Pastor Thomas Smith   -  

“And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.” Genesis 35:1-3

Yesterday we discussed the spiritual initiative that Jacob modeled as he led his family in a positive direction. Today and tomorrow, we want to consider two specific lessons dealing with the decision and direction of Jacob. He was instructed of the Lord to relocate, but his relocation was to be to a specific place, Bethel.

Things that Bethel represented to Jacob can also apply and to our lives. Bethel was a place where Jacob had previously worshipped God. Years earlier, as Jacob was leaving Canaan for a visit to Haran, he had a dream that included angels ascending and descending on a ladder. This place he called Bethel. Now, many years later, he was to go back to Bethel.

Jacob’s grandfather, Abraham, had a similar experience. Abraham had dwelt in Bethel; but during a famine, he went to Egypt for a time. When he returned from Egypt, he went directly to Bethel where he renewed his commitment to the Lord. In some ways, Bethel represents going back and renewing commitments we once made to God.

The name Bethel means “house of God.” Going to Bethel was going to the house of God. This is another great truth worthy of our attention. Like Jacob, our spiritual influence should include a commitment to “the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (I Timothy 3:15). Jacob took the initiative to lead his family to go with him to Bethel, the house of God. What a great example this is for all of us! The church assembly is where God so often works in our hearts and where we make commitments to the Lord. Let this be a lesson for all of us: may we never get too far away from the house of God. The church should be central in our plans and activities. Families should be encouraged to grow spiritually and serve the Lord in the church, which is His body. May we all influence others to “go up to Bethel.”