Today’s Reading: Genesis 28-29
Genesis 28 tells of an encounter that Jacob had with God – a turning point in his life when God let him know that He was not only the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac, He was ALSO the God of Jacob. How wonderful it must have felt for Jacob in that moment when He heard God’s promise:
“I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. Your descendants will be a numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions – to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised.” – Genesis 28:13b-15
Jacob set up a pillar, poured oil on it and named it Bethel, making a vow to God just as God had made a vow to Him – if you are with me then I am with you:
“If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.” – Genesis 28:20b-22
That day Jacob began a covenant relationship with God – a covenant he would years later return to and renew. The next twenty plus years had good times and bad. Jacob now had two wives, two concubines, eleven sons and one daughter. He had acquired much wealth but his household had also acquired pagan idols. Jacob had to seek peace among his wives, peace with his uncle and peace with his brother, Esau. His daughter, Dinah, had been raped and his sons had retaliated by killing every male in that town and by plundering the town.
God called out to Jacob and he RETURNED TO BETHEL, recognizing that God had faithfully kept His covenant but that Jacob was in need of renewing the promise He had made to God. The influence of the world around him had made an impact on Jacob and his family and he needed to once again cleanse himself, returning to the place where God had revealed himself to Jacob. And the God of Jacob’s past faithfully appeared to him again and blessed him, showing Jacob that God was not only the God of yesterday, but the God of today and the God of tomorrow.
Now that Jacob had returned from Paddan-aram, God appeared to him again at Bethel. God blessed him, saying “Your name is Jacob, but you will not be called Jacob any longer. From now on your name will be Israel.” So God renamed him Israel.
Then God said, “I am El-Shaddai – ‘God Almighty.’ Be fruitful and multiply. You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants! And I will give you the land I once gave to Abraham and Isaac. Yes, I will give it to you and your descendants after you.” Then God went up from the place where he had spoken to Jacob.
Jacob set up a stone pillar to mark the place where God had spoken to him. Then he poured wine over it as an offering to God an anointed the pillar with olive oil. And Jacob named the place Bethel (which means “house of God”), because God had spoken to him there. – Genesis 35:9-15
Perhaps God is calling us back to the place where we entered into a covenant relationship with Him. The world around us, the stress and the busyness of this life have had an impact on us and we need to renew our promise, recognizing that the God of our yesterday is still who we desire to be the Lord of our today and the Keeper of our tomorrows. God is faithful and He still desires to bless us and for us to bless Him by being fruitful and increasing in number. I choose to renew that covenant and desire to keep it fresh and growing stronger each day.
Even in the womb, Jacob struggled with his brother;
when he became a man, he even fought with God.
Yes, he wrestled with the angel and won.
He wept and pleaded for a blessing from him.
There at Bethel he met God face to face, and God spoke to him –
the Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the Lord is His name!
So now, COME BACK TO YOUR GOD.
Act with love and justice and always depend on Him. – Hosea 12:3-6