Go Back to Bethel

God reminds Jacob of an old promise

(Genesis 35.1-15)

It's easy to let God slip.

It’s easy to forget to pray. It’s easy to forget all the good things God has done for us, and to forget to thank him every day.

It’s easy to get so busy doing homework, and playing video games, and watching TV, that pretty soon we don’t have time for God.

The funny thing is, even though God has to run the entire universe, he always has time for us.

God would never rather sit and watch TV than spend time with us. God is never too busy playing video games. He would always rather be with us.

We are the most important thing in the world to God.

But so many times we let other things become more important than God.

That’s what happened to Jacob.

And so...

One day God called out to Jacob, “Jacob, I want you to pull up the stakes of your tents again. Take your wives, and your children, and all your sheep and goats and cattle, and go back to Bethel.”

“Bethel? Bethel? Why Bethel?” Jacob kept asking himself.

And then he remembered.

Bethel was the place he camped that one night, and used a rock for a pillow. Remember? How could he forget that! Jacob had a dream there. God let him see the other part of the world that we never see. That’s where Jacob saw a stairway going to heaven, with the angels of God coming and going to earth.

When Jacob woke that next morning, he made a promise to God.

He said to God, “God, if you will be with me, and get me safely back home, then you will be my God.”

But that was many years ago.

Jacob looked around his tent now...

And he saw golden statues all around the place. They were statues of the gods his neighbors worshipped. Somehow, little by little, one by one, Jacob and his family had brought all these statues into their tents. And now they were everywhere.

At that moment Jacob realized that he had let all the things that other people think are important become more important than God.

“How foolish of me!”

And so that very day, Jacob and his family dug a hole in the ground and they dumped into it all the worthless things they had let take over their lives.

Then they pulled up the stakes of their tents and they returned to Bethel. If you remember, Bethel means “The place where God lives.”

Jacob and his family came back to God.

When they got there, Jacob found the pile of stones he had set up to remind him of the promise he had made to God. Just then God said to him,


“Here I am!” Jacob said.

“Jacob, I have not forgotten the promise I made to you, and to your father Isaac, and to your father’s father Abraham. Remember, you shall be called Israel. Your children will be as many as the stars in the sky, and from you will come kings. And I am giving you a good land, the Promised Land, which you will possess forever.”

But this wasn’t just a promise to Jacob.

It is a promise to us too.

One day a king would be born from Jacob’s family. He will be the King of Kings, and the land that he will rule, he will rule forever.

That King is Jesus, and he will be our king, and we will live with him forever in heaven.

That is God’s promise to us. And God never forgets his promises.

Next time...

The story of Joseph begins!
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Paul Dallgas-Frey


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