by Dr. J. Vernon McGee

Back to Bethel
Dr. J. Vernon McGee

And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, who appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau, thy brother. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments. And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. (Genesis 35:1-3)

Bethel is about twelve miles north of Jerusalem. Described as a bleak moorland in the hill country, it stands twelve hundred feet above sea level where the wild winds whistle about its large, exposed rocks. If you have driven over the narrow old roads between California's Yucca Valley and Apple Valley, you have seen a place much like Bethel. Although the topography was desolate and forbidding, it was where the spiritual high point in the life of Jacob occurred.

To understand this passage in Genesis 35, we must go back thirty years to the time when Jacob first went to Bethel. At that time he was fleeing for his life. His brother Esau was after him to murder him. Jacob was a fugitive, a runaway. He had no traveling gear whatsoever except the staff in his hand.

That first night away from home, Jacob spent at Bethel - his head pillowed on a stone in that bleak, lonely spot, with the winds howling about him. He dreamed of a ladder that was set up on earth, the top of it reaching to heaven, and God standing above the ladder.

What was it that brought him to this place? What kind of home did he leave? It was not an ideal home, but it was a home through which God was moving for time and for eternity. It was the home of Isaac and Rebekah.

Home and Family

Isaac was the son of Abraham and Sarah, the son of promise God had given them by a miracle in their old age. When the boy was grown, his aged father refused to take ...

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