SEEK NOT BETHEL
Amos 5:1 ¶ Hear ye this word which I take up against you, even a lamentation, O house of Israel. 2 The virgin of Israel is fallen; she shall no more rise: she is forsaken upon her land; there is none to raise her up. 3 For thus saith the Lord GOD; The city that went out by a thousand shall leave an hundred, and that which went forth by an hundred shall leave ten, to the house of Israel.
Amos 5:4 ¶ For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live: 5 But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought. 6 Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel. 7 Ye who turn judgment to wormwood, and leave off righteousness in the earth, 8 Seek him that maketh the seven stars and Orion, and turneth the shadow of death into the morning, and maketh the day dark with night: that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The LORD is his name:
The name “Bethel” means “House of God.” For it was Jacob, after seeing a ladder stretching up to heaven, who changed its name from Luz, meaning “a nut tree; probably the almond,” to Bethel. Genesis 28:17 And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! this is none other but the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.
And at one time the Lord God was even pleased to be called by its name. Genesis 31:13 I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred.
For before the Jews made it a place of only meaningless religious significance, it was a place where the Lord God was pleased to meet Jacob, and even authorized that an altar be built there for sacrificing. Genesis 35:1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother. 3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.
But when King Jeroboam devised a priesthood and a feast day of his own will, God had the altar cursed and torn apart. Therefore that which was once a sanctified place became a cursed place due to Israel’s corrupted worship. 1 Kings 12:32 And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. 12:33 So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense. 13:1 And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. 5 The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD.
Therefore we come to understand the significance of the phrases in our fifth chapter of Amos. Verse four; “Seek ye me.” Verse five; “But seek not Bethel.” And verse six; “Seek the LORD, and ye shall live.” And it is the very same in our day. For even though we do not have a literal Bethel, yet we still do seek to matters of mere religious tradition instead of seeking solely unto the Lord!
For we too are strictly commanded to seek only the Person of God! Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
However, we make things of no spiritual consequence to be major things, but ignorantly ignore greater matters which should be huge to us. Matthew 23:20 Whoso therefore shall swear by the altar, sweareth by it, and by all things thereon. 23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
And before we go any farther, we must understand the significance of the last phrase in verse five of our Amos passage. It states, “and Bethel shall come to nought.” That is, Bethel shall come to nothing. Therefore the name of Bethel does not appear in our New Testament! Then in verse eight we are told of Him alone to whom we must seek! Seek the Creator God, whose name is The LORD!
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. 10:42 And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.
And in the remainder of this passage we see the true identity of these hypocritical religionists, who attempt to show their “white washed” righteousness by their pilgrimages to such places as Bethel, Gilgal, and Beersheba, thus keeping their inner “uncleanness” hidden. Matthew 23:27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. 28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
Gilgal was the place where Joshua was commanded to circumcise all the male children who, as yet, had not taken on that covenant sign. It was then that the LORD rolled away the reproach of Egypt from them. Joshua 5:8 And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people, that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.9 And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.
We are truly thankful for the Lord’s ‘operation’ of redeeming grace wherein the world was crucified to us, and we to the world. But we do not linger there in that consciousness. We are instructed to go on in the growth of grace and the knowledge of God. Hebrews 6:1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 2 Peter 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
For in every place wherein we apply religious matters only in legal morality and not is spirit and truth, we tend to “Seek Bethel.” Our Lord proclaimed a radical change in acceptable spiritual worship to the Samaritan woman at the well, recorded in John chapter three. For there he clearly states that true worshippers would no longer be received by the Father regarding place and time, but only in “spirit and truth.” John 4:20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship. 21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
These alone are the only ones sought by the Father for true worship. All other worship is considered by God as being “in vain!” Mark 7:7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Modern day christendom tends to seek Bethel even in their relationship to the Scriptures! For the majority of Bible believers seek to formulate all manner of religious practice by forming verses together to justify their practice. For how does it come that there are so many denominations, with so many varieties of practice held within each? Is it not that we seek a type of Bethel? – That is, we seek to sustain only a religious tradition?
But what did the Person of the Word have to say concerning our relationship to the Scriptures? What are we authorized to seek regarding our relationship to our Bibles? He stated that we only “think” we have eternal life by the scriptures! But he clearly stated that our eternal life is only by Himself! John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. John 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: That is why he states, Come unto me! Matthew 11:28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me;
Our Lord summed up the entire Old Testament in only two categories: His cross and his crown! Luke 24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, (that’s his cross) and to enter into his glory? (thats his crown) 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Then when he appeared on resurrection ground in the upper room with them he again clearly laid out the purpose of the Scriptures. He restated that everything in the Scriptures refer to Him! Luke 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
When the two on the way to Emmaus encountered our risen Lord they proclaimed that their hearts burned as Christ “opened to them the scriptures!” Luke 24:32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures? But today we tend to have dull heads rather than fiery hearts! For verses only memorized in our heads tend to kill out their spiritual purpose within our hearts. Therefore we tend to have no spiritual heart burn! 2 Corinthians 3:6 Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
Dear Reader, you do realize that just this one area in which we “seek Bethel” is enough to cause us to be included in that group that shall hear the Lord say, “Depart from me,” don’t you? Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
But that shall surely happen if we continue to only associate with the letter of the law, which killeth, and not with the Person of the Word, even our Lord Jesus Christ! John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 The same was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
For it is only by Him in which faith comes, and not by our Bibles! So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17) For he alone is the author of eternal salvation and faith! Hebrews 5:9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hearing the preaching of sermons with the outer ear has never brought true salvation to any soul. It is only by the hearing of the revelation of the Person of the Word by the Holy Spirit which is able to save anyone. James 1:21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted (implanted and rooted) word, which is able to save your souls.,Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Pastor Gene Breed
July 02, 2020