The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it. He named that place Bethel (which means “house of God”), although it was previously called Luz. Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if he will provide me with food and clothing, and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the LORD will certainly be my God. And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything he gives me.”
Jacob must have been sitting against a large enough rock to protect his back and rest his head. He picked up this stone that laid in a horizontal position and turned it vertically creating a memorial. For many years, that stone would remain there as a reminder of his night vision of the stairway that led to heaven.
Travelers carried oil in their first aid kit in those days. Remember the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10? He used oil and wine to sanitize the wounds of the victim. Jacob poured oil over the rock to consecrate the memorial to God and dedicate it as a holy place.
Jacob renamed the town Bethel meaning ‘the house of God’. All his life, Jacob fought to be the covenant son of his father’ household. Now, the God of the covenant was revealing Himself to Jacob by allowing him to see His home and how His household operated.
Because of his upbringing, Jacob has some ‘Daddy’ issues. You can almost hear the distrust by his response (Gateway). Remember the first words out of his mouth when he awakened from his dream? Let me paraphrase for you. “I can’t believe I bumped right into God and almost tripped inside His house!? Sorry, I mean this place is awesome, God lives here!”
Then Jacob switched into ‘control’ mode. Unsure of God, he delivered a set of conditions. Isaac never gave Jacob identity or affirmation growing up. All he knew to do was to manipulate circumstances to get what he wanted and needed. He’s asking God for evidence of His love.
God, You must be with me
Jacob wanted proof that God would direct his steps and give him wisdom and favor, as a good father would do for his son.
God, You must protect me
Esau wanted Jacob dead. Traveling was always dangerous because of robbers and wild animals. Heathen tribes surrounded him and he was visiting family that really didn’t know him. Scared out of his mind, Jacob needed God to protect him now and in his future.
God, You must provide me with food and clothing
Growing up privileged, Jacob never had to worry about hunger. He probably had a nice set of threads back home in his closet. Reduced to nothing but the clothes on his back. Jacob was depending on God to be his provider and to prosper him.
Most importantly, God, You must return me safely to Dad’s house
Except for when Isaac blessed Jacob and sent him away, he always viewed his younger son as the hard working, quiet, and conniving third wheel. This broke Jacob's heart and he yearned for Isaac's respect. Almost all of his memories of his father were ones of rejection. He could not return until Isaac permanently recognized and treated him as a covenant man who worshiped the One True God. He couldn't return while Esau hung on to his hate and continued to be on the hunt for him. Jacob's greatest desire was for God to restore him to his family so he could live with them in peace.
If you could do all that God, then...
You will be my Lord
So far, Jacob put his family and himself first in all his life decisions. But, he promises to put God first and make Him Lord of his life.
I will mark the pillar as a place to worship You
Wherever there is an altar to God, heaven and earth meet. Jacob promises that he will worship at this spot and remember when God visited him and he was shown the Kingdom of Heaven.
I will tithe to You
Jacob wants everything he will own to be consecrated. When the tithe is given to God, all areas of his life and all of his wealth will be considered holy.
Psalm 27:10 NLT
Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.
This ends our series on Traveling. We hope it was a blessing to you. Monday, we will begin our new series on Genesis 29.
Father, You always meet me where I live. Thank You for Your revelation of the Kingdom of God. You are my Father and Heaven is my home. You are always with me, You provide for me, You preserve me and You respect me. You are my God, I will always worship You, and I give You my tithe and consecrate all that I have to You. In Jesus Name, Amen.