My family and I are doing an in-depth study of the life of Joseph. This past week because of special services at our church we took the week and reviewed the things we have learned thus far. This morning I went back and started reading in Genesis 35 and this is what I found;
“35:1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. 3 Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4 So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.”
If you have never had the Word jump out at you then you will probably not understand what I am about to share.
Let me give you some background real quick… Jacob was Isaac and Rebekah’s son, his brother was Esau. They were a dysfunctional bunch of folks, let me tell ya! If you have never read their story I would encourage you to go back in Genesis, the first book of the bible and start reading… I find it comforting to know that these people were just like us with all of their issues, and yet not only was God working on their relationship with each other but most importantly, their relationship with Him!
When Jacob left his father-in-law’s house, Rachel, his wife stole some idols from her father. Now, there are so many things I could say about this… #1. She was bound enough to her idols that stealing them became a necessity to her.
#2. She lied about it to keep the idols… something we do as well.
Due to too many words, I will let you read about that in Genesis 31 and see what God has to say directly to you.
So, when I got to Genesis 35 I found something very interesting… God appears to Jacob and tells him to go meet with Him. Jacob immediately knows things are not right in his home and goes directly there to set things straight.
What do we find him saying?
#1. “Put away the foreign gods that are among you.” Somewhere between chapters 31 and 35 Jacob knew about the idols.However,we don’t see him destroy them or put his foot down about them leaving till chapter 35. You have to ask yourself the question, “Why did he wait?”
#2. “Purify yourselves.” Obviously this was before the Levitical law was given and yet Jacob understood enough about the holiness of God to know that he and his family stood unclean before a Holy God.
#3. “Change your garments.” This is where I want to sum it all up…
First we see him tell his family to get rid of the idols… we as christian homes have many idols in lives. I believe the number 1 idol in many homes is the television. We cannot live without it. The thought of not having one is insane to most people and they will make up all kinds of reason on why we must keep it. Other idols are the computer, the video games that fill our children’s minds and unbelievably many adults as well spend the majority of their time on these. Another idol is the “ME” is us. We have to put ourselves first in so many areas, we are encouraged to do this even by many so- called preachers, instead of sacrificial living.
So, you see him say to get rid of the idols, but check out the next thing, “purify yourselves.” When we get rid of the idols in our lives, the first thing we notice is how they have “dirtied” us with their filth. We see how selfish we have become. We see how much time we have wasted. And we have a urgancy to get back into the Word, prayer and worship, purifying ourselves with the washing of the Word.
Then lastly, we see an outer change demanded. There is a lot of resistence in the church when it comes to “being separate” in our clothing and appearance. I am not talking extremes here, but then again, maybe I am. I am constantly challenged by God on the issue of dress, and why I as a woman do certain things. We live in a sick culture. The main reason that people dress is to attract. One question I constantly ask myself is this, “Are you dressing to attract Tony or the attention of others?” I keep myself accountable by doing this. I also don’t allow my children to wear certain things that even people in the “church” deem appropriate. Why? Because after we have rid ourselves of foreign gods, and are in a state of constantly purifying ourselves, an outer change DOES happen. It’s really not an option I think. I think we desire to be different then the world we live in.
I love how Jacob goes in and takes charge, and guess what? His family does it! They don’t buck it, they don’t argue, they gave him all their foreign gods, AND the rings in their ears that were a sign they had blended into the pagan culture around them. They obviously were hungry for leadership. How do I know this? Because of their obedience. As a wife and mother I am in need of leadership. God has given me a husband that is faithful to the Word. He makes a stand, and sticks to it. I would be quite foolish to ignore the protection He has given me through Tony. If you look at verse 5 I think you will see something interesting, “5 And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.” WOW! What if Jacob had not taken a stand? What if his family had not obeyed? Would God have lifted His hand of protection?
In many of our homes I believe God has lifted His hand of protection due to the disobedience of the men, and then the wives and children. May we go back to the old paths and find the freedom we can have living under the protecting hand of God.
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