I. THE TRUE LIFE is that which starts from the place of fellowship with God and commits the future to him. We can always find a pillar of blessed memorial and consecration. The Bethel.
1. Providential care.
2. Religious privilege.
3. Special communications of the Spirit.
God with us as a fact. Our pilgrimage a Bethel all through.
II. THE TRUE TESTIMONY that which erects a stone of witness, a Bethel, where others can find God.
1. Personal. The pillow of rest the pillar of praise.
2. Practical. The testimony which speaks of the journey and the traveler.
III. THE TRUE COVENANT.
1. Coming out of fellowship.
2. Pledging the future at the house of God, and in sight of Divine revelation.
3. Blessed exchange of gifts, confirmation of love. Jehovah keeping and guiding and feeding; his servant serving him and giving him a tenth of all he received. The patriarch's vow was the result of a distinct advance in his religious life. The hope of blessing became the covenant of engagement, service, worship, sacrifice. The highest form of religious life is that which rests on a solemn vow of grateful dedication at Bethel. The end before us is "our Father's house in peace." - R.
And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
Luz transformed into Bethel! A grove of almonds into the house of God! The Bible is full of transformations. There is a law of gravitation spiritual as well as physical. The downward plunge, the leap earthward is natural because in accordance with this law. But what natural law can turn the current upward, heavenward? A burning brand and natural law can accomplish a transformation of ruin; but it needs Divine intervention, a law of supernatural potency, to repair the ruin, erect the pillars of redemption, and upon them to sweep the arch of perfected restoration. In other words, between Luz and Bethel — the grove of almonds and the house of God — I recognize the necessity of a Divine heart and a Divine hand.
I. Let us view LUZ BEFORE THE TRANSFORMATION. In the midst of a wild and rugged region, broken here and there by hills, from the top of one of which Lot surveyed the well-watered valley of Jordan, and Abraham scanned his promised inheritance, a few stunted almond trees, drawing precarious nourishment from the scanty soil, afford grateful shade to the traveller. Gray, bare rocks everywhere shoot their sharp peaks through the parched earth, and not a vestige of verdure relieves the eye save the little clump of trees which gives Luz its name. Significant symbol — the almond tree! Precious, princely, yet, if embittered, deadly poison. Does the patriarch in famine-stricken Canaan design to send presents to Egypt to propitiate "the man, the lord of the country," then he chooses the fruit of the almond tree to make his offering acceptable. Precious fruit! There is uniting in the wilderness among the princes of the host of Israel against the supremacy of Aaron, and a rod of the almond tree is chosen to represent the head of each tribe in the tabernacle of witness. Princely fruit! Precious, princely man! The almond tree of this bleak and rugged world. Let us reverence humanity. Not the rank or station, the varied and varying adventitious enwrapments of his lot, but the man himself! But alas! the almond may become embittered and tranformed into deadly poison. Strangely, the bitter fruit does not differ in chemical composition from the other, yet by a mysterious change of nature, it becomes a deadly thing. Sad, yet striking symbol of man! A virulent poison has entered his life-blood and venomed the whole. Men are apt to regard sin as the commission of a few evil acts, and they are disposed to balance their so-called good acts, against the evil, with a secret complacency that the account must balance in their favour. But sin is a permeating poison, engendering the habitual disposition of rebellion against and distrust toward God, circulating its venom through every artery of the soul and tainting all the issues of life and thought.
II. But notice THE TRANSFORMATION. Luz is changed to Bethel; the grove of almonds into the house of God. One evening a solitary traveller, with weary step, approaches the little clump of almond trees, and, noticing the grateful shade, casts his way-worn form upon the scant but welcome grass. His countenance betokens youth, but there are lines of deep sorrow and premature care upon his brow. The story of the prodigal son is being rehearsed in the desert of Haran. It is Jacob, the dishonest supplanter, leaving his father's house. The curtains of darkness fall upon the scene and we see the pilgrim no longer with his awful burden of woe. Does he pray? Does he weep? Jacob sleeps as soundly and sweetly that night with the bare ground for a bed, and a rock for a pillow, as he ever did when a child, upon his mother's breast. In other words, Luz is transformed into Bethel, the grove of almonds into the house of God. But wherein does this transformation consist?
