And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother. —Genesis 35:7
Jacob, after his memorable experience in the wilderness, where he saw a ladder set up on the earth and saw God standing above it, called the place of his encounter Beth-el, which means “the house of God,” beth being house and el, God.
Many years later, after he had suffered and sinned and repented and discovered the worthlessness of all earthly things, had been conquered and blessed by God at Peniel and had seen the face of God in an hour of spiritual agony, he renamed the place Elbethel, which means “the God of the house of God.” Historically the place was always known as Bethel, but in Jacob’s worshiping heart it would forever be El Bethel.
The change is significant. Jacob had shifted his emphasis from the house to the One whom he met there. God Himself now took the center of his interest. He had at last been converted from a place to God Himself. A blessed conversion.
Many Christians never get beyond Beth-el. God is in their thoughts, but He is not first.
Oh, Lord, take me past Beth-el and mere knowledge of You to a deepening experience of Elbethel, that I may be aware of Your actual presence in my life. Amen.