Genesis Sermons from Gospel Chapel Ministries HOME SERMONS SERMON NOTES
#408, LEARNING FROM THE DECEITFULNESS OF SIN, GENESIS 34
GEN 34 is a precious illustration of how the Church of Christ struggles through this life. As we pointed out, Jacob has again (so soon after his blessing at Peniel) resorted back to human reasoning.
GEN 33:17-18 says, "And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan-aram; and pitched his tent before the city." Verse 20 says, "He bought a parcel of good ground and "erected there an altar, and called it EleloheIsrael."
Let us first look at GEN 31:13, where the Lord says, "I am the God of Bethel." The Lord did not say He was the God of Succoth, the God of Shechem, or the God of Hamor. What did God say? He did not identify with Shechem or Hamor. He identified with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was wrong for him to go there and build an altar unto the Lord because the Lord had said, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob."
In order to understand what Jacob did in the way of his human reasoning and why it was so wrong, go back to GEN 28:16-17 where it says, "And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and he said, Surely the LORD is in this place; and I knew it not. And he was afraid, and said, How dreadful is this place! This is none other but the house of God "
What does this mean? Bethel means "the house of God." The Lord does not want us to worship at the place of our choosing. The Lord wants us to meet with Him in the house of God because He is not the God of Hamor or the God of Shechem. He is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob and His meeting place is in the house of God. It is in the place of His choosing. He said that He is the God of Bethel, and the name Bethel means "the house of God."
Do you see what Jacob was doing wrong? The Lord says in His Word, with reference to another, about being the god of this world. We do not have our place of worship with the god of this world. We are not to mingle with the god of this world and with his followers. That is what Jacob and his children wanted to do at Succoth. They wanted to have the men of Succoth circumcised. They were going to bring them into the covenant of Abraham. They were going to bring them into the benefits. They wanted the house of God in Succoth.
It reminds me of when the Lord said that we must build a city of refuge. Those who would flee to that city, if they entered the gate, would find refuge. But if they stopped and found a place of habitation short of the city of refuge, they were not entering in the gate, and would not find refuge.
Jacob was called with, "I am the God of Bethel where you vowed a vow unto me." That was in the house of God; he was to go to that place of Gods ordaining, but he stopped short.
In our Christian life, there is a danger of stopping short of the call of the Gospel. Jacob had the covenant of God upon Him: the covenant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob had just been at Peniel, where the Lord had given him many rich blessings. Jacob was a man of great and rich experiences, but he was stopping short. The new name that the Lord gave him was Israel, meaning "God commandeth," which means to enter into the kingdom of heaven, to come into subjection and repentance. Having all these experiences alone outside of entering the kingdom, is not salvation. Salvation is becoming reconciled with the will of God.
He might not have left Succoth if it was not that God was again first, and that God again called unto Jacob. As we see in GEN 35:1: "And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there."
See the preciousness and the beauty of the sovereignty of God and His elective love. Those whom He loved, He loves unto the end, and even though they may stumble and fall, He will never allow them to destroy themselves. The Lord brings circumstances so that His children are not able to find their place of rest short of the house of God. They may wander away; they may go and feed on the husks; they may mingle themselves with the harlot church; they may even go out and think that they have found a place of refuge; they may commingle and come into union with the harlot church, but the Lord will cause that harlot church to spew them out. It will have nothing to do with him. In GEN 34:30 Jacob said, "Ye have [made] me to stink among the inhabitants of the land ." Thats what the Lord does: He makes us to stink among the inhabitants of the land. They will spew you out. That is in Gods sovereign love: He uses the world (those who are of the harlot church) to spew you out. The resting place is Bethel.
There is often more reconciliation and forgiveness in a silent embrace than in many confessions, which only open old wounds and often lead back to many disagreements. I have had a time in my own life when there was a hurt that seemed incurable. When reconciliation took place, it was done with an embrace and love from both sides and without one word spoken. There was not one word about who was wrong. There was a meeting of the minds that reconciliation was necessary.
