Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.
Bethel is a place in the Bible that means "House of God." Many significant events happened at Bethel. Therefore, there should be some similarities between what happened between God and men at Bethel in the Bible and what is happening to us in our own cultures today.
Bethel: Place of Promise
The first time Bethel is mentioned is in Genesis 12:6-9. It is considered to be the place of promise because that was the place where God promised Abram that he would become the "Father of Many Nations" long before it actually happened.
At the time God made the promise, Abram was old and his wife was old and barren. However, it was 25 years later when Abram had his first son by his wife Sarai. He was 100 years old and his wife was 90 years old.
This shows that no matter how long it takes, God's promises will be fulfilled. So, don't give up on the promise He made to you at your Bethel.
Bethel: Place of Prayer
Bethel is the place of prayer. On Abram's return from Egypt, he called on the name of the Lord at Bethel. (Genesis 13:3-4)
Notice that Abram called on the name of God even before God's promise was fulfilled. Let your place of prayer be Bethel where you thank God in advance for unfulfilled promises..
Bethel: Place of Revelation
Bethel is the place of revelation. According to Genesis 28:10-19, God revealed Himself to Jacob at Bethel in a dream. Jacob was fleeing from the wrath of his twin brother Esau after he had tricked him out of his birthright. He falls asleep on a stone and dreams of a staircase stretching between heaven and earth with angels ascending and descending. God stands at the top of the ladder. He promises Jacob the land of Canaan. When Jacob awakes, he anoints the stone with oil and names the place Bethel.
Notice Jacob is the one who gave the place the name even though Abram had been there before him.
Even though you are not physically in Bethel, you can have a Bethel experience when you pay attention to the revelations God gives you through dreams.
Bethel: Place of Remembrance
Bethel is the place of remembrance. When God wanted Jacob to return to Bethel, He said, "I am the God of Bethel" to remind Jacob of his previous encounters with Him at Bethel (Genesis 31:13).
God is still in the reminding business. Notice when God reminds you of something because He does remind us of things He wants us to remember.
Bethel: Place of Commitment
Bethel is the place of commitment. After God revealed himself to Jacob through his dream of the staircase with angels ascending and descending, Jacob made a vow of commitment to God that he would always give God a tenth of whatever God gave him Genesis 35:15.
God wants us to be committed to Him in some way. Find out what that commitment should be and make a vow of commitment to God concerning that thing.
Bethel: Place of Fellowship
Bethel is the place of fellowship. Jacob did not fall asleep this time when he was in Bethel. God told him to dwell in Bethel and be in fellowship with Him there (Genesis 35:1).
God wants us stay put and be in fellowship with Him. Therefore, it is good to stop so much going and coming and enjoy His presence.
Bethel: Place of Sacrifice
Bethel is the place of sacrifice. According to Genesis 35:3, Jacob built an altar to God at Bethel.
Genesis 35 repeats the covenant with God and the naming of the place as El-Bethel. This is the place where Jacob wrestled with God all night. God took a piece from Jacob's thigh and he limped the rest of his life. It is the site when God changed Jacob's name to Israel.
It was not unusual in the Bible for God to change someone's name after He changed them. Abram's name was changed to Abraham (---). Sarai's name was changed to Sarah (---). And now we see that Jacob's name was changed to Israel.
Bethel: Place for Families
Bethel is the place for families. The first time Jacob was in Bethel, he was alone. When he went back to Bethel, he took his family and servants with him (Genesis 35:6).
Take your own family to Bethel to enjoy all the blessings of Bethel.
Bethel: Place for Dead Things
Bethel is the place to bury things dead things. Jacob had to bury Rebekah's nurse in Bethel (Genesis 35:8) because she died while traveling with Jacob's family.
Sometimes we hold onto things even when they are dead. In order to move on, we should bury dead things and not just people.
Even though there are many references about Bethel in Genesis, the first book of the Bible, there are references in other Old Testament books as well. Here are just a few of those references.
Book of Judges
In Judges 4:5, we learn that Deborah, the only woman judge in the Bible, lived and handled her cases in Bethel under her own palm tree.
The people of Israel went to Bethel to ask God for advice when before attacking the Benjaminites at the battle of Gibeah (Judges 20:18). They made a second visit after losing the battle (Judges 20:26).
The Ark of the Covenant was kept at Bethel because it was such an important place (Judges 20:27).
First Book of Samuel
In I Samuel 10:3, Samuel tells Saul to go to Bethel to meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place.
Second Book of Kings
Elijah and Elisha visited Bethel on a journey from Gilgal to Jericho before Elijah was taken up to heaven without dying (2 Kings 2:11). Later, when Elisha returned alone to Bethel, he was taunted by young men. Elisha cursed them and 42 of the men were mauled by bears (2 Kings 2:23).
Even though you might never visit the biblical Bethel, you can still enjoy the Bethel blessings spiritual. Think of it being a place for the following things:
- dead things