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Lowell Brueckner

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Seeking the King of the Kingdom, chapter three



“Then the angel of God said to me in the dream, ‘Jacob,’ and I said, ‘Here I am’… ‘I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me’”. Genesis 31:11, 13


Here again, we specifically have the Angel of God. He appeared to Jacob in the place that he called Bethel, which means The House of God. He is the Messenger of God or the one who is the Word of God in person. We will turn to Genesis 28 to study the story and, as we do so, we will remind ourselves that the principle purpose that we have in mind is to see this Person revealed.

In spite of having taken place thousands of years ago, what God revealed to Jacob, He has preserved, because He wants to show it to many more people. We have something of top importance before us, if we are people awake to the things of God and are seeking the treasures of heaven and eternity. If we want to have a part in them, this portion of Scripture will reveal to us the way that we can have it. We will consider the connection – the only connection – between earth and heaven. We ought to be happy to know that God has given us this word, which shows us that He has provided the way and it is within our reach.

Jacob went on a journey and slept, not in a town or a building, but beneath the stars. The only reason that he stopped there was because it was late and he was tired; there was nothing special about the place. Jacob found a stone to use as a pillow, slept and dreamed: “Behold, a ladder was set on the earth with its top reaching to heaven” (Gen. 28:12).

God has put a ladder upon earth and the place, to which it reaches, is not particularly beautiful or decorated, and no one has erected a sign, designating it as a specific sanctuary, where people can come close to God. As we have seen in the case of Hagar, the meeting point might be along an escape route, far from the familiar settings of our daily routine. It might be an uncomfortable, degraded area, where no one would choose to be, and we may have arrived through rebellion and disobedience. God’s ladder reaches to the lowest allies of desperation and the deserts of loneliness, to the filthiest slums and the most depressing and despised corners of earth.

However, just as the ladder descends to the lowest pits on earth, it also touches the highest balconies of heaven. It enters into the Holy of Holies and does not stop its ascent until it stands before the throne of God. It gives access to the most sublime, the most coveted and, at the same time, the most fearful court in the universe. It is where fallen man, ruined by sin, should not even imagine himself to be. It is holy, clean and sacred, far beyond what our words can describe or our thoughts imagine. God has provided a ladder, in order that mankind can bask in His presence. It is God’s best for the worst of sinners.

Now, we will consider the beings that adorn the ladder: “Angels of God were ascending and descending on it.” What is interesting to note in this account is that the verb ascend precedes the verb descend. This vision concerns something that first of all proceeds from earth and ascends to heaven. The Bible teaches us that angels “are all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation” (Heb. 1:14). God not only secures a way to attain His presence, but also sends powerful, celestial beings to attend to the matter. We are contemplating now a service to the heirs of salvation; a means to ascend from the earth to heaven and then descend from heaven back to earth. The Holy Spirit makes this point very clear.

Next, we will take into account the intimate relationship that God seeks by giving this revelation to Jacob. “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you” (vs.13). God had had friendship with Abraham and Isaac, but up until this moment, Jacob had not entered into it personally nor into the promises and purposes of God. He wished to continue the same with Jacob and He opened the door of His house to him that night. From now on, He would also be the God of Jacob. Let us remember, who it is that spoke with Jacob that night and the reason, for which this account is written. It was the Angel of the Lord, revealing Himself to Jacob, and it was recorded so that future generations could enjoy the same. God spoke earlier to Abraham with the same reason in mind: “Not for his sake only was it written… but for our sake also, to whom it will be credited, as those who believe in Him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Rom. 4:23-24).

God is seeking personal relationship with an individual. This is what we first discover to be His purpose, but we also learn that He has vision for the future, something which is beyond what is occurring at the moment. He is looking to reach out to more people: “I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also” (Jn. 10:16). God’s nature moves always to include others. Therefore, he told Jacob that He would use him toward His intentions to bless people around the world: “In you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (vs.14).

