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Weekly Devotionals

Weekly Devotion: Bethel

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Genesis 28:10-22

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran.11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. 12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.13 There above it[c] stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.[d]15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place!This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it.19 He called that place Bethel,[e]though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over meon this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord[f] will be my God22 and[g] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.

After it was found out that Esau planned to kill his brother Jacob for stealing his birthright blessing, Jacob was sent off to his uncle’s house for safety’s sake as well as to build a family there. Our passage for this devotion is the story of what happened to Jacob as soon as he left for his uncle’s house. 

In short, the Lord met Jacob in dream to confirm the blessing that was bestowed upon him by his father, Isaac. This dream of the Lord meeting with him as intimately as He did was so clear and powerful that when he awoke, Jacob consecrated the spot where he slept with an altar naming the place “Bethel,” the “house of God.”

In honor and remembrance of this event, many congregations have named their churches, “Bethel.” Not to mention many people have gone to Israel to actually visit Bethel. The image you see above is an image of what is supposed to be the site where Jacob met the Lord.

I mention all of this because as nice as it might be to go to a church named “Bethel” or maybe even nicer to take a trip there, neither is actually needed for a person to connect to this Bethel event. All you have to do to connect and even experience what the Bethel event was all about, is to simply be a Christian. For by believing in Jesus and allowing Him to be the Lord over your life, the truth is that you yourself become Bethel, the house of God! Listen to what the Apostle Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3:16 concerning the new reality for those in Christ; Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

So as wonderful and as powerful was Jacob’s dream experience of meeting with the Lord at the place he named, “Bethel,” it is a small thing compared to what the reality is for those who are Christians. For by grace through faith in Jesus, Bethel is now wherever we are and wherever we go because we ourselves have become God’s temple, the place where He make His home!

So brothers and sisters, may we be blessed and empowered today and for the rest of this week by this Bethel truth; that in Christ, you are now Bethel. Amen!

PD