Although these two cities were actual places in the Bible, they can also denote our mind sets when confronted with a situation: are you thinking Bethel-like or Luz-like? Let’s do a quick review on these two cities in the Bible.
BETHEL Bethel means 'the House of God'; it does not necessarily mean a physical building but a place where you meet or experience God at all times. You experience His divine presence in every circumstance of your daily life.
The glory of heaven (i.e. His Shekinah presence) is all around you…there is peace, joy, love, faith and fellowship with the Father. In Genesis 28:12-17, (New King James Version) is the account of Jacob’s vision of God when he fled from his brother Esau. Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.” Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”
Jacob, after his divine visitation, changed the name of that city from Luz to Bethel by the unction of the Holy Spirit.
Why did Jacob call Bethel the 'House of God'?
V. 13, 16: He saw God Almighty
V. 17: It is the gate to heaven
V. 13-15: God spoke and reassured His covenant
V. 12: Angelic ministration
V. 17: It was an awesome place. Then Jacob made a vow about tithing and was determined to serve the LORD God.
LUZ In the Bible this word is used most negatively, either as a turning away from wisdom or being a twisted person. It also means deviation or crookedness; a place of murmuring, complaining, whining, and unsatisfying behavior just like the children of Israel in the wilderness. 1 Corinthians 10:1-11 says, Moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them, and that Rock was Christ. But with most of them God was not well pleased, for their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’ Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.
Be not carried away when you are going through a situation that God Himself designed so as to bless you. He tests our hearts to see how much you trust Him as the One in control. Be wise to recognize Bethel, not Luz.
My Testimony: I received a contract as a long term substitute teacher last school year, to the glory of God. The Assistant Administrator was new; her personality and administrative style was not acceptable by most staff members but I was determined to be a light for Jesus. She allocated me a classroom and after getting all things ready to start my job, I was informed that I would be moving to another room and start all over again. My first reaction was to complain about the change, not knowing God designed it for my good. The new classroom was more spacious: it has two small rooms behind that I could use as an office.
As soon as I opened the door to one of the rooms, I knelt down to pray and asked the LORD to forgive me for my unwarranted initial attitude. Later the Spirit told me to make this office space my Bethel; this classroom is unique because it is one of two designed as office space. So it became my Bethel for intercessory ministration for the whole school everyday. Some of my colleagues always comment that I’m not stressed out and always joyful.
That was the goodness of the LORD and I was able to invite them for prayers when overwhelmed and frustrated. I also praise and thank God for my students’ success in my program: three-fourths of my student population did excellently well. On top of that, both administrators invited me back for the coming school year. Praise Jesus Christ our ALMIGHTY GOD who does wondrous things past finding out. The unseen is with us - Elisha prayed, and said, ‘LORD open his eyes that he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. Behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha(2 Kings 6:17).
Exodus 33:14, And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” Deuteronomy 31:8; And the LORD, He is the One that goes before you, he will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you. Matthew 18:20,For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.
God’s ever-abiding presence is all around; just believe even though we don’t see the manifestations. John 20:29, Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. Try to see God in every situation for His ultimate goal is to bless. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says,In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Praise God!