In GEN 33:4, we see that, " Esau ran to meet [Jacob], and embraced him, and fell on his neck, and kissed him: and they wept." God had granted Jacob reconciliation with his brother. Jacob did not have to confess that he was wrong. Esau did not point any fingers and say, "Well, look what you did!" They fell on each others neck, embraced and kissed.
I have heard many people ask, "Do you know a time that you understood justification for your own soul?" I will tell you what I do know: I know times when my lovely Saviour has embraced me with His love. What more justification do we need? There is a symbol of reconciliation there because our lovely Saviour does not embrace those whom He hates. He does not embrace them with His love.
Esau and Jacob became reconciled. God granted Jacob the reconciliation with his brother. What was it that Jacob said in his vow? GEN 28:20-21 says, "And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father's house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God." The Lord has now granted that reconciliation with Esau. They embraced and fell on each others neck and wept.
There was reconciliation, but then Jacob acted so foolishly. Jacob had said, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved," in GEN 32:30. Jacob had no reason left to fear, yet out of fear, out of human reasoning, out of fear for Esau, instead of trusting the Lord and returning unto Bethel where he had vowed that the Lord would be his God, Jacob bought a piece of land and established his residence at Succoth.
Jacob dwelt in Succoth and he built a house there. He set up tents for his cattle and built an altar unto the Lord, but the first thing we read about his lodging there, in GEN 34:1 is, "And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land."
He is making himself friendly with the world. He made a snare for his children as we see in verse 2. "And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her."
Jacob was not at Bethel; he was not at the house of God where the Lord had called him to be. He had wandered away. Spiritual unfaithfulness is compared to that of an unfaithful woman. Jacob had proven himself to be spiritually unfaithful and the Scriptures compare that to the unfaithfulness of a woman.
JER 3:1 says, "They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man's, shall he return unto her again? [it is speaking of an unfaithful woman] shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers [that is spiritual adultery]; yet return again to me, saith the LORD."
What is the first thing that the Lord allowed Jacob to fall into in the way of spiritual adultery? The daughter of his people has fallen into spiritual adultery and the Lord opened Jacobs eyes to see the bitterness of that sin by allowing his daughter to fall into adultery. Jacobs unfaithfulness to his vow is well described in JER 14:17, which says, "Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken with a great breach, with a very grievous blow."
The Lord refers to His dear children, His Bride of Christ, as "the daughter of my people." The Lord sometimes does not spare the flesh. With the daughter of his people, He allows Jacob to feel the grievousness of that spiritual adultery.
Jacob, who has just received that new name of Israel, that is "God commandeth," has so soon fallen from following the command of his God, that the Lord has now removed the hedge from the daughter of His people. When the Church - those who are Gods people - stray from the Lord, then the Lord removes the hedge and allows them to fall into sin.
See how Asaph mourned to see how the Lord removed the hedge for the sins of Israel in PSA 80:8-14: "Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: [Hes speaking about His congregation] thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. She sent out her boughs unto the sea, and her branches unto the river. [Notice verse 12:] Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it. [Why? Because they have forsaken their God; they have forgotten that the name of Israel means God commandeth, and because they have no longer walked under the kingdom of God.] Return, we beseech thee, O God of hosts: look down from heaven, and behold, and visit this vine."
The Lord had removed the hedge and the vine was being plucked and the wild boar had entered in. That is telling us - the unrepentant - that hedge was the covenant of circumcision. Do you understand why they are dealing with the covenant of circumcision? Jacob has broken his vow to serve the Lord in His appointed way, so the Lord has allowed the wild boar to come out of the woods, that is from such an unexpected area, from an area in which Jacob never dreamt that he would have a problem (just something that came out of the woods), and it came to waste Jacobs vine.
GEN 34:2-5 tells us, "And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife. And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come."
Do you see how Jacobs vine was spoiled and how the honor of Israel was defiled? The daughter of his people was now defiled. The honor of Jacob has gone from beauty to ashes.
