The Hebrew name, Bethel, comes from two words: Beit meaning “house” and El meaning “God.” As a compound word, Bethel becomes “House of God.” This word has become so popular over the years that it almost seems like an English word now. Many churches or ministries have used it to title their calling or vision.
It sounds glorious… HOUSE OF GOD.
Most believers are familiar with its meaning. The Old Testament city of Bethel is located about 15 miles north of Jerusalem and west of the Jordan River and the city of Jericho. Genesis 28:19 tells us that it was originally an ancient Canaanite city called Luz.
Bethel has great significance in scripture. When first entering Canaan, Abraham camped between Bethel and Ai. He called upon the Name of the LORD when he returned to the camp there again from Egpyt.
Jacob had his heavenly vision of the angels ascending to heaven near Bethel. Later he returned there and built an altar to the Lord. Jacob renamed the place, “El-Bethel.” I like that — God of the House of God. After Jacob had grown in intimacy with the Lord, God became more important than the house of God! It was here that Jacob wrestled with God and became Israel. (Genesis 35). In times of great distress, the Israelites came to Bethel to ask wisdom and counsel of the Lord God. (Judges 20,21). Under the care of Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, The Ark of the Covenant was kept at Bethel. And today the ruins of Bethel can be found just south of Shiloh.
Bethel is an important metaphor and place for my husband and me. It represents a place of rest and a place of inquiring of the Lord for the new year. Each year, we make a short visit in January to Cyprus. It is our Bethel. Here we ask God for wisdom and counsel concerning our lives. We ask Him to confirm or change the plans we have made and are making for each month, each day… We worship Him. We rest. We envision the future and enjoy the moment. Importantly, He meets us and answers us.
This is our Bethel time in Cyprus.
We have a community of friends that we connect with here which makes it all the sweeter. This year we are staying for a short time in Paphos by the sea. I am eager for this holy time of prayer and listening and adjusting. Each year the Lord meets with us and shows new aspects of His love and character. Sometimes He changes our plans or our minds about things. Sometimes He tells us old things in new ways. But He always meets us. He always speaks. Always.
This year I am especially waiting and looking for something new.
Yes, I agree with Jacob, the only thing more glorious than Bethel is El-Bethel — The God of the House of God. I want to meet Him here in a new way… not just His house, but HIM.