PATHS In Bible Chapters

Genesis 28
Theme: The Bethel Experience
Key Text: Verse 19


            What transition is witnessed as we leave one chapter and come to another! We exchange an atmosphere of gloom for an environment of glory! We move from the scene of human selfishness to the plain of divine loving-kindness.  We depart from the divided house of Isaac and enter the delightful house of God! We ascend from the gates of hell up to the gates of heaven! And, here on this hallowed spot, this holy ground, this sacred place now known as Bethel, Jacob, the fugitive, becomes Jacob, the favored! This is that never-to-be-forgotten sphere into which God alone can bring sinful beings.


1. The Hand Of Grace
            Although the chapter begins with Isaac laying his hands upon Jacob, one cannot continue reading this record without being conscious of another hand, the unseen hand of God, in Jacob’s life. As Jacob made his journey northward in exile (see 28:10), the Lord was found by one who sought Him not (see Rom. 10:20). Although Jacob did not deserve one spiritual blessing, through the manifestation of the ladder, the angels, and the personal word from the God of Abraham and Isaac to him (see 28:12-15) - - all so depictive of Christ and His redemptive purposes - - the heavenly Hand of grace was opened to him.


2. The House Of God
            When Jacob awakened from the dream, his first words were, “Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not” (28:16). And, he was so conscious of the divine, he dared to say about this rocky hillside, “This is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (28:17). His heart was moved to worship, and, consequently, he raised his “pillow” of stone up as “pillar” of praise unto God (28:18). And, although the name of that city had always been “Luz,” suggestive of a perverted place, his encounter with God was so revolutionizing, he changed the name to “Bethel,” meaning “the house of God” (28:19).


3. The Heart Of Generosity
Through this revelation, Jacob realized his inclusion in the covenant and, evidencing his gratitude and sincerity, vowed a sacred “vow” (28:20) unto the Lord.  Furthermore, the man who had always manipulated people and circumstances for his own gain, found himself promising to tithe, “give a tenth” (28:22) unto the Lord.  Without question, the God of grace had met with Jacob, and a process of divine transformation was set in motion in his life. It is true, as the successive chapters reveal, the schemer had a long way to go in his spiritual development.  However, he would never get over the Bethel experience!


We had just finished eating a nice meal. Then, the dear pastor I was with asked me if I had a few more minutes. I agreed to go see whatever it was he wanted me to see. The building was old, run down, and, according to the realtor’s sign in the yard, apparently for sale. However, with tears in his eyes, he pointed to a section of his former home-church, and said, “Brother Tom, there’s where it all happened!” Of course, I knew he was referring to his conversion! Although time had taken its toll on the neighborhood, this was, and would always be, his Bethel spot!  Have you had a Bethel experience, dear friend?