Settling at Bethel


After the incident with Shechem, the Lord tells Jacob to go to Bethel and settle there.  Jacob went to Bethel with all his family, servants, and livestock.  Then, “Jacob built an altar there and called the place God of Bethel because it was there that God had revealed Himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother” (Gen. 35:7).

Bethel means, “House of God.”  We saw that God’s house is His temple, where He dwells.  Christ and His church are God’s true house and dwelling.  Jacob’s first time in Bethel, he woke from the dream about the staircase to heaven and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place….” (Gen. 28:16).  The Lord is in us, His true, spiritual house.

Jacob’s return to Bethel returns us to this focus of God dwelling in His Son and those who are one house with Christ.  Jacob remembered that Bethel was the place God revealed Himself.  This is a message to us as well: It is in His house—Christ and His people—that God reveals Himself.  God makes Himself known and manifests within us who are one house with Christ.

Paul touches on this when he writes, “We all, with unveiled faces, gaze on and reflect the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).  Here the Lord is unveiled or revealed within those who believe, who are Christ’s.  Revelation is not merely gaining understanding or learning doctrine.  It is the individual and corporate experience of Christ’s Person within. This is Bethel, the house of God, the place where He reveals Himself.

It is significant that the Lord tells Jacob to settle at Bethel.  The Lord would also have us settle at Bethel, where He is revealed in us.  Jesus would have us dwell, abide, remain there—where He is revealed within.  He would have us remain in this place where the veil is taken away in Christ, where we gaze on and reflect the Lord’s glory and are changed into that same image.  Where else can we go?  Here the flesh and blood of the Word of eternal life is within us as satiating presence (John 6:35, 53-54, 68).  Here we must live, and move, and have our being.

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