In JER 6:26 we read, "O daughter of my people, gird thee with sackcloth, and wallow thyself in ashes: make thee mourning, as for an only son, most bitter lamentation: for the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us."
The daughter of my people has been spoiled: " the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us." Was this not the exact picture of Jacobs heart as a result of this tragedy?
GEN 34:30 says, "And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house."
Jacob not only saw that the daughter of his people was spoiled, but also (as we read in JER 6:26) that "the spoiler shall suddenly come upon us." You see the fear and the confusion; you see where Jacob has brought himself all because of his human reasoning, because he had failed to obey the will of God.
Every sin has the sad result of fostering more sin. When we commit one sin, that sin always has children and there is always more sin that results from that sin and continues to grow and multiply until God intervenes.
The fruit of Jacobs sin was that the Lord removed the hedge from his house. Not only did the Lord remove the hedge from Jacobs daughter Dinah, but also this sin led to the deceit of her brothers. It involved her brothers, Jacobs sons. It involved Jacobs whole household. It destroyed his whole vine.
GEN 34:11 says, "And Shechem said unto her father and unto her brethren, Let me find grace in your eyes, and what ye shall say unto me I will give."
They were going to commingle the world with the Church and have Israel take their daughters to wife and they would take Israels daughters. Israel was not at Bethel where the Lord had commanded him to be.
Verses 12-13 continue, "Ask me never so much dowry and gift, and I will give according as ye shall say unto me: but give me the damsel to wife. And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister."
See how the old Jacob is showing up in his children, and how that scheming and that trickery of the old Jacob is starting to reveal itself in his children. They answered him deceitfully. They are putting on a religious front.
This religious front was only to cover their real intent, which comes through so clearly in GEN 34:25-26: "And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah's brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out."
Do you see what their scheme was? They put on a religious front to set a snare to slay a city.
See how sin is multiplied: Jacob has forsaken the command of his God. He was commanded to return to Bethel, yet he is going to set up a church in Shechem. He is going to bring Shechem into his church. Then we see the treachery and the deceitfulness of his children because of another grievous thing, and that is revenge. There is nothing more grievous than revenge. Instead of Jacob and his sons recognizing that their Lord had allowed this to happen because of their sin, they are going to take revenge on Shechem and Hamor.
This scheming was not unique to the men of Israel. See what is revealed of what was in the hearts of the men of Succoth! This whole religious front was so blasphemous and hypocritical.
GEN 34:20-24 tells us, "And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying, These men are peaceable with us; [see their mentality] therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised. Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? [You see the scheming on the side of Shechem. They are going to comply and put on a religious front because they are going to gain their harvest and cattle.] only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us. And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city."
Did the men of Succoth gain by their scheme? GEN 34:26-29 says, "And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem's house, and went out. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister. They took their sheep, and their oxen, and their asses, and that which was in the city, and that which was in the field, And all their wealth, and all their little ones, and their wives took they captive, and spoiled even all that was in the house."
Did Shechem gain by his scheme? No. Did the children of Jacob gain by their scheme? No, they brought reproach upon Israel.
All of this deceit and slaughter would be a very awesome reward for Jacobs spiritual adultery if it had no further meaning, but now see how Gods name was blasphemed on this account! That is what the Church of God does not realize: when they do things that are an abomination in the eyes of the world, they bring blasphemy upon the name of God. That is the terrible thing that is the result of Jacobs sin.
Do you know what the covenant of circumcision stands for? To understand the blasphemy that this brings upon the church, we have to understand what circumcision is. Circumcision was given to Abraham as the sign and seal of the righteousness of the faith. Righteousness means obedience, conformity of life to the Divine Law. They are going to enter into a circumcision covenant with the world - the very thing from which circumcision was to separate them. That is what the covenant of circumcision was for: to put a hedge around the house of God that no person was allowed to enter uncircumcised. The covenant of circumcision was a separation; it was the hedge that was placed around the Church to separate them from the world.
