Three years before Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, one slave made a deal with his master to buy his freedom on installment. He moved to Ohio, but after 1863, when all slaves went free, he walked back to Virginia to repay his old master. He said he could not enjoy freedom until he kept his promise. As Jacob was leaving home to escape the wrath of his brother Esau, he stopped at a place he named Bethel. While there, he promised God that if God protected him on his journey and provided for his needs, he would make Bethel a place to worship God. God kept His promise to Jacob, and after he was back in the land, he took his family back to Bethel. We read in Genesis Chapter 35 that there, at this sacred site, Jacob built an altar to worship God. God met with him there, blessed him, and affirmed his name change. God said, “Your name is Jacob [which means deceiver], but from now on your name will be Israel [which means struggler with God]. Jacob had finally learned to trust God instead of tricking and deceiving people. There, God revealed to him the name El Shaddai, which means, “I am God Almighty.” That name signifies God’s ability and resolve to do whatever He promises to do. People of faith in God and in Jesus, God’s Son, rely on this same unchanging truth.
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