It is His will and with full sovereign authority, He takes charge in order to carry it out. It is a plan far above the highest dreams and greatest capabilities of mankind. Although it is God’s intention to incorporate men into His purpose and therefore He reveals it to their hearts, inspiring and empowering them, yet God cannot limit Himself to the highest level possible that men can reach. God’s business cannot be subject to the littleness and limitations of human ability. He assures Jacob, “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” (vs.15). Jacob has initiated nothing that has happened thus far and it does not depend on him to bring it to fulfillment. It is God’s thing. He has shared it, so that Jacob can rejoice in the privilege of being part of heavenly, eternal purposes.

Although much work still needed to be done in Jacob, from this moment his life was changed and never could be the same again. The Angel of the Lord revealed Himself and taught him the manner of entering into heavenly places and plans. It is important that we understand that this did not occur in a sacred temple or any important site on earth. The Lord is in the most improbable of places and in the most unlikely situations, where we are least conscious of His presence and when we least expect something momentous.

“How awesome in this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (vs.17). To be sure, this was an undeniable reality in Jacob’s experience. The same reality will mark any person, who enters into it, and even the place, where it occurred, will be affected. It was so real that Jacob thought that he was in God’s dwelling place. He called it Bethel, the House of God, and the name stuck throughout the history of his descendants, so they would always remember how God had revealed Himself to their forefather. It was more that a history lesson, however, for them and for us. It was a testimony to show us that God is within reach and that there is a Bethel for us, as well.


In the last chapter, we related how Jesus saw Nathanael in his distress in their first encounter. Now, we will return to John, chapter 1, to consider something else that happened at that time. The words that Jesus spoke to him were very significant. Every word that the Word of God utters is important and worthy of contemplation. As Jesus talked to Nathanael, it became very obvious that He was referring to the story of Jacob.

Here is how Jesus saw him: “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit” (Jn. 1:47). We know that the name Jacob means “deceiver”. After he wrestled with the Angel of the Lord, it was changed to Israel. That name means a prince who prevails with God. Jesus was declaring that Nathanael was a true son of Israel, who had passed through the same experience as his patriarch. He was not only an Israelite by blood, but by experience. In other words, another deceiver like Jacob was turned into a prince of God. As Jacob had wrestled with God by the brook Peniel, so Nathanael had struggled with Him under the fig tree. There in Peniel, the name of Jacob was changed to Israel. In order to see this more clearly, let us paraphrase the statement of Jesus to Nathanael: “Behold, a real Israel, in whom there is no Jacob”.

Then, Jesus presented to him the same ladder that the Angel of Bethel had presented to Jacob. “‘You will see greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man’” (Jn. 1:50-51). All that Jacob had seen was a ladder, but Jesus, talking of Himself, called the ladder, the Son of Man.

The Holy Spirit amplifies and clears things in a fascinating manner, enriching the soul that studies the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. The ladder, which appears in the ugliest and lowliest places in the world, is Jesus. The ladder, which extends far beyond the stars, penetrates the pavement of heaven and does not stop until it enters into the fearsome Holy of Holies, is Jesus. The ladder that is placed before us, when we least expect it, in the seemingly most inappropriate place, is Jesus. He gives us free entrance before the throne of God. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16).

Jesus speaks to Nathanael of “greater things”. What are these greater things for the Christian and where can he find them? At what place can we find an open heaven? What Christian activity do the angels of God tend? Jesus is referring to something that releases the power of heaven over the earth, to an energy that generates more volts of raw power then any dam or atomic plant. It produces heavenly light that frightens demons and makes them flee. He is talking about access for us to the highest throne of the universe, by means of prayer.

The Angel of the Lord is Jesus in the New Testament. The God of Bethel is the One who gives entrance into the house of God through His blood. Now, we can enter in the name of Jesus and be accepted in that name. The house of the Father is the house of prayer (Jn 2:16; Mt. 21:13; Mk. 11:17; Lk 19:46); we have made it a market place, energized by money and barter. The families of the earth will be blessed in us, when we learn how to do business by kneeling as princes of God before the King of Kings.

