Gracious Father, be present with me now as I come to You and Your Word. I want to be with You.
Read Genesis 35:1-15
 Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”  So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.  Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.”  So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem.  Then they set out, and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.  Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan.  There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.  Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died and was buried under the oak outside Bethel. So it was named Allon Bakuth.  After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him.  God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.  And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants.  The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.”  Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.  Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it.  Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel. Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectHow did Jacob prepare to go to Bethel (2-4)?
The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89) wrote extensively about God’s presence in creation. His poem “God’s Grandeur” opens with these lines: “The world is charged with the grandeur of God / It will flame out, like shining from shook foil.” Jacob would have sympathized with these sentiments. This was his experience at Bethel, the place which exuded God’s presence. Time after time, he returns there to rediscover the mysterious dwelling of God. He is commanded to return there with his family (1); his mother’s nurse is buried there (8); and he builds another altar in this place to mark God’s appearance to him (14,15). Strangely enough, he is compelled to either reassert the same name (15) or offer a variation on the original El Bethel (7). Bethel is foundational to Jacob in his knowledge of God. Places are of course important, and some seem divinely charged, but the New Testament’s emphasis is on a person, not a place. The apostle Paul exclaims that God has “made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Jesus is the shining of God.
What have you learned about God from your relationship with Jesus? Recall those things and give God your thanks.
Lord Jesus, I turn to You and ask to see more of God the father. Teach and lead me, I pray.
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