Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”” (Genesis 35:3, ESV)

Jacob’s command to his family in response to God’s command to Jacob to arise and move to and live in Bethel.

What I find interesting here is the reasons that Jacob builds the altar:

  1. To the God who answers me in the day of my distress.  Jacob had seen God specifically provide for him in his distress: when he had to flee from the existential anger of Esau, when he was deceived by Laban, when Laban pursued him after he left Haran, when he returned to the Promised Land and did not know how his brother would react.  Through all of these, God had been with him and had protected him.
  2. To the God who has been with me wherever I have gone.  Jacob recognized God’s continual presence in his life in the above mentioned events and how he had blessed Jacob with flocks and herds and children.

This same God is our God and if he was with Jacob wherever he went, then he will be with us wherever we God.  If he answered Jacob in the day of his distress, he will certainly answer us in the day of our own difficulty.  This is the repeated message of all of the Scriptures.

All of which reminds me of this song: