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.)

Aram, Bethuel, Esau, Haran, Isaac, Ishmael, Jacob, Laban, Mahalath, Nebaioth, Nebajoth, Rebekah
Beersheba, Bethel, Haran, Luz, Paddan-aram
Afraid, Awe, Awesome, Doorway, Dreadful, Fear, Feareth, Fearful, Full, Gate, God's, Heaven, Heavens, Holy, Less, None, Nothing
1. Isaac blesses Jacob, and sends him to Padan-aram.
6. Esau marries Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael.
10. Jacob journeys, and has a vision of a ladder.
18. The stone of Bethel.
20. Jacob's vow.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Genesis 28:17

     5323   gate
     9411   heaven

Genesis 28:10-17

     1449   signs, purposes

Genesis 28:10-22

     4366   stones

Genesis 28:16-17

     7382   house of God

The Heavenly Pathway and the Earthly Heart
'And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

February the Fifth Everywhere the Gate of Heaven
"Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not." --GENESIS xxviii. 10-22. That is the first time for many a day that Jacob had named the name of God. In all the dark story of his wicked intrigue the name of God is never mentioned. Jacob wanted to forget God! God would be a disturbing presence! But here he encounters Him in a dream, and in the most unlikely place. "And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!" Jacob had yet to learn that there is everywhere "a ladder set up on
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year

The Presence of God.
"And Jacob awakened out of his sleep and said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not."--GENESIS xxviii. 16. These words indicate the beginning of a new life in the patriarch Jacob. They tell us of the moment when, as it would appear, his soul awoke in him. And they surprise us in some degree, as such awakenings of spiritual capacity often do; for Jacob's recorded antecedents were not exactly such as to lead us to expect the dream and the vision, and the awakening which are described
John Percival—Sermons at Rugby

Jacob's Waking Exclamation
I would address you this morning upon a topic which may perhaps be as useful to us as to Jacob, if God the Holy Ghost shall but enable me to preach, and you to hear. Oh thou that art everywhere, be speedily now; be thou in this place, and may we know it, and tremble in thy presence. I shall speak on three points; first, the omnipresence of God--the doctrine of it; secondly, a recognition of that omnipresence, or the spirit which is necessary in order to discover the presence of God; and thirdly,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 7: 1861

Notes on the First Century:
Page 1. Line 1. An empty book is like an infant's soul.' Here Traherne may possibly have had in his mind a passage in Bishop Earle's "Microcosmography." In delineating the character of a child, Earle says: "His soul is yet a white paper unscribbled with observations of the world, wherewith at length it becomes a blurred note-book," Page 14. Line 25. The entrance of his words. This sentence is from Psalm cxix. 130. Page 15. Last line of Med. 21. "Insatiableness." This word in Traherne's time was often
Thomas Traherne—Centuries of Meditations

Never! Never! Never! Never! Never!
Hence, let us learn, my brethren, the extreme value of searching the Scriptures. There may be a promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case, but you may not know of it, and therefore miss its comfort. You are like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if you will not look for it you may remain a prisoner still, though liberty is near at hand. There may be a potent medicine in the great pharmacopia of Scripture,
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 8: 1863

The Life of Faith.
The fruit of these trials. The conduct of the submissive soul. It results from all that has just been described that, in the path of pure faith, all that takes place spiritually, physically, and temporarily, has the aspect of death. This is not to be wondered at. What else could be expected? It is natural to this state. God has His plans for souls, and under this disguise He carries them out very successfully. Under the name of "disguise" I include ill-success, corporal infirmities, and spiritual
Jean-Pierre de Caussade—Abandonment to Divine Providence

The Plan for the Coming of Jesus.
God's Darling, Psalms 8:5-8.--the plan for the new man--the Hebrew picture by itself--difference between God's plan and actual events--one purpose through breaking plans--the original plan--a starting point--getting inside. Fastening a Tether inside: the longest way around--the pedigree--the start. First Touches on the Canvas: the first touch, Genesis 3:15.--three groups of prediction--first group: to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3; to Isaac, Genesis 26:1-5; to Jacob, Genesis 28:10-15; through Jacob,
S. D. Gordon—Quiet Talks about Jesus

The Prophecy of Obadiah.
We need not enter into details regarding the question as to the time when the prophet wrote. By a thorough argumentation, Caspari has proved, that he occupies his right position in the Canon, and hence belongs to the earliest age of written prophecy, i.e., to the time of Jeroboam II. and Uzziah. As bearing conclusively against those who would assign to him a far later date, viz., the time of the exile, there is not only the indirect testimony borne by the place which this prophecy occupies in
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

