Scripture Reading Genesis 28:10-22, 31:13
Jacob had a varied career to say the least. His character was checkered by deceit through much of his life. This is shown by his relationship to Bethel, the house of God. He had been to Bethel and had seen the Lord in a way that had changed his life. When we have a genuine encounter with Jesus it will change our lives! However, in Jacob's case time and distance had taken its toll and there came a time when God ordered him back to Bethel. We’ve all had Bethel experiences in our lives and then seen them lost through the pressures of life and the passing of time. Sometimes the journey is rough. I believe, today, God is calling us back to Bethel.
What was Bethel? It was a geographical location near Luz where Jacob had a night of unusual blessing. Beyond this, it was a place of great spiritual blessing. It had been a place of great victory. God had spoken to Jacob. Jacob had made a vow to God. God had confirmed His promises to Jacob.
How did Jacob leave Bethel? Jacob made two mistakes while in Bethel: first, he centered on the place rather than on God. I wonder just how often we do that today? We have become fixated on the “church building” instead of God. Secondly, He made vows in the strength of the flesh. Jacob then failed to cultivate the blessing God had for him. This was shown by his trickery with Laban. When they went their separate ways, Jacob saw to it that he got the best land for his herds. Jacob entered into a time of “coming and going” rather than a time of cultivation of the blessings of God. We sometimes get so busy with the coming and going of life that we fail to cultivate the blessings God has given to us. How can we cultivate them? We’re too busy!! If we are too busy to cultivate the blessings God has given us then we are simply too busy.
Jacob then hit the downward skid. This came following a great blessing (Gen 32:24-30). The downward spiral included several things. It involved a failure to keep the faith (Gen 33:12-17), a tendency to lean on the world (Gen 33:18-20) and a failure to reprove sin – he had a tolerance for sin. That’s precisely the way it works – a downward spiral leads us to accept things we would formerly have flatly rejected. We see this going on in the institutional church, today. Many pastors no longer preach against sin or they blur the lines so much that sin is no longer an issue. They do this to grow their churches. They are all wrapped up in numbers these days. If they call sin what it is – sin, they risk losing people from their kingdoms and, in many cases risk offending Bro. Big Bucks. My, my...we mustn't do that!
How do we get back to Bethel? First, we must see where we are and recognize how far we’ve drifted from the will of God. Secondly, we need to deal with the problems in our lives both in confession and forsaking. Thirdly, we must come back both to the place of blessing and the God of blessing.
If we have gotten away from our Bethel, God desires that we return. We must recognize where we are, deal with the state in which we are and then renew our dedication as at our previous Bethel experience.
Until next time...enjoy the journey!
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