Last week we talked about Jacob running from his brother Esau and having his “conversion” experience at Bethel–the “house of God.” Over the next twenty years, he worked for his uncle Laban and gained two wives, two concubines, eleven sons, flocks, herds, and many servants. Then the LORD spoke to Jacob while he was still in Padan Aram.
“Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.” (Genesis 31:3, NKJV)
Jacob obeyed and headed back to Canaan, but he didn’t go all the way back to the land of his fathers. Instead, he settled in Shechem. While in Shechem, his daughter Dinah visited the local girls and was violated by the prince of the city. Two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, deceived the men of Shechem into being circumcised to become one people with them. Then while they were recovering, Simeon and Levi killed them all (Genesis 34). Jacob was afraid that the people of the land would soon wipe him out.
Often it is at our worst possible moment that we are most receptive to the voice of God. We are desperate, and in our desperation, we are willing to do anything. This would be Jacob’s turning point.
Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.” (Genesis 35:1, NKJV)
At last, Jacob was where God wanted him to be. He had done it his own way, and it ended in disaster. Now it was time for him to do it God’s way.
Have your bad decisions brought you to a place of trouble, anxiety or fear? It’s not too late. In fact, it may be the beginning of a whole new life. It all depends on whether you arise and go up to the house of God or remain in the Shechem of this world with its accompanying sin, failure and fear.
Next week we will see just what was needed for Jacob to heed the voice of God and take his family to Bethel.
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