“Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him,.. ‘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…’ And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it. So Jacob called the name of the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.” Genesis 35:2-3,14-15
Jacob had behaved himself in many situations that warranted the hatred, suspicion, and uneasiness he experienced. God knew him well, and orchestrated circumstances to teach and break and sanctify him; and for all his conniving ways, Jacob was spirited, determined, insightful, tenacious, and knew his God too. And so it was, after returning to his homeland with his wives and large family, he set to return to Bethel (“house of God”), where God had earlier promised him descendants that would bless the earth, to build an altar. This time, it was to more than a present and personal God, but to the God Who had stayed with him and answered every distress. (Genesis 28:11-19)
Jacob’s descendent David would say something similar of God, though his life was quite different and he faced different hardships. Others through the Bible, owning different personalities and proclivities and called to different lives, also knew God always answers us in our distress and is always present. (Psalm 34:4; Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5)
God has many names, though His character remains the same. Certain attributes mean more to us at certain moments or seasons in our lives; our experience with Him identifies Who He is to us. As we go through life, God reveals Himself in new and different ways, and we can keep naming Him, crying out in desperation or surrender, anguish or adoration, memorializing distinct aspects of His infinitely good character. Our worship is elevated when we recount His names that have been especially personal in specific situations, noting them in a special way as we read through the Scriptures, voicing them in praise. How well do I know Him? For what shall I name and remember Him today?
Almighty God, You are the One Who sees after me, my ever present Help in trouble, my Everlasting Father, Good Shepherd, Prince of Peace. I adore and exalt Your name that is above all names. In all times, cause me to remember You and all You mean to me, singing and spreading Your glorious name with thanksgiving and joy. (Genesis 16:13-14;17:1; Psalm 46:1; Isaiah 9:6; John 10:11; Philippians 2:9)