This sign and seal of faith, as we see from ROM 4:11, is a type of the mark of genuineness of the imparted righteousness of Christ. It is repentance and being reconciled with God. It is that righteousness of Christ being imparted in us that we now walk under the service of God. As we walk in the service of God, we retain that name Israel, "God commandeth". We come under His will.
This imparted righteousness of Christ, or the circumcision of the heart, is the hedge spoken of in PSA 80:12-13, which says, "Why hast thou then broken down her hedges, so that all they which pass by the way do pluck her? The boar out of the wood doth waste it, and the wild beast of the field doth devour it."
The uncircumcised of heart, the uncircumcised of flesh, have come into the Church. That is what the children of Israel were doing with the covenant of circumcision by bringing it upon Shechem and upon Hamor.
The covenant of circumcision was the hedge that kept the wild boar out of the vineyard of the Lord. No man was permitted into the Sanctuary without circumcision.
We read in EZE 44:6-7: "And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations."
The circumcision of the flesh was not what it took to enter into the Sanctuary; it was the circumcision of the heart and Shechem had no circumcision of the heart. Shechem was scheming with Hamor how they were going to own Israel and how they were going to subdue them by consenting unto this circumcision of the flesh, but they had nothing to do with the circumcision of the heart.
Do you see the abomination that the Lord is talking about? He said, " [L]et it suffice you of all your abominations, In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh " that is, in the walk of life. They had brought them into His Sanctuary. That is what they were doing at Succoth. They were bringing the uncircumcised of heart into the covenant relationship of Abraham.
Think of the abomination of the proposal of the brothers of Dinah to bring those heathen into the covenant of circumcision without any repentance of heart. Neither Shechem, nor his father Hamor, or any of the men of their city showed any signs of a repentant heart. The circumcision covenant was a sign of a repentant heart. It was the seal of the righteousness of faith. They had none of that, but they were going to bring them in out of a selfish reason.
GEN 34:20-23 say, "And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying, These men are peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, it is large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters. Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people, if every male among us be circumcised, as they are circumcised. [They are going to consent unto being circumcised in the flesh. Why? What is their motive?] Shall not their cattle and their substance and every beast of theirs be ours? only let us consent unto them, and they will dwell with us."
The warning we have from our blessed Saviour in REV 2:14 is, "But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication."
Do you understand what "the doctrine of Balaam" is? It is that we are religious for gain: that we are going to put money in our pocket by our religion. How did Balaam do this? He loved the wages of unrighteousness. He counseled Balak how to cause the children of Israel to stumble so that it would bring Gods displeasure upon them because he loved the wages of unrighteousness, because Balak had paid him a fee.
We are cautioned here in REV 2:14 to beware of "the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication." We see the doctrine of Balaam and religion being used for gain.
Balaam saw the beauty there is in the reward of the righteous. In NUM 23:10 Balaam says, "Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!"
He wanted to die the death of the righteous and have the portion of Jacob in his death, but he didnt want to live the life of the righteous. He wanted to gain by his religion. He loved the wages of unrighteousness.
Even with such knowledge, Balaam made merchandise of his religion. This is what the sons of Jacob were doing. They were using their religion to make merchandise. They were using it deceitfully. They had no intention of giving their daughters unto Shechem, but they said if they would be circumcised, then they would dwell peaceably with them, and as soon as they were circumcised, on the third day when they were sore, they went in and slew the city. Then they went home with the spoil.
Even with this knowledge, Balaam made merchandise of his religion, but see his reward. We read in JUD 1:11, "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core."
Do you see what the curse was upon the cursed people that were spoken of in that chapter? They were running greedily after the error of Balaam for reward and his error was that he loved the wages of unrighteousness. He was a religious man and had great experiences. He was a man that was also known as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord spoke to him many times, but he ran greedily after reward "and perished in the gainsaying of Core."
Today we must ask the question we find in JER 8:22: "Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?"
