If we are going to honor the Lord, we learn from Noah, Abraham, and now Jacob what I was first taught as I listened to the late Dr. Edwin L. Cole over thirty years ago: ‘pitch your tents but build your altars’. Our worship is an investment of our whole lives into the Lord. We are cutting a covenant of grace with the Lord. The farmer is reminded of this as he plows his land for a new season. I am turning everything over to the Lord. The land is the Lord’s. My labor is the Lord’s. “In all my ways, I acknowledge and submit to him.” (Proverbs 3: 6)
Today’s Scripture reading brought me to Genesis 33: 18 – 20. “And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money. And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel,” which means mighty is the God of Israel.
What I observed was that Jacob bought the land where he spread his tent and where he built his altar. I know it is convenient sometimes to enter into a rental or lease agreement where the maintenance of things and the day to day responsibility of where we stay is handled by someone else. But, when we enter into a relationship with the Lord, it’s buying in with everything we are and have.
It’s counting the cost and recognizing how surrendered all things must be. Jesus said it this way, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. ‘Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish’.” (Luke 14: 26 – 30)