Bethel – House of God

As men we know that God has called us to spiritual leadership in our homes. If you're anything like me you go from being worried that your not doing enough to being complacent because you're not sure there's anything more you can be doing. What exactly does it mean to be a spiritual leader?

Let's let the Bible answer that question through the stories surrounding a little city in Israel named Bethel.

A House of Prayer and Worship
Abram entered the promised land through Schechem, a city filled with history and spiritual significance. Mount Gerezim and Mount Ebal stood on either side of the city, and it was from these mountains that God told the people of Israel to repeat the blessings and cursings from Deuteronomy. It was in Shechem that the children of Israel would set up the tabernacle and have their ceremonial feasts. In fact, it was as Abraham came into the valley of Shechem that God stopped him and told him that he would give to him and his decedents all the land that he could see. And yet the first place Abram set up an altar was near a city then known as Luz. Between the cities of Luz and Ai Abram built an altar to God and as the Bible says in Genesis 12:8, he “called upon the name of the Lord.”

Some years later Abram’s grandson would provide a new name for the city of Luz when he fled from his brother’s anger. Somewhere in the mountains near Ai and Luz, Jacob laid his head on a stone and God gave him a vision. Genisis 28:10-22 tells how Jacob saw a ladder where angels of God ascended and descended from the throne of God to this earth. Jesus revealed the truth behind the meaning of the ladder in John 1:51, “Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man.” Wow! Jacob saw Jesus and His work of connecting heaven with earth. Early the next morning Jacob set up his pillow stone and made it a pillar to remember that place. He poured oil on it, and he called the place Bethel, which means “House of God.”

This is the first lesson of spiritual leadership: your family needs to be a family that calls on the name of the Lord—a House of God. As individuals we need to be diligently seeking God on a daily basis; seeking wisdom and guidance from Him. We need to be confessing our sins and the sins of our children to God and seeking forgiveness and salvation. Paul even tells us that we need to love our wives for their salvation, just like Jesus did for the church (Ephesians 5:25). The first responsibility of a spiritual leader is to make their home a house of prayer and worship, both personally and as a family.

A House of Witness
In Genesis 13:3-5 we read that Abram returned to Bethel after spending some time in Egypt, and we find that his altar was still there. Abram's altars were known by the heathen people of the land because they weren’t like anything they would build for their gods. Abram's altars were not hewn out of stone like the heathen altars, and there were no shrines to false gods around his altars. From the stories in Genesis we know that the people who knew Abaram were all familiar with his belief in the God of Heaven. They must have known that this altar at Bethel was an altar to the God of Heaven.

This is the second lesson of spiritual leadership: our home must be a place of witness. Our neighbors need to know that we believe in and worship the God of Heaven. I believe that God has given our neighborhoods to us as mission fields—the home mission, if you will. We should be visiting our neighbors on a regular basis, getting to know them, asking them for help, giving them our help, and finding out what their spiritual condition is. If we do this, God will give us opportunities to be a witness and declare our faith in Him.

A House of Order and Discipline
Many years after Abraham and Jacob, Bethel continued to play a central role in the Israelite people's experience. For a period of time the Ark of the Covenant was housed at Bethel. When Samuel was a judge of Israel, he made Bethel one of the three cities where he would sit and judge the people. During the days of Samuel's leadership Israel knew more prosperity and peace than it had since the time of Joshua. But it was not at the hand of a weak, undisciplined leader that they were successful, but through the leadership of one who governed according to the law of God.

This is the third lesson of spiritual leadership: a spiritual leadership brings order and discipline to his home. When you practice spiritual leadership in your home, you must put the law of God at the center, and provide discipline and order. It is only as we do this that our homes can be called the House of God.

A Missionary Training House

One of the things Samuel did in his administration was to established religious trainings schools known as the schools of the prophets. One such school was just outside of Bethel. The graduates of these schools went throughout the land as religious teachers and missionaries. It was largely due to the success of these schools that Israel knew peace during Samuel's life. When God's people were obedient, God fought for them and protected them. When they rebelled, He withdrew his protection. These teachers and missionaries brought spiritual influence and a knowledge of God's will to the people so they were more likely to forsake their idols and become obedient.

This is the fourth lesson of spiritual leadership: our homes must be training grounds for future missionaries. As spiritual leaders we have a responsibility to teach our family how to share their faith. We also have a responsibility to be learners and seek our opportunities to learn more about witnessing so we can teach them better. There is no exception—every christian home should send out fully prepared missionaries. Your wife and your children should not be content with a secular career. Through your leadership they must be inspired with a passion for serving the Lord. Maybe they become a lawyer or a doctor, or a teacher, but send them to their chosen profession with a higher calling then making a living—send them with a mission to share Jesus’ love and truth.

A House Divided
Bethel is mentioned more times than any Israelite city in the Bible, with the exception of Jerusalem. For the first many years Bethel is a place that seems to be honored by God. But a critical change happens when a Jeroboam, king of Israel decided to put an idol in Bethel and mixed idolatry with the worship of the true God (1 Kings 12:26-33). From this point on we only find heartache and pain in the story of Bethel. In fact, in the book of Amos God gave a message that compared Bethel with the worst of the cities of the world. You went to Bethel to practice the most debased idolatry disguised as the worship of the God of Heaven (Amos 4:4, 5:5).

This is our final lesson in spiritual leadership: a spiritual leader must guard against bringing in the idols of the world and mixing them with the worship of God. We can go to church every week, talk about religious things at home, and even have worship with our families, but if we allow the idols of the world to be the center of our homes then our homes will not be the house of God. How can our children learn the truth of the Word of God while playing with the occult on their Play Station, WII, XBox or iPad? How can we truly love our wives when in private we are surfing the net for pornography? When the TV becomes the center of family activity, you know that an idol has taken the place of God.

The House of God

  • A spiritual leader will make his home the House of God—a place of personal and family prayer and worship.
  • When our homes are a house of God, they shine in our neighborhoods. We can’t really call our homes the House of God unless we are being a witness of His love and truth to our home mission field.
  • A godly husband and father will bring order and discipline to his home based on the principles of the law of God.
    We need to train and teach our families to prepare them for serving the Lord. Our home need to be sending out missionaries into the world.
  • A spiritual leader does not let worldly idolatry to enter into their home and mix with the worship of God. A House of God cannot be friendly with the house of Satan.

Written by Jason Worf