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November 20, 2017

The return to Bethel

by Alvaro Lima

Jacob faced many challenges in his life. He was a fugitive from his own home because his twin brother, Esau, wanted to kill him for having cheated him out of his inheritance. In addition, Jacob’s father in law, Laban, tricked him into marrying the wrong daughter and changed his wage multiple times in order to profit from God’s favour on all that Jacob did.

However, it wasn’t all bad; Jacob also conquered many things. In fact, he became exceedingly wealthy. Jacob had animals, servants, children, and wives, but despite this, he never overcame his fear and could not shake off the ‘deceiver’ title that seemed to follow him wherever he went, right up until that monumental moment at the Ford of Jabbok where he wrestled with God and prevailed (Genesis 32:22-32). There, he went from being Jacob to Israel.

There was another significant event in Jacob’s life which has huge significance in our lives today, but we don’t always pay close attention to it.

After these things,

God told Jacob: “Arise, go up to Bethel, dwell there, and there make an altar to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother” (Genesis 35.1).

However, what did going back to Bethel mean?

Bethel represented the starting point of Jacob’s walk with God: the place where he first built an altar and poured out his life. Bethel was the place where he assumed God’s Lordship over his life and finally put his trust in Him.

For us today, this means going back to the faith we had at the start of our walk with God, the faith that pleased Him.

“So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you. Purify yourselves and change your clothes” (Genesis 35:2).

What are the ‘foreign gods’ that may have creeped into your life? This represents things, people, and aspirations that you put above God. Maybe during your journey of faith, you began devoting a lot of attention to making money as well as your family, love life, and career – so much so that it has become a ‘god’.

Maybe, like Jacob, it’s time to return to your Bethel; it’s time to put away the foreign gods and purify yourself.

Do you remember when you first came to the UCKG, heard the word of God, used your faith, and saw the results? God wants you to remember that faith you once had and ask yourself: “Am I still of that same faith? Or did I allow the world’s pollution to contaminate it?”

Jacob showed God that he had not lost the initial faith; He set up a pillar in the place where He had spoken with him, a pillar of stone, and he poured out a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it too (Genesis 35.14).

So, the question I ask you is: will you follow Jacob and return to Bethel?

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