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HE NAMED THE PLACE BETHEL

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Jacob, fleeing from his brother Esau, whom he had badly cheated, was running to his uncle Laban.  That night, sleeping in the open he had a dream.  In that dream Jacob saw a ladder reaching from earth to heaven and angels going up and down the ladder.  The LORD stood at the top of the ladder and promised to take care of Jacob and bring him back to the promised land. 

The picture here is that God has provided for man a way from earth to heaven.  But Jacob, waking up sees something else, too.  To him this is a dreadful place.   As he says: “How dreadful is this place; this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven”.  Jacob met God. He found it to be a fearful thing.  He was face to face with One Who had all power in His hands, including Jacob.  We find in the Bible that it is the unbeliever who does not fear God.  Jacob calls the place  Bethelwhich means “house of God”. 

Twenty years later Jacob returned to the promised land.  God told him to take his family and to dwell in the area ofBethel. It was there he had the dream and met God.  It was the “dreadful” place.  Jacob lived there with his family for a number of years.  Then he moved out of the area.  Remember,Bethelwas the “dreadful” place.  Once they moved away fromBethel,  there was the sense of being where God was not.  They lost the fear of God.  Fear is often a very good thing.  An absence of fear can be destructive for an individual or a society.   Has this not happened when we removed the ten commandments from our schools?

Perhaps there was better grazing ground elsewhere, but for some reason Jacob took his family and moved away fromBethel.  The Bible does not tell us why he moved but it does tell us that he did and had some serious problems.  We are told in Genesis 35:20 that he moved beyond thetowerofEdar, perhaps a symbol of the edge of the land?          

At any rate, we do know that when Jacob went away from the place where God wanted him to be. God, looking into the future saw that it would not be good for Jacob and his family beyond Edar.  It was after they left Bethel that several of Jacob’s sons fell into serious sins.

There is something else, too. God had promised to Abraham the land of Canaan. Jacob was not only leavingBethel or the House of God but he was leaving the Promised land. There was no doubt in his mind the thought that he was leaving God, too.  He knew that God had said to Abraham that the promised land would be to him and his descendants.  He would have known the story of the One Who was the creator God in Genesis 1:1, but also the LORD God Who Created man :Genesis 2:7and the Lord who had called Abraham from Mesopotamia to the land where Jacob had grown up.  Now he is leaving all this. 

       Jacob is leaving all that is familiar to him and leaving for foreign areas.  God is now teaching Jacob something more about Himself. In Genesis 28 :15 God is telling Jacob that He will be watching over Jacob wherever he is and in verse 20 and 21 we see that Jacob is beginning to see a bigger God, One Who rules the entire earth and not just the Lord of thelandofIsrael.  We see the same in Nehemiah2:4: “So I prayed to the God of heaven:” Nehemiah is out of the land promised to Abraham. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Written by biblestruth

October 19, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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