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God’s Promise to Jacob

While fleeing Esau and heading to Paddan Aram, Jacob had a dream we often refer to as Jacob’s ladder. During that dream, God affirms part of the Abrahamic covenant with Jacob, and God makes a series of promises to Jacob. (Gen 28:13-15 NIV)

First, “I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.” God gave the Israelites the land originally promised to Abraham. (Gen 15:18-21) God’s guarantee for them to retain this land continues today with the current Jewish nation.

Second, “Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth.” This restates the earthly promise originally made in the Abrahamic covenant. (Gen 13:16, 22:17) This promise is the hope for all mankind that all who are not part of the heavenly church will be guaranteed a resurrection in Christ’s earthly kingdom. (John 5:28-29, Acts 24:15)

Third, “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.” This is a reference to the blessing that the entire world will receive through Jesus’ sacrifice – “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son” (John 3:16). Paul points out in Galatians that this offspring refers to Jesus and is the same offspring or seed mentioned in the Abrahamic promise. (Gal 3:16, Gen 22:18)

Fourth, “I will bring you back to the land.” This declaration by God had multiple fulfillments. It was first fulfilled in Jacob’s personal life when he returned from Paddan Aram to Canaan. The gathering of the Jewish people from their dispersion to Babylon and more recently from all corners of the world to form the modern nation of Israel also fulfills this promise.

Fifth, “I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” God was with Jacob all of his life and continues to be with Jacob’s descendants, the nation of Israel. God has not left Israel, and furthermore, he has promised, through his prophets, that Israel will be the source through which the earth will be blessed in Christ’s soon-to-be-established earthly kingdom. (Zech. 8:23, Isa. 2:3, Isa. 11:9)