternate translations. Learn more here.