This work begins on the earth and rises to the heavens. A ladder arose in the belly of the fish, when Jonah prayed. The Lord gave an order to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto land (Jonah 2:1,10). God sent Ananias to a street called Straight, to the house of Judas, for one called Saul of Tarsus, “for he is praying” (Acts 9:11).

The angels of God accompany us in this work. They tend to our poor efforts at prayer, lift them to heaven and, as ministers from heaven, they bring the answers. Cornelius prayed without realizing that angels carried his prayers, but he became conscious of it, when an angel from God entered into his house with the answer, saying to him, “Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God” (Acts 10:4).

Daniel sought God in prayer and “while I was still speaking in prayer, then the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision previously came to me… he gave me instruction... ‘At the beginning of your supplications the command was issued, and I have come to tell you’” (Dan. 9:21-23). Later he prayed for three weeks and “behold, there was a certain man dressed in linen… he said to me, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days…’” (Dan. 10:5,12-13).

Zacharias and Elisabeth had prayed much for a child over the years and precisely at the time that the whole multitude of the people were in prayer, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense” (Lk. 1:11). John observed the silence in heaven and an angel that “stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne” (Rev. 8:3).


As Jesus said these things to Nathanael, between verses 50 and 51, there is a change in the form of the pronoun. In verse 50, he still used second person singular, when he said “you will see greater things”, but in verse 51, he used second person plural (easily seen in the Greek text) to say, “you will see the heavens opened…”, and now we can step into this teaching. Here is the complete message from the personal Word of God, past, present and future. The Angel of God said to Jacob, “I am the God of Bethel”. Jesus Christ said to Nathanael, “You will see greater things than these”, and down through the ages He says to us, “You will see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man”.

In the preceding chapter, we considered how Jake DeShazer found his Bethel in a solitary confinement cell. I heard the testimony of a thief, member of a gang of criminals in Ireland, who called upon God in a pasture. His encounter with Christ was so real that he shouted to the first person he met along the trail, “I found God! He is back there in the pasture!” That was his Bethel. About a year ago, we heard about a man who attended our meetings, when we lived in Minnesota. He had rebelled against God and for many years suffered the consequences, living under a bridge. How thankful to God we were, when we heard that at his funeral, one of his friends told that his life was changed a few weeks before he died! He related to this companion that he had had an encounter with Jesus. Under the bridge, shortly before death, he had his Bethel.

At 33 years of age, another man came to a meeting that we held in the open air in a village in Mexico. We had no idea that he was depressed and desperate. Many times he had pointed a pistol at his head, thinking of committing suicide. Besides, he had shot at the police, intending that they would kill him in self-defense, when they returned fire. Shortly after that meeting, with the words of the message still in his ears, he knelt in his cornfield and called on God in prayer. Before he could get to his feet, peace filled his heart and since then (he is now 68-years-old), Jesus has been his God. There, surrounded by ears of corn, he had his Bethel.

Jesus is still the God of Bethel, the God who has taught us to pray. Bethel is the house of God and all four Gospels record that Jesus called the Father’s house, “the house of prayer”. The ladder still reaches to the lowest parts of the earth and extends to the highest heaven. Why do we not exercise this great privilege of prayer more? The demon king of Persia, who detained the angel sent to Daniel with the answer to his prayer, certainly has plenty of helpers. You can be sure that all the evil spirits that exist want to detour us and discourage us from using this great weapon that tumbles the enemy’s forces. They dedicate themselves to seeing that we become occupied in other things. The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, but these try to teach us not to pray.

We must win this great battle, if we intend to see the riches of heaven poured out upon earth. I believe that God will have to put us into situations, in which we can no longer ignore the great need that we have of Him and will give us the deep conviction that without Christ, we can do nothing. When this conviction falls upon us, we will then understand for ourselves that Jesus Christ is the God of Bethel.


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