Year 2 Day 271
Read - Genesis 35
Message - Scott Woodburn
Do you always keep your word? Do you always make good on a promise? Under the Lord may our yes be yes and our no be no. May we always fulfil our vows - the Lord expects nothing less. Jacob had once fled from his brother’s wrath and had camped for the night at a place called Luz. It was there that he had an amazing dream in which he saw a glimpse of Christ, prefigured as a ladder reaching from heaven to earth.
When he awoke he promised that one day he would return to Luz and worship there. Indeed he changed the name of the place from Luz to Bethel, which means “the house of God”. Many years had passed since Jacob’s dream and much had changed. He had returned home and he had even enjoyed his brother’s unexpected forgiveness but it was now time to fulfil his promise to the Lord.
The Lord commanded Jacob to go to Bethel and do what he had promised - he was to make an altar for the Lord (v1). If we think we’ll never be seduced by the world then we should read this chapter constantly. Before setting out Jacob’s household had to get rid of the foreign “gods” that they were carrying. The Lord had been nothing but gracious to these people and still they carried with them evidence of idolatry!
Thankfully the Lord is gracious even to stiff necked sinners. He extended His hand of protection so that no one came to attack the travelling clan (v5) and when they arrived in Bethel, Jacob built the altar he promised long ago. The Lord again moved full of grace and reiterated the promises he had made previously. Jacob’s new name was Israel (v10) and the Lord would bless him with nations, kings and land (v11-12).
Yet this chapter isn’t entirely full of rejoicing. As we journey verse by verse we see the reality of life and death. Rebekeh’s nurse Deborah died and was buried under an oak at Bethel (v8). Later further tragedy struck the family when Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel died as she gave birth to Benjamin (v19). Finally as Jacob arrived with his elderly father, Isaac too was called away by death (v29) and the once warring brothers buried their beloved dad.
As I write these words I am reminded of what Paul would say many years after the troubles and trials of Jacob. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?…No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8v31-35, 37-39)
The Lord doesn’t promise us an easy road but He will surely get us to the end of it. We may be stubborn and stiff necked along the way and we may cry all too often in graveyards but God remains constantly and consistently faithful. Honour Him in your life. Repay the vows you have made and reject idols of all kinds. No one compares to the God of Jacob, who all these years later remains the same. If He is for us (and He is) then who can be against us?
Q35 What is sanctification? Sanctification is the work of God’s free grace, whereby we are renewed in the whole man after the image of God, and are enabled more and more to die unto sin, and live unto righteousness.