God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there. Make there an altar to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”
Then Jacob said to his household, and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, change your garments. Let us arise, and go up to Bethel. I will make there an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.”
They gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem. They traveled, and a terror of God was on the cities that were around them, and they didn’t pursue the sons of Jacob. So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. He built an altar there, and called the place El Beth El; because there God was revealed to him, when he fled from the face of his brother. Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; and its name was called Allon Bacuth.
It is very interesting to me that when God told Jacob to go to Bethel, that he decided to clean house first. We can see that Jacob knew that the members of his household were involved in the worship of foreign gods. He even thought that some of their garments were inappropriate. It appears that Jacob knew that there were some things in his life that needed to be given up before he could face God.
Notice that God protected Jacob by causing all of the people who might attack him to be afraid of him. He may have originally thought that he would be in trouble, but his God had power over the fears of his enemies.
When we realize how pure God is, we can easily see how impure we are. This is a very common reaction that people have when they come into the presence of God. God expects
us to be pure and free from sin, and it is true that we can’t expect God to help us when we are doing things we know that He doesn’t like. Before Christians pray to God, they need to stop doing the things that they know are wrong. He won’t hear us if we have decided to leave Him and do things that are wrong.
Jacob’s leaving was an act of faith. Like his grandpa Abraham, when he heard God’s voice, he did what God said immediately. We have God’s words written for us. We can simply read and do what it says, through the power of God, and we demonstrate our faith as well.