Sleep well !


Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Haran. When the sun set down, he stopped for the night. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep right at the spot, where he had arrived.


Genesis 28:10/11

Dear readers,


a tough guy, this Jacob. Lying down somewhere on the ground, tired. Took a stone as his pillow. And he slept. I would not have been blindfolded. Not just for fear of robbery or any animals. But a stone as a pillow? No thanks!


How do you sleep? My pillow is important to me. I've already taken my pillow even for vacation! Someone once said that he needs those big, fat pillows he can dig into. Other sleepers throw away all pillows and do not need anything under the head than the mattress.


Either way, every person knows sleepless nights. With and without pillows. One does not come to rest and can´t find any sleep. Restless thoughts and worries are hard as a stone under the head.


Jacob would have had reason for sleepless nights. He was on the run. He had deceived his brother Esau. He had obtained his paternal first-birth blessing by devious means. He was a swindler! Then his brother had sworn: as soon as our father will be dead, then I will come and kill you! (Gen. 27:41)


Maybe Jacob deliberately took a stone for a pillow. Didn´t he want to get a solid sleep?  If you're on the run with a hateful brother in the neck, then it's better to stay alert. And even be on guard at night. 


Nevertheless, Jacob falls asleep. And he even had dreams! God meets him in his sleep. He sees a ladder between heaven and earth on which God´s own angels ascend and descend. And he hears how God promises him personally, "Behold, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go, and bring you back into this land; for I will not forsake you until I have finished what I have promised to you." (Genesis 15:28)


During this night, Jacob experiences how God addresses him personally in his dreams. This great, almighty, unapproachable God personally turns to this lonely refugee. And God promises his companionship to him:  I am with you! God promises his protection:  I want to protect you. God gives him a future perspective: I'll bring you back home. God guarantees his promises: I will not let you down!


This tears Jacob away from sleep. He realizes in awe: God dwells right here, in this stony field, where I lie!


He takes his "pillow-stone" and sets it up as a memorial stone. He calls this place of the encounter with God Bethel, which means House of God. And this night changed his life forever.


I know similar nights. I was sleepless because I had a problem which felt like a “stone” in my stomach.  I had no peace, because a situation caused me a headache.


And yet these were also nights under an "open heaven"! Not because I saw the stars twinkle. But because God´s word shone on me. Because what Jesus Christ tells us turned the mind bright again. Even in sleepless nights we find peace and rest when we let the Lord Jesus speak, who says:


"Behold, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Mt 28:20). We come to peace when we begin to know God's salutary word. When God speaks to us personally.


For example, Jesus Christ says such a word about quarrels between siblings: if you live in disunity with your brother, then seek reconciliation. Take the first step! Do not return and worship until you have reconciled (Matt 5:23).


Jacob and Esau reconciled again some time later. Sure, it was a long way to go. But then Esau ran to meet Jacob, hugged him and kissed him. Both cried for joy (Gen. 33: 4)!


I wish you the direct line upwards, like Jacob with this sky ladder. And I wish you this peace, of which David prayed in Psalm 4: "I will lay down in peace and sleep, for you alone, O LORD, give me security."

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© 2021 Hans-Peter Nann, Frankfurt am Main