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#54 Bethel – The Angels Ascending and Descending

By September 5, 2018 No Comments

Genesis 12:8 And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord.

We are investigating the significance of Bethel (formerly Luz).

Jacob is fleeing from his angry brother Esau from Beersheba and heading toward Haran in Padan Aram (That’s where Abram had originally come from).

The distance from Beersheba to Haran was about 800 kilometres (500 miles) -many weeks of walking or riding.

The distance from Beersheba to Luz is only about 65 kilometres (40 miles). So in his eagerness to escape Esau, Jacob (aged 77) most likely made it to Luz in one day after the sun had set.

And it was not a random place he was heading to -it was the mountain east of Luz where Abram had set up his alter 185 years earlier.

He placed a stone near his head (not as a pillow) and feeling fearful and lonely he slept and had the dream (sullam) we spoke about in the last post, of a stairway between heaven and earth, angels ascending and descending upon it and God (Jesus the Messiah) at the top.

This was Jacob’s first recorded meeting with the Lord (Messiah) in his life and it involved angels ascending and descending from heaven to earth where he lay.
When Jacob returned to Canaan 20 years later, he met angels again.

Let’s travel even further forward to the New Testament where Jesus the Messiah was at the beginning of His earthly ministry.

John 1:43 The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, and He found Philip and said to him, “Follow Me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him, and said of him, “BEHOLD AN ISRAELITE INDEED, IN WHOM IS NO DECEIT!”
48 Nathanael said to Him, “How do You know me?”
Jesus answered and said to him, “Before Philip called you, when YOU WERE UNDER THE FIG TREE, I saw you.”
49 Nathanael answered and said to Him, “RABBI, YOU ARE THE SON OF GOD! YOU ARE THE KING OF ISRAEL!”
50 Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? YOU WILL SEE GREATER THINGS THAN THESE.”
51 And He said to him, “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.”

What a phenomenal exchange!
What an incredible statement by Nathanael. Let’s dig a bit and discover the treasure.

The fig tree was the place for meditating and memorising the scriptures.
Rabbis taught under fig trees because it was thought to be a place where the scriptures could be best understood.

So Nathaniel, like many Jewish men was a genuine God seeker.

But was it really Jesus’ statement about seeing Nathanael under the fig tree that inspired Nathanael’s Messiah statement?

Not really. As mentioned, many Jewish men studied under the fig trees.

Jesus’ next words reveal why Nathanael called Jesus “The Son of God and the King of Israel.”

Nathanael had a divine revelation that Jesus was Messiah.

Remember when Peter identified Jesus as the Messiah and the Son of God? Jesus was amazed. He responded by saying “Blessed are you Simon Bar Jonah for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My Father in heaven.”

It’s a direct, divine revelation from God the Father to recognise Jesus as the Son of God and Messiah.

Nathanael had been studying/memorising a certain passage of the scriptures under the fig tree when Jesus saw him there in the spirit.

What was it?

Well of course it was this scripture about Jacob’s vision of a staircase and the Messiah at the top and angels ascending and descending from heaven to earth.

Jesus knew what it was that Nathaniel was studying as he sat under the fig tree?

He knew that Nathanael had been memorising the scriptures around Jacob’s journey to Haran, to Bethel where he had the dream and then on to a 20 year exile where he would be deceived by his uncle Laban (a man in whom there was a lot of deceit).

When Jesus saw Nathanael He said “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!”

Nathanael instantly and divinely knew that this was the very same Messiah that he had just been meditating on.

And he blurted it out with joy!
“Rabbi, You are the Son of God and the King of Israel.”

And then Jesus confirmed who He was by stating “YOU WILL SEE GREATER THINGS THAN THESE.
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.”

Jesus was claiming that He was God. He was Messiah.
He was the stairway between heaven and earth.
That angels come and go at His bidding.
And that the revelation of Himself as the Messiah is to see heaven opened to him -the only way between heaven and earth since Adam was driven from the garden by God in Genesis 3.

1 Timothy 2:5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man who is the Messiah – Jesus,

Do you believe that Jesus is the Messiah?
Do you believe that He is the son of God?
You can believe on Him today and surrender your life to Him and start to follow Him and obey Him.

Find a place to get on your knees now and bow your head in prayer now and give your life to Him.
And when you have, let us all know so that we can rejoice with you.

Romans 10:9 ….that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”

Greg Cumming

Author Greg Cumming

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