In Genesis 28:10-22, Jacob saw in his dream, the majestic stairway to heaven, angels of God ascending and descending, and even the Lord Himself, during his travel to Haran. While reading “The Concealed Light” by Dr. Tsvi Sadan, a book about the names of the Messiah in Jewish sources, it brought to my attention regarding the stone mentioned in this passage.
It was mentioned in Genesis 28:11 that Jacob took of the stones [plural] of Bethel as pillows and lay down to sleep. And in Genesis 28:18, Jacob took the stone [singular] and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. It is interesting to note that before the dream, the reference to stones is plural. And after the dream, the reference to the stone is singular. If you check the various translations, you would notice that the literal and older translations tend to follow this trend, while the newer translations tend to harmonize Genesis 28:11.
One way of harmonizing, is to suggest that Jacob merely took one out of the many stones prior to his dream. But we would not know for certain whether this is indeed true. What we do know is that Genesis 28:11 referenced itself to stones [plural] even if Jacob took one out of many, while Genesis 28:18 referenced itself to stone [singular]. After reading a Jewish commentry in “The Concealed Light” regarding the stones and stone, the apparent inconsistency may not be so inconsistent after all, but telling a story instead. In my view, it is telling a story about Christ and His Church.
According to 1 Peter 2:5, believers are living stones being built into a spiritual house. Bethel in the context of Genesis 28 is about the presence of the Lord (Genesis 28:16), and more specifically the house of God (Genesis 28:17, 22). Do you think that the plurality of stones in Genesis 28:11 is a scribal error, or is it a subtle hint at believers (many living stones) being the Church (spiritual house of God)? And if indeed the Church is the spiritual house of God, the Church also has the keys (Matthew 16:19) to the gate of heaven (Genesis 28:17) as seen in Jacob’s dream.
In this light, the stone in Genesis 28:18 emphasizes that there is only one Church, which is the Body of Christ. There is only one Church or Body, regardless of the numbers of living stones (believers). The Stone is also Christ Himself, being the chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), the living Stone (1 Peter 2:4) and stumbling Rock (1 Peter 2:8). And as allude to in Genesis 28:18, He is also the pillar of the Church, or the Head of the Church (Colossians 1:18). Not forgetting the anointing oil (Genesis 28:18), the oil symbolises the empowering Spirit who consecrates and sets the Church apart for Christ (Genesis 28:22).
While Jacob, a type of the Messiah, had stones to laid down his head, Jesus explicitly expressed that the Son of Man has no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20, Luke 9:58). It is an inviting statement for you to be part of the spiritual house of God, a place for the Lord’s Headship to rest upon. As the Lord speaks into your life and opens your eyes to see the stairway to heaven, will the living God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, be your God today and forevermore?