“And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.” (Genesis 35:1)
Jacob and Esau were twins. Esau was born first, but Jacob had obtained a blessing deceitfully from his father Isaac that was meant for the firstborn Esau. Esau wanted to kill Jacob for that. Years later, Jacob told Esau he was coming to see him. Jacob was told that Esau was coming, “…and four hundred men with him.” (Genesis 32:6) 400 men? That sounded bad. After all these years, Esau was apparently still angry. Yet God dealt with Esau’s heart to let the matter go.
Our verse says God told Jacob to go up to Bethel, dwell there, and make an altar. God also reminded him how He had delivered Jacob from Esau. Jacob had good reason to obey; not just because God said to, but out of gratitude to God for delivering him from his brother’s anger.
Jacob had been raised to believe in the coming Redeemer, but he had to decide on his own to trust in the coming Redeemer as his personal Redeemer. Bethel was the place where he made that decision. He was going to revisit that place. To “go up to Bethel,” then, does not mean to fly to Israel and visit the city of Bethel. For a believer in Jesus, it means to think back on the time and circumstances when you accepted Him as your personal Saviour.
You may have been raised in a Christian home, but growing up in a Christian home, baptism, or even going to church does not make you a Christian. Coming to Jesus in repentance and faith personally and receiving Him as your personal Saviour is what makes you a Christian.
When did you receive Jesus as personal Saviour? Were you in a Christian home and trusted Christ as a small child or a teenager? Did a parent or Sunday School teacher lead you to Christ?
Maybe you weren’t raised in a Christian home, and you didn’t hear about being saved until you were an adult or even up in years. Yet a friend or co-worker shared the gospel with you, and you eventually called on Jesus in repentance and faith and received Him as Saviour.
Whatever your circumstances or your age, the results are joyfully the same. Your sins are all forgiven, you have Jesus as your Saviour, eternity with Him to look forward to, and the greatest purpose in the world to live: to share Christ with others. It’s good at times to “go to Bethel,” to recall how the Lord used circumstances and people in your life to bring you to Himself. It’s also good to recall how God helped you through troublesome times, as he did for Jacob with Esau.
If you want to know more about receiving Jesus, God the Son, as your personal Saviour, please go to www.clevelandbaptist.org, click “Helpful Links,” then “How Do I Go to Heaven?”
Brian Miller 9/27/2022
Cleveland Baptist Church 4431 Tiedeman Road, Brooklyn, Ohio 44144 216/671-2822