Recently we had a guest preacher (Bobby Gates) come and speak last Wednesday. I was more than surprised and overjoyed that I was able to make it to church that night and hear the message that the Lord had given him to deliver. He and his family have been missionaries to Mexico for the last 34 years. He moved there from our area way back then and started a church. He now teaches at a Bible school that he helped found. I then found out that he had been ordained the same time as my pastor. I was pleasently surprised with the message that this wonderful man of God gave that night and I figured I would share it with you all.
“Go back to Bethel”
The story is about Jacob as he was running from everything. He had done some pretty bad things against his brother, against his father, and against God and himself and he had been running for a while. God tells him to “Go back to Bethel”
Bethel means the house of God. The church is the house of God today and we can receive the same things that Jacob did from God when we go back to Bethel! Now let us look at what happened to Jacob when he went back to Bethel, back to the house of God.
1) Bethel is a place of receiving
v2 – God does not use dirty vessels
Jacob has his people put away the strange gods that they were keeping. They were to put them away and clean themselves up
Leviticus 11:44 “be ye holy”
We are to be holy because He is holy.
God wants to use us but not if we will not cleanse ourselves first. This goes completely against what most people believe in church these days where we come to God in our own terms like we want to and we never give a thought as to just Who we are stnding in front of!! We shouldn’t get legalistic about it but we need to think about the holiness and awesomeness of standing before the Creator. Yes He is our Father but He is also our Lord and we should show Him the utmost respect.
Receiving goes both ways in worship. When we come together we thank Him for all the wonderous things we have received from His grace and mercy and we come together to offer up to Him as we minister to Him and each other.
2) Bethel is a place of remission
v3 – God sometimes uses distress to call us back to Him.
Moses warned the people not to forget the Lord when they were happy and full but they did not listen and eventually forgot and God had to put them in their place. Many times He did so through troubles and distress and this usually did bring them back to Him.
1Peter 1:1-7, Psalms 66:10
Many times we need the very same thing to keep us on track. We live in a world that pulls at our attention constantly. Movies, televison, music – these we can control but we also have other arrows slinged our way. Family, work, bills, financial problems, worries, distresses, the list goes on and on but we need to take a different look at these problems. They are not meant to hinder or hurt us but to remind us just Who is in charge.
1Pe 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Peter likens our trials to gold being refined through fire. Gold is heated up to the point that all the impurities rise to the top. These impurities are then skimmed off and it is said that one can tell just how refined the gold is by how well they can see their reflection in the gold. This just illustrates what the Lord can do with us. He refines us to make the ugly sin come up to the top and He skims it off and then He looks at us to see how well He can see how well we reflect His image to the world.
3) Bethel is a place of renewing
We looked at Bethel as a place of receiving and of remission but it is also a place of renewing. God told Jacob to go back to Bethel and Jacob had heeded His words and this became a blessing to him for had he not done as God had told him he would have missed out on a lot.
God gives Jacob something new and better here. Before he was called Jacob or “heel” and now God calls him Israel or “Prince”. God changed his name because he came back to Bethel.
We enjoy the same experience when we become a child of God. We enjoy the blessings of salvation through Jesus Christ.
We are named into the family of God – Galatians 4:6-7
We become a new creation – 2Corinthians 5:17-20
We are freed from sin and death
We are brought out of bondage
Jacob wrestled with “a Man” all night and He would not let go until this Man touched his thigh. Jacob now walked with a limp – he must have remembered his encounter with every step and just like Jacob we get a new name and direction or walk as we walk in the Spirit of God
4) Bethel is a place of reminding
In this passage we see God speaking to the future head of Israel. Hee God is reminding Jacob who he is and what God is going to do with him.
Here God is also reminding Jacob of just Who He is and Who Jacob is talking too. Notice He says “I AM God ALmighty”
This name, especially “I AM” was how God’s people knew Him. He told Moses to tell the people “I AM” has sent you and they will know of Whom you speak! when he went back to them before he lead them out of Egypt.
This name seems to speak volumes as to just Who and how GOd wants to be known by His people, then and now
In the Gospels, especially the book of John, we see many “I AM” quotes from our Lord and this carries over and comes closer even more as to just Who the Creator of the Universe is, and just how personally He wants us to know Him.
I AM the Bread of life
I AM the Way
I AM the Truth
I AM the Life
I AM the Door.
I AM…. whatever you need. I AM the ANSWER!!!!!
People these days don’t see church as a place to meet with the Lord, ZI didn’t for a long time. Most have the attitude of “What am I going to get today?” or you have those who are so caught up in serving that they miss the whole reason why we gather together. We gather to worship Jesus Christ. We gather to lift each other up, to educate, and to serve “In Christ” but we have one Audience and that is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!
He is our Answer
He is our Whatever
Is HE yours?
5) Bethel is a place of restoration
In some ways it seems that Jacob needed to be reminded of what God was doing for him and what God had already promised him. God knows exactly what we need and what we are thinking, He is just waiting for us to come to Him with whatever need or concern we have. God does not beat around the bush either, He gets right down to whatever is needed to be done or said, we see Jesus do this numerous times in the Gospels.
God constantly reminds His people of His promises because that is usually the first thing that was forgotten when trouble or opression came
God restores His promises to Israel here at Bethel and many times we need to be reminded of His promises to us as well. Where else can we be reminded but at Bethel, at the house of God because the Church, the Body of Christ is a living organism. It consists of His Bride.
He wants us to experience and welcome the same promises that He gave to His people back then.
Be strong and of good courage – Joshua 1:9
I will never leave you nor forsake you – Hebrews 13:5
Nothing can seperate us from the love of Christ – Romans 8:38-39
6) Bethel is a place of rejoicing
Genesis 35: 13-14
God has been dealing with Jacob and He has done some wonderful things for this man who had been know as a “heel” and now he was considered a “prince”. Now God is finished talking and gone up out of his sight. God had realigned Jacob’s priorities. He had renewed, restored, and reminded Israel about just who he was and Who he served. A “Heel” had come to this place but he has beend replaced with a “Prince” and now we see him worshipping God in a proper and rejoicing manner.
How long has it been since we “just thanked” God?
How long has it been since we rejoiced in the house of God?
Life is full of its ups and down and we were never promised that we would be immune to any of it. We are actually places right in the middle of it in most circumstances, either by sin or for a lesson. In either way they are placed in our paths to bring us closer to God. A closeness that bonds us to Him. A closeness that cannot be broken by height, depth, time, or distance. It hurts to go through them that is for sure, but we MUST remember to remain thankful. Not a false joy, not a false face for others but a steadfast hope that God is Who He says He is and that He does what He says He does. God has said that He will never leave us or forsake us and frankly I beleive Him. It might not always seem so at the exact moment we are going through something but He will never let us down and in that we can give thanks and rejoice no matter what comes
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.