HH, Sir Godfrey Gregg D.Div
And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. Genesis 35:1
God had set His hand to make Jacob a saint. He had given him a glimpse of His ideal at the Jabbok ford, but his nature was not then capable of taking in the Divine conception; and, as we have seen, both in his subterfuge to Esau and his settling outside Shechem, he had fallen back into the schemer and money-maker. In this chapter, God uses several methods of awakening and renewal.
The Divine summons. “Arise, go up to Bethel.” He had been in the lowlands too long: too long had he “lain among the pots.” The voice of God spoke words of resurrection life into his grave, as afterwards into that of Lazarus.
The power of old association. What memories clustered around that name and place of Bethel! It recalled his distress and fear; the angel-ladder, and the comforting assurance which had inspired him with new hope. Directly he heard it, he seemed to have felt the incongruity of the life that was being lived in his camp, and he said to his people, “Put away the strange gods… Arise, let us go up to Bethel, and I will make there an altar unto God.”
A fresh revelation. God appeared to him again. For long there had been no vision of God; but now that the idols were put away, his eyes were opened to see Him who had been beside him amid all his backslidings.
Death. Deborah, the beloved Rachel, the old father – one after another were taken from him; and there came the far-away look into his eyes which showed that he had imbibed the pilgrim-spirit and had become Israel the Prince. So God stripped him that he might be better able to run the race set before him.