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2439 The God of Then

And Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him, and there he built an altar and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him when he fled from his brother. Gen. 35:6-7 ESV

When Jacob fled from his brother Esau, he one night had a strange dream. There was a ladder reaching up to heaven, with angels moving up and down on it. God spoke with Jacob, reminding him of His faithfulness. Jacob then called the place Bethel, “house of God”, because of the Lord’s presence there. Decades later, God called him back to Bethel to fulfil a vow that Jacob neglected. Jacob dutifully went there, built an altar and worshipped El Bethel, the “God of Bethel”.

It’s often weird to return to a place you once lived. It brings back memories but also a feeling of distance, as if it never happened. Do you agree? Jacob had to go back on his tracks because he and his family, in fact, strayed away from God. He had to find the “God of Bethel” again – at Bethel! At what stage in your life have you been close to God? Did things change since then? Perhaps God is calling you back to that place today.

Heavenly Father, there was a time at which I was much closer to You. Many things changed in the meanwhile. I changed! I cannot experience You like a new Christian anymore; I can only experience You in a more mature way. In any case, I am returning to You anew, today! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

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