Reading: Genesis 35:1-15
God has chosen Jacob’s family to build his church. Jacob’s family does not only receive God’s blessings; his family must also obey God and struggle to be a holy family. In the previous chapter we learned that Jacob’s family have fallen from holiness. They live too close to the people of Shechem; temptations arise and serious conflict results. The murder of the men of Shechem by Jacob’s sons is a very sinful and shameful act. It is the result of not living in obedience and keeping well away from unbelievers. Now the church is in great danger. In this way the Lord, allows his people to be humbled, that they may be more careful how they live, that they may more earnestly in prayer, and learn entirely to depend on God’s mercy.
God again needs to intervene to protect it. He commands Jacob to move away from Shechem and the influence of unbelievers. The family has also fallen into idolatry. Jacob therefore commands them “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves” (vs 2). The family is called to repent from serious sins. Furthermore, the danger to the family from the revenge of the local people is so great that God needs to give the family special protection from their swords and spears. Vs 5 says “the terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.”
The family moves to Bethel as commanded by God and there make an altar to the Lord. In other words the family repents from its sins and resumes the true worship of God. No doubt Jacob again felt very unsure, therefore God appears to him to encourage him. God reminds Jacob: ”I am God Almighty”. God here, as elsewhere, proclaims his great power so that Jacob may the more certainly rely on God’s faithfulness.
Key text: Genesis 35:2 “And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves’ ”.
Question: The Lord sometimes allows his people to be humbled by sin, that they may be more careful how they live, that they may more earnestly in prayer, and learn entirely to depend on God’s mercy. What have you learned from sin in your life? Think of some specific examples.