1. Jehovah unbars the casement of heaven and reveals Himself to Jacob. Now it is not Jacob who discovers God; it is God who reveals Himself to the poor wanderer. Wondrous revelation! Luz is transformed into Bethel, the place is sacred ground, for where the Supreme reveals Himself, there is the house of God. This is the age of exploration and discovery. Hidden continents, unscaled summits, untraversed deeps, secret forces have been tracked and discovered. But why is it that the explorer, the man of science, the astute discoverer has brought no tidings of God? The knowledge of the Divine Being is not a discovery by man, but a revelation from God! It is He and He alone who can unfilm the eye and unstop the ear and reveal Himself. And this He does to the "babes," to those who, like Jacob, get to the end of their resources, and in their extremity and self-destitution cry out to Him. And where He reveals Himself there is Bethel, the house of God.
2. But there is more here than a dim and distant revelation; broad as is the gulf between earth and heaven, that gulf is bridged by a ladder, the foot of which rests upon earth while the top reaches heaven. The revelation of God as He is, without such a connecting bridge, would be no boon to the sinful soul. On the 10th of May, 1869, at a place called Promontory Point, the junction was made completing the railway communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans in the United States of America. A silver spike was brought by the Governor of Arizona, another was contributed by the citizens of Nevada. They were driven home into a sleeper of Californian laurel with a silver mallet. As the last blow was struck the hammer was brought into contact with a telegraph wire, and the news was flashed and simultaneously saluted on the shores of two great oceans, and through the expanse of a vast continent, by the roar of cannon and the chiming of bells. When the awful abyss between God and man had to be bridged, the junction over the deepest chasm was made by the outstretched arms of the Son of God; and as the spikes crashed through His open palms He cried: "It is finished"; and swifter than electric current or lightning's flash, the tidings were winged to the farthest bounds of three worlds. The stairway connecting earth with heaven is completed; the awful chasm is bridged; Luz is transformed into Bethel. Christ by dying has opened up the way to God.
3. But Jacob not only saw the ladder erected; there was actual communication between earth and heaven; he beheld the angels of God ascending and descending upon it. Much interest concentres in the first or trial trip upon a new road, or over a wide and difficult bridge. And many a fair structure has succumbed to the actual strain of traffic. There are two angels at least with whom each of us may and ought to be acquainted; their names are Faith and Love. Let faith bear up your cry to the throne of God, and love will bring the answer down. Swifter than the eagle's wing, the message of grace will be borne to your needy heart, "if faith but bear the plea." And your weariness will be transformed into joy, your night of sorrow into a mid-day of gladness: in other words, Luz will be transformed into Bethel, the grove of almonds into the house of God.
TopicsBethel, Beth-el, Calleth, However, Luz, Named, Previously, Though, Town, Yet
Outline1. Isaac blesses Jacob, and sends him to Padan-aram.6. Esau marries Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael.10. Jacob journeys, and has a vision of a ladder.18. The stone of Bethel.20. Jacob's vow.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 28:19
7382 house of God
5044 names, giving of
LibraryThe Heavenly Pathway and the Earthly Heart
'And Jacob went out from Beer-sheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
February the Fifth Everywhere the Gate of Heaven
"Surely the Lord is in this place, and I knew it not." --GENESIS xxviii. 10-22. That is the first time for many a day that Jacob had named the name of God. In all the dark story of his wicked intrigue the name of God is never mentioned. Jacob wanted to forget God! God would be a disturbing presence! But here he encounters Him in a dream, and in the most unlikely place. "And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place!" Jacob had yet to learn that there is everywhere "a ladder set up on …
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year
The Presence of God.
