It seems as though Jacob had a bit of a short memory. In Genesis 28, God appeared to him for the first time and made His covenant with Jacob. That’s when Jacob made his famous conditional promise: IF God did what He said, Jacob would return to Bethel and give God a tenth of his wealth.
Fast forward more than 20 years, and Jacob still hasn’t returned to Bethel, even though he’s been gone from Laban’s house for quite some time. Not only that, but Genesis 35:2 indicates that Jacob had conveniently forgotten about God and had allowed foreign gods to take up residence in his home.
I can sympathize with Jacob, I guess. After all, I forget a lot of things. But I bet I wouldn’t forget a personal visit from the Sovereign of the Universe! At least I think I wouldn’t....
But even if I would, that makes the message about God in this chapter of Genesis all the more important. And we find that message in the very first verse: “Then God said to Jacob, ‘Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.'"
You see, Jacob may have forgotten all about God and the promise he made to Him, but God had not forgotten about Jacob and the promise He made to him. God always remembers us, even when we don’t remember Him. He always pursues us, even when we’re trying to ignore Him or get away from Him.
When God is out of our sight, we’re not out of His mind. He remembers His children. He remembers His promises. And even if we’ve taken up residence with a foreign god, He keeps coming to remind us that He’s never forgotten about us.