8/20/2000 11:00 AM
Jacob was in trouble here. Part of the source of his trouble was because of what he had done. Jacob spent the night here because it was too late to travel further. He found a hard pillow - a stone. He dreamed and saw God and a ladder that went up to heaven. God made a promise to Jacob that through his seed - Christ - the families of the earth would be blest. This place was significant to Jacob because of God's presence. We need to go to a place of prayer and come into God's presence. We gather at church to come in to God's presence. The church is a spiritual building; a group of God's people come together. We come to a building (though it is not the "church") to come to the presence of God. The presence of God makes it the house of God and because of this it should be a special place to us. We should have a reverence when we gather to come in God's presence. There should be a special attitude on our part. There is etiquette for our behavior when we come to church. We want to leave the world out. Leave the world and its troubles at the door. This place represented God's abiding presence. Our thoughts and actions should be toward God and his service. Communion is to remember Christ and what he did. When we come in to the service, we have come to draw our attention to God. We aren't here to make a fashion statement, but to come and meet with God. We are here to enjoy what God has for us.
Jacob's sons had created a situation that was of concern to Jacob. God told Jacob to go to the place where he came into the presence of God (Bethel). Whenever we meet together with God's people, we should have a reverence for the place. Jacob didn't say, "Let's go as we are." He wanted to go in a way that would be acceptable to God. We want to come before God clean and acceptable. We don't know what Bethel looked like, but to Jacob it was a special place. We can come and be encouraged and strengthened to face the world again. The presence of God and his people makes this place special to us.
We want to come in God's presence with our hearts turned toward God and bringing glory to him. All places are God's. God can be with you in all places, but in all places you aren't in the presence of God. Most people receive spiritual help in God's service and not elsewhere. This doesn't mean you can't find God elsewhere or that you won't find God elsewhere, but that we come to worship God here and that this is where many spiritual needs are met.
We want to come with joyfulness. "Serve the Lord with gladness." We don't want to come together to be loose, but we aren't to be stiff and formal either. We want our attention to be focused on God. We don't want to be noticing the other things, but to focus on God. Don't be distracted from what God had to say.
Isaiah 56:6, 7
We are "the sons of the stranger" but we have claimed God as our own. When we come together we should come to the "house of prayer". Prayer should be special because that is when you come into the presence of God. We should go out strengthened and encouraged by having prayed. Jacob considered the place he met God as special.