Return to Bethel

Junior Level

(Part 1)

We read of a place called Bethel many times in God’s Word.  Bethel is a city that is first mentioned in Genesis chapter 12.  It is where Abraham built an alter unto the Lord.  In Genesis chapter 28 we read that Jacob, (Abraham’s grandson) has a dream of a ladder connecting Heaven to the earth.  He called the name of the place, Bethel which means House of God.  Many other times in the Bible we read of Bethel.  Today I want us to look at the account of Abraham who is known as a great man of faith and his return to Bethel, or the House of God/Fellowship with God after he had been out of God’s will.  As we study, I encourage you to take a look at your own life.  Have you left Bethel?  Have you left your first love for Christ?  Are you walking in God’s will?  Dear Soul, just as Abraham did, as he struggled to stay in God’s will and pass the tests of faith before him, you can return to intimacy with Christ, you can come back to the joy of fellowship and closeness with our Father.  The choice is yours.  Return to Bethel Beloved, it is there that God waits and longs to fellowship with you once more. 

Handout:  Return to Bethel
Teacher's Guide:  Return to Bethel

This week I’ve been reading a book called Adventures in Faith by M.R. De Haan.  What a wonderful teacher he was.  As I began to read, these concepts came alive to me and God gave me the lesson for this week.  I began to study and to think on the great men and women in the Bible that trusted and placed their faith in the LORD.  I began to think of the accounts recorded where some of those great heroes of faith actually disobeyed at times and failed.  Those accounts were not placed in God’s word to make those men and women look bad, they were placed there so that we could learn from their victories and failures.  They are placed there to show us that God is gracious and that all of humanity is sinful, but by the grace and mercy of God through Christ, we can live in victory if we will place our hope, our trust, and our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  This is just what Abraham did when God spoke to him and told him to leave his family, his country, and his home and follow Him.

Genesis 12:1-5 “1Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: 2And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. 4So Abram departed, as the LORD had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran. 5And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.

It took great faith for Abram or Abraham to leave everything he had known before and follow God.  (Abram and Abraham is the same person.  We learn later in God’s word that God will change his name from Abram to Abraham.)

Abraham’s family were not close with God, they were pagan.  Genesis 11 tells us that Abraham was from a land called Ur which was a city in southern Babylonia, city of the Chaldeans, centre of moon worship, home of Abraham's father, Terah.  Notice that God told Abraham to get out of that country, away from his kin, however Lot, his nephew tags along.  Any time God tell us to step out by faith onto new territory, and we obey His word, walking by faith in the spirit, this fleshly nature will be sure to tag along to cause us problems later on down the road.  Let’s notice the places that Abraham goes through as he starts his journey of faith in the Lord.

Genesis 12:6-9 “6And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land. 7And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.8And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.  9And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.


Abraham passes first through Sichem on his journey.  Sichem means “back; or shoulder”  Many times in God’s word we read the shoulder or the back being associated with strength or strengthening.  I believe this is a beautiful picture of how our faith begins to grow as we first believe God and step out on the path He has laid out before us.  Our faith begins to be strengthened.  Next, Abraham went unto the plain of Moreh.  Moreh means “teacher; or instruction”  Isn’t that just how it is.  As we go along into the destiny that God has laid out before us, we go through a time of strengthening from the Holy Spirit and a time of learning and instruction.  I’m so thankful for the indwelling Holy Spirit that leads and guides us as we go along the path in which we have never been before!  He knows the way!


So we see as Abraham keeps stepping out in faith little by little and following God into the land of promise.  Along the way then we see Abraham built an alter to the Lord.  He moved on to where Bethel was on the west of him and Hai on the east and He again built an alter unto the Lord and called upon Him.  Remember Bethel means House of God.  Hai means heap of ruins; or defeat.  He could go either way.  The choice was his. 


There are times on our walk with God we will be tested.  Which way will we go?  Will we set our face toward Bethel, or will we slip into the place of defeat?  The more we set our eyes fixed on the House of the LORD and fellowship with Him in prayer and through His word the more we can stay on the path that He has set before us. 


Let’s move on to the next test of faith for Mr. Abraham.


Genesis 12:10-16 “10And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land. 11And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: 12Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. 13Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.  14And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. 15The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. 16And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. 


Ooops!  What has this great man of faith done?  First of all, he has gotten off track and gone down into Egypt.   Have you ever started to dwell on the circumstances around you and in fear you get off the path that God has set you on?  I sure have.  This is where we start our fall downward.  Notice it says Abram when down into Egypt.  When we decide to go our own way Beloved, we will fall down every single time.  Sure, Abraham gained much wealth as he passed through Egypt, but we will see later how this ill gotten gain will cause him much sorrow later on in his journey.  So what is to happen to Abraham now?  Will God cast him away because of his sin and his fear?  Is that the end of Mr. Abraham?  He failed, he sinned so will he just give up and stay down in Egypt?  Will God be finished with Him now?  Let’s look  and see.

Genesis 12:17-20 “17And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife. 18And Pharaoh called Abram and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife? 19Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way. 20And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.

Notice the amazing grace, mercy and love shown here to Abraham by God in verse 17.  And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife.  He plagued Pharaoh not Abram!  Abram is the one who lied and sacrificed his wife to save his own skin.  However, God in His mercy knew that Abram was on a journey of faith and He knew that Abram would fall.  He knew exactly what it would take to get Abram back on the path that was set before him. 

Genesis 13:1-4 “And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.  And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.  And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;  Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.”

Abram didn’t quit!  He turned around and went UP out of Egypt.  He got back on the path that he was supposed to be on and there he continued his journey to the land of promise, now with his face toward Bethel or the House of God and with Hai or place of defeat to his back, he pressed on toward the path that led back to his God!

 Have you failed a test of faith?  Have you left the path that God told you to walk on?  Dear one know today that God did not forsake Abram and He will not forsake you!  Romans 3:23 tells us this:

Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”

1John 1:9 “If we confess our sins, HE is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

God knows exactly what it will take to get you back on the path to your promised land.  Stop where you are.  Repent and turn around.  Go back to the way that God has set before you.  He will set your feet back on the way that is right and true.  Do not sit down and give up!  God is not finished with you yet!  He has begun a great work in you and I.  He will complete it!  In the end we will be just like His Beloved Son Jesus! 

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Dear Beloved of God, you may have fallen but YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE.  Failure is never a person.  It is an event.  Turn around!  You have the indwelling Holy Spirit of God which empowers you!  Go back to Bethel the place of worship and praise.  Go back to the House of God and to the intimacy with Christ in prayer.  He waits to meet you there!  Praise HIS HOLY NAME! 

Psalm 122:1 “I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.”

Next week we will continue our study on this adventure with Abraham as he marches toward the place God has for him.  I pray that this first part has blessed you and encouraged you to continue in the fellowship and intimacy with our Lord Jesus Christ! 

Dear Righteous, Heavenly FATHER,


Thank You for Your great Love, Mercy, Grace, and Understanding.  You are all powerful, all knowing and there is NONE like YOU!  Father I praise You today for all that You are!  I am asking today that You help us to stay in Your will Father.  Lord I pray for those who have strayed from the path.  Help them return to Your word, to return to fellowship with You.  Show them Your love and help them to understand that it is never to late and that all things are possible with You.  Lord help us to keep our eyes set on You so that we do not go our own way and fall.  When we do fall, Father help us to get back up and repent and turn back to Your will and Your ways.  I Praise and Worship You today!  I know that this good work You have begun in Your children will be completed!  I love You Lord and I will ever tell of Your great Love.  In Jesus name I pray.  Amen!



March 28, 2010