Jacob gets a fresh start in Bethel. God told him to go settle, and to build an altar to God, who had been with Jacob and revealed himself to Jacob as far back as when he was fleeing Esau as a younger man. Could it be there is a fresh start awaiting us today?
1 Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”
2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3 Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem.
6 Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 7 There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.
9 After Jacob returned from Paddan Aram, God appeared to him again and blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob, but you will no longer be called Jacob; your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel.
11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” 13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.
14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.
Genesis 35:1-4, 6-7, 9-15
Bethel means ‘house of God.’ And as Jacob set out for Bethel, I sense that he knew this was to be a place of holy ground. He made sure that everyone in his household rid themselves of their idols, purify themselves, and change their clothes. It’s a new day.
Do you need a new day? A fresh start?
God is in that business. In fact, he is able to give you a new name and a new life. For Jacob, that was the name Israel in the city of Bethel. For you, it is Child of God in the Kingdom of God. How does that sound?
Are you willing to part with your idols and wash your hands? Are you willing to change your clothes? For God to give you a new start, you cannot continue to hold onto things so tightly. Pastor Brent preached that just like Jesus gave up his will to the Father’s in the Garden of Gethsemane, we need to be willing to give up our wills.
We wear our lives like uniforms and our hands get dirty with the stains of the world. The words of the Apostle James come to mind. “Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded,” he says in James 4:8.
It seems like he is ready for us.
Are we ready for him.
There is a new and fresh start awaiting us…