Genesis 35:1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:
3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.
4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.
5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.
God is calling Jacob back to Bethel, back to the place of prayer, back to the place where they had been close. Bethel was the place where God had appeared unto Jacob in a dream and had spoken to him, where Jacob and God had exchanged promises.
How many know what the word Bethel means? House of God.
In Genesis 28:22 Jacob said, "This stone which I set for a pillar shall be God's house." God is calling Jacob back to the house of God, the family of God.
Alot has happened since Jacob left home. In Genesis 31:38, 20 years have passed.
He served Laban, his uncle, 7 years for each of his wives.
He has married into a family that keeps idols; so much so that when he left Laban one of his wives stole images from her father. She hated to give them up that much.
Now we know that Jacob was not raised to allow these things. Clean doesn't rub off, dirt does.
But here he is. It has been 20 years or so since he has been to Bethel, since he has had an experience with God. He has idols in his home, his daughter was keeping company with the wrong people and now she is in trouble. His son's have killed a bunch of people to avenge their sister.
Now 2 different tribes are about to come down and wipe out him and his family.
Everywhere he looks there is trouble. In all this God is calling him back to the house of God, back
Did you ever notice how often God calls us to a certain place to speak to us?
Sometimes a natural place, sometimes a spiritual place.
He called Jacob to Bethel. He called Jeremiah to the potter's house.
Going to church is a natural act that brings us to a spiritual place. Often it is the act of obedience in coming to the natural place that brings us into a spiritual place to receive from God.
Devotional time is a natural act that brings us to a spiritual place.
God called Jacob back to the house of God to hear the Word of God. God is going to speak to him there. But before Jacob could hear from God there had to be a cleansing.
Brothers and sisters, sin will block you from being close with God. Other gods, the gods of this world, will block you from being close with God and move your life into spiritual decay.
How many people are pulled away from God by the idols of this world?
Verse 2 says, then Jacob said unto his household and to all that were with him, put away the strange gods that are among you and be clean and change your garments.
You see, before Jacob could get close to God again he had to do some house cleaning so to speak.
Paul wrote, lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily besets us.
Jacob was telling his family and household, "Throw out these idols. We are going back to the place where God's presence is felt, where His voice is heard. We are going to clean out the closet."
Read II Corinthians 6:16-18 & 7:1.
2 Corinthians 6:16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
2 co 6:17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you,
2co 6:18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
A while back our computer started doing wierd things. It was mailing out stuff from my documents file and importing things from the internet. We were about ready to junk it. We found out it had a "worm virus".
This type of computer virus hides in your files and slowly destroys the hard drive or the heart of your computer.
It turns out it was really easy to get rid of, because we caught it early. But you have to open your whole computer up to a scan, then throw out the files that are causing the trouble.
The devil has some worms he wants to hide in your heart and let them slowly destroy your walk with God, your fellowship with other Christians, and eventually your soul if they aren't thrown out. He uses things like bitterness, unforgiveness, greed, criticism, worldliness.
These are worms that will eat away at your spirit man.
I have heard it said the church doesn't need more organization, it needs information. But I believe what the church really needs today is dedication.
Peter didn't have alot of education and he didn't have all the information, but what he had was dedication.
You won't like this part, but try to understand. God called Jacob to get back to Bethel to get close to Him again. There were some hard times ahead for Jacob and without that closeness with God he might not have endured. God appeared again to him. God spoke again to him. God changed his name. God promised him the blessing of Abraham.
I believe that renewed strength gave him the strength for the days ahead. Soon he would bury the love of his life, Rachel (v. 19), and his dad was soon to follow (v. 29).
Church, there are some trying days ahead and organization won't help, denomination won't help, but dedication to Jesus will.
It is time for a spiritual closet cleaning, time to throw out any idols that are found and rededicate our lives to Jesus. It's time to get back to Bethel, back to the place of His presence, back to the place where we could hear His voice, back to the place of obedience, back to the place of blessing, back to real worship, back to the place where we were close.
Mom wanted us to stay in the yard before a storm, so we could hear and she could call us in.
Are you where you want to be with God today?
When was the last time you had a real experience with God?
If He whispers will you hear? If He calls can you answer?
Come back to Bethel the place of dedication, rest, and renewal.