By Scott Brown
Pastor, First Baptist Church, Waverly
God uses this week’s text to remind us that He is always faithful.
Jacob had been gone from home for what seemed like a lifetime and now God was calling him back. He was to go back to the place where God had first spoken to him and made the promise to bless him and continue the Abrahamic covenant through him.
Jacob prepares his household by ordering a removal of all the idols and a purification of every person. The first thing we see Jacob do here is prepare to meet with God. How much might be changed in our worship services if we spent time preparing our hearts to meet with God beforehand.
How many of us, expecting to meet with the president or another prominent figure, would not prepare ourselves to get the most out of it? We would spend the night before researching talking points and thinking about what it might be like.
We are invited to dine at the table of the King of glory and each week the night before does not find us in the Word and prayer but lost in some sitcom or silly activity.
We drag ourselves to worship on Sunday morning ill prepared to meet with God but miserably enduring the worship time until the hour ends and lunch begins. Oh, that God might find us prepared to meet with Him as we gather in His name.
Jacob gets his house in order and moves onward after the call of God to Bethel.
It’s amazing, as the text includes, the terror of God fell upon all the surrounding cities so Jacob moved freely and in safety.
This could have been a dangerous journey but God protected Jacob as he moved forward in faith. God doesn’t promise that He will always give physical safety as we follow Him but we know that, in following Jesus faithfully, nothing and nobody can get to us without first getting through our sovereign good God.
I’m reminded of Psalm 23 saying, “He prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Following Jesus will not be without enemies but God will prepare the table for you to dine with Him in safety from them.
Bethel goes from “house of God” to “the God of the house of God.” Jacob recognizes it is not about the place but the presence of God in that place.
I’ve been in beautiful churches with wonderful architecture, great music, awesome orations but Ichabod might as well have been written on the walls for God was not there.
Likewise I have worshiped under leaky tarps with fervent followers of Jesus and not wanted to leave the presence of God there. It wasn’t about the house but the God of that house.
Following Jesus is not without its sorrow and suffering but He will guide us, guard us, and give us assurance that He is always with us as we faithfully follow Him.