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Genesis 28: Stairway to Heaven

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“Your mother’s right about those Hittites, Jacobaleh,” Isaac told his son.  “You can do better.  But none of these Canaanites, either!  I mean, you can date them, but you wouldn’t want to marry one, you know what I mean?  We have standards in this family.  Now I want you to head off to Paddan-Aram and marry one of your uncle’s girls.  Keep it in the family, right, boy?  Heh, heh.”  Jacob headed off to find the cousin of his dreams, wondering if maybe his brother Esau hadn’t gotten the better end of the deal.

Esau still hoped to make a good impression on his father.  Snooping on Jacob, he learned how his parents felt about the Canaanite women, so in order to impress them, he took a third wife, only this time taking care to marry one of Ishmael’s daughters.  Ishmael was only his father’s half-brother, so it’s like they weren’t even related.

Jacob walked on to the town of Haran, in Paddan-Aram, where Uncle Laban and all those single young cousins lived.  It was a long trip, lasting more than a day.  As night fell, Jacob arrived in the town of Luz.  There was nowhere to stay there, so he found a stable behind an inn and… wait, wrong testament.  Jacob just laid down on a bare patch of ground, grabbed a stone, and drifted off into luxurious sleep.

The cold desert night and the stone pillow didn’t impede his dreams, and he had a doozy.  A stairway reached from the ground up to heaven, and God’s angels were going up and climbing down it, apparently not having yet earned their wings.  Jacob wasn’t alarmed, now.  God was on the ground with Jacob, and introduced Himself.  “I am Yahweh, the God of your grandpa Abraham and the God of your dad Isaac.  See this land all around here?  See this town of Luz?”

“You mean this empty desert and all these rocks, and this town full of Luzers?  Sure.”

“Well, I’m giving it to you and your descendants.”

“Gee, thanks.”

“You’re gonna have a lot of descendants, too.  As many as there are bits of dust in this desert.  They’ll spread out in all directions, and everyone in the world will think the world of you.  I’ll make sure it all works out, too, and stick with you wherever you go.  You can come back here whenever you want to see your dust and rocks and Luzers again.”

Jacob woke up.  “God lives here!” he said, the desert getting warmer as the sun rose.  “I guess maybe these rocks and dust are worth something, after all.  But I’ll be damned if I’m going to call myself a Luzer.  I’ll call this place… um… Bethel.  House of God.  Changing the name is a bit like polishing a turd, but after those stunts I pulled on my brother to snag his inheritance, I feel like I’ve gotten the knack for exaggeration.”

Jacob then swears that if God really does come through for him and doesn’t let harm come to him on his journey, and keeps him fed and clothed all along the way, only then will he make Him his God.  He took his rock-pillow, poured oil on it, and set it up to be the pillar for a house of God.  “A few more stones and it might actually look like a pillar,” Jacob said.  “Hear that, God?  Deliver for me, and I’ll pay you 10% of everything you give me.  Sweet deal, huh?”  God, who owned all things and had the ability to make infinitely more of everything, said nothing, but would have been content just to get a nice thank-you card now and again.


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