Church should be a house of God and not just a place, like other places (Genesis 28:10-22). Church should be a different place, no matter wherever it is placed.
In his journey, Jacob arrived in a place, then he rested there (verse 11). But at the end of the story, he said something about that place: vv. 16-17
Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. 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.
When a church is built at the beginning, wherever it is, it is just a place where people (anyone) visit. But the people who visit, in the end, should realize that this is not just a place, like other places. This is an awesome place! This is the house of God!
In order for people who visit a church realize that a church is not just ‘a place,’ but a church is an awesome place, a church is a house of God, then God himself must be there and work there. In each of worship and meetings held, God himself must be present and work there.
This is what will happen if God is present and working in the church:
1. The congregation will experience divine encounter that raises awareness of the presence of God in their lives (vv. 12, 16-17).
God will come to visit His people; the people will meet personally with him, either through dreams, visions, prophecies, hearing the voice of God, etc. God seems so close and touches the lives of people so that they know exactly: the Lord is there! This place is awesome! This is the house of God!
The awareness of the presence of God increases significantly in their lives, so that in everyday life they have a strong conviction that God is with them, so fear no longer controlled their lives.
Jacob experienced fear in the course of his life because he had to leave his house to a completely new place and has never been visited. But after experiencing the divine encounter at Bethel (House of God), he could continue his journey with the conviction that God is with him.
2. The congregation will hear the voice of God and receive His promises (vv. 13-15).
If God exists and works among the people, then they will be able to hear God’s voice clearly and receive His promises. Either through preaching, prayer and worship, they hear God’s voice clearly and they knew exactly that it was God who speaks and gives His promises, so they will hold the Word of God with strong conviction and live by His promises.
In a journey through life, in facing whatever circumstances, they make the Word and the promises that they received from the Lord as a benchmark in thinking, behaving, and making decisions.
3. The congregation will have a powerful prayer and worship life (v. 18)
After experiencing a divine encounter, Jacob quickly built an altar and poured oil on top of it. It depicts about building a powerful life of prayer and worship anointed by the Holy Spirit.
If God is present and working in a church, the church itself would have a powerful life of prayer and worship anointed by the Holy Spirit. The leader does not need to force the congregation to pray, they will pray by themselves. No need to motivate them with difficulty to worship the Lord, they will worship by themselves.
There are a thirst and hunger for God that encourages them to build a powerful prayer and worship life in their daily lives.
4. The congregation will have a strong spirit of giving (vv. verses 20-22)
Jacob suddenly made a vow: “And of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”
The congregation does not need to be taught constantly about tithes and offerings. No need to be reminded, motivated or frightened to pay tithes.
From their own hearts they know that all income they receive is a gift from God, and therefore should be returned to God, a minimum of ten percent. In fact, there will be many people who compelled to give more than that.
All that will happen solely because God is present and working in that place: the Church, which is the House of God, not just a place.
Sounds too beautiful indeed, but that is really going to happen when the church becomes the house of God, a place where God is present and working regularly. Not sometimes present, sometimes not present; sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.
All congregation will testify about church:
This is not just a place! It’s a different place!
This place is awesome! This is the House of God!
Also read: The Relation Between Responsibility and Blessing.