Bethel is a place where we can experience the blessing of God. A place where we can live in it, walk in it and even feel it.
Don’t Live in Shechem
If you live in Shechem things aren’t going to go well. Satan is going to strip you of everything. It may seem good for a season, but when the devil is finished all will turn to shambles. It was in Shechem that Jacob’s daughter was raped, his sons took things into their own hands and his wives became involved with the gods of the Canaanites. It was after his wives took their father’s idols that God told Jacob to return to Bethel.
“Then God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and He blessed him” (Genesis 35:9). There is a place where you can experience the blessing of God so much that people will notice. There will be something different about you. It will be said of you as it was said of Jacob and Jesus, “God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows” (Hebrews 1:9).
When God blesses you there is an explosion in your spirit, a satisfaction in your soul, and a deliverance in your heart. Peter described it this way, “You rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). God blessed Jacob at Bethel. God will bless us as well when we go up to Bethel, which means “house of God.” When we allow God to become Lord of the house (us), we will experience the blessing of God to such an extent that our very being will explode from within us, and all those around us will see the difference.
Jacob was a deceiver, but God changed his name from Jacob (deceiver) to Israel which means “prince with God.” We may be a sinner bound in a life of depravity, but we don’t have to stay that way. When we come to Jesus and surrender to His Lordship, we are no longer bound in sin and depravity, but are given a new life. We become a new person (2 Corinthians 5:17). We now have royal blood flowing through our veins. Praise the Lord!
Peter said, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). John the Revelator wrote that God has made us “kings and priests unto God and his Father” (Revelation 1:6). We can go from depravity and poverty to being royalty in Christ Jesus. Like the Prodigal Son, we can go from wallowing with the pigs to being clothed in royal apparel and seated at the Master’s table (Luke 15:11-32).
Which will you chose, Shechem or Bethel? “You have put gladness in my heart” (Psalms 4:7). “You have made known to me the path of life. In your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever” (Psalms 16:11).
God Makes Promises in Bethel
“God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel. And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land” (Genesis 35:11-12).
God told Abraham and Isaac if they would go to Bethel he would keep His word. God was telling them His promises had not changed, but He couldn’t keep them unless they were where He told them to be. What about promises you haven’t been able to lay hold of? Remember, God doesn’t keep His Word while you are in Shechem. Only at Bethel can you lay hold of His promises.
Unfortunately, very few lay hold of God’s Word at Bethel. “And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee” (Isaiah 64:7). At Bethel you will find God is still faithful to keep His Word. The only times I couldn’t claim His promises were the times when I was no longer living in His presence at Bethel, the House of God. I had strayed from the place where God could keep His Word.
If we move from Shechem (this world) to Bethel (the house of God), and even more so, El-Bethel (the God of the house), we will position ourselves to see God keep His promises. “All the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20). The devil tells us that God doesn’t answer prayer or keep His Word. Yes He does! We just have to position ourselves properly. He demands lordship over our lives (Acts 2:36, Numbers 23:19).
Testimonies are Established in Bethel
“Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon” (Genesis 35:14). There wasn’t anything beautiful about what Jacob erected here. It wasn’t some magnificent sculpture or anything close to it. It was just a bunch of rocks. When Jacob saw that a promise had been made to him at Bethel and that God keeps His Word, he got excited and ran around grabbing rocks and placing them in a heap. When people walked by the pillar Jacob had set up they wondered, what is that? That’s a testimony!
When Israel crossed the Jordon on dry land, God told them to take twelve stones and erect them as a memorial. He said, “That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever” (Joshua 4:6-7). It was a testimony to all God had done. They were accustomed to piling up testimonies. They didn’t keep quiet. They had to let everyone know what God had done, how He had brought them through victoriously.
When God works in our life we can’t keep quite. “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh” (Luke 6:45). When the Apostles were threatened to keep quite they replied, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Not only when we come to know the Lord is there a testimony, but when we see that God gives us certain promises and that He keeps His Word, there must be a testimony erected. In fact, we can’t help but pile up testimonies in our Christian experience and point everyone to it unashamedly. When we move from Shechem to Bethel to El-Bethel a testimony is established.
Some of you have been facing difficult challenges in your life. Some of you have been struggling with certain sins, some have been battling conflicts in relationships or your career. Some are facing anxiety, disappointment, hopelessness, and despair. Bethel is a place of blessing. It’s a place where God makes promises and keeps them. It’s a place where you will be able to erect a testimony to the glory of God for all to see. If you will move from Shechem to Bethel and ultimately make your way to El-Bethel, you will find God is a promise-keeper. It’s there you will find everything new.
Article by Dr. Paul E. Paino
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