"And Jacob awakened out of his sleep and said, Surely the Lord is in this place; and I knew it not."--GENESIS xxviii. 16. These words indicate the beginning of a new life in the patriarch Jacob. They tell us of the moment when, as it would appear, his soul awoke in him. And they surprise us in some degree, as such awakenings of spiritual capacity often do; for Jacob's recorded antecedents were not exactly such as to lead us to expect the dream and the vision, and the awakening which are described …
John Percival—Sermons at Rugby
Jacob's Waking Exclamation
I would address you this morning upon a topic which may perhaps be as useful to us as to Jacob, if God the Holy Ghost shall but enable me to preach, and you to hear. Oh thou that art everywhere, be speedily now; be thou in this place, and may we know it, and tremble in thy presence. I shall speak on three points; first, the omnipresence of God--the doctrine of it; secondly, a recognition of that omnipresence, or the spirit which is necessary in order to discover the presence of God; and thirdly, …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 7: 1861
Notes on the First Century:
Page 1. Line 1. An empty book is like an infant's soul.' Here Traherne may possibly have had in his mind a passage in Bishop Earle's "Microcosmography." In delineating the character of a child, Earle says: "His soul is yet a white paper unscribbled with observations of the world, wherewith at length it becomes a blurred note-book," Page 14. Line 25. The entrance of his words. This sentence is from Psalm cxix. 130. Page 15. Last line of Med. 21. "Insatiableness." This word in Traherne's time was often …
Thomas Traherne—Centuries of Meditations
Never! Never! Never! Never! Never!
Hence, let us learn, my brethren, the extreme value of searching the Scriptures. There may be a promise in the Word which would exactly fit your case, but you may not know of it, and therefore miss its comfort. You are like prisoners in a dungeon, and there may be one key in the bunch which would unlock the door, and you might be free; but if you will not look for it you may remain a prisoner still, though liberty is near at hand. There may be a potent medicine in the great pharmacopia of Scripture, …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 8: 1863
The Life of Faith.
The fruit of these trials. The conduct of the submissive soul. It results from all that has just been described that, in the path of pure faith, all that takes place spiritually, physically, and temporarily, has the aspect of death. This is not to be wondered at. What else could be expected? It is natural to this state. God has His plans for souls, and under this disguise He carries them out very successfully. Under the name of "disguise" I include ill-success, corporal infirmities, and spiritual …
Jean-Pierre de Caussade—Abandonment to Divine Providence
The Plan for the Coming of Jesus.
God's Darling, Psalms 8:5-8.--the plan for the new man--the Hebrew picture by itself--difference between God's plan and actual events--one purpose through breaking plans--the original plan--a starting point--getting inside. Fastening a Tether inside: the longest way around--the pedigree--the start. First Touches on the Canvas: the first touch, Genesis 3:15.--three groups of prediction--first group: to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3; to Isaac, Genesis 26:1-5; to Jacob, Genesis 28:10-15; through Jacob, …
S. D. Gordon—Quiet Talks about Jesus
The Prophecy of Obadiah.
We need not enter into details regarding the question as to the time when the prophet wrote. By a thorough argumentation, Caspari has proved, that he occupies his right position in the Canon, and hence belongs to the earliest age of written prophecy, i.e., to the time of Jeroboam II. and Uzziah. As bearing conclusively against those who would assign to him a far later date, viz., the time of the exile, there is not only the indirect testimony borne by the place which this prophecy occupies in …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
Letter xxviii (Circa A. D. 1130) to the Abbots Assembled at Soissons
To the Abbots Assembled at Soissons  Bernard urges the abbots zealously to perform the duty for which they had met. He recommends to them a great desire of spiritual progress, and begs them not to be delayed in their work if lukewarm and lax persons should perhaps murmur. To the Reverend Abbots met in the name of the Lord in Chapter at Soissons, brother Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, the servant of their Holiness, health and prayer that they may see, establish, and observe the things which are …
Saint Bernard of Clairvaux—Some Letters of Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux
That the Ruler Should be a Near Neighbour to Every one in Compassion, and Exalted Above all in Contemplation.
The ruler should be a near neighbour to every one in sympathy, and exalted above all in contemplation, so that through the bowels of loving-kindness he may transfer the infirmities of others to himself, and by loftiness of speculation transcend even himself in his aspiration after the invisible; lest either in seeking high things he despise the weak things of his neighbours, or in suiting himself to the weak things of his neighbours he relinquish his aspiration after high things. For hence it is …
Leo the Great—Writings of Leo the Great
Covenanting Performed in Former Ages with Approbation from Above.
