Read Genesis 35 – Back to Bethel.
The Lord first called Jacob back to Bethel in Genesis 31:13, but on the way, Jacob set up camp near Shechem with disastrous results. Casual obedience is a sure pathway to chaos. We saw this played out in the last chapter with Dinah, Simeon, Levi, and the rest of Jacob’s sons. Beloved, what is God calling you to? If you are not sure, go to the last place he led you to and do what he told you then… Ephesians 5 in the New Testament has very clear instructions.
Jacob tells his family to prepare for the journey by getting rid of all pagan idols, purifying themselves and putting on clean clothing.
Beloved, do these things as well for a fresh start. Is there anything in your house/life you would not want to share with Jesus?
Jacob’s household gave him all the foul things and he buried them under a great tree near Shechem. Scripture says: “As they set out, a terror from God spread over the people in all the towns of that area, so no one attacked Jacob’s family.” :5 Now that Jacob was living in obedience, the LORD guarded his path. And with his obedience, God reminded Jacob that his new name was Israel (it was first given to him when he wrestled with God in 32:28), and that all the blessings of his forefathers were now his. Jacob marked the place where God had spoken to him.
The timeline is unclear, but Jacob leaves Bethel for Ephrath (which is Bethlehem). Rachel gives birth to her second son along the way, and with her last breath, names him Ben-oni… son of my sorrow. Jacob calls him Benjamin… son of my right hand.
Jacob’s first born son, Reuben, shows his father utmost disrespect by sleeping with his concubine, Bilhah. These are the disqualifiers in Jacobs children: Reuben had sex with Bilhah, Simeon and Levi let the massacre at Shechem… the future is now up to Judah, and from him will come our messiah, Jesus Christ.
Our chapter ends with the death of Isaac. Esau and Jacob buried him, coming together in unity one last time.
Beloved, may your take-away be, “A man resisting God will see the same effect in his family. A man who gets right with God will see the effect in his family also.” (from David Guzik commentary on Genesis 35).