Bethel: The Place of Consecration
Jacob had been to Bethel on two other occasions, but each time he departed from God’s house. He was careless and eventually backslid.
Genesis 35:1 – “And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel.”
Genesis 35:13-15 – “And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him. And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon. And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.”
Jacob had been to Bethel on two other occasions but was now living in the valley of Shechem. I can hear the voice of God saying to him, “Don’t depart from Bethel.” Perhaps you have been careless in your spiritual life. You haven’t been living in God’s presence and you’ve departed from His house. I want to challenge you to arise and return to Bethel.
Pour out a Drink Offering
It was at Bethel that Jacob “poured a drink offering” (Genesis 35:14). The book of Leviticus mentions seven offerings connected with worship. Each of these offerings represents some part of the ministry fulfilled in the Lord Jesus. The offering in this passage is referred to again in the book of Numbers. It’s called a drink offering, though no one drank it. It was an offering of water which represented life, power and strength that was poured out before God.
When David was in exile he said to some of his men, “Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate” (2 Samuel 23:15). Their enemies were camped around Bethlehem’s well, but three of the men who heard David sigh decided to go retrieve some of the water David wanted. I love these men and their dedication to their leader. The well was protected on all sides by David’s enemies, yet to satisfy David’s longing, they put their lives at risk and set out to get the water he had desired and bring it back to him.
2 Samuel 23:16-17 says, “The three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the Lord. And he said, Be it far from me, O Lord, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it.”
Because they risked their lives out of their love and commitment to David, he refused to drink it and poured it out as a drink offering to the Lord. He was saying, “I am not worthy of this Lord, but You are” and he gave what his heart had longed for to his Lord. Throughout scripture we see instances where offerings of water were poured out to God. These are figures of Christ who poured out His life that the Father might be satisfied. We are also to pour our our lives in service to Christ and others.
In Philippians 2:17 Paul said that his life had been “offered upon the sacrifice and service of your (their) faith.” When he was approaching martyrdom he said, “I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6). Another translation puts it this way, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come” (2 Timothy 4:6). This is what our lives must mimic (Ephesians 5:1, 1 John 2:6).
Jacob understood the spiritual significance of a drink offering. When he stood at the pillar he had set up and poured a drink offering on it, it represented his life. He was saying to God, “From this point on, I will give my life that you might be satisfied.” Jacob had lived his life to this point for himself, to build his kingdom and to increase his wealth. Now he was saying, “God here’s my life, I’m not going to hold onto it any longer, I pour it out to you.” This is what the Apostle Paul was begging of us when he said, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).
Are we willing to go to Bethel and pour out a drink offering? It’s impossible to go to Bethel without having God challenge us to lay down our lives as a drink offering to Him. Our tendency is to give God the leftovers. We want to have everything our way and let God take what’s left, to take second place. That’s a convenience offering. It costs us nothing and has no real value. Are you going to pour your life out to Him? God is looking for people who will go to Bethel and pour out a drink offering. We can play church and go through all the calisthenics of religion, but God knows if we’ve been to Bethel or not, God knows if we’ve really poured out our lives to Him. In our hearts we know if we’re playing religion and going through all the religious forms while still holding onto our lives.
The Oil of Blessing at Bethel
Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:24-25).
If we hold onto our life we will ultimately lose it, but if we pour it out to Him as a drink offering we will truly find real life and that more abundantly (John 10:10). “He poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon” (Genesis 35:14). The drink offering was a prerequisite to oil, it had to come first. The Holy Spirit makes no mistakes in the order of things. There’s no oil until there’s a drink offering. We want it the other way around. We want Him to pour out the oil of the blessing of God on us first. We want the oil (the blessing, anointing and power of the Holy Spirit) without the dedication, commitment and sacrifice, but the drink offering must come first.
Jesus said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).
Will you go to Bethel today and pour out your life a drink offering to God? If you will, there will be oil poured out in that very same spot. If we want the oil of God’s anointing and blessing upon our life, we must first give ourselves as a drink offering to God and His service.