Summary: Exposition Of Remembering
Text: Gen 28, 32, 35, Title: Remember When God Appeared , Date/Place: NRBC, 1.13.13, AM
A. Opening illustration: "sir what was it that i said in my message that caused you to come and get saved?"
B. Background to passage: I want to trace the route of God’s work in Jacob’s life as it relates to spiritual
renewal. This is a great case study for a man of faith who experienced many ups and downs in his walk with
God over many years. At this point he is very low. He is the hollow shell of a follower of Yahweh. He is
outwardly reminiscent of a believer, but inwardly he didn’t look much of a believer. Then late in his life,
God calls him back to a place for a time of remembrance and renewal. The tragedy of chapter 34 probably
had reduced him to a position of brokenness, so maybe he was listening for the first time in a long time.
(BTW, don’t wait for tragedy to cause you to seek God afresh. So in the text of Gen 35, we are going back to
Bethel, after the third major theophany of Jacob’s life. God calls him to remember the other two as He calls
Jacob to a closer walk with Thee.
C. Main thought: Renewal requires remembrance and repentance
A. Remember Bethel (v. 1)
1. In this verse God tells Jacob to go back to Bethel (presumably from Shechem) and live there. So he
gathered up his family and got ready to leave (more on that in a minute). But why Bethel? Is this just
some random vacation spot. No, it is the place in which God first appeared to Jacob “when he fled from
the face of Esau.” That is key. God is calling Jacob to remember this encounter. So turn back to Gen
28:10-22, and let’s look at what God wants Jacob to remember.
This is the stairway to heaven account. Jacob is in a lonely, depressed, fearful situation. Would he ever
see his father, mother, brother again? Would Esau kill him? How would he survive? Where would he
go? He lay down on a rock under the stars, and in a dream, God came and showed him a portal of servants
who come and go on the earth. Then God speaks to him, tells him He is with him, and will remain
with him, eventually bringing him back to Bethel. He wakes up, knows God was there, builds and altar
(making a spiritual marker), names the place “house of God,” and makes a vow based on God’s promises
to do three things. Some say this was his conversion. But it obviously made a huge impact! And in the
years that followed, his memory and his relationship to God faded…
Rev 2:5, 3:3,
Illustration: "The tragedy of the modern church is they want the Old Time Religion w/o the Old Time
Relationship!" ~Carter Conlon, share of the feelings that overwhelmed me when God called me to preach
Usually for businesses, communities, churches, and individuals, living in the past is not a good thing.
But when we are talking about spiritual markers, it’s helpful. But usually spiritual markers have to do
with communicating the works of God to future generation in the form of a lasting, standing testimony.
Here, God’s point is to remember God breaking into Jacob’s life. He wants not just the action, but the
Actor to be remembered. He wants the significance to be reborn in Jacob. He wanted the fire and passion
rekindled in Jacob’s heart. He wanted the sense of wonder and awe of His initial work in Jacob’s life
to reinvade his heart. He wants Jacob to return to a sacred piece of ground because it marked a sacred,
watershed moment in his life.
One place to start in a pursuit of spiritual renewal is to remember a time of divine impact in your life,
especially the point of His initial work in your life. When did God first come near? Where were you?
How did it happen? How did it feel? What were the initial results over the next few days and weeks?
Jacob said, “How awesome is this place!!!” Don’t aim to go back to 1961 or 1981, but aim to go back
to the closeness that you felt in the weeks after you got saved. We aren’t aiming for the geographical
location, nor the chronological point, but for the affection and excitement and lack of inhibitors of your
relationship to the greatest Treasure in the universe. Like the church at Ephesus, have you lost your first
love? Are there things that have gotten in the way? Can you identify them?
B. Remember Peniel (v. 9-10)
1. God called Jacob to remember another spiritual pinnacle in his life in order that he experience renewal.