The Review and Herald


November 11, 1890

The Mystic Ladder


Jacob's experience as a wanderer from his home, when he was shown the mystic ladder, on which descended and ascended the angels of heaven, was designed to teach a great truth in regard to the plan of salvation. The purposes of God were opened to the discouraged man, who felt himself cut off from God and man. In marvelous love, Christ presented before him in a dream the way of life. The truth was unfolded before him in the emblem, and its significance is as great in our day as it was in his. RH November 11, 1890, par. 1

“And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth; and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of. And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.... And he called the name of that place Bethel.” RH November 11, 1890, par. 2

Although the plan of salvation was not then as clearly unfolded as it is in our day, the Lord Jesus communicated most wonderful things to his children. RH November 11, 1890, par. 3

The ladder represented Christ; he is the channel of communication between heaven and earth, and angels go to and fro in continual intercourse with the fallen race. The words of Christ to Nathanael were in harmony with the figure of the ladder, when he said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” Here the Redeemer identifies himself as the mystic ladder, that makes communication possible between heaven and earth. RH November 11, 1890, par. 4

When Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life,” he uttered a truth of wonderful significance. The transgression of man had separated earth from heaven, and finite man from the infinite God. As an island is separated from a continent, so earth was cut off from heaven, and a wide channel intervened between man and God. Jesus bridged this gulf, and made a way for man to come to God. He who has no spiritual light sees no way, has no hope; and men have originated theories of their own regarding the way to life. The Romanist points the sinner to the Virgin Mary, to penances, indulgences, and the absolution of the priest; and to this theory come those who would be saved in their sins, and those who would be saved by their own merit. But the only name given among men whereby they can be saved is Jesus. Across the gulf that sin has made come his words, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” There is but one mediator between God and man. In heaven this great truth was announced. A voice from the throne was heard, saying, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared me.” Isaiah, looking forward in prophetic vision, writes, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice, from henceforth even forever.” And from the wilderness, the voice of the messenger cries, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” The beloved disciple declares of him: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.... And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.” RH November 11, 1890, par. 5

Christ only is the way, the truth, the life; and man can be justified alone through the imputation of Christ's righteousness. Man is justified freely by God's grace through faith, and not by works, lest any man should boast. Salvation is the gift of God through Jesus Christ our Lord. Many have felt their hopeless condition, and have asked in perplexity, “How shall we gain admission to the world to come? Earth lies under the curse, and is doomed to destruction; how shall we be able to enter the city of God?” We would point you to Christ, the way, the truth, the life—the mystic ladder between heaven and earth. RH November 11, 1890, par. 6

After the enemy had betrayed Adam and Eve into sin, the connection between heaven and earth was severed; and had it not been for Christ, the way to heaven would never have been known by the fallen race. But “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Christ is the mystic ladder, the base of which rests upon the earth, and whose topmost round reaches to the throne of the Infinite. The children of Adam are not left desolate and alienated from God; for through Christ's righteousness we have access unto the Father. “By me,” said Christ, “if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” Let earth be glad, let the inhabitants of the world rejoice, that Christ has bridged the gulf which sin had made, and has bound earth and heaven together. A highway has been cast up for the ransomed of the Lord. The weary and heavy laden may come unto him, and find rest to their souls. The pilgrim may journey toward the mansions that he has gone to prepare for those who love him. RH November 11, 1890, par. 7

In assuming humanity, Christ planted the ladder firmly upon the earth. The ladder reaches unto the highest heaven, and God's glory shines from its summit and illuminates its whole length, while the angels pass to and fro with messages from God to man, with petition and praise from man to God. Through the divine nature, Christ was one with the Father; and by assuming humanity, he identified himself with man. He, “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.” In the vision of Jacob was represented the union of the human and the divine in Christ. RH November 11, 1890, par. 8

As the angels pass to and fro on the ladder, God is represented as looking down with favor upon the children of men because of the merit of his Son. RH November 11, 1890, par. 9

Every minister should learn the lessons which Christ taught, that he may be able to instruct sinners in the way of salvation. Christ said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” The sinner cannot take one step unless the Spirit draws him; he must cling to Christ if he would be saved. If he ascends to heaven, it must be by mounting up step by step the whole height of Christ's work, so that Christ shall be his wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. RH November 11, 1890, par. 10

The gaining of eternal life is no easy thing. By living faith we are to keep on reaching forward, ascending the ladder round by round, seeing and taking the necessary steps; and yet we must understand that not one holy thought, not one unselfish act, can be originated in self. It is only through Christ that there can be any virtue in humanity. Without Christ we can do no good thing, but with him we may do all things. It is at this point that many stumble, to their ruin. They think that they must struggle in their own strength to grow into goodness, before they can receive a new heart. But such effort is in vain. All warfare is useless unless Christ's power is combined with human effort. But while we can do nothing without him, we have something to do in connection with him. At no time must we relax our spiritual vigilance; for we are hanging, as it were, between heaven and earth. We must cling to Christ, climb up by Christ, become laborers together with him in the saving of our souls. RH November 11, 1890, par. 11

We are not merely to see a way by which to cross the gulf of sin, but we are to appreciate the value of the ransom paid for our souls; we are to realize something of what has been suffered that we might be forgiven, and rescued from destruction. We are to rejoice that the atonement is complete; and believing in Christ as our complete Saviour, we may know that the Father loves us, even as he loves his Son. RH November 11, 1890, par. 12