The Manifest Presence
Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I did not know it.” 17 And he was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!” 18 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. 20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” Genesis 28:16-22 NKJV
Is there a difference between believing that God is everywhere and believing that God is here? Jacob being the grandson of Abraham and the son of Isaac undoubtedly knew about God and His omnipresence; but he apparently didn’t show a conscious presence of God. In the mist of his fear, pain and struggle, instead of appealing to God, he ran for his life. He, without question, had a lot of emotional turmoil, distractions and pre-occupations after stealing Esau’s birthright and blessing; but then he slept one night, dreamed and realized the presence of the Lord.
A consciousness of the presence of God is a realization of God’s presence. As we see in Jacob’s experience with God’s presence, there are at least five responses that one has after a realization of the manifest presence (Gen. 28:16).
First, Jacob responded with reverent fear (v.17). The manifest presence of a holy God impresses you to feel that His presence is the house of God—a place where God dwells and it is also the gate to heaven—the door that opens to heaven (1 Tim. 3:15; John 10:9; 14:6). Second, Jacob responded with consecration and a commemoration (v.18) of the mercy God’s presence showed him (Num. 7:1; 2 Cor. 5:1; 6:19). Third, there is a separation (v.19). Realizing the manifest presence of God, makes you want to separate from the mindset of Luz (separation, from the old to the new) to have a consciousness of Bethel (house of God). 2 Cor. 6:17. Fourth, Jacob dedicated himself to the Lord (v.20). The preposition, “if” is better understood in this verse as “since.” Jacob was not bargaining or placing conditions on God; he was dedicating himself to God (Rom. 12:1). And, fifth, Jacob made a commitment (vow, pledge, promise) to honor God with the tithe. There is no greater commitment of the heart than honoring God with the first tenth of your income and increase (Ecc. 5:4; Matt. 6:21).
It’s time to awake from sleep and realize the manifest presence of God is here and now, and be ever conscious of the presence of God in our relationship with Him, and every redemptive promise He has made to us.