Growing with God: A daily devotional with Tonia Slimm.
Genesis 35:1 (NIV)
Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”
Genesis 35:1 (MSG)
God spoke to Jacob: “Go back to Bethel. Stay there and build an altar to the God who revealed himself to you when you were running for your life from your brother Esau.”
“Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you [in a distinct manifestation] when you fled [years ago] from Esau your brother.” -AMPLIFIED
God speaks to Jacob; informing him that it is time to return to the place where they had their first encounter. Bethel was where God first revealed Himself to Jacob. God says to Jacob, “Go back to Bethel. Settle your family there and build an altar to me there. It was as if God was bringing Jacob full circle, back to where everything had begun between them. It was to be a time of remembering, reviewing (accounting), reminding, and rededicating.
God reminds Jacob of the fact that it was at Bethel that He met him when he had fled from his brother so many years before. Too often our memories of what has happened in the past become clouded or even changed. “It too frequently happens that early impressions are effaced through lapse of time, that promises made in seasons of distress, are forgotten; or, if remembered on the return of health and prosperity, there is not the same alacrity and sense of obligation felt to fulfill them. Jacob was lying under that charge. He had fallen into spiritual indolence.” -Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
God was calling Jacob to give an accounting. Jacob realizes this and quickly instructs his family to remove from their belongings all “foreign gods” and to purify themselves. The fact that he knew of these foreign gods, but did nothing about them gives us the impression that Jacob was not where he needed to be as the leader of his family, nor in his relationship with God.
Upon Jacob’s arrival at Bethel we find a few things happening; God appears to him once again in physical form, God blesses him once again and God reminds him of his change in name. “God revealed himself once again to Jacob, after he had come back from Paddan Aram and blessed him: “Your name is Jacob (Heel); but that’s your name no longer. From now on your name is Israel (God-Wrestler).” -Genesis 35:9-10 (MSG)
There are times in our lives that we too need a reminder of who we are in Christ. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ [that is, grafted in, joined to Him by faith in Him as Savior], he is a new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]; the old things [the previous moral and spiritual condition] have passed away. Behold, new things have come [because spiritual awakening brings a new life].” -2 Corinthians 5:17 (AMP)
We find God reminding Jacob/Israel of the covenant they had made together; “And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.” Genesis 35:11-13 (AMP)
We then find Jacob once again dedicating himself to God; “Jacob set up a pillar (memorial, monument) in the place where he had talked with God, a pillar of stone, and he poured a drink offering [of wine] on it; he also poured oil on it [to declare it sacred for God’s purpose]. 15 So Jacob named the place where God had spoken with him, Bethel (the House of God).” -Genesis 35:14-15 (AMP)
Here I am once again Lord, humbly bowing at your feet. I ask that you forgive my wandering heart. Remind me of who I am in you. I dedicate my life and all I have to you, dear Lord. I surrender all to you! Have your way in my life and let it be a pleasing, holy sacrifice to you.