And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar…
I. First of all, we are told that Jacob erected a material monument, and planted it as a fixed landmark on the spot. Concerning which, remark these three things: he did it immediately, he did it symbolically, he did it religiously. There is instruction in each.
1. "He rose up early in the morning." He took the moment when the memory of his bright vision was the clearest, and the emotion it aroused was at its height. He caught the fitful experience when it had most force, as if he knew it might grow less before long. When Divine grace invites, and kindles, and stands ready to help, no time must be lost.
2. Remark, again, Jacob "took the stone that he had put for his pillow, and set it up for a pillar." That is to say, he made his affliction the monument of His mercy. Plenty of stones besides that there were lying about in that bleak plain. But he chose that one, so as to identify the history, when he saw the spot. Herein was the very spirit of splendid symbolism. Nothing could be finer. No emblem could be more pathetically accurate, as a picture of the utter desolation which he, as a homeless fugitive, had felt the evening before, than the fragment of rock he had been obliged to lay his head upon to sleep. Now to make that, the reminder of his friendlessness, the monument also of his disclosure of Divine adoption, was match. less in ingenuity. When he should see that pillar in the future, he would say, "Behold the outcast, and the prince! behold man's necessity, and God's opportunity I behold earthly weakness, and heavenly help I see where I was, and where I am!"
3. But observe, once more, Jacob, having set up his pillar, "poured oil upon the top of it." You are quite familiar with Old Testament uses of oil in religious service. These were established by direct order. The command given early to Moses was, "Thou shalt take the anointing off, and anoint the tabernacle, and all that is therein, and shalt hallow it, and all the vessels thereof, and it shall be holy." This direction was extended so as to cover the altar and the laver, and even the priests, Aaron and his sons. The spirit of inspiration laid hold of what was an earlier custom, and so consecrated it. If Jacob had said, concerning this great incident of his life, It is the turning-point in my history, and I will not forget it, he would have done no unimportant thing by itself. But by anointing the pillar he made it a definitely religious memorial. It recognized not only his extraordinary blessing, but recorded for ever the fact that God had bestowed it upon him. It was an act of devotion. There was worship in it. There was self-consecration in it.
II. The lessons thus far learned, however, will become clearer and more impressive when we pass on to consider the second form of perpetuation this patriarch adopted. He proceeded to invoke the help of his fellow-men. "He called the name of that place Bethel, but the name of the city was called Luz at the first." Conclusion:
1. Count up your mercies for rehearsal and record.
2. Confess Christ openly before men.
3. Set up memorials of blessing.
4. Expect to understand your own biography by and by. When Jacob next visited Bethel, he could read the meaning of the Divine promise.
(C. S. Robinson, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it.