Remembering God’s Words
Genesis 35:14-15 (ESV) — 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.
The older I get, the more I forget things. I remember rarely forgetting things when I was younger. But age makes the mind leaky. Something someone asks me to do doesn’t always get remembered if I don’t write it down. My wife can send me to the store to grab four items, and if they are not texted to me or written down, I’ll struggle to remember all four. This is a natural result of aging. But there is a principle in this: we need to work to remember. Remembering doesn’t always come naturally. Sometimes we have to help ourselves remember.
This is exactly what happens in our passage today. One of the ancient traditions the Israelites practiced was setting up stones of remembrance. Any time a significant event took place, they erected some sort of memorial to remember it. We do this today with statues or monuments at different sites and locations where battles took place or where famous individuals lived. These exist to help us remember. In our text, we see the same happen. In Genesis 35:14-15, we read, “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.”
Jacob is the grandson of Abraham and son of Isaac. His sons will eventually become the twelve tribes of Israel. On this occasion, God spoke to him. Jacob sets up a pillar in that place. Why? To remember it. He consecrated the place as special. He poured a drink offering and oil on the pillar of stone. He even named the place “Bethel,” because God had spoken to him there.
A few things we can learn and take-away from this passage. First, it is important to remind ourselves of the works of God, words of God, and faithfulness of God to us. Remember those answered prayers. Remember those times when He provided in a crisis or made a way through a period of grief. Second, mark those moments and occasions with “memorials” or “stones of remembrance.” It may not be literal stones or memorials, but it is worth considering how you might physically mark something that will remind you of God’s faithfulness. The purpose of this is that by remembering God’s words and ways toward us in the past, it will help us to trust His faithfulness to us in the future. What things in your life should you mark and remember?
By marking something physically as a remembrance it can help
remind us of God's words and faithfulness towards us in the past.
This can help us to trust His faithfulness to us in the future.
Reflection & Journal:
- Why did Jacob and the Israelites create pillars of remembrance?
- What events in your life would you say are worth having memorial markers to remember?
- How does remembering the past help us in the future?
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