Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And the Lord stood beside him and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”
So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel but the name of the city was Luz at the first. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house; and of all that You give me I will surely give one-tenth to You.” Genesis 28:10-22
We have probably all been told at some time in our lives to “sleep on it” before we make a decision. The time has come to choose a college, buy a bike, a car, a home. Something big is looming, and before we make the major move, it might be wise to give it a night to think it all through.
So it was (more than once) with Jacob. Jacob had left home, partly in fear for what his brother might do to him, and as he was on his faithful journey with God, a powerful event occurred overnight. On his way from Beersheba to Haran he pulled up a rather hard pillow and spent the night sleeping on the ground. As he slept, he dreamed of a ladder that reached to heaven. In the dream he was reminded of God’s promise to provide God’s people a land and a future. In the morning, he remembered the dream, called the place Beth-l (the House of God), and moved on in faith.
Sometimes the result of a good night’s sleep can be clarity of purpose. I once heard someone say that before they could decide on an issue, they needed to “consult their pillow.” Jacob consulted his pillow, he slept on it, and God spoke to him through a dream. That happens often in the Old and New Testaments. In an afternoon nap, Peter had a vision that helped him see all food and people as being the same in God’s eyes. Paul heard a call to go to Macedonia in a dream. And, thanks to dreams, Joseph, Mary’s husband stayed with her for the birth of Jesus, and later took her and the baby to Egypt to escape Herod’s sword. All of this by consulting their pillows.
When today is history, I hope we will all have some sweet and holy dreams.
Dear God, when I lay me down to sleep, I pray that You will be kind and gracious as You speak to me in my dreams. Help me to turn the concerns of my life over to You, so that You can guide me on my journey. In Jesus name I pray. Amen.