A place of great spiritual significance situated 19 km N of Jerusalem. It means House of God. It was near here Abraham built an altar and called on the name of the Lord (Gen 12:8). Later again it was here his grandson Jacob was deeply impacted by a heavenly inspired dream. He stated, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven…He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz” (Gen 28:10-19). Jacob had yet another encounter with God here and re-enforced the name of Bethel (Gen 35:1-15). Later it became a place of idol worship and the prophet Hosea condemned its evil practices and warned of impending doom if they did not turn back to God (Hos 10:40). Bethel was destroyed and it is not mentioned in the NT.
Even a place whose name means “House of God” does not mean it will be a place where faithfulness reigns; obedience must still be chosen by each generation who lives in any place. Just like Bethel, there will come a day when there are no more chances, and the judgment will be final. As NT believers we are not restricted to worship the Lord in a designated place but can do so anywhere.
See also: altar.