Brief Notes

The Stone,
the Pillow, and
the Pillar (3)

19 June 2024

As the believers in Christ
we must not be passive,
for God is looking for those
who can initiate His work
upon the earth

In Genesis 28, when Jacob was alone and probably quite downcast, God came in to give him one of the great visions of the Bible. (See “The Stone, the Pillow, and the Pillar” • 2). Jacob dreamed,

…and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending upon it.
— Genesis 28:12

Have you noticed that both in this dream itself, and when the Lord speaks of it in the New Testament (John 1:51), the angels of God first ascend from the earth, and then descend back to it?

We of course would expect the opposite; God’s angels must first descend heaven to carry out God’s work on the earth, and then ascend back to Him. And of course, objectively speaking, this is quite true.

In this dream, however, the angels first ascend from the earth. Why is this? Because, in a very real sense, God is waiting for someone on the earth to initiate His work for Him.

When the Lord interprets this dream to Nathaniel in the New Testament, He makes it clear that He Himself is the ladder that has been “set up on the earth”; He Himself is the one who joins the earth and the heavens:

“Truly, truly, I say unto you, You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
— John 1:51


Therefore, as the believers in Christ, we should not be passive! The earth and the heavens have already been joined in the person of Christ, so that now we may work with God in heaven to give Him a way to accomplish what He desires to do on the earth (cf. Matt. 6:9-10). We may feel we are waiting for God to do something, but in fact God is waiting for us to do something; He is waiting, so to speak, for us to “send the angels up to Him,” so He may send them back to carry out what He wants to do for the sake of His purpose.

We can consider this in terms of our own experience. For example, we may have a feeling to share the gospel with a friend or a loved one, or to visit one of our fellow believers to encourage them in the Lord, or to pass out some gospel pamphlets. We may say this is the Lord’s leading for us, but in another sense, it is us leading the Lord, in a good way, and expecting Him to work within our working on His behalf, so that He can accomplish His will in a particular matter.

These, of course, are small examples (though not unimportant! cf. Zech. 4:10). Consider also some of the great works of the Lord, such as in the 19th century, when Hudson Taylor had the burden to go to China with the gospel, or George Mueller of England began his work among the orphans; the same principle applies. Those who do such things have to have the faith that the Lord will indeed work in their working; and once they set out, they will learn the meaning of what the Psalmist tells us:

Those who go down to the sea in ships,
Who do business on great waters,
These see the works of the LORD,
And His wonders in the deep.
— Psalm 127:23-24

To be one who initiates the Lord’s work requires that we know both the Lord and His desire; only then can we coordinate with Him for what He wants to do. But if we do know Him in such a way, we may indeed rise up, according to what the Lord has shown us, to initiate His work, both by our prayer and by our labor. And then it will be said of us, as it was of some in the Old Testament,

Those who know their God will show strength and take action.
— Daniel 11:32

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— 19 June 2024 —