Genesis 35….Jacob’s household is in a huge mess of their own making. Yet, God is faithful. God had promised Abraham that his seed would bring the Messiah for all nations. God is diligently working His plan. He comes to Jacob telling him to go back to the beginning at Bethel. This time Jacob honors God through obedience and also burying all the idols in his household. He also builds an alter to worship God.
Again, God comes and reminds him that his name is no longer Jacob (one who trips up to overcome), but rather Israel (one who wrestles with God). He also reminds Jacob that He is God Almighty…the God of his ancestors Abraham and Isaac…and that God will continue that covenant through Israel and his sons. So, Israel sets up a memorial there at Bethel (meaning house of God) and anoints it with wine and oil. This is his way of declaring this place as sacred for God’s purpose.
I am quickly reminded of Revelation 6:6 with the third seal opened revealing an economic collapse and famine…yet protection for the oil and the wine. I am also reminded that in the last supper, Jesus tells us the wine is His shed blood. In the Old Testament, oil is used to appoint with the Holy Spirit. Also, in James 5:14, we see the anointing of oil being used in the healing power of the Holy Spirit.
Put this together and what can we learn? We all start out with a fallen nature that manipulates, works our own works, and trips up others or situations as needed to overcome and prosper (humanism). We struggle and wrestle with God while in the flesh. Yet, He is always faithful to His covenant with Jesus and therefore to us also who are in Jesus. In Jesus, we are anointed with and protected by His blood and His Spirit. We are to bury our idols and begin to follow God in obedience and worship. His anointing of wine and oil makes us a place sacred and set apart for God’s purpose. This is where we are filled with His Spirit and become the house/temple of God.
Do you see the significance in the names and symbols? God is detailed and accurate and prophetic. Jacob likely had no idea of the significance of everything he was living out! God uses the lives of the patriarchs to prophecy and to teach strong, true, eternal wisdom. And God always speaks and lives out absolute truth.
Are you Jacob (humanist supplanter) or Israel (wrestling with God) or Bethel (house of God)?