Monday, February 02, 2015


Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”  (Genesis 35:1)

I borrowed the title for this devotional from a Beatle’s song.  The chorus calls, “Get back, get back. Get back to where you once belonged.”  Basically, that is what God says to Jacob in Genesis 35.  Jacob left the Promised Land three decades earlier.  Those years were marked by hardship and heartache.  Much of his trouble was of his own making.  God had disciplined him, and now it was time for him to return to the spot where he had departed—Bethel.

This is JEHOVAH’S CALL (v.1).  Jacob was to return to Bethel—the place of the forgotten vow.  When he had been there before, and had a dramatic encounter with God, Jacob had promised to serve Him, but much of his life had been spent pursuing his own interests.  God, however, proved Himself faithful, even when Jacob did not.  So, the Lord calls him to get back, and notice this: “go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there….”  If you need to go up, that means you have gone down.  Should you need to return to the house of God (and that is what “Bethel” literally means), then it is because one has departed from it.    Jacob had gone off course, went down into the world.  Has it happened to you?

Jehovah’s call led to JACOB’S CHOICE (v.2-4).  He responds decisively.  He is like the Prodigal Son who said, “I will arise and go to my father.”  I love the old hymn, “I will arise and go to Jesus; He will embrace me, in His arms.  In the arms of my dear Savior, O there are ten thousand charms.”  God has given us this awesome power of choice.  We see that this father’s decision not only impacted him, but his family.  When a father chooses to serve the Lord, he can lead his children to the altar with him.  Have you wandered?  Is God calling?  It is time to act.  Jacob consecrated his life and cleansed his home.  What are you waiting for?

Jacob’s choice brought him under JEHOVAH’S CARE (v.5-6).  Not everyone was happy to see Jacob and his entourage show up.  The pagan inhabitants of the land were poised to attack them.  It was a hostile environment, but God cared for them.  I will not try to paint you a lovely picture—and inaccurate one—that choosing to follow the Lord will take you to easy street.  This world is no friend to those who seek after God.  We must never forget, however, that if God is for us—then none can stand against us.

Jehovah’s care inspired JACOB’S COMMUNION (v.7-15).  The altar is rebuilt.  The communion with God that had been removed by rebellion has now been restored by repentance.  Jacob was back to where he once belonged!  There is a way back to God. 

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
Calling for you and for me;
See, on the portals He’s waiting and watching,
Watching for you and for me.

Come home, come home,
You who are weary, come home;
Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
Calling, O sinner, come home!

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