Genesis 28:17
And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven!"
Astronomical HeavensGeorge Dawson.Genesis 28:17
Beautiful DoorsOld Testament AnecdotesGenesis 28:17
Entrance to HeavenWheeler.Genesis 28:17
God's Home, Heaven's GateW. Jay.Genesis 28:17
Moral Aspect of the WorldF. Wright.Genesis 28:17
Places of WorshipJohn Stephens.Genesis 28:17
Public WorshipW. Mudge, B. A.Genesis 28:17
Reverential AweJ. Vaughan, M. A.Genesis 28:17
The Gate of HeavenC. S. Robinson, D. D.Genesis 28:17
The House of God and the Gate of HeavenSketches of SermonsGenesis 28:17
Jacob's DreamR.A. Redford Genesis 28:10-22
Behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest. Among things believed; but not sufficiently realized, is the truth of God's constant overruling care. We can trace cause and effect a little way, then lose the chain, and feel as if it went no further, as if events had no special cause. This a common evil in the life of Christians. Its root, walking by sight more than by faith. Jacob - what made him try craft? Did not trust God fully. Had no habit of faith. But God had not forgotten him. And as he slept on the stone at Bethel the reality of God's presence was made known to him (Isaiah 43:2; Matthew 28:20) and recorded for our learning.

I. GOD DOES ALWAYS WATCH OVER AND GUIDE. The ladder was not a new thing; it had existed always. The vision showed what exists everywhere (2 Kings 6:17). The ladder shows the truth which should stamp our lives. God is love, and love means care. This is for all. Not our love that causes it. Our love, trust, life spring from that truth. The living God is close to us. His hand touches our life at every point. How is it that we are unconscious of this?

II. GOD'S WORKING IS HIDDEN AND SILENT. Jacob was startled to find him near. Because year by year the world goes on as before, unbelievers deny God's active presence, worldly men think not of it, and even godly men sometimes forget, for we cannot see the top of the ladder. But God, there, directs all.

III. HIS PURPOSES ARE ACCOMPLISHED BY MANY AGENTS. Many angels, messengers (Psalm 104:4; Hebrews 1:14); natural agents, the elements, &c.; human agents, men good and bad alike carrying out his will; spiritual beings (Psalm 91:11). How often those who pray for spiritual blessings forget that common things also are ruled by God. Thus a great door of communion is closed.

IV. BUT THERE IS SO MUCH CONFUSION IN THE WORLD. We often cannot trace God's hand. How often is trust confounded, wise schemes frustrated, earnest self-denial in vain; prayers, real and intense, without apparent answer. Nay, these are but seeming confusions, to teach the lesson of faith. Through all these, by all these, God's purposes are surely carried out. One great truth is the key of all - the love of God revealed in Christ. This is the ladder from which he proclaims, "Lo, I am with thee" (cf. Romans 8:32). He who wrought out redemption, can he fail?

V. GOD'S GOVERNANCE IS FOR OUR SALVATION, in the fullest sense of the word, giving us the victory over evil. God was with Jacob. He had been from the first, though not recognized. He was so to the end. Not giving uninterrupted prosperity. Many a fault and many a painful page in his history; but through all these he was led on. The word to each who will receive it - "Behold, I am with thee." Not because of thy faith, still less of thy goodness. Oh that every Christian would practice trust (Psalm 5:3); hearing our Father's voice, "Commit thy way unto the Lord," and gladly believing "the Lord is my Shepherd." - M.

How dreadful is this place I this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.
I. It must have been the freshness of Jacob's sense of recent sin that made a spot so peaceful and so blessed seem to him a "dreadful" place. Everything takes its character from the conscience. Even a Bethel was awful, and the ladder of angels terrible, to a man who had just been deceiving his father and robbing his brother. The gates of our heaven are the places of our dread.

II. Strange and paradoxical as is this union of the sense of beauty, holiness, and fear, there are seasons in every man's life when it is the sign of a right state of mind. There is a shudder at sanctity which is a true mark of life. The danger of the want of reverence is far greater than the peril of its excess. Very few, in these light and levelling days, are too reverent. The characteristic of its age is the absence.

