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« The Watcher | Main | Your Inexorable Future »

The Gate of Heaven

“This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” Genesis 28:17 

Some are inviting; some forbidding.  Some are stone with clinging ivy and wrought iron attached; others are simple picket boards painted white.  Ornate, plain, wide, narrow, well-oiled, creaky, they all have something in common. They are all gates allowing entrance into a walled-off square.  A gateway also means the official way to begin a journey.  St. Louis is said to be the gateway to the west, thus the huge arch that towers above the city.  In New York City, the Statue of Liberty signifies freedom for all immigrants. In the drug culture, they speak of the Cannabis Gateway.  Cannabis is the marijuana plant, and people who use it enter through a gateway that leads them to other drugs, like heroin and cocaine. 

Jacob was on the run.  A fugitive because of a stolen birthright, his brother, Esau, had promised to kill him.  Jacob didn’t find God because of pure motives.  His life had been reduced to complete shambles and there was nothing left for him to do but scramble desperately for a place to hide.  God first seeks us; then we seek God.  Moses was not looking to be the savior of Israel when he saw the burning bush on the backside of the desert.  Gideon was not seeking to be a great General when God found him threshing wheat by the winepress.  Anyone who finds God does not have themselves to thank.  It is the mercy of God that he found us and chose to use us. In the midst of our despair, God shows up.  

Jacob had stumbled into a holy place. Tired, sweaty, footsore—any place to rest would do.  The gate of heaven had no markings.  There were no road signs, no name of the village or town to tell Jacob where he was spending the night.  It seemed like it was just a coincidence that Jacob ended his days journey here. The dream happened to Jacob in a barren, desolate place.  No gardens, no greenery, no oases. No Embassy Suites or Hyatt Regency Hotels.  No shopping malls, no tourist attractions, no bright lights, not even a dingy little gas station offered him any comfort. 

Many believers have no idea how they happened into an Apostolic church and felt the power of God.  They were ignorant of the oneness of God or the new birth experience.  God turned their very troubles and trials into opportunities to get to Him.  He used their sicknesses to lead them to Himself.  He rode into their lives on the back of cocaine addiction, divorce, prison, the barrel of a gun pointed in their face!  God has a way of turning wilderness stones into monuments of blessing.  That which you thought was a curse was God’s way to bring you to the gate of heaven. 

It is a maddening irony that the gates of our heaven are the places of our dread. Our flesh recoils, our human nature resists, our carnal mind rejects this place. The closing scene of Jacob’s nightmare revealed the house of God. The house of God was the gate of heaven.  If Bethel was the gate of Heaven, it means that it only represents a transition into a brand-new realm of living. Once you enter in the gateway, the fabulous plan of God begins to unfold in your life.  You find yourself in the middle of change.  Your tastes, your desires, your affections, your plans.  Something begins to pull you along. You are in a passageway…you don’t even recognize your old self.  The person staring back at you in the mirror is not the same. 

Once you begin this journey, you can never be the same.  You cannot erase the revelations and illuminations you receive in the gateway to heaven. How can anyone view such sights and go back to the way they were? He now says, “Come.  Take my hand.  Let me lead you into higher heights and deeper depths than you ever imagined even existed.”

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