Devotional: ‘The Place We Call Bethel’


Genesis 28:10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” ESV

How amazing it is to think that God can sometimes be very near and yet we don’t know it. Luke 24 tells us about a time when two disciples were walking and talking with Jesus and yet they thought that He was a total stranger. Hebrews 13 refers to certain believers who have had angels as guests in their homes and did not realize it. Joshua 5 also speaks about how we can sometimes mistake God for the enemy when actually He is there to help us.

Jacob had an amazing revelation that night. Through a special dream he was made to realize that God was not just the God of his father Isaac and his grandfather Abraham, God was his God also.

Genesis 28:18 So early in the morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. 19 He called the name of that place Bethel…

The name Bethel means – ‘house of God.’ Jacob learned an important lesson that every believer needs to understand. The house of God is not just a building where we come to worship on Sundays. The house of God can be anywhere we take time to have fellowship with Him.

The Bible says that Jacob took the stone which he had used for a pillow and dedicated it as a memorial. For as long as he lived, this stone marked the place where God had become real and personal to him.

Do you have a Bethel? Is there a place in your life where you go regularly to meet with God? If not, let me encourage you to establish such a place today. For me personally, my Bethel has sometimes been the living room couch where I sat each morning to read my Bible and to pray. At other times my Bethel has been in my automobile where God and I met each day during my lunch break. Sometimes my Bethel has been a special place outdoors where I felt a sense of God’s wondrous presence. Any place can become our Bethel if we will dedicate it as our place to meet with God.

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