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Make yourself a monument

Read: Genesis 28:18

If ever there is a place in the Bible where visual reminders have a history, that is the southern town of Beersheba on the boundary of the Negev desert.

Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, as he called on the name of the Lord after the treatise with Abimelech (Genesis 21:33-34).   Again, in Beersheba, God appeared to Isaac who built an altar of stones a visual reminder of that remarkable encounter (Genesis 26:25).

And in Genesis 28, we have the story of the third generation of patriarchs in Beersheba.  Notice some key elements in the story:

  1. Jacob was on a journey of obedience.  His father, Isaac, had told him not to marry a Canaanite woman but to travel to Paddan Aram to take a wife from his own people.
  2. God meets Jacob (in a dream) and promises to bless him.  He says: ‘I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go… I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.’ (28:15).
  3. Jacob realises the importance of the moment and the place.  He calls it ‘awesome’ (28:17).
  4. After the encounter, Jacob sets up a visual reminder.  He takes the stone he had used as a pillow, piles rocks on it, pours oil on top and gives it a name: Bethel.
  5. And on that visual reminder, he makes a vow to follow God and tithe a tenth of his wealth.

What can you learn from this story?

Hopefully you have also set out on a journey of obedience as you work on your character. Hopefully you have also met God who has led you to select a virtue to work on.  This is an important moment and place, and your visual reminder will mark the event and remind you of your oath to pursue virtue.

A prayer:  Lord, I have been in an awesome place where you have met me and led my steps to consider where I can grow in virtue.  Here is my little pile of stones, my visual reminder.  It may seem silly and small, but may it be a reference point for me.



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