SEEK NOT BETHEL
by Bola Olu-Jordan
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“But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought. Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel” (Amos5:5-6).
We are asked not to seek Bethel, neither enter into Gilgal nor pass Beershaba. Reason: Bethel shall become nothing and Gilgal will go into captivity. These are places where altars were built in the name of the Lord at one time or the other. The meaning of Bethel is ‘the house of God’ (Jud.20:18,31.21:2), a place where the tabernacle was. In Bethel, Jacob saw the vision of God and built an altar (Gen.28:18-19). Gilgal, however, is the place of the Passover (Jos.5:10) and a place where monument was erected to commemorate the passage of river Jordan (Jos.4:19-24).
Our Bethel today is the house of God popularly called the ‘church’, and our Gilgal and Beersheba is the Altar. Many a Christian has elevated Bethel more than the experience that leads to Bethel. Jacob had an encounter with God and built Bethel. But without any experience with God, there cannot be a Bethel; not withstanding the monument we erect to commemorate the Jesus whom we hardly know.
‘Bethel shall come to nought’ and ‘Gilgal shall go into captivity’. Jesus told the woman of Samaria, Joh 4:23 “But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” . Our worship of God is not dependent on the Church we attend but the relationship we have with Jesus, the owner of the Church. Jesus is not located in any ‘mountain’, but in our hearts. The covenant of God is no longer in the ark but in our hearts. He no longer put His name in the temple but in our lips.
Seek not identification with the church more than knowing Christ. Don’t be immersed in church activities more than Jesus’ commandments. Let your commitment to Jesus supersede that of the church for ‘Bethel shall come to nought and Gilgal shall go into captivity’ but the Lord is forever: seek Him and ye shall live.
There is a warning to do otherwise: ‘lest He break out like fire in the house of Joseph and devour it and there be none to quench it in Bethel’. The Bible says judgment shall begin in the house of the Lord (Bethel). God wants you to have a personal relationship with Him than a routine and stereotyped worship of going to Bethel every Sunday to fulfill religious right. That is not relationship, but religion and God is not a God of religion but of relationship, a personal, one-on-one relationship with His person.
At the last days, Jesus asked if He would find faith when He comes. What we see around today is little faith but great religion: great edifices and multiple titles, but less of Jesus. People know about Jesus but don’t know Jesus. They have great information about Christ but little formation in Him. They know about the power of His resurrection but not the fellowship of His suffering. They know of the God of miracles, mercies and love but not of judgment. They go to Bethel to serve God the way they want, not the way He wants. They end up gratifying and satisfying their sensual pleasure in music, dancing and asking for everything they need but nothing God needs.
Satan is energizing people’s hearts these days towards Bethel and Gilgal through strong attachment to their denominations. As always, the only fruit of denomination is division, even among Christians. Now many churches are divided over doctrines, beliefs, creeds, laws, etc. Is Christ divided? Commitment to Jesus has been sacrificed on the altar of that of the Church. People sheepishly play religion without knowing the object of the religion. They end up worshipping the means. They worship the season more than the season.
We should be members of the body of Christ and not members of any denomination. God is not coming for denominations but His bride (the body), embracing and following Christ alone, not creeds, constitution, dogmas or other denominational laws. Jesus is coming for a bride which has not stained herself with all these things. A church that works by Faith alone, in Christ alone through grace alone; a glorious church without spot, stain, wrinkle or blemish. The church of Christ, adorned and prepared for the groom. This is in the heart, not in the building.
“Seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought. Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel” (Amos5:5-6).
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How true. All we need is Christ and His grace is sufficient for us. And so many blessings are contained in that grace, the greatest being God’s amazing and awesome Love. Thank you for your kind words to me and may God’s Love continue with you as you share His Word.