Posted by: Brad Beaman | July 19, 2009

Jacob’s Ladder

As believers in Jesus Christ we are called to be different. This difference can be seen very distinctly when we have a proper attitude in our giving to God. A generous spirit in giving is stark contrast in a selfish me first world.

Abraham brought a tithe to Melchizedek hundreds of years before the law. Let’s look at the principle of tithing in another patriarch. Jacob  and his vows to tithe. He gives ten percent of everything to God. It is the story of Jacobs Ladder.

Genesis 28:10-17  

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. ”

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 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.” 18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth. ”

Before Jacob meets the Lord he is the epitome of the worlds system and a secular mindset. He is probably just like someone you know with a Godless lifestyle. We can easily identify with Jacob. His name literally means, grasps the heel or figuratively deceiver. Jacob is the second son born of Isaac and Rebecca’s twin sons. His brother is the rugged and hot-tempered Esau.

As the secular man he demonstrated the selfish, me first attitude. It was the get ahead at any cost mindset. The me first attitude that will step on people to get up the ladder of success. It is the same thing you would find in the secular man today. The world is filled with this.

In his own selfish interest Jacob took advantage of his brother’s weakness. Sold him a bowl of pottage (bowl of stew). Esau sold his birthright. He enticed his brother to sell his birthright.

Later Jacob acts out the role of deceiver. He deceives his father Isaac when he is old and almost blind. He makes him think he is Esau and tricks his father into giving him the blessing he intended for Esau. He lies and takes the Lord’s name in vain to do it.

Up to this point there is no mention of God in the life of Jacob. No talk of his prayer life, nothing about worship or the altar of God. As a matter of fact, the only time Jacob up to this point of time has even mentioned God is to take the Lords name in vain. Jacob is the classic secular man. Like those without Christ that you and I know.

1 Corinthians 2:14
The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

Jacob has done everything the worlds way. His stealing Esau’s blessing has Esau threatening to kill him. On the advice of his mother he flees. He heads to his original homeland to find a wife. He had everything going for him, but now he is empty and divided from his family.

His selfishness has brought him to the point where he has no possessions but the clothes on his back. He has no home, no security and is living like a fugitive. He is alone and homeless. He uses a stone for a pillow.

Jacob the secular man, whose life without God led him to desperation, reached a point where he needed the Lord. Often that is when God breaks through to a person. God spoke to Jacob through a dream. We call that dream Jacob’s ladder.

Jacob is down and out. He reached the bottom and that is when God broke through when he was a broken needy man. His life of selfish grabbing left him empty. But then Jacob met the Lord and his life was changed.

Genesis 28:12-13
12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the LORD, and he said: “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.

God himself stood at the top of the ladder. The gulf between secular man and Holy God was bridged by the grace of God. Jacob the secular man who was lonely and destitute experienced the grace of God. That lonely place was suddenly surrounded with angels. God was in that place.

In John 1:51
51He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

Jesus uses the phrase, heavens opened. We are saved by grace through faith. Jesus is the only bridge, stairway or ladder where a sinful secular man can be brought into fellowship with the Holy and righteous God. Jacob met the Living God and he was transformed. Like a person today with faith in Jesus Christ.

Genesis 28:14
Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.

Now Jacob is a changed man. Transformed, Jacob receives the promises of God made to Abraham and Isaac. He is promised descendents, land, God with him and blessing and the coming Messiah 28:14b.

God addressed himself as the God of Abraham and Isaac. Jacob is aware of God’s presence and his whole life is changed. From now on He is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

When you find yourself in the pit of despair, stricken with grief and tragedy if you meet the Lord, if you are aware of the presence of the Lord your whole perspective will change. Jacob met the Lord and his whole life was redirected.

There is a new devotion. He made a vow, a pledge of faith to the Lord. We ought to respond when God by his grace redeems us. Now Jacob plans to honor God with faithfulness. He built an altar to God. The house of God is important to Jacob. Now he knows as you and I know as Christians, wherever he goes God goes with him. It is awesome. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom.

Another result of Jacobs meeting the Lord. A vow to tithe. Here is the stewardship part of his meeting God. Our response to what God has done in our life impacts our stewardship. Jacob in response to God’s grace vows to tithe.

The secular, me first man has changed. He leaves his family a secular man with nothing. He is running for his life. That is what the selfish, me first grab what you can way of life did for Jacob.

Years later he leaves Haran with untold wealth, twelve children blessed at every turn. God did it. That’s what Jacob’s ladder did. God’s provision in Christ. (John 1:51)

The secular man who selfishly grabs for himself puts his wages in a bag with holes. But like Jacob the transformed know the blessing of God. Jacob no longer lives for himself, but for God that is the blessing. Jesus is the only mediator between man and God.

1 Timothy 2:5
5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,

You feel like Jacob? He found God was there all along. Reach out to him by faith. Trust in Jesus Christ. Jacobs vow to tithe was a matter of his heart. It was out of devotion to God. Not part of the law. Let Christ have the complete devotion of your heart.



  1. And there was no scriptural evidence to suggest that Jacob ever paid the tenth he promised. I think you have taken it completely out of context and have kinda of misapplied it.

    Jacob belonged to a different covenant, a covenant that consisted of ceremonial activities as a show of love to God. In as much as the law was not yet in place during his time, giving burnt offerings and gifts to God was already widely practised. When Isaac encountered God, there was no record of him responding by paying a tithe. Abraham too did not respond to God’s call by paying tithes either.

    Jacob’s decision to tithe was as a result of his encounter with God. This was not a one size fits all encounter because Abraham and Isaac never made similar vows. You have now fashioned out a different gospel by saying that one has to respond to the God’s grace by tithing using Jacob’s encounter as the scriptural reference. That, me thinks is quite unscriptural.

    God has different requirements for everybody. There was no such vows by Paul to tithe all of His income when he encountered Jesus on his way to Damascus. When Zacchaeus met with Jesus as well, he too responded differently – he made restitution to all whom he defrauded and gave a percentage of what he owned to the poor.

    Jacob’s encounter and Paul’s encounter can be placed side by side and a good comparison drawn. Jacob was still trying to scheme his way to wealth by promising to give a tenth AFTER God had blessed him and not before while Paul simply asked “what would you have me do Lord”. An unselfish request which I think pro-tithers could learn from.

    I will end by saying what I said earlier in my comment on your other post, if you believe you must tithe, do so by all means but to say that God requires today’s church to tithe, sir is very unbiblical.

    God bless.

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