Saturday, March 12, 2011

Genesis 35:1-7 NASB

"Then God said to Jacob, 'Arise, go up to Bethel and live there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.  So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him...let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and has been with me wherever I have gone.'  ...So Jacob came to Bethel...and he built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him, when he fled from his brother."

One of those beautiful stories in scripture is when Jacob made his way back to Canaan after years away from this his homeland.  It has not been a good start.  His sons have had a horrific run-in with the inhabitants of the land, that didn't bode well for the family.  Jacob is worried, fearing reprisal.  Sometimes, in the heaviness of your heart, it's good to go back to that place of first encounter with God. With his heart full of old memories and present worries, Jacob humbly acknowledges the LORD's care and renames this place of first encounter, from "Bethel" to  "El-bethel"; From  "The house of God" to "the God of the house of God."  Before, it was a place, but now it was a Person, a Presence. Many remember a place (maybe a church or an experience), but so few go on to really know this God.  Certainly, there is something special about a place of encounter with God, and Jacob himself later calls another place "Bethel" (35:15).  But there's more.  Much more! Yes, these places hold significance in our lives and we need to remember them, but something had happened in Jacob in his last encounter with God, as he was about to face his brother Esau, that affected this particular moment.  He had changed from "Me" to "Him".  Now it was all about Him.  This is a huge shift.  So few make it, but there is nothing more important to our Christian life than to make this shift.  This is where the adventure of our walk with God really begins.  A.W. Tozer called it The Knowledge of the Holy.  Do you really know Him?  Or is He still just something about a place in your life, as somewhere we know but not Someone we know?  Get to know Him!  You'll enjoy the walk!

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