“I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.“
The story of Isaac’s family and particularly that of his son Jacob is one of the most recognisable stories in the Bible. Here before us is the soap opera of disfunctional family life in scripture, proving that the behaviour of our modern families are not that different to those of the Bible. Jacob had (with his mother) deceived his father and stolen his brother Esau’s birthright, and fled for his life to his uncle who was no angel either. On route Jacob was visited by God in a dream as he rested in Luz; “…Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13). Jacob awoke remembering his dream and concluding he was in the house of God, thus set up a pillar in worship of God renaming the place Bethel (“house of God”). Jacob continued his trek to Paddan-aram and his relatives home.
Jacob stayed with his uncle Laban for twenty years being deceived at every turn by his relative, first for his marriage to his daughters and then for livestock in payment for service. During this Jacob was still under the protection of God and His promise in Bethel that night as he had slept. As Jacob prospered his cousins grumbled, and God acted on His promise calling Jacob to return home: “I am the God of Bethel, where you anointed a pillar, where you made a vow to Me; now arise, leave this land, and return to the land of your birth.” Jacob obeyed God, arose with his family and livestock and left Paddan-aram. Laban pursues Jacob but is warned by God not to harm Jacob, and they part ways eventually in a cordial manner.
Dear reader, take courage from the story of Jacob – the God of Jacob is our God too. Almighty God visited Jacob at Bethel and made a promise of protection and blessing, and He kept it. When God entered our lives He promised not to leave, He is Faithful and True. The time of your salvation and acceptance into God’s family may seem like long ago, life may be hard but, His promise to you is still alive. Remain vigilant as Jacob was, and listen for His voice!