Letter xxviii (Circa A. D. 1130) to the Abbots Assembled at Soissons
To the Abbots Assembled at Soissons [45] Bernard urges the abbots zealously to perform the duty for which they had met. He recommends to them a great desire of spiritual progress, and begs them not to be delayed in their work if lukewarm and lax persons should perhaps murmur. To the Reverend Abbots met in the name of the Lord in Chapter at Soissons, brother Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, the servant of their Holiness, health and prayer that they may see, establish, and observe the things which are
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux

That the Ruler Should be a Near Neighbour to Every one in Compassion, and Exalted Above all in Contemplation.
The ruler should be a near neighbour to every one in sympathy, and exalted above all in contemplation, so that through the bowels of loving-kindness he may transfer the infirmities of others to himself, and by loftiness of speculation transcend even himself in his aspiration after the invisible; lest either in seeking high things he despise the weak things of his neighbours, or in suiting himself to the weak things of his neighbours he relinquish his aspiration after high things. For hence it is
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great

Covenanting Performed in Former Ages with Approbation from Above.
That the Lord gave special token of his approbation of the exercise of Covenanting, it belongs to this place to show. His approval of the duty was seen when he unfolded the promises of the Everlasting Covenant to his people, while they endeavoured to perform it; and his approval thereof is continually seen in his fulfilment to them of these promises. The special manifestations of his regard, made to them while attending to the service before him, belonged to one or other, or both, of those exhibitions
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

There are few subjects on which the Lord's own people are more astray than on the subject of giving. They profess to take the Bible as their own rule of faith and practice, and yet in the matter of Christian finance, the vast majority have utterly ignored its plain teachings and have tried every substitute the carnal mind could devise; therefore it is no wonder that the majority of Christian enterprises in the world today are handicapped and crippled through the lack of funds. Is our giving to be
Arthur W. Pink—Tithing

Gen. xxxi. 11
Of no less importance and significance is the passage Gen. xxxi. 11 seq. According to ver. 11, the Angel of God, [Hebrew: mlaK halhiM] appears toJacob in a dream. In ver. 13, the same person calls himself the God of Bethel, with reference to the event recorded in chap. xxviii. 11-22. It cannot be supposed that in chap xxviii. the mediation of a common angel took place, who, however, had not been expressly mentioned; for Jehovah is there contrasted with the angels. In ver. 12, we read: "And behold
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament

A Treatise of the Fear of God;
SHOWING WHAT IT IS, AND HOW DISTINGUISHED FROM THAT WHICH IS NOT SO. ALSO, WHENCE IT COMES; WHO HAS IT; WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS; AND WHAT THE PRIVILEGES OF THOSE THAT HAVE IT IN THEIR HEARTS. London: Printed for N. Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, over against the Stocks market: 1679. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and "a fountain of life"--the foundation on which all wisdom rests, as well as the source from whence it emanates. Upon a principle
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Shaking of the Heavens and the Earth
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Yet this once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land: and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. G od shook the earth when He proclaimed His law to Israel from Sinai. The description, though very simple, presents to our thoughts a scene unspeakably majestic, grand and awful. The mountain was in flames at the top, and
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1

Nature of Covenanting.
A covenant is a mutual voluntary compact between two parties on given terms or conditions. It may be made between superiors and inferiors, or between equals. The sentiment that a covenant can be made only between parties respectively independent of one another is inconsistent with the testimony of Scripture. Parties to covenants in a great variety of relative circumstances, are there introduced. There, covenant relations among men are represented as obtaining not merely between nation and nation,
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting

Christ the Mediator of the Covenant
'Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant,' &c. Heb 12:24. Jesus Christ is the sum and quintessence of the gospel; the wonder of angels; the joy and triumph of saints. The name of Christ is sweet, it is as music in the ear, honey in the mouth, and a cordial at the heart. I shall waive the context, and only speak of that which concerns our present purpose. Having discoursed of the covenant of grace, I shall speak now of the Mediator of the covenant, and the restorer of lapsed sinners, Jesus the Mediator
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity

The First Commandment
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' Exod 20: 3. Why is the commandment in the second person singular, Thou? Why does not God say, You shall have no other gods? Because the commandment concerns every one, and God would have each one take it as spoken to him by name. Though we are forward to take privileges to ourselves, yet we are apt to shift off duties from ourselves to others; therefore the commandment is in the second person, Thou and Thou, that every one may know that it is spoken to him,
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments

The Strait Gate;
OR, GREAT DIFFICULTY OF GOING TO HEAVEN: PLAINLY PROVING, BY THE SCRIPTURES, THAT NOT ONLY THE RUDE AND PROFANE, BUT MANY GREAT PROFESSORS, WILL COME SHORT OF THAT KINGDOM. "Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."--Matthew 7:13, 14 ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. If any uninspired writer has been
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3

The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament

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