"Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an
altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me
wherever I have gone" (Gen 35:3). Bethel was a turning point in the life of
Jacob had traveled about 50 miles, or 3 days, from
"I wonder if Jacob felt particularly 'spiritual' as he lay
down to sleep at Bethel with his head on a rock. He was running for his life
from his angry brother. He had deceived Esau twice by taking his birthright and
blessing. If I were Jacob, I would not have felt particularly close to God. I
would have felt alone, scared and maybe even rejected. But it was at this low
point in his life that Jacob found himself in the presence of God. As he slept
the LORD appeared to Jacob to confirm the promises he had given to Abraham and
Isaac and to reassure Jacob that God would be with him. 'I am with you wherever
you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I
have done what I promised you.'
"There may be times in our lives when things are going well
that we think we are close to God, but really it is when we are alone, scared,
running or rejected that we are often closest to God, and our God is closest to
us. It is when God strips us of all we put our faith in, and brings us to our
knees before him, that we really learn that he will never leave us and that he
is with us all the way.
"So let us put our confidence in the LORD and go on in the
strength of his promise" (RP).
See Lesson, Jacob's ladder. Angels have no need for a ladder
(or stairway); this vision was for the man who lay at the foot -- demonstrating
to him that his God was everywhere present by His Spirit!
The Land of Canaan, promised to Abraham (Gen 13:14-17), to
Isaac (Gen 26:1-4). Repeated in Gen 35:11,12.
TO THE WEST... EAST... NORTH... SOUTH: a repetition of
Gen 13:13-16. In Luk 13:25-30 Jesus himself speaks of those who come from all 4
directions sitting down in the kingdom of God and here the context is clear that
he is referring to godly Gentiles.
ALL PEOPLES ON EARTH WILL BE BLESSED THROUGH YOU AND YOUR
OFFSPRING: // Gen 12:3; 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; Psa 72:17; Act 3:25; Gal
I AM... WILL... I WILL... I WILL... UNTIL I HAVE DONE:
The repeated 'I AMs' and 'I WILLs' recall the Name of Yahweh and are expressive
of His Purposes. They convey the ideas of the Divine presence, the Divine
protection, the Divine preservation, and the Divine promises.
"I am with you" is perhaps the most fundamental of these
promises: cp Gen 15:1; 17:2,4,7,8; 26:3,24. Also, cp Jer 31:33; Heb 8:10; 2Co
6:16; Rev 21:3.
SURELY THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE, AND I WAS NOT AWARE OF
IT: "If God is present at every point in space, if we cannot go where He is
not, cannot even conceive of a place where He is not, why then has not that
Presence become the one universally celebrated fact of the world? The patriarch
Jacob... gave the answer to that question. He saw a vision of God and cried out
in wonder, 'Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not.' Jacob had
never been for one small division of a moment outside the circle of that
all-pervading Presence. But he knew it not. That was his trouble, and it is
ours. Men do not know that God is here. What a difference it would make if they
"But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber,
because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the
Rock of Israel" (Gen 49:24). Jacob finds an altar broken down, but nevertheless
associated with God's covenants of promise to his fathers. The "stone" is raised
up and anointed after the sleep and awakening of God's appointed servant (WJ
EARLY THE NEXT MORNING: Early prayers and devotions:
Abraham got up very early to stand before the Lord (Gen 19:27). Jacob woke up
with the first light of the morning to worship God after having seen a vision of
angels in the night (Gen 28:18). Moses went early to meet the Lord at Sinai (Exo
34:4). Joshua got an early start when he prepared to capture Jericho (Jos 6:12).
Gideon made his way at dawn to examine the fleece he had placed on the ground to
discern Yahweh's will (Jdg 6:38). Job left his bed at an early hour to offer
sacrifices to the Lord in behalf of his children (Job 1:5).
PILLAR: A legal barrier, or separation, and thus
demarcation of property (Gen 31:13,45-52).
Jacob's 3 memorials: (1) "House of God": God's presence: Gen
28:17-19; (2) "Host of God": God's power: Gen 32:2; (3) "Face of God": God's
favor: Gen 32:30.
THE CITY USED TO BE CALLED LUZ: Actually, after Jacob's
day, when the Canaanites built a city on the site of his vision.
Vv 20,21: Jacob is not making a deal with God. All initiative
is with God, who promises. "Since God has blessed me, then I vow
"The LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and
forevermore" (Psa 121:8).