That the Lord gave special token of his approbation of the exercise of Covenanting, it belongs to this place to show. His approval of the duty was seen when he unfolded the promises of the Everlasting Covenant to his people, while they endeavoured to perform it; and his approval thereof is continually seen in his fulfilment to them of these promises. The special manifestations of his regard, made to them while attending to the service before him, belonged to one or other, or both, of those exhibitions …
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting
There are few subjects on which the Lord's own people are more astray than on the subject of giving. They profess to take the Bible as their own rule of faith and practice, and yet in the matter of Christian finance, the vast majority have utterly ignored its plain teachings and have tried every substitute the carnal mind could devise; therefore it is no wonder that the majority of Christian enterprises in the world today are handicapped and crippled through the lack of funds. Is our giving to be …
Arthur W. Pink—Tithing
Gen. xxxi. 11
Of no less importance and significance is the passage Gen. xxxi. 11 seq. According to ver. 11, the Angel of God, [Hebrew: mlaK halhiM] appears toJacob in a dream. In ver. 13, the same person calls himself the God of Bethel, with reference to the event recorded in chap. xxviii. 11-22. It cannot be supposed that in chap xxviii. the mediation of a common angel took place, who, however, had not been expressly mentioned; for Jehovah is there contrasted with the angels. In ver. 12, we read: "And behold …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
A Treatise of the Fear of God;
SHOWING WHAT IT IS, AND HOW DISTINGUISHED FROM THAT WHICH IS NOT SO. ALSO, WHENCE IT COMES; WHO HAS IT; WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS; AND WHAT THE PRIVILEGES OF THOSE THAT HAVE IT IN THEIR HEARTS. London: Printed for N. Ponder, at the Peacock in the Poultry, over against the Stocks market: 1679. ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," and "a fountain of life"--the foundation on which all wisdom rests, as well as the source from whence it emanates. Upon a principle …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
The Shaking of the Heavens and the Earth
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Yet this once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land: and I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come, and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts. G od shook the earth when He proclaimed His law to Israel from Sinai. The description, though very simple, presents to our thoughts a scene unspeakably majestic, grand and awful. The mountain was in flames at the top, and …
John Newton—Messiah Vol. 1
Nature of Covenanting.
A covenant is a mutual voluntary compact between two parties on given terms or conditions. It may be made between superiors and inferiors, or between equals. The sentiment that a covenant can be made only between parties respectively independent of one another is inconsistent with the testimony of Scripture. Parties to covenants in a great variety of relative circumstances, are there introduced. There, covenant relations among men are represented as obtaining not merely between nation and nation, …
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting
Christ the Mediator of the Covenant
'Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant,' &c. Heb 12:24. Jesus Christ is the sum and quintessence of the gospel; the wonder of angels; the joy and triumph of saints. The name of Christ is sweet, it is as music in the ear, honey in the mouth, and a cordial at the heart. I shall waive the context, and only speak of that which concerns our present purpose. Having discoursed of the covenant of grace, I shall speak now of the Mediator of the covenant, and the restorer of lapsed sinners, Jesus the Mediator …
Thomas Watson—A Body of Divinity
The First Commandment
Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' Exod 20: 3. Why is the commandment in the second person singular, Thou? Why does not God say, You shall have no other gods? Because the commandment concerns every one, and God would have each one take it as spoken to him by name. Though we are forward to take privileges to ourselves, yet we are apt to shift off duties from ourselves to others; therefore the commandment is in the second person, Thou and Thou, that every one may know that it is spoken to him, …
Thomas Watson—The Ten Commandments
The Strait Gate;
OR, GREAT DIFFICULTY OF GOING TO HEAVEN: PLAINLY PROVING, BY THE SCRIPTURES, THAT NOT ONLY THE RUDE AND PROFANE, BUT MANY GREAT PROFESSORS, WILL COME SHORT OF THAT KINGDOM. "Enter ye in at the strait gate; for wide is the gate, and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."--Matthew 7:13, 14 ADVERTISEMENT BY THE EDITOR. If any uninspired writer has been …
John Bunyan—The Works of John Bunyan Volumes 1-3
The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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