Genesis 28: Jacob's Sacred Experience

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 31


In Genesis 27, Isaac blessed Jacob that he would have prosperity and would rule over his older brother, Esau. The greatest blessings Jacob could obtain, however, were the blessings of the covenant given to his grandfather Abraham and his father, Isaac. In Genesis 28, the Lord taught Jacob more about the covenant and its blessings.

Understanding the Scriptures

Genesis 28

Charged (vv. 1, 6)Commanded 
Lighted upon (v. 11)Came to 
Ascending (v. 12)Going up 
Descending (v. 12)Going down 
Keep (v. 15)Watch over and bless 
Dreadful (v. 17)Holy 
Pillar (vv. 18, 22)Altar 

Genesis 28:10–28—Jacob at Bethel

We are not exactly sure what the ladder looked like in Jacob’s dream. In any case, the ladder symbolizes “stepping up” into heaven through means provided by God and administered by His servants (angels).

ladder  pyramid-shaped building with stairs

Elder Marion G. Romney taught that the steps on the ladder represent covenants we make with God that bring us closer to Him. He also said, “Temples are to us all what Bethel was to Jacob” (“Temples—the Gates to Heaven,” Ensign, Mar. 1971, 16). Temples are “mountains of the Lord” where we go to lift ourselves above the things of this world, draw nearer to God and heaven, and learn how to enter His presence eternally. The ordinances we receive in the temple are essential to our exaltation; thus, the temple is the “gate” to God and eternal life.

Studying the Scriptures

Do one of the following activities (A–B) as you study Genesis 28.

Activity A iconIdentify the Promises

Isaac promised Jacob

(see vv. 3–4)

The Lord promised Jacob

(see vv. 13–15)

Jacob promised the Lord

(see vv. 20–22)

In Genesis 28, Isaac promised Jacob certain blessings, the Lord promised Jacob certain blessings, and Jacob promised the Lord he would do certain things. Identify the promises in this chapter and put them in a chart similar to the one shown.

Activity B iconDraw Your Ladder to Heaven

  1. 1.

    Draw a ladder in your notebook. Label the rungs or steps with ordinances you must receive and covenants you must make with God in order to obtain eternal life.

  2. 2.

    Show your drawing to your parents or Church leaders to see if you have left anything out.

  3. 3.

    Write about what you are doing in your life right now to obtain these covenants or what you are doing to be worthy of the blessings of the covenants you have already entered into.