July 1, 1987 Issue
Bennie T. Cryer

And he called the name of that place Bethel..." Gen 28:19. Bethel interpreted means the house of God. Jacob was so awe struck by the vision he had experienced that he could consider no other idea than that place was the house of God and the gate of heaven. Thus we have recorded the purpose of the Lords church in prophecy. It is the family of God and it is the gate of heaven regardless of how much man might belittle and degrade it. A look at a small bit of the history of Bethel might help us understand some things that can also happen to "the house of God, which is the church of the living God" in this 20th century.

Bethel had such a prominent beginning for Jacob. Here he vowed his fidelity to God and His cause. Later on Jacob came back to this place, erected an alter, buried a part of his household, conversed with God and heard Gods promises. No wonder this place was Bethel, the house of God.

The descendants of Jacob were not as thrilled with this experience as Jacob their father was. In fact, history has proven that man is not satisfied with Gods plans and ways over a long period of time. Jacobs "Bethel" was no exception.

By the time of Hosea, the prophet, the glory had departed from Bethel. Hosea 10:5 8. No longer would the Holy Spirit record it as Bethel, the house of God. Now, it was Bethaven, the house of wickedness. Gods condemnation and judgment was hovering over it. Though once it had been the resting place of the ark of the covenant, man, in the name of God, had placed one of the golden calves there for the people to worship. Their worship and their lives did not conform to the standards required for Gods house. Its candlestick was removed. The glory departed. Now, it was the house of wickedness. It no longer belonged to God, it was the Kings Chapel. Amos 7:13-14.

The temples of God in old Jerusalem gives us the same lesson. Men had taken this house of God that was meant by God to be the house of prayer and by their imaginations and innovations had changed it instead into a den of thieves. Matthew 21:13.

Man seems not to learn his lesson from history very well. God gave us our "Bethel" which is the church of the living God. The Church of Christ if you please. Almost immediately man began to assail it with his imaginations and innovations and plunged the world into its spiritual dark ages. Through restoration God again blessed the world with his sacred organization and once more man possessed the true "Bethel". But again, mans thoughts were not Gods and man was not happy with this house of God. And, again, innovations began changing its priorities, purposes and purity. How long will God let the candlestick stand? At what point will he remove the glory? When will the Holy Spirit no longer call it "Bethel" the house of God, but will refer to it as "Bethaven" the house of wickedness. Reader, take heed how you change God's plan!

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