Josh. 8:17 And there was not a man left in Ai or Bethel, that went not out after Israel: and they left the city open, and pursued after Israel.
Israel has now entered into the promised land after being brought out of captivity in Egypt, by God, through Moses, who is now deceased. Joshua is their commander. Here we have our next mention of Bethel. Read V1-It appears that there were heathen living now in Bethel. The Canaanites WERE heathen idol worshiping folks. They sacrificed to Baal and Molech. That’s where they killed babies and had debauched depraved lifestyles around their idol worship. Look well at V28-29, too. God saw fit to have his man take out these idol worshipers totally! There is no mention of Bethel specifically here as where another altar was built bit it is a mention in our Bible. Interesting that God does this in this account. Were there not other places in Canaan that needed cleaned out? Yes, but He mentions Bethel here again! It is to tell us that He, God, had not forgotten the place! (By the way, a side note, look at Jos. 2:2. Jericho was a center of moon worship. God wanted false deities cleaned out of His given land!) They started cleaning out in Jericho, but again, God had not forgotten Bethel! I believe that God did not want that wicked city Ai beside His holy place Bethel NOR the idol worshipers from Ai IN Bethel, which was a natural occurrence, like today. Where there is idolatry, it will spread to other cites, if not eliminated! It will even get into holy places!!!
Now, note in Jos. 12:7-16, Bethel is mentioned in with all the other kings and places concurred. Bethel is NOT a little out of the way, oh let’s not mention it, place! Notice also mention in Jos. 16:1-2, 18:11-13 (where the tribe that lived there is mentioned). That tribe is Benjamin. Note also in Jud. 4:5 Deborah holds a court of justice there, as well as Samuel (1Sam. 7:16)!
Now skip forward to 1Sam. 9. Who is mentioned there? Saul, a Benjamite. Now read 10:1-3. Where were the men going up to… to sacrifice? Now look at V5. And thou shalt come to the HILL OF GOD! (Remember Joshua 8 and the altar on Ebal? A holy city and mountain!) My, my. Now look again at 1Sam. 10:5. Prophets coming down from there. Music, too! Interesting! Now see V6. The Spirit of the LORD! Why does God do things this way? I don’t know, but He does, and we need to see that.
Now I know I have been accused of repeating myself, but humor me, I’m old. This Bethel is a special, powerful place! Got your Bethel? It is my prayer that these mini studies don’t fall into just a bunch of facts in the Bible, so that we know “stuff.” I want them to be studies that take all of us to new depths of real spirituality. I pray that they show us a reality of the working of God, and how much He wants us to be near Him, and empowered by Him every day. That power is real and very special. It is available, but not without sacrifice or changes in our lives. God will honor those who honor Him with their time and very life!
All CBBI Mini-series are authored by Richard Lodwick