When Dinah was defiled, wouldnt it have been a blessed thing if they could have come to the Lord and confessed that they had stopped short of Bethel, and asked the Lord if there was any balm, any healing for their wounds? But one sin compounds to more sin.
"Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?" Why was Jacob not healed? Why did he not pick up and go to Bethel and come to the Lord and ask for forgiveness? Why wasnt the hurt of his people recovered? He had not yet returned unto the Lord. He did not call upon his God.
Today we see hirelings making merchandise of their religion, proclaiming peace by the blood of the cross without repentance. This is making merchandise of religion. When we talk about "peace, peace through the blood of the cross; in the blood of Christ we can be justified," and we preach that without preaching repentance, we are making merchandise of our religion.
We see in JER 6:14: "They have healed also the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace."
Why is there no peace? There is no peace because there is no repentance. Jacob had not yet repented of his foolishness. Jacob did not gather his wives and children together and say, "I have sinned. Let us go up to Bethel where the Lord called me to go in the first place." We see sin upon sin compounding itself.
The gospel of Jesus Christ began in MAT 4:17 with the same effect as we read in JER 3:14, which begins by saying, "Turn " We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are all guilty, but the call of the Gospel is, "Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you." The Lord was married unto Jacob and what He wanted Jacob to do was return.
When the Lord comes to bring about His unalterable counsel, He first brings all human reasoning to an end. It was human reasoning that brought Jacob into this mess. Do you know what the Lord is going to do when you and I get ourselves into trouble by human reasoning? He is going to bring us to our wits end and to where all human reasoning has come to an end. In such a time, the Lord will restore His communion with us. But as long as we can flee to any other idol, any other human reasoning, or any other strength, the Lord does not intervene. But when He has brought us to the point of absolutely coming to the end of our wits, and we return unto the Lord, then the Lord intervenes.
See what happened in GEN 34:30: "And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house."
In all his human reasoning, Jacob had sought a place of safety from his brother with whom the Lord had given reconciliation. So what did the Lord do? The Lord brought him into a set of circumstances that indeed he was in danger of literally being destroyed - he and his house. He wouldnt trust the Lord. The Lord had already given him reconciliation with his brother and he must now return to Bethel. In the case of Esau, the Lord brought him into the very place that he thought he couldnt trust the Lord.
In GEN 33:14 we read, "Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir."
Jacob lied to his brother. He had no intention of coming unto Seir. He lied to his brother after God had given perfect reconciliation. Jacob is yet being Jacob. Notice that it doesnt say that Israel did these things. Jacob did these things. Old, scheming Jacob is still scheming. The Lord still has him in the furnace and Hes still refining him a little more.
Can Jacob pick up and go to Bethel and expect the Lords guardian angles to go before him? He lied to his brother and he was afraid to go. He could not go to Bethel, which is close to Seir: he was afraid. The Lords guardian angels have not appeared to him at Succoth. Jacobs guardian angels have withdrawn themselves. The hedge has been taken away and the Lord has allowed the men of Succoth to defile Jacob. He has brought Jacob into a great strait.
Did his guardian angels continue on their way to Bethel while Jacob halted in Succoth? They were not following Jacob into Succoth; they were going before him into Bethel. Jacob went out of the way.
There is nothing recorded to indicate that Jacob felt their present, protecting care! Nothing says that Jacob had any consolation in his guardian angels. Could Jacob come unto the Lord and find His presence before the altar he had built in the land of his own choosing? Could Jacob come unto the altar that he had built at Succoth, and find communion with God? No, the Lord had withdrawn Himself. The Lord is not the God of Shechem or the God of Succoth. He is not the God of Hamor or the God of Bethel. In the house of God all things are made plain and he has not returned unto the house of God, where he had vowed to return. This altar of his own choosing was not the place where he would ever meet God.
In GEN 33:19-20 we read, "And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money. And he erected there an altar, and called it EleloheIsrael."
