Genesis 28:19-22 New International Version (NIV)
19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.
20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
Bethel was where Abraham made one of his first sacrifices to God when he entered the land. At first, Bethel was an important place of worship. Later, it turned into a place of idol worship and the prophet, Hosea, condemned the evil practices there. It is sad when people turn things from holy and good to bad and negative. At the time Jacob was at Bethel before idol worship, there are two ideas of what he was doing here. First, he may have been trying to bargain with God in his ignorance. Possibly he was not sure how to worship and serve God. Jacob was treating God like a servant who could perform a service for a tip. But, more likely Jacob was pledging his future to God. He was saying that because he had been blessed, he would follow God. Whether he was bargaining or pledging, God did bless him, but God would have difficult lessons for Jacob to learn. Regardless, it is better to pledge than to bargain. A pledge means you have given your very being to God. A bargain means you will give yourself for something in return. Be a pledger. Pledge your life to God. You will be blessed indeed.