III. Our churches stand among us to teach reverence. There are degrees of God's presence. He fills all space, but in certain spots He gives Himself or reveals Himself, and therefore we say He is there more than in other places. A church is such a place. To those who use it rightly it may be a "gate of heaven."

(J. Vaughan, M. A.)


1. No forms whatsoever for church organization, or Sunday service, are given in the Bible.

2. Out-of-the-way places, unusual times, and unexpected assemblages of people, have been often chosen for extraordinary manifestations of the Lord's presence.

3. The Head of the Church has given blessings to all Christians alike, of every name, when they have fully kept His covenant.


1. The figure used. Importance of gates to Eastern cities.

2. The Lord's presence, so near, so splendid, so significant, made Jacob seem to himself to be at the very portal of the celestial city.Practical thoughts:

1. Learn to prize church privileges.

2. Honour the Fourth Commandment.

3. Have done with jargon — sectarian clash and presumption.

4. Do not make the Lord's house the gate of hell. God's mercy never leaves a man where it found him.

(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)

Sketches of Sermons.

1. It was a place distinguished by favourable circumstances.

2. It was a place of sacred instruction.(1) Jacob was instructed by what God here exhibited to his view. This ladder represented —

(a)the mediation of Christ;

(b)the Providence of God;

(c)the ministry of angels.(2) Jacob was also instructed by what God said to him.

3. This was a place of covenant engagement between God and man.


1. The house of God.

(1)In every such place God's family are associated in one community.

(2)In every such place God is actually present.

(3)In every such place God's favours are obtained by devout seekers (Luke 11:9-10).

2. None other but the house of God.

(1)Not the house of amusement.

(2)Not the house of merchandise.

(3)Not the house of iniquity.

3. The gate of heaven.

III. THE REFLECTIONS SUGGESTED BY IT. "How dreadful is this place!" The worship of God should be attended with habitual seriousness.

1. With serious consideration.

2. With serious watchfulness against all distractions.

3. With serious concern to obtain present blessings from God.

4. With serious intercession in behalf of others.

5. With serious gratitude for favours received.

(Sketches of Sermons.)

The world itself is a dreadful place.

I. Because the visible things that are made display an eternal power and Godhead.

II. Because the world evidences a design rising above, and superior to, the exhibition of a power capable of producing a mere physical universe.

III. Because of its occupancy by an intellectual being. Intellect employs itself in a variety of ways, but these may all be classed under —

1. Regard of the external or physical world.

2. The intellectual or spiritual.

3. The author of both. Under one of these may be placed all the subjects which have engaged man from the commencement of the world.

IV. Because man is a moral being. I cannot think of an intellectual being as other than a moral one, because I cannot well conceive how a mind free and unconstrained can, while investigating the works of God, fail to have awakened some of those moral views and feelings, which to any mind are the legitimate concomitants. I have therefore adopted the distinction merely for the sake of the different position from which it enables us to regard man.

V. Because man is a fallen being.

VI. Because of the forbearance of God and man's consequent increased criminality.

VII. Because of God's amazing condescension in seeking man's restoration.

VIII. Because of the enormous expense at which the means of reconciliation were secured.

IX. Because of the awful consequences resulting from the neglect of these means.

(F. Wright.)


1. The house of God.

(1)It originates with God.

(2)It is the place where God chooses peculiarly to dwell.

(3)It is the grand repository of God's eternal truth.

(4)It is the theatre of God's greatest wonders.

(5)It is the scene of God's richest mercies and greatest blessings.

(6)It is most honourable to God.

2. The gate of heaven. It may be called so —

(1)Because it is ordinarily in places of worship, and in hearing the gospel, that men begin to think about God and saving their souls.

(2)Because it is there men enter actually on the way to heaven.

(3)Because it is there both worlds meet. In old times all meetings were held at the gates of the cities. And the house of God is the gate of heaven, the meeting place, the assembly of all the spiritual beings in existence.

3. It is said, "This is none other than the house of God." And I trust this house never will be for any other purpose. I never like to see a place of worship turned to any other use, except it be for a school, for a place of instruction, or for something analogous to a place of worship.


