September 28, 2023
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” (Genesis 28:16-17)
God pursues us. It is His nature to do so. Every response that we have to Him is made possible because “He first loved us.” And in that pursuit, there are places where we encounter Him—unique places of His presence.
Jacob, the grandson of Abraham, was quite a character. Even his name means “supplanter,” and he lived his life by devious means. Through a bit of trickery, he stole his older brother’s birthright and then his father’s blessing. There was an unbroken streak in Jacob’s character.
But God had more at stake. One night, on a trip to find a wife from his relatives as instructed by his father, Isaac, God gives Jacob a dream. A ladder extending to heaven, angels ascending and descending, and God Himself at the top appearing and speaking to Jacob. God reaffirms to Jacob the promise He had given to both his father and grandfather.
And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:13-15)
Stunned by the Lord’s pursuing presence, Jacob recognizes the holiness of this place and erects an altar. Bethel, “the house of God,” became forever sacred to Jacob, and it was a moment of transformation for him. “The Lord will be my God,” Jacob declared. Not just his father’s or grandfather’s God, but his personally. He erected a pillar and vowed to honor the Lord from the first fruits of all God gave him … a sure sign of settled surrender.
“This stone, which I have set up as a pillar, will be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” (Genesis 28:22)
Where has the Lord met you? Where did the Lord give you a unique encounter of His presence? Don’t minimize these spaces. Erect an altar there of remembrance, worship, and surrender. For it is here the Lord pursued you, and here you surrendered afresh to Him.
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