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Jacob At Heaven's Gate
by James Vasquez
(Part 2 - click here for part 1)
Now fleeing northward there was time,
To give some serious thought,
To how I had dissembled and,
Obtained what I had sought.
The blessing of my father and,
My brother's first-born right,
Were mine with little comfort as,
I undertook my flight.
For Esau only waited on,
The death of father now,
Before his vengeance he would take,
In violent form somehow.
But had I not been told years past,
That it was prophesied,
My mother would give birth to twins,
Whom God would then divide?
The elder would the younger serve,
And to him homage pay,
A nation would descend from each,
But not of equal sway.
Was I thus wrong to lend a hand,
In what was sure to be,
In opportunities that came,
And gave themselves to me?
The things were done so quick, so sure,
I found myself still awed,
But yet this question lingered with,
No answer: where was God?
And then by night along the trail,
With branches for a bed,
I found a dusty, flinty rock,
To rest my weary head.
And had I asked just where was God?
So little of His might,
His love, His purpose for my life,
Did I perceive that night.
But in a dream, oh, wondrous dream!
The Lord to me appeared,
Atop a ladder stretched to heav'n,
With angels most endeared,
Ascending and descending there,
Before my very eyes,
From earth to heav'n and ceasing not,
Their loud, adoring cries.
And then I heard the voice of God,
So grand, exalted, high,
He spoke and heaven's creatures heard,
And silenced every cry.
"The God of Abraham am I,
And Isaac's fearsome Lord,
Attended by angelic hosts,
And everywhere adored,
"The land on which you lay your head,
To your posterity,
I choose to give and like the dust,
Their numbers then shall be,
"From east to west, from north to south,
Your offspring shall be found,
And everywhere your people go,
Man's blessings will abound.
"My presence shall not part from you,
In all your journey now,
To guide each step and bring you back,
According to my vow.
"These promises I make to you,
By my most holy Name,
Nor will I leave you till they're done,
And each one you may claim."
I woke in wonder and I feared,
For God, I knew, was there,
Magnificent in majesty,
And I was not aware.
How terrible was his presence as,
I trembled, hushed and awed,
I felt I was at heaven's gate,
And in the house of God!
And at dawn's light the stone that 'neath,
My wearied head had lain,
I took and there an altar made,
And did with oil stain.
I gave the place a worthy name,
And Bethel was it called,
For nothing less would suit that which,
My soul had so enthralled.
And all my hopes were lifted, then,
As on my way I went,
The dangers and uncertainties,
This unknown sojourn lent,
Seemed less foreboding now since I,
The voice of God had heard,
Whose unrelenting promise giv'n,
My safety had assured.
And then this vow I was prepared,
To make with God that day,
That if throughout my journey he,
Close by my side would stay,
And if my food, my clothes and all,
That I might find I lacked,
He would supply quite faithfully,
And join me in this pact,
To bring me back one distant day,
In safety to my home,
That I my journeys might fulfill,
And thus no longer roam,
Then he, indeed, and he alone,
My God would ever be,
And to him full one-tenth I'd give,
Of my prosperity,
And in that place, upon that rock,
There as a pillar set,
The house of God would rise to show,
How my poor soul he met.
(end of part 2)
from the February 2003 Edition of the Jewish Magazine