BIBLE READING: Genesis 34-36
After the reunion of Jacob and Esau, God sends Jacob to Bethel in Genesis 35.1-15. Bethel was the same place that he had fled to in Genesis 28.10-19. It was also the place that God sent Abraham to when He revealed to Abraham His promise in Genesis 12.8. The term “Bethel” simply means “House of God”. However, it has significance in meaning because it seems to be the one place that God sends a servant to so He can re-affirm His promise and commitment to His people. While at Bethel, God reveals something about His character to Jacob. In Genesis 35.11 God says to Jacob, “El Shaddai”, which means “God Almighty”. Why is that so significant? First, it allowed Jacob to know that this was the same God that had appeared to Abraham in Genesis 17.11. It also allows us to have a deeper understanding of God. What does “God is Almighty” look like in practical terms? The most obvious expression of God being Almighty is His role as Creator. John tells us that “All things were made by Him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). Everything we know and understand, and even what we don’t know nor understand, was designed, crafted and spoke into existence by the power of God. There is nothing that El Shaddai cannot do. When this was revealed to Abraham it was immediately after God made His promise to reiterate to Abraham that all he had to do was trust and act because God Almighty would make it happen. In our current text, Jacob is facing some very difficult days ahead with the death of his father Isaac and his beloved Rachel. Tragedy and suffering hits us very hard and make us prone to things like doubt and temptation. Here in Genesis 35, God takes a moment to allow Jacob to regroup after all that has happened to prepare him for the next phase of his life as the patriarch of a new nation of God’s people: the Israelites. In doing so God reminds Jacob, “I can do anything…I am God Almighty!” Just as Abraham and Jacob needed to be reminded of El Shaddai’s ever presence in their lives, so do we. What a Mighty God we serve! A God that can provide us with any and every spiritual and physical blessing we might need to be productive in His Kingdom. When you are faced with moments of doubt, suffering and even the unknown, maybe we need to head to our Bethel (House of God) to reaffirm that concept of our El Shaddai.