Jacob was in a hard place. He made his bed on stones and took a rock to use as a pillow. It was a place called Luz. The name of the place means ‘almond tree’ but it was a Canaanite town. Isaac charged Jacob not to take a gentile Canaanite as wife and his mother Rebecca encouraged him to go to his uncle Laban in Haran to get a wife that is part of their people.
Jacob’s name means ‘deceiver’ because at birth he grabbed hold of Esau’s ankle as part of a twin. He deceived his brother to obtain the first born right from Isaac according to his mother’s scheming devices. He was running away from Esau for he feared what Esau would do to him. In this hard place he received a heavenly plan. The Scripture says: ‘then he dreamed…’
It seemed that Jacob would not amount to much. His future looked bleak. He had nothing and would probably amount to nothing. But ‘then he dreamed…’
God speaks to us through dreams & visions. We need to believe those dreams. Jacob dreamt about the house of God. God spoke to him there. He changed the name of the place to Bethel, the house of God or the house of bread.
Nola & I started our first church in Australia in Fortitude Valley. In those days (1984) it was known as a red light district. No one gave us any chance to succeed. But we gave our church the name of ‘Valley of Blessing’ to change the name of the place. Many people were blessed there. God gave me an idea to prophesy to every visitor that came to that place. Many of them stayed on and became members or attended our Bible School. Today that area is a major attraction in Brisbane. It has been converted into China Town.
God repeated the promise he gave to Abraham to Jacob, three generations later. You can enter the promises of God generations later! God told him what He told Abraham: ‘I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south, and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
‘Behold I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land, for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.’
Many years ago, when I was in a hard place, I took the promise from the Scriptures for me. I entered the promise God made to Abraham. It took the promise for me and my children and my children’s children and for all who would participate in our ministry to support and help us to fulfill our divine mission.
Not many people thought I would amount to anything. How can an artist or an actor become something in this life? The previous generation preachers told me: ‘you cannot preach. You just talk to people. You are not a leader.’
But someone believed in me. My mother. Like Jacob’s mother Rebecca. She believed in Jacob. She believed he would amount to something. And then God gave me a wife, Nola that believed in me. Then he added children that believed in what we were doing. Then he added many people that supported our vision and our dream. Now we have grown to many churches around the word. We spread out to the east, to the west, to the north and the south because the Lord gave us increase according to the promise he made to Abraham, Isaac & Jacob.
Jacob saw a ladder in his dream that was set up from the earth and its top reached to heaven and angels of God were ascending and descending on it. He knew it was the house of God. We can set up a place of worship on earth that touches heaven! ‘But you have come to Mt. Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and the church of the Firstborn who are registered in heaven, to the judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect, to Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant and to the blood of sprinkling that speaks better things than that of Abel.’ (Hebrews 12:22-24)
Abel’s blood speaks of revenge, because Cain murdered him. Jesus’ blood speaks of forgiveness – a much better subject and more beneficial for us who believe!
God had a plan with Jacob. Long before time began God already had a plan for you! God wanted to change Jacob the deceiver into Israel, a prince with God! Only God can turn a failure into a success! God made a hallowed pledge to a deceiver. It changed him completely! God spoke to him in a dream. When no one else gave him a chance to succeed, God gave him a chance to change.
Jacob made a pledge to God as well. He said: ‘If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to you.’ (Genesis 28:20-22)
When I was 20 years old I made a vow outside Leimbach, Switzerland, on a snow covered hillside to serve God & humanity as long as the Lord spares me and keeps me healthy. I never need any motivation to do what I am doing because I made a vow and kept my vow. I have now been to 120 nations to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Nola & I have given far more than a tithe to the work of God and He has blessed us as a family and He has blessed those whose hearts are with us and support the heavenly vision God gave me to reach all the nations of the world. There are just 70 more nations to reach! It is possible to do it! I believe it is possible. God has given us bread to eat and clothes to wear. He has been with us and kept us wherever we go and has always brought us back to our home. It is so nice & comforting to come back home. I don’t mind going anywhere because I know the Lord will bring me home again! I trust Him to give His angels charge over us to keep us in all our ways according to Psalm 91.
There is a secret to learn when you walk by faith. You must learn to see things from God’s perspective. I once stood at a great tapestry and saw it from both sides. From the wrong side it looks like a mess while they are busy weaving it. There are so many loose strings and you cannot see a definite pattern. But when you look at it from the weaver’s side you see the pattern taking shape. When you see things from God’s side you know that all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His great purpose. (Romans 8:28, 29)
Many times God speaks to Nola & I through dreams & visions to tell us where to go or where not to go. Recently I dreamt about a certain place and I said, ‘Jesu Baku!’ in my dream. When we were in Istanbul, Turkey, Nola encouraged me to go to Baku. There were some complications but eventually I got my visa and went to the place I dreamt about.
Then he dreamed…he dreamed that he could set up a place on earth to reach heaven! A church can touch heaven. We link up with the church of the firstborn in heaven! What an amazing concept. What a stroke of genius! God is building an eternal church that will last forever. Here on earth churches do not last forever. We have just visited the 7 churches of the book of Revelation and all we could see was ruins everywhere. But those believers who were part of the church and obeyed the word of the Lord are now in the eternal church in heaven, the church of the Firstborn!
Jacob was in a hard place and it was already dark. He was in a hard place in a dark night. There were no good prospects for the young man. But then he dreamed… God promised him to ratify the promises that He made to His father and forefather and promised to provide for the young man and to protect him.
In the end Jacob had to admit: ‘surely God was in this place and I knew it not!’ He called it the house of God. God was with him in that hard place. God was with him in that dark place. He took the stone on which he slept and poured oil over it and gave it a name: ‘the house of God and the gate of heaven.’
The church is not merely the house of God. It is the gate of heaven! That is the entry point into heaven. God’s presence is there. No matter how hard or dark your situation might be, God’s presence will never leave you if you are part of a church. He will give you a dream that will change your life and change the place where you are.
Then he dreamed…