Jacob’s ladder is one of the most memorable and enigmatic images from the Old Testament.
It is obviously about a connection between the created order and God himself - a ladder between earth and heaven.
It is also a statement that God is involved with both the physical as well as the spiritual aspects of life. Hebrew thought has always seen a human being as a psychosomatic unity – which means that our bodies and spirit are entwined. We know that to be true in our lives of course.
We all know that mental stress causes physical symptoms and vice versa, physical maladies can cause depression, headaches and worse.
Jacob’s vision saw God’s connection with the earth, and God’s involvement in the affairs of mankind in the form of a ladder stretching from the place Jacob was standing to heaven, with God almighty at the top and his angels ascending and descending the ladder.
The Hebrew word for angel is actually derived from the word meaning a “messenger” so the ladder as well as being the connection with God also represents a means of communication (two way - both ascending and descending) between God and humanity – a way for humanity to speak to God and a way of God to communicate his will to humanity.
Jacob called the place Bethel. Beth in Hebrew means “house” and “El” is a word for God borrowed from the Canaanites. So Bethel means "the house of God."
Jacob of course was in the wilderness and there was no house there, but God’s house so to speak wherever his Spirit rests which can be anywhere and everywhere.
Now.....In the gospel of John we have Jesus saying “Truly, truly I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man” In alluding to the imagery in Jacob’s ladder in Genesis Jesus is claiming to be that ladder, that direct line of communication between God and man.
Jesus is the way for us that through him we can send our messages (prayers) to God and through Jesus God communicates with us.
Jesus is Bethel – the house of God which is anywhere and everywhere that He is present.
When Jesus is alive in our hearts by God’s Spirit we have direct unmediated access to God and He to us. Each Christian is "Bethel" the house of God when Jesus lives in our hearts by the Holy Spirit so the end of the ladder is in our hearts and reaches to heaven. Every Christian is a house of God and connected to heaven via Jesus our ladder who stretches from our hearts to God the Father himself. We are Bethel.