Previously, we explored Abraham and Sarah’s encounters with the angel of the LORD. Now, we learn about three visits Jacob has with the angel, including Jacob’s classic wrestling match with the pre-incarnate Christ.
The angel appears to Jacob
Isaac has blessed Jacob and sent him to find a wife from the family of Jacob’s uncle, Laban. While on his journey, Jacob stops for the night and, having fallen asleep, experiences a most remarkable dream. He sees a ladder extending from earth into heaven. Angels are moving up and down the ladder. Above it all (or perhaps beside Jacob; English translations differ) stands Yahweh, who identifies himself as “the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac” (Gen. 28:13).
The LORD promises Jacob and his offspring the land on which he sleeps. He also assures Jacob of descendants as numerous as the dust of the earth. And he promises that all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through Jacob and his descendants. Finally, the LORD tells Jacob, “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you” (v. 15). The description of the LORD as standing evokes images of a human-like figure, so it’s possible we are witnessing a Christophany.
Lending credence to this view is Jesus’ conversation with Philip and Nathanael in John 1:51. Jesus says to these disciples, “Truly I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Perhaps Jesus is urging his new followers to see him as the one who appeared to Jacob in the vision, especially as he connects the heavenly ladder with the Son of Man.Continue reading