MEET ME AT BETHEL—”MY HOUSE”

Sometimes we have a need to go back to the place where we met God the very first time.  We remember with joy when God spoke to our hearts and drew us to him.  We remember each time God speaks plainly to us when He calls us to do a specific work.  God does not hide what he wants to do in us and through us.  It just takes us a little time to really hear His voice speaking to us over the noise of all other voices in the world clamoring for our attention.

When those who believe in God, His Son and His Holy Spirit working in us hear, “Meet me, hear me, I want to talk with you”, we come running.  His Spirit prompts us to “clean up our act” and put on a fresh new attitude, repent of our sins to Jesus, His Son who paid our debts and paved the way to God!  Yes, when we really believe God, know He is real and in control of our lives, we hear His voice calling to us, “Come home and meet me at my house.”  And we run to Him.

The first paragraph of God asking Jacob to meet Him at Bethel reminds me of my childhood days getting ready to go to church.  And I am laughing out loud at the memories.  I totally “get it”.  Mom and Dad went to “God’s House” every time the doors were open for church, church meetings, socials, and funerals (they were the musicians).  Church was my other home. But to go to my other home that belonged to God and dedicated as such, you cleaned up, comb your hair, put on your church clothes and shoes AND you could not bring toys or any other objects with you that might distract you from what God had to say through the preacher or your Sunday School teacher. 

Respect and love for God’s House trumped everything.  This was our lifestyle.  (Still is, truth be known). I didn’t question it.  I did whine a bit as a child, who loved the outdoors, about cleaning up for Sunday night services, but the look from mom or dad settled the issue immediately.  Yes, just one look was all it took from my elders to remember the joy of meeting God wherever and whenever He wanted to speak to us.  I actually loved church!  I was a weird child who became a weirdly different adult because of my upbringing resulting in love for God.  And I am grateful…So very grateful.

Jacob and his family and their entourage of all that he possesses arrive close to Bethel—God’s House.  They are told the same thing I was told as a child!  So, maybe I’m not so weird after all, growing up with respect and love for the places where God meets with us and talks to us.  (And it’s not always a church building.)

Genesis 35, The Message

God spoke to Jacob: “Go back to Bethel. Stay there and build an altar to the God who revealed himself to you when you were running for your life from your brother Esau.”

2-3 Jacob told his family and all those who lived with him, “Throw out all the alien gods which you have, take a good bath and put on clean clothes, we’re going to Bethel. I’m going to build an altar there to the God who answered me when I was in trouble and has stuck with me everywhere I’ve gone since.”

4-5 They turned over to Jacob all the alien gods they’d been holding on to, along with their lucky-charm earrings. Jacob buried them under the oak tree in Shechem. Then they set out. A paralyzing fear descended on all the surrounding villages so that they were unable to pursue the sons of Jacob.

6-7 Jacob and his company arrived at Luz, that is, Bethel, in the land of Canaan. He built an altar there and named it El-Bethel (God-of-Bethel) because that’s where God revealed himself to him when he was running from his brother.

And that’s when Rebekah’s nurse, Deborah, died. She was buried just below Bethel under the oak tree. It was named Allon-Bacuth (Weeping-Oak).

9-10 God revealed himself once again to Jacob, after he had come back from Paddan Aram and blessed him: “Your name is Jacob (Heel); but that’s your name no longer. From now on your name is Israel (God-Wrestler).”

11-12 God continued,

I am The Strong God.
    Have children! Flourish!
A nation—a whole company of nations!—
    will come from you.
Kings will come from your loins;
    the land I gave Abraham and Isaac
I now give to you,
    and pass it on to your descendants.

13 And then God was gone, ascended from the place where he had spoken with him.

14-15 Jacob set up a stone pillar on the spot where God had spoken with him. He poured a drink offering on it and anointed it with oil. Jacob dedicated the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel (God’s-House).

* * *

16-17 They left Bethel. They were still quite a ways from Ephrath when Rachel went into labor—hard, hard labor. When her labor pains were at their worst, the midwife said to her, “Don’t be afraid—you have another boy.”

18 With her last breath, for she was now dying, she named him Ben-oni (Son-of-My-Pain), but his father named him Ben-jamin (Son-of-Good-Fortune).

19-20 Rachel died and was buried on the road to Ephrath, that is, Bethlehem. Jacob set up a pillar to mark her grave. It is still there today, “Rachel’s Grave Stone.”

* * *

21-22 Israel kept on his way and set up camp at Migdal Eder. While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went and slept with his father’s concubine, Bilhah. And Israel heard of what he did.

* * *

22-26 There were twelve sons of Jacob.

The sons by Leah:

Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn

Simeon

Levi

Judah

Issachar

Zebulun.

The sons by Rachel:

Joseph

Benjamin.

The sons by Bilhah, Rachel’s maid:

Dan

Naphtali.

The sons by Zilpah, Leah’s maid:

Gad

Asher.

These were Jacob’s sons, born to him in Paddan Aram.

* * *

27-29 Finally, Jacob made it back home to his father Isaac at Mamre in Kiriath Arba, present-day Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac had lived. Isaac was now 180 years old. Isaac breathed his last and died—an old man full of years. He was buried with his family by his sons Esau and Jacob.

WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?

There are many life-altering situations that happen in this passage.  Consider these moments:

Did God send Jacob home at just the right time to be with Isaac, old and failing in health, in time to speak with him before he died?  What a tender, loving God we have!

Rachel, his beloved wife, dies in childbirth close to his home of childhood.  She is buried in Bethlehem—the birthplace of our Savior!  Did you catch that?

Because of the reunion with his brother Esau earlier on the road home, they come together in unity to bury their father Isaac.

The twelve sons of Jacob will the known in future days as the Twelve Tribes of Israel.  That’s why they are listed here.  Jacob, renamed Israel by God, is the father of the nation of Israel.

We learn that God knows what He is doing.  God is always at work for us and in us.  God knows what lies ahead and prepares the way.  God knows what we will endure on our journey here and gets us ready to go through it providing all we need to learn from it when we allow Him to do what He does best. 

Our response?  When God calls, run to meet Him!  COME HOME!

“You who are weary, come home”.  I can hear my Grandpa leading us in this song of my youth…

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling
Calling for you and for me
See on the portals He’s waiting and watching
Watching for you and for me

Come home, come home
Ye who are weary come home
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling
Calling, “O sinner come home”

ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 

But take heart, Jesus is the way back home to where God resides.

O for the wonderful love He has promised
Promised for you and for me
Though we have sinned He has mercy and pardon
Pardon for you and for me

Come home, come home
Ye who are weary come home
Earnestly, tenderly Jesus is calling
Calling, “O sinner come home”

Songwriter: Will L. Thompson

Lord,

Thank you for saving my soul, making me whole and continuing to meet me each morning.  Thank you for bring me home to where you are.

In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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