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By Tyson Thorne

October 11, 2018
 

NoG ElBethel Large

Dinah was a prime candidate for the #MeToo movement. As Jacob was migrating his cattle to a new region in Canaan, his daughter was sexually assaulted by the son of the regional leader. In reaction to the news, her brothers banded together and killed every man in the village. You wouldn't be alone if you thought the punishment was a bit harsh, Jacob thought so too and decided to move everyone, quickly, to another region (Genesis 35). Where did he go? To a place that held many memories already, a place where God had introduced himself as El Bethel.

It may seem strange and oddly redundant since the literal meaning of this Hebrew phrase is God of the House of God, but it is how the Lord introduced himself when speaking to Jacob. Previously, Jacob had a surprise meeting with God at a place called Luz while on the run from his brother Esau. In the dream Jacob witnessed a "ladder" of sorts (likely a stair-step pyramid) that reached into heaven. After the dream Jacob changed the name of the place to Bethel, God used this location in Genesis 31 to remind Jacob of the place, and the God, he met there, "I am El Bethel where you anointed the sacred stone and made a vow to me" (Genesis 31.13).

What is great about this name of God is it's so personal for Jacob. No one else in all of Scripture knows YHWH as El Bethel, and it is a reminder of all that Jacob went through. In many ways, Jacob's story is our story. He encounters God and tries to serve the Lord, but on his own terms. Despite all his scheming God continues to patiently provide and protect, guiding Jacob to a place where he is worthy of the name Israel. In the same way, God patiently works with each of his children and promises to bring that work to completion.

 
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