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Jacobs Ladder

John H. Swain

Many people see the time from creation to the final judgment as encompassing 7000 years, with the
Messiah ruling from Jerusalem in the 7th millenium. Salient points in mans relationship with God tend to
occur at the endpoints of the millennia. For example, although we wont know for sure until it happens, it
seems likely that Jesus ministry came 2000 years before His secomd coming.
We dont know the exact years, but the construction of the first temple was roughly 1000 years before
Jesus ministry, so perhaps it was 3000 years after creation and 3000 years before the second coming. Its
seven-year period from the beginning of construction to its dedication seems to parallel the seven year
tribulation period, from the construction of the tribulation temple at the beginning to the dedication of the
millennial temple at the end.
A thousand years before the temple construction, another important event took place: Jacobs dream.
Jacob slept out in the open one night with a stone for a pillow (remember the line from Mansion Over the
Hilltop?) and dreamed of a ladder reaching to Heaven, and angels ascending and descending on it. God
stood above the ladder and pronounced a blessing on Jacob and his seed. (Gen. 28:12-15)
How do we know it was a thousand years? Well, Jacob was on his way to Padan-Aram to find a wife at
Isaac and Rebekahs behest, rather than marrying a Canaanite as his brother Esau had done. And when did
Esau do this? When he was 40 years old (Gen 26:34), and since they were twins, Jacob must have been 40
as well. The next clue comes 90 years later when Jacob stands before the Pharaoh at 130 years old (Gen
47:9); this was the beginning of Israels sojourn in Egypt. Exodus 12:40 tells us that the sojourn in Egypt
lasted 430 years. I Kings 6:1 tells us that the temple construction began 480 years after the exodus.
Adding up, we get 90 + 430 + 480 = 1000.
This moment is the birth of the nation of Israel, Gods chosen nation. Jacob has just left his parents to
make his way in life. This is a big step in life, so important that God addressed it in Gen. 2:24. He is no
longer Isaacs kid, he is his own man. This dream of the ladder along with Gods blessing gave Jacob a
knowledge of God and a hope that he would pass down through all his generations, thus establishing their
Since I put forth the proposition earlier that the temple construction parallels the tribulation, can we make
a similar claim about Jacobs dream? Well, seven years after the dream, we find Jacob at a wedding feast,
apparently paralleling the wedding feast of Rev. Chapter 19, which seems to occur immmediately prior to
Jesus return.
So what does the ladder mean to us? Since it comes seven years before the wedding, it seems to indicate,
to me anyways, that the Church will ascend that ladder at the beginning of the tribulation. In many years
of being a Christian and reading the Bible, Id never noticed or heard about this parallel, but now that I
see it, its pretty hard to explain it any other way. It seems that at the beginning of the tribulation, temple
construction will start and therell be a ladder to Heaven for us, then seven years later, therell be a
wedding feast and the dedication of the Messiahs temple.