“Early in the morning Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it and named the place Bethel…Then Jacob made a vow: ‘If God will be with me and watch over me on this journey, if He provides me with food to eat and clothing to wear, and if I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God. This stone that I have set up as a marker will be God’s house, and I will give to You a tenth of all that You give me'” (Genesis 28:18-22, HCSB).
Jacob was on a journey to Haran and at the end of one of the days during his journey he stopped and camped outdoors.
That night God appeared to Jacob in a dream of a stairway that started from where he was and reached to heaven. Angels were ascending and descending the stairway. In the dream God transferred to Jacob all the essential elements of the covenant He had established with his grandfather and father, Abraham and Isaac.
When Jacob awoke, he took the stone that was near his head and set it up as as a marker or a memorial and anointed it with oil and named the place, Bethel, meaning house of God. Then Jacob made the vow stated in these verses.
To Jacob the anointed stone was a marker to remind him of the place he had found his focus, his center, his balance, his purpose in life. And now his life was going to be devoted to the One who gave his life purpose and meaning. So Jacob marked the spot with a stone so he could always reference this focal point of his life for making life decisions and in setting the boundaries of his behavior.
Unfortunately, we often do the reverse. We spend a lot of time in trying to define what the boundaries are instead of in finding our Center.
“This way, not that way!” we declare.
“This is right and that’s wrong!” we command.
“Do this, don’t do that!” we contend.
Yet all the while we should be seeking the One who is the way, the truth, and the life.
When our focus is on knowing the One who is the Center of our life, then it’s much easier to determine which way to go, what’s right and wrong, and what we should be doing with our lives.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. (Matthew 6:33, HCSB)