Jacob’s Ladder

Wayne Moore
High Point Baptist Church

Recently, we sang “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder” to open the Sunday school hour at church. It is a short song with repeating phrases.
The first line repeats the title. The second repeats, “Every round goes higher, higher.” The third repeats, “Sinner, do you love my Jesus?” And the fourth repeats, “If you love Him, why not serve Him?” Each line ends with, “soldiers of the cross.”
It is easy to miss the significance of the song without knowing the reason it was written and its biblical basis. What does it mean to climb Jacob’s ladder? Isn’t it obvious that every round goes higher? And what is the connection to Jesus?
The author and composer are anonymous. The only credit in The Baptist Hymnal, 1991 is that it is a Negro spiritual. A Wikipedia article claims the song originated between 1750 and 1825 by American slaves with roots in Liberia.
Knowing this helps you see the meaning in the phrases. They are meant to encourage and instill hope. The message is positive. Climbing higher is progress.
It is not hard to imagine the slaves connecting with the struggles of Jacob in the Bible. When he had the dream of the ladder that reached from earth to heaven, he was on the run for his life (Genesis 28). God spoke to Jacob in his dream and promised to protect him and fulfill the promise to bring him back to the promised land. As slaves sang this song, they would remember Jacob’s story and be encouraged to trust God with their future.
In light of this hope, the second half of the song exhorts believers to keep on serving Jesus. Even in the midst of injustice, we can still do what is right. The Bible teaches us to do everything as unto the Lord, and not unto men (Colossians 3:23).
The connection between Jacob’s ladder and Jesus is valid. Jesus Himself is the one who made it. Speaking to Nathanael, He reveals that He is the ladder in Jacob’s dream (John 1:51). Again, the message is positive. Jesus is the link between man on earth and God in heaven. Nathanael could be confident in following Jesus as one of His disciples. Jesus will fulfill all of God’s promises.
Jacob’s ladder can not only be an encouragement to Jacob, Jesus’ disciples, and former slaves, it can also give us hope so that we can keep on serving God when life isn’t fair.
Our nation is in turmoil now because of racial tension and violence. Accusations are raging about abuse of authority and lack of authority. Our only hope is to turn to God. His Word will guide us through the troubled seas of anarchy.
The solution is to have one standard that is trustworthy, just, and effective. That standard is the Bible. But for America to experience the quiet and peaceable life spoken of in 1 Timothy 2:2, everyone must be willing to submit to God and follow His ways.
No one is above the law, not lawmakers nor law enforcement. Neither is anyone justified in taking the law into their own hands. I plead with everyone who reads this: Let’s treat each other with respect and do what is right in every situation.
You may be in a personal crisis right now. The hope and encouragement of Jacob’s ladder is not just for our nation; it is for you at this very moment.
We live in a fallen and broken world, but God has not given up on us. He has a better plan for our future. That is why He sent His Son Jesus to die on the cross and rise from the dead.
Jesus is Jacob’s ladder. He is the only way to heaven (John 14:6). If you have never submitted to Him and trusted Him to forgive you of your sin and save you from its penalty, please do so right now. Follow His instruction in Romans 10:9, confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved.
If you are not already a part of a church that will help you know how to follow Jesus, contact me and I will be overjoyed to help you find one: Wayne Moore (336) 793-7991.


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