Gen. 12:8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.
I want us to look at a very special place for a few weeks. It is Bethel. Bethel is really spelled Beth-El. Beth being “house of” and El being God. Thus we see it is no ordinary name. Note also here, it is Abram’s first altar built to God. God had called Abram out of a heathen worship system, to go and be the progenitor of what would be Israel and the people through whom would come the Savior of the world. Bethel was a very holy place. It was to remain so, though we will see later, Israel took that for granted. A whole lot of history takes place there! GOD looks at it as a very holy place. (Holy: Ko’-desh; Noun; apartness, sacredness, separateness; set apart to God alone)
First mention is very powerful in the Bible. First where Abram built an altar for sacrifice and worship to God. First where he called upon the LORD. (LORD- all caps; JEHOVAH; The Existing One). Note also that God looks at holy things far differently than does man most times. THIS place was holy! Look at Ex. 28:38; holy clothes. Lev. 5:15 holy things not to be trespassed on. Bethel was a holy place! It was a place of sacrifice and communication with God that was special. We must see that. Read here Now go to Gen. 13:3-4. Abram went back there after his stint in Egypt! Here Abram decided to separate from Lot. Good decision!
Now, look at Gen. 28:19. Jacob is there now. He’s fleeing from his brother whom he tricked out of the birthright and blessing. That’s a big thing. But look back at V11-18. NOW not only an altar is there but a pillar… that is anointed. That is holy stuff! NOW V19 has power! Look at why (V17). Are we seeing Bethel clearly yet? I want us to see how God saw Bethel! How JEHOVAH saw Bethel.
Last, this week, look at Gen. 31: 1-13. In V13 we see God had not forgotten Bethel OR what took place there! Now see 35:1-15. NOW we are beginning to see it as God saw it! God spoke to Abram there in a special way. He spoke to Jacob there in a special way. Bethel was a special place to God! In the troubled times when there was no king in Israel, it was to Bethel that the people went up in their distress to ask counsel of God.
Do you have a special, holy place where you meet with God every day? Look at Ex. 3:5. Keep it holy! Let nothing contaminated of the world get in there or be there! God will honor that! Yes, we can talk with and to God anywhere, but do we have a special place… a holy place like Bethel? If not, let’s make one. Not a shrine like other religions, but I think you get what I mean. I’m telling you, God will honor that!
All CBBI Mini-series are authored by Richard Lodwick