1. We should reverence it. So did Jacob. "How dreadful," said he, "is this place!" The Hebrew is, "How solemn — how reverential is this place!" I never like to see people enter a place of worship heedlessly, lightly, merrily.

2. We should delight to go up to the house of God.

3. We should come full of expectation. The house of God is the scene of mercy, the region of grace, the very element of salvation.

4. We should endeavour, by every means, to support places of worship to the best of our ability.

(John Stephens.)


1. Thoughtlessly.

(1)Without sober and becoming thoughts of the great and glorious object of all religious homage and adoration.

(2)Ignorant of their spiritual necessities.

2. Prayerlessly.

3. Faithlessly.


1. With thought.

2. With prayer.

3. With faith.It is as faith is in lively and vigorous exercise that God is apprehended and felt to be really present. It is by faith we embrace the proffered mercies of the gospel. Concluding remarks:

1. See the true reason why many profit so little from their means of grace.

2. How abundantly you might profit by a more thoughtful, prayerful, and faithful use of your means.

(W. Mudge, B. A.)

There are four particular remarks which we have to make upon these words.

1. First, we observe from them that intercourse with God, instead of producing levity of mind, produces serious impressions. The man who was not at all afraid to lie down in this place, surrounded with danger and enveloped in darkness, is filled with fear in the morning. At what? At the thought of a present Deity. Not that this was a slavish dread, like that which Belshazzar felt when he saw the handwriting upon the wall, and his countenance was changed in him, and the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote together; but he was filled with what the apostle calls reverence or godly fear. Such the seraphim know — they cover their faces when they appear before God. Such Isaiah knew when he said, "Woe is me, for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts!" Such Peter felt when he said, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Such Job felt when he said, "I heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear, but now mine eye seeth Thee; wherefore I abhor myself, and repent in dust and in ashes."

2. Secondly, we observe from these words, that wherever God meets with His people, that place may be deservedly considered His house. How does this condemn bigotry! How seldom does God receive anything more than lip service and formality from those whose attachment to any particular place or usages induces them to say, The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are we. Nothing makes a people dear to God but their conformity to Him; and nothing makes a place of worship sacred but the Divine presence.

3. The experience of Christians sometimes approximates towards heaven. Therefore said Jacob — not only, this is the house of God, but — this is the gate of heaven. There was nothing that was outwardly inviting; but oh, that land, the angels ascending and descending! — oh, his God above, standing, and looking down, and addressing him! — oh, such scenery! — oh, such language! — oh, such communion made Jacob think that, though he saw from the place it was not heaven, heaven could not be far off.

4. Lastly, the house of God and the gate of heaven are related; there Jacob mentions them together, and mentions them in their proper order — this is the house of God — this is the gate of heaven. The one precedes the other — the one affords us the earnest and foretaste of the other. Philip Henry was accustomed to say at the close of his sabbath-day's exercises, "Well, if this be not heaven, it is the way to it." Those who call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, will enjoy an eternal sabbath. They who can now say, "I have loved the habitation of Thy house, and the place where Thine honour dwelleth," shall serve Him day and night in His temple above, never more to go out.

(W. Jay.)

Old Testament Anecdotes.
Michael Angelo Buonar-rotti said of the doors of the Baptistery at Florence, executed by Lorenzo Ghiberti, when asked what he thought of them, "They are so beautiful that they might stand at the gates of paradise."

(Old Testament Anecdotes.)

Al Strut is a bridge extending from this world to the next, over the abyss of hell, which must be passed by every one who would enter the Mohammedan paradise. It is very narrow, the breadth being less than the thread of the famished spider, according to some writers; others compare it to the edge of a sword or of a razor. The deceased cross with a rapidity proportioned to their virtue. Some pass with the rapidity of lightning; others with the speed of a horse at full gallop; others still slower, on account of the weight of their sins; and many fall down from it, and are precipitated into hell.


There is a saying of Hazlitt's, bold, and at first seeming wondrous true: "In the days of Jacob there was a ladder between heaven and earth; but now the heavens have gone farther off, and have become astronomical."

(George Dawson.)

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