When he found God, he had been sworn to death by his brother. He was deceitful and a liar, wandering in the desert without direction, family, property or dignity. Utterly useless. Living dead. However, God saw his faith and manifested His power in his life in an extraordinary way.
Years later, now with the blessing of God, a great family, sons and daughters, riches and with the forgiveness of his brother, God makes an unusual request to Jacob.
Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.” And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then 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
Why return to the place where God answered him in his day of distress? Couldn’t he raise an Altar right where he was? Couldn’t God be with him everywhere? However, there was a purpose for all of this. God wanted Jacob to remember where he came from and how his life was before meeting Him.
What would have become of Jacob’s life? Who would extend a hand to help out a cheater? Who would give a deceitful man a chance?
God, in His infinite mercy, reached out to Jacob and blessed his life to the point of being known as the God of Jacob until this day.
Today we see many people who, like Jacob, were wandering in the desert, but are rescued by God. People who were delivered from addictions, healed, prospered and had their families restored. But over time, these people have forgotten the miserable life they lived and the place where they found the help they needed.
The Universal Church is Bethel. It is the place where the “Jacobs of life” have always been and will be welcomed and understood. It is the place where there is an Altar, and those who sacrifice their life on it, receive the life of God.
We see some people with a heart full of ingratitude leaving the Universal Church, abandoning the faith and turning their backs on God. When God asked them to return to “Bethel” and raise an Altar to Him, they felt that it was not necessary to sacrifice like before, because they were already “happy” with their achievements in life. They forgot where they came from, and that life with God goes from Altar to Altar, from sacrifice to sacrifice, from faith to faith.
The God of Jacob left a message for these people:
Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided? So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God. Luke 12.20-21