“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’ ” (Genesis 35:1).
When Jacob was fleeing from his brother Esau, he came to a place called Bethel, the place where he first met God. It was there that he received both the land promise and the seed promise, and it was to this place that God promised He would bring Jacob back.
The fulfillment of that promise begins in Genesis 35:1. Jacob and his family are in deep trouble both physically and spiritually because they have allowed themselves to become immersed in many grievous sins where they are living. Jacob decides to go Back to Bethel in an attempt to correct the wrongs in which his family is involved.
Back to Bethel can metaphorically be a battle cry for us as we confront the challenges with which our world presents us—it can stand for “the place where we first met God” when we obeyed the gospel and turned our lives over to Him.
Even if our lives have become entwined with the grievous sins of our own day, with a concerted effort, we can find spiritual renewal and the peace that passes all understanding at our “Bethel.” Just as God stood with open arms to receive Jacob, He stands with that same posture to receive us today—all it takes is the right attitude and a firm decision on our part.