Jacob’s Ladder And The Son Of Man: Or, Grace Unsought, And Unforgettable -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Emmaus Journal
Volume: EMJ 18:2 (Winter 2009)
Article: Jacob’s Ladder And The Son Of Man: Or, Grace Unsought, And Unforgettable
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Jacob’s Ladder And The Son Of Man: Or, Grace Unsought, And Unforgettable

An Exposition Of Genesis 28:1-221

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Lewis Johnson served as a teaching elder and regularly ministered the Word at Believers Chapel in Dallas, Texas for more than thirty years. During his academic career he held professorships in New Testament and Systematic Theology at Dallas Theological Seminary and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. At the time of his death in 2004 he was Professor Emeritus of New Testament Literature and Exegesis at Dallas Seminary. Both MP3 files and printed notes of Dr. Johnson’s sermons and theological lectures may be downloaded from the web site of the SLJ Institute «www.sljinstitute.net».


Jacob’s vision of the ladder is a stunning display of divine grace, and it provoked in the patriarch a telling response of thanksgiving. The grace was unsought, for God took the initiative and met Jacob in his loneliness at Bethel. It was unstinted,2 for there was no reproach given Jacob for past sin, but on the contrary only a stream of divine assurances, beginning with the central declaration, “I am the Lord” (Gen. 28:13). The divine words to him reminded him of past faithfulness to his fathers (13a) and gave him assurance of the fulfillment of the promises of the land in the distant future (13b). In fact, he was told that his windfall blessings would stretch from the very spot upon which he was then lying (13b) to the four corners of the earth and on to the universal blessing of mankind in his seed (14).

The words of the Divine Companion were remarkably relevant to the condition of Jacob, for the promise of the divine presence was just what this solitary, lonely, and now homeless sojourner to a strange land needed. And the

assurance of a high place within the divine covenant was calculated to sustain him in a special way. The promise of a land as an inheritance, and the promise of an omnipotent power keeping him wherever he went, and the assurance that his God was one who could not be frustrated in his purposes were encouragements that must have strengthened him immensely. We do know from Jacob’s response to the theophany3 that the display of grace...

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