Jacob was in a terrible crisis – again – and he did not know what to do. The Bible says: “Then God said to Jacob, ‘Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there’ . . . And Jacob said . . . ‘Let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone’” (Genesis 35:1-3).
Bethel is a place where we can go in our time of distress! The lesson for Israel and for us today is this: Whenever Jacob was in danger or trouble – when things looked foreboding and hopeless – he knew where to go and what to do!
God was saying to Jacob, “You know where I will speak to you, where you will hear My voice. Go back to Bethel! Go to the altar where I met you. Get down on your face before Me and cleanse your house of all idolatry!”
Jacob called his sons to bring forth all their idols, and he buried them under an oak tree. Then he led his family to Bethel, and there he erected an altar before God. Again God told Jacob, “I am with you” (see Genesis 35:9-13).
Scripture says, “The terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob” (Genesis 35:5). The surrounding cities were afraid of Jacob—this little Jewish clan—because God had put a dread in them!
The Lord is still God of Bethel! And He is saying to us, “Go to Bethel because I am going to meet you there! Every time you are in trouble or distress, run to the altar! Cry out and get alone with Me!” He is waiting for us to meet Him in the secret closet of prayer!
Jacob knew where to go to get a clear word from God Himself! He went to Bethel—to the altar! He shut himself in with God in a secret place! I believe God talks to us; I believe He gives us words. But it happens on our knees! That is where God says He will meet us!
God is calling you today to get your eyes off all circumstances. Do not judge anything by your present condition. Do not try to figure it all out. Do not let fear cast you down. God will meet you in prayer!