Jacob’s Ladder and Jacob’s Well
I have always been fascinated with how Jesus interacted with people that were not religious. Interestingly, he seemed to only get upset with people who claimed to be religious but did not love and care for people as God desires. Two particular encounters that Jesus had in the book of John intrigue me: when he first met Nathaniel, and his encounter with the Samaritan woman at a well. Both of these people were not his followers until after Jesus interacted with them using the prophetic gift. Maybe you have heard me talk about this, but here is some deeper insight into it.
In John chapter one Jesus had a conversation with Nathaniel in which Jesus spoke to him prophetically. He told Nathaniel about his character, that he was basically an honest man and that he had seen him under a fig tree. This interaction opened Nathaniel’s eyes and caused him to exclaim, “Rabbi, you are the son of God, the King of Israel! (verse 49)” Jesus went on to tell him that, “You will see the heavens open and angels ascending and descending on the son of man” (verse 51). Jesus prophesied that Nathaniel would have a supernatural experience similar to Jacob’s Ladder (Genesis 28:12). It is not recorded in the Bible that Nathaniel ever actually saw this, but we know it happened because Jesus said it would.
In John chapter 4 Jesus encountered a Samaritan woman who came to draw water from a well that had originally been dug by Jacob (John 4:5-6). During their deep conversation, Jesus talked to her about worshipping God and then he switched the subject and asked her to go get her husband. She told him that she did not have one. With that, Jesus replied, “You’re right that you have no husband, the fact is that you have had five husbands and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is quite true” (verse 17-18). At that, the woman realized that Jesus was a prophet, and she went to get people from her town to come and see him. At first glance, you might think that Jesus was judging her and pointing out her faults. But notice that he commends her for her honesty, “What you said is quite true”.
With both Nathaniel and the Samaritan woman, Jesus found something positive to say to them. This is a lost art with Christians today. If you ask someone on the street what they think of Christians, the number one answer is that they are negative. Jesus gives us a great example of finding the good in someone no matter who they are. Beyond that, isn’t it interesting that Jesus makes two references to Jacob during his evangelistic journey. Jacob’s Ladder, shows that some people need to experience God through a supernatural encounter. Seeing angels ascending and descending from Heaven shows that they are bringing God’s will “on earth as it is in Heaven”. Other people need to experience God through conversations and getting deep. The significance of Jacob’s Well was that it is over 75 feet deep. The Samaritan woman was one of the few people that Jesus revealed himself to as the Messiah. This shows that God wants to reveal deep mysteries to people.
It helps to be mindful that people will not all experience God the same way. That is why we need different types of churches and various flavors of Christianity to reach a variety of different people on the earth. For some reason many Christians feel that we all have to believe what they believe or we are not ‘saved’. Reality is that some people need to experience God supernaturally and others need to talk it through and understand it more logically. But the interesting part is that in both instances, Jesus still used the prophetic gift to share his message. With Nathaniel he had two words of knowledge and one prophecy. With the Samaritan woman he had one prophecy and two words of knowledge. Also note that in the chapters that immediately follow these encounters (2 and 5) he performs a miracle by turning water into wine and healing a man who had been paralyzed for 32 years. Jesus shows us that we can carry the gifts of the Holy Spirit like a tool belt so that whatever gift we need to help people is readily available to us.
Prophetic Outreach becomes a lot more fun and effective when we use the gifts of the Holy Spirit to draw people to God. Today, people are looking for a real God with real power to help them with their real problems! So next time you have a conversation with someone, ask God to speak to you about them. Look for a positive characteristic or gift they have, or ask God to show you what would be the very thing that opens their eyes.
A modern example of using Jacob’s Well and Ladder (going deep and going high in the Holy Spirit) is an experience I had this week in a coffee shop while at a conference in Alaska. I asked the young woman behind the counter if she dreams of flying. Since I interpret dreams, I have noticed that flying is a very common theme in dreams of people who have a greater destiny to fulfill. She told me that she did not dream at night of flying, but she has a life dream of being a pilot but her eyesight is too poor. She was stunned that I knew this, and I was able to encourage her to not give up on her dream. She told me that she was becoming a flight attendant instead. If I had more time and there was not a long line behind me, I might have had the opportunity to pray for her eye sight to get better. But we’ll just have to trust the Holy Spirit to send someone else to do that. I was able to use a word of knowledge and get into a short but deep conversation with her.
Imagine the possibilities if Christians everywhere could hear the Holy Spirit speak to them for people that they meet in their everyday lives. God really loves it when we are able to encourage and build people up. It is not difficult and it helps us to see the good things that God has placed in people. There is a new wave of God’s power of love that is sweeping the globe right now. Step out and see what happens. If we sincerely love people even if they are not Christians, people will begin to trust us more and begin to seek us out for help!
“God, open our eyes to what you are doing around us. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to not just try to get people to pray a prayer of salvation, but give us a heart for them and a willingness to walk alongside of people who so desperately need your love. I pray for an encouraging encounter today for us all!” In Jesus Name, Amen.
John 4:35 NIV
…I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.