The Lord identified Himself as the God of Bethel, not as the God of Israel in the land of Succoth. So he had an altar that was a meaningless altar. It was an altar built unto the Lord, but not unto His honor, because the Lord was finding abomination in this. Could Jacob find access unto Gods throne by calling unto Him by the new name of Jacobs choosing? Could he come before that altar and say "God the God of Israel" when God had not identified Himself by that name? God had identified Himself by the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He had identified Himself as the God of Bethel. How can Jacob now come before his God and call upon Him by a new name that the Lord has not approved of?
Where must Jacob go? Jacob is at his wits end. He couldnt go back to Padan-aram or to Laban. He couldnt go to Seir or to Bethel. It was after all these riddles confronted Jacob and he had no answers left in his human reasoning that the Lord, who said, "I am the God of Bethel" (GEN 31:13) again spoke to Jacob. Jacobs God has now withdrawn Himself and the hedge is broken down. He has allowed the wild boar to come in and spoil the daughter of his people.
In such a time, when all the riddles had multiplied, when Jacob had brought himself to the end of all his human reasoning, and there was not one way left for Jacob to go, we see in GEN 35:1, "And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: [Away with this altar that you built of your own notions!] and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother."
God is showing him that when he was afraid and fleeing from Esau, He appeared to him there and that was where he vowed unto Him. He has forsaken his vow; he has forsaken his covenant with God; he has forsaken all that God has promised him; he has forfeited all of Gods blessings, but the Lord is still faithful. The Lords counsel to Jacob has not altered because of the promise that He made to Abraham and to Isaac and also the promise that He had given Jacob, because of His eternal purpose, His eternal counsel that He would fulfill. But, again, we see Jacob rewarded according to his sin.
These are awesome truths. These are written for our admonition. These are written for us, that when we start human reasoning, and walk according to the light that we have made, we are going to fall because the Lord will be served according to His ordained way. The Lord wants you and I to serve Him at Bethel. He wants us to serve Him in His house - and that doesnt mean just within the walls of a given building, but within the assembly of God. That means to serve Him according to His ordained way and to walk under His leadership, that He now looks to us as the God of Israel who is "God commandeth," that we walk according to the revealed will of God.
God said in GEN 35:1, " when thou fleddest from the face of Esau," He was fully aware of his relationship with Esau, but He also reminded him that He had reconciled him with Esau. He had done the very thing Jacob had asked for: that if he could again come to his fathers house in peace, then he would serve the Lord and the Lord would be his God. The Lord had fulfilled the very thing that Jacob requested; yet Jacob still did not trust the Lord.
GEN 35:2 says, "Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods ." Do you see what was wrong? They were serving the Lord among other gods. The Lord alone was not his God. He had violated the vow that he had vowed at Bethel.
"Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went." (GEN 35:2-3)
Now, in his distress, Jacob begins to see that the Lord answered him in his distress. Jacob is now in deep distress and he remembers that it was when he was in deep distress in Bethel that the Lord appeared unto him and said unto him, "I will be with thee," and where Jacob vowed a vow that if God would bring him again unto his fathers house in peace, then the Lord would be his God. Now all these other gods must go.
This is a process of purification, but the Lord is dealing with him as a child. The Lord loved Jacob. The Lord allowed Jacob to learn the bitterness and the deceitfulness of sin.
Through this journey that we take through this world, we are going to learn the sinfulness of sin. These things are recorded for our admonition. What we have to do is become weaned from sin. We have to understand that the Lord Jesus Christ came to redeem us from all iniquity. What is iniquity? It is unjust dealings with our brethren. Look at all the scheming, conniving, and iniquity that yet remains in the house of Israel. The Lord came to redeem us from that.
Now Jacob saw. GEN 34:3 says, "And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went." He is starting to acknowledge that the Lord was with him and the presence of God, because he felt the absence of God when he walked outside of the Lords will. Amen.
These on-lines sermons are a ministry of Gospel Chapel located in Conrad, Montana. We also have a daily devotion. For a list of sermons on cassette please visit our on-line tape catalog. See also, our sermon notes.