El Bethel is the name of God that means “God of Bethel.”
One of my favorite things about studying the names of God is how God reveals Himself to us through the characteristics associated with his name. For the name El Bethel, I think of how real God was to Jacob, just at the time Jacob needed it. Jacob was running away from his brother, yet our more-than-enough God reiterated the promise for Jacob’s future and also provided a way of escape for him. In the same way, God proves himself to us over and over if we give him a chance. Whenever we need him, all we have to do is ask for his help.
“Call to me and I will answer you tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” —Jeremiah 33:3
The name El Bethel occurs only once in the Bible. It’s the name Jacob gave to the place near Bethel where he had seen the famous ladder from earth to heaven, when God sent him back to commemorate that event. The word אל (El) is either a semi-personal name of God or the commonly accepted abbreviation of Elohim, the genus God: God of Bethel, the name of the place where Jacob had the vision of the ladder, and where he erected an altar.
Recorded in Genesis 28:12–22, Jacob had a dream; he saw a stairway to heaven, and the angels of God were climbing up and down the steps. The Lord himself was standing at the top of the stairway and spoke to Jacob, “I am the Lord, the God of your father, Abraham, and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All people on the earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I promised you.”
Can you imagine a dream such as that? What an amazing experience, to see the angels going up and down the ladder to heaven and then to audibly hear God’s voice! No wonder Jacob went back to the very same place to commemorate the event by building a tangible reminder—an altar. We read about it in Genesis 35:6–7, “So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. He built an altar there, and called the place El Bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him when he fled from his brother.”
Maybe you haven’t been visited by God in a dream lately, but you’ve had a recent answer to prayer. Why not take a moment and ask God to show you how to remember the answer. It helps to write down the time and place the answer came, and you can even take it a step further and set up an area of remembrance. In The War Room movie, Miss Clara has a “Wall of Remembrances”—answers to prayer. What a wonderful way to give God the glory and also remind ourselves of how God has worked in our lives. God knows how short our memories are! We need reminding to remember God always answers prayer.
Love this prayer to El Bethel I found on Pinterest:
El Bethel abide in me. Set up your home in the very depths of my soul. Let your words dwell in me that I may know and live by them and for you. Reveal to me the sin I must confess and turn from that I may be pure and blameless in your sight. Show me how to best honor you through this temple which you have set up within me. Guide me in my eating habits, in my entertainment choices and even in what I wear so that in your house—El Bethel—that is in me may glorify you in all that I do. Grant me the discernment to know how to reflect you well.