"And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of this brother" (Genesis 35:7)
Jacob, after his memorable experience in the wilderness, where he saw a ladder set up on the earth and saw God standing above it, called the place of his encounter Beth-el, which means "the house of God," beth being house and el, God.
Many years later, after he had suffered and sinned and repented and discovered the worthlessness of all earthly things, had been conquered and blessed by God at Peniel and had seen the face of God in an hour of spiritual agony, he renamed the place Elbethel, which means "the God of the house of God." Historically the place was always known as Bethel, but in Jacob's worshiping heart it would forever be El Bethel.
The change is significant. Jacob had shifted his emphasis from the house to the One whom he met there. God Himself now took the center of his interest. He had at last been converted from a place to God Himself. A blessed conversion.
Many Christians never get beyond Beth-el. God is in their thoughts, but He is not first.
Oh, Lord, take me past Beth-el and mere knowledge of You to a deepening experience of Elbethel, that I may be aware of Your actual presence in my life. Amen
Meet God First
"And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat" (Mark 6:31)
The whole Bible and all past history unite to teach that battles are always won before the armies take to the field. The critical moment for an army is not the day it engages the foe in actual combat; it is the day before or the month before or the year before.
It did not take Moses long to lead the children of Israel out through the Red Sea to deliverance and freedom; but his fittedness to lead them out was the result of years of hard discipline. It took David only a few minutes to dispose of Goliath; but he had beaten the giant long before in the person of the lion and the bear. Christ stood silent in the presence of Pilate and for our sake went calmly out to die. He could endure the anguish of the Cross because He had suffered the pains of Gethsemane the night before; there was a direct relationship between the two experiences. One served as a preparation for the other.
Preparation is vital. We can seek God today and get prepared to meet temptation tomorrow; but if we meet the enemy without first having met God, the outcome is not conjectural; the issue is already decided. We can only lose.
Lord, I am going to meet the enemy not only tomorrow, but even today. Prepare my heart as I come apart to meet with You first, before I go to meet the day. Amen
~A. W. Tozer~