He was alone. The night hours arrived; the man looked about for a spot to rest, saw a likely place, and stretched himself on the ground. He would spend the night here. Quickly he fell asleep, and then began the dream. It was a majestic dream, one that would forever change the life of the young man. A tall ladder set in the earth extended into the heavens with angels flitting up and down. At the very top stood the Lord who spoke to Jacob, “…I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac…”
It was a strange place for such an encounter, an unusual setting, and when Jacob had settled himself onto his stone pillow that black night, it is unlikely that he was anticipating a remarkable visit with God Almighty. Indeed his later words in the text indicate his surprise at such an occurrence. For in that solitary wilderness on the road to Padanaram as he made the trek to find a wife, God shook Jacob’s world with the startling words:
“And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
“And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.”
Genesis 28: 14-15
No doubt with a jerk and with a pounding heart, Jacob woke from his sleep, the vivid dream reverberating in his head: He sat upright to declare, “Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.” I didn’t know God would be here, had no idea. He looked about at this most unlikely of places, where little thought or idea of God’s spectacular presence would be anticipated, stunned at the vision, at the promise.
What a lesson is ours today. It may be in a youth service with a tender-faced boy who struggles through his first sermon or in a Sunday school class or around a dinner table or on our couch in a dark hour before dawn or in a hospital waiting room or in a mid-week Bible study group that doesn’t seem at all spectacular—it may be in any of these simple places where God will visit us, where He will draw us aside, and where He will whisper into our ears the Promise, the Plan.
Let us be aware. Let us listen…for we too may walk away and say with Jacob, “Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not.”