Dear People Who Keep Company With God,
Abram built his second altar near Bethel. The name Bethel in the Hebrew language means “the house of God”. So, the first revelation of the house of God in the bible is in the context of building an altar to worship.
Then he proceeded from there to the mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord. Genesis 12:8
Actually, Bethel is better known as being the place where the open heaven was first revealed during the encounter Jacob had years after the altar was built (Gen. 28:10-17). It is significant that worship and an open heaven are connected. I believe Jacob experienced an open heaven at Bethel because Abraham first worshipped at Bethel. Recently, the Lord revealed to me that as the spiritual fathers and mothers rise up in worship it will release an open heaven that will play a key role in the harvest of young people the Lord plans to bring into His kingdom.
“For David says of Him, ‘I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. Acts 2:25
One of the greatest worshippers in the bible was King David. He even called himself “the sweet psalmist of Israel” 2 Samuel 23:1. David demonstrated and proved that worship brings glory to God and enables us to see the invisible. David practiced the presence of God and saw God daily with the eyes of faith that he developed because he was such a worshipper.
As we give ourselves over to a daily lifestyle of being in God’s presence in worship, our spiritual eyes will begin to see the open heaven we already have in Christ. Having our eyes opened is not the purpose or goal of worship, but it is a wonderful and gracious by-product of worship.
Abram built his first altar at Shechem in response to the Lord revealing Himself to him. This time Abram built an altar and called upon the name of the Lord. Worship is so wonderful and easy in an atmosphere charged with the presence of the Lord, but it is not always going to be like that. There are going to be times when we, like Abram, are going to have an opportunity to build an altar of worship without any sense of the presence of the Lord. The Lord does desire to reveal Himself to us, but He also desires for us to pursue Him, call out to Him and worship Him apart from His felt presence or any sense of an open heaven. I believe this is why Ai is also mentioned in the story of Abram’s second altar.
In the Hebrew Ai means “a desolate heap, or defeat”. Ai was about three miles down the road from Bethel. This is important, the distance between living under an open heaven and failure and defeat is not really very far at all. One sad truth of reality in a fallen world is that we can be riding high on the cloud of a great spiritual experience and the next moment find ourselves in a valley of spiritual fatigue and despair. One moment we can be like Elijah standing victoriously on Mount Carmel and the next hiding in a cave in deep despair complaining to God (I Kings 19:9-10). We have to understand that you can be under an open heaven and not even know it (Gen. 28:16-17 & Heb. 13:2) it is not always going to be perceived or felt. If it were then we would not need faith. When worship becomes more about the experience than our relationship with the Lord Himself then we are headed for Ai.
Many Blessings, BW