Summary: God called Jacob to Bethel, so what’s he doing in Shechem?
Intro: Jerome Engles, Babies & Hymnals, $.75.
Years ago, a Pastor, named Jerome Engles was
making an announcement in church about the
new hymnals, a man in the congregation stood up
and also announced the annual Baptism service
where all the babies could be baptized. Jerome,
not hearing very well, thinking they’re still talking
about hymnals added, "And if you want one of
your own, you can get one from me for 75 cents."
In Gen. 35:1, God says to Jacob, Arise, go up to
Bethel--and Jacob heard and went! This may not
seem like any big deal unless you know that God
had told Jacob to do this before in Gen. 31:3, this
was about ten years before Gen. 35. But Jacob
wasn’t listening. Jerome Engles had a physical
hearing problem, but Jacob had a spiritual one.
Let’s talk about it. Look, and tell me, what was
God telling Jacob to do? Gen. 28 makes it clear
that the place Jacob was to head for was Bethel.
So, look at Gen. 33:18-20; where is he? (Shechem)
Where was he supposed to be? (Bethel!)
A little geography might be helpful. In Gen. 31,
he’s in, say, Erie. God tells him to head about a
hundred miles south, to, say, Pittsburgh, but, he
stops about 30 miles north in, say Cranberry. He
not only stops, he buys a piece of land, settles
down. His kids start to go to the Cranberry
schools, they hang out at the malls. Jacob, thinks
"Hey, there’s lots of good pro-spects for marriage
here, this place looks good, it’s close to Bethel,
surely God won’t mind if, I’m close, I’ll go to
church every week, get involved, it’ll be OK."
But, Shechem is not Bethel; and OK is not Good
Enough; Mediocrity will never worship His
Majesty; the Flesh cannot see the things of the
Spirit, Religion can never have the supernatural
joy of a Relationship with the God of Heaven
because it is Earthly.
Shechem is, therefore a place of the world, the
cares of the world, the troubles of the world, the
religion of the world, the trajedies of the world,
the pain of the world.
Anybody here living in Shechem? Anybody here
not living in Shechem? You want to die in
Shechem? Then, hear the Lord calling you,
"Arise, go up to Bethel!"
Bethel is the place where you can find God,
Bethel, means "The House of God!" In Gen. 28,
Jacob gave the name "Bethel" to the place where
he saw the ladder to Heaven, he said, this is the
Gate of Heaven, Heaven’s Gate is not some stupid
comet, it’s the place of the Spirit when you pray
and God is there! A lot of people pray and God is
not there, Jacob prayed and God was really there,
that’s why he called the place "El" Bethel. The
God of the House of God.
We have a "Bethel," here, but do we have an "El"
Bethel? We have a house of God here, but is God
here in a conscious way; a way we can see, hear,
feel, sense? When we come, do we have the sense
that we are entering His Gates, and His Courts;
do our songs mingle with the angels and saints of
heaven? When we leave, do we look at one
another in awe and say, "Surely, we have been in
the Presence of the Lord? If not, then we need to
learn the secret of putting the El in Bethel. The