THE HEAVENLY LADDER
All the divine principles of God’s building are in this picture. The divine building is the opening of heaven to the earth so that heaven is joined to the earth and the earth is united to heaven by the heavenly ladder. To see what this ladder is, we must refer to John 1:51, which says, “And He said to him, Truly, truly, I say to you, You shall see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” No doubt, this is a reference to Genesis 28. In Genesis 28 there is a ladder upon which the angels of God ascend and descend, while in John 1 this ladder is the Son of Man, upon whom the angels of God ascend and descend. Therefore, the ladder is the Lord Jesus Himself as the Son of Man, the incarnated Christ.
Moreover, in 14:6 the Lord said, “I am the way…; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” He is not the flat way but the vertical way by whom and through whom we come to God. As the way, He is the ladder. It is He who brings heaven to earth, and it is He who unites earth with heaven. It is He who brings God into man and man into God. He is the very way, the vertical way, to bring God and man together and to make heaven and earth one.
In 1:51, the Lord said that the angels of God ascend and descend not upon the Son of God but upon the Son of Man. In the first verse of this chapter the Lord is the eternal Word in eternity past as the expression of God. Then in the last verse of this chapter the Lord is the Son of Man in eternity future. How could the eternal Word become the Son of Man? It was by becoming flesh in verse 14. The eternal Word was incarnated to be the Son of Man. The Son of Man is God mingled with man, a God-man. He is a man of heaven yet on earth, a man on the earth yet still in heaven and from heaven. This wonderful Son of Man brings God and man together and makes heaven and earth one. Therefore, He is the real ladder.
Do not forget that John 1:51 is a reference to Genesis 28. With the heavenly ladder in Genesis 28 there was an open heaven and Bethel, the house of God on earth. This shows us that with the Lord Jesus as the heavenly, vertical way there is the opening of heaven and the house of God on the earth.
THE OIL POURED UPON THE STONE
Genesis 28:18-19a says, “And Jacob rose up early in the morning and took the stone that he had put under his head, and he set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. And he called the name of that place Bethel.” Jacob gave the name Bethel to not only that place but to the stone. This is very significant. That stone, which was Bethel, the house of God, was the resting place of the wanderer where he could lay his head. Moreover, this resting place for man is also the very dwelling place of God. Not only the place, but the stone which had oil poured upon it, the pillow upon which man rested, is a Bethel, the house of God. Where man rests, God dwells.
For there to be a house of God on earth, there must be stones upon which oil is poured. In the Scriptures, oil signifies the Holy Spirit, the third of the Triune God who comes to visit man. When God is hidden in the heavens, He is the Father. No one can know the Father in Himself, and no one has ever seen the Father. When God comes out to express Himself to man and among man, He is the Son, Christ. Then when God comes upon people and into people to visit them in a subjective way, He is the Spirit. Therefore, oil is a symbol of the Triune God visiting people in a subjective way.
What then is the stone? To be sure, the stone is the material for the building. That is why in Jacob’s dream there was first the stone as the material and then the house of God, the building. After the oil was poured upon the stone, it became the house. Likewise, when we come to the Lord, we are living stones who are being built up as a spiritual house in the Spirit, by the Spirit, and with the Spirit (1 Pet. 2:5). We are the stones upon whom the Triune God has poured the Holy Spirit as the oil.
The building of God is a matter of God pouring Himself upon us as the Spirit. We are the stones, and He is the oil. When He pours Himself upon us, we with the oil become Bethel, the house of God, the temple of God in which the Spirit of God dwells.
(The Building of God, Chapter 2, by Witness Lee)