January 12, 2006

Read Genesis 34 -- 36

In Today's Reading:

Dinah, daughter of Jacob and Leah, is raped; Simeon and Levi's revenge; Jacob's return to Bethel; Abrahamic Covenant renewed

Jacob continued on toward Bethel because the Lord had said: I am the God of Bethel . . . return unto the land of thy kindred (Genesis 31:13). But, just a short distance from Bethel, Jacob discovered the beautiful valleys and opportunities for financial gain near Shechem (33:18). For ten years Jacob's stay seemed to be successful. Then we read of the tragedy of his daughter Dinah. When Shechem . . . prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled (violated) her (34:2). In revenge for their sister Dinah's rape, Simeon and Levi slew all the men of Shechem.

Even godly parents can become so involved in achieving material goals that they neglect to train up a child in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). This often results in worldly attractions gaining control of their children's hearts and often leads to heartbreaking consequences.

Surely, we can learn from Jacob that material success is no assurance that we are in the will of God. But the greatest lesson we can learn from Jacob's tragedies is that he didn't give up when his situation looked hopeless. Instead, he turned in faith to the Lord, who said: Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother (Genesis 35:1). At this time of renewal, Jacob instructed his family to 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 . . was with me in the way . . . I went (35:2-3).

Three things that Jacob said to his family have a parallel for Christians First he said: Put away the strange gods — a reminder that old habits of sin must be forsaken. Then he said: Be clean, and change your garments — a reminder to follow . . . holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). Thirdly, he worshiped God. We are to worship only God: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve (Luke 4:8).

Our participation in worship at a church is a very important way in which God speaks to us through Bible study, hymns of praise, and sermons. We also worship while presenting our tithes and offerings and participating in the sacred sacraments of baptism and the Lord's Supper. Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; That He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the Word (Ephesians 5:25-26).

Christ Revealed:

As God Almighty, El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One (Genesis 35:11). Jesus is the Lord . . . which is . . . the Almighty (Revelation 1:8).

Word Studies:

34:2 defiled = raped; 34:3 clave = clung to, was passionately attracted to; 34:7 wrought folly = brought disgrace; 34:27 spoiled = plundered; 34:30 troubled = made trouble for; 35:11 come out of thy loins = be among your descendants.

Prayer Needs:

Pray for The International Shortwave Radio Broadcast in memory of Iva Mae McElroy · Staff: Karen Hawkins · Government Official: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (TX) · Country: Djibouti (447,000) in eastern Africa · Major languages: French and Arabic · Limited religious freedom · 91% Muslim; 7% Roman Catholic; .75% Eastern Orthodox; about 300 Protestants · Prayer Suggestion: Praise the Lord for His mercy and loving-kindness (Psalm 86:15).

Optional Reading: Matthew 12

Memory Verse for the Week: Colossians 1:13