“Worship The LORD In Your Bethel!”(Gen.28:10-19a).
A U.S based anthropologist asked me to find any “Tu Nyikob” – family shrine, take a picture of it and send to him. For three weeks I’ve not been able to see one such shrine. The search has rather motivated the need for a research on the fading away of African religions.
Some chiefs and their subjects from the now Western region accompanied the Nyonga Chambas to constitute the people now called Bali Nyonga. Each of these chiefs and their own sub chiefs have their “Tu Nyikobs” where they pour libation to the ancestors. The ancestors are represented with stones. Apart from pouring libation with raffia palm wine, they occasionally anoint the stones with the blood of chickens and palm oil.
I was surprised to find out that these shrines are no longer existing. The chiefs are no longer the priests of their family gods.
This is a victory for Christianity and a loss for African traditional religions.
We can say that scriptures is being fulfilled as with the presence of Christ knees are bowing and tongues are confessing that Jesus is Lord.
Our text today is the story of Jacob running away from his brother because he had stolen his brother’s blessing.
While on his way night overtook him and he took a stone and used it as a pillow. As he slept he had a dream in which the LORD assured him of blessings and protection. When Jacob awoke from sleep he thought, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”
Jacob was afraid. He said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”
When it was early morning “Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. He called the place Bethel.”
Bethel means “house of God” in the same way that the “Tu Nyikob” means head of God – even though we translate it shrine. The anointing of the stone(s) of Tu Nyikob is in the same way Jacob poured oil on the stone temple that he erected. Besides, before placing a stone at the Tu Nyikob, they must have touched the head of the deceased person with the stone.
Both Jacob’s stone temple and the African Tu Nyikob are genuine intentions of worshipping God but in a wrong way.
The presence of Christ makes all things become new. Christ alone becomes the new gateway to heaven.
Our focus this morning is on recognizing the presence of God, hearing his promises and assurances, believing that he will do what he says he will do, and worshipping him thereafter.
We all come across our Bethels where may be in our dreams God appears to us to tell us of his promises that he will fulfill. We are also reminded that Bethel may be the house of God, but it is also a lonely and uncomfortable place where your pillow is a stone. Bethel is a place where you stay the night against your wish. Bethel is that open field where danger looms but Bethel is a place where God is present. He is there telling you that all will be well, all, all is well, and all must be well!
When you know this, then worship the LORD with thanksgiving.
Prayer of the week: Heavenly Father, open my eyes of faith to see that my place of nightmare is the place of your presence. Amen!
Welcome back to a new working day and week! Have a blessed day and week! Peace be with you!
Rev Babila Fochang.