Saturday, June 21, 2008

Returning to Bethel - Genesis 35

Returning to Bethel

Gen 35:1 And God said unto Jacob, 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.

The LORD said unto Jacob, arise, go, return to Bethel, where you first met God. When we wander away from God's will, we need to return to where we met God. It was a place for Jacob, but for the Christian, it is a person; the Lord Jesus Christ.

Rev 2:4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Can we return to God without repenting? No, we must repent and renew our relationship, begin a new commitment, a new beginning. Jesus allows us to have new beginnings. He is our new beginning, when we stray, we are to repent and return to him.

Gen 35:2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:

Did Rachel put away here father's gods? I doubt if she did. Do we have secret idols? What do we put above God in our attention and time? Put it away and return to your first love.

Gen 35:3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.
Gen 35:4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.

Repentance begins by putting away strange gods, putting away idolatry and the attention given to things that were not of God. Rachel had her Father's gods and others had their gods. Next they were to be made clean and put on new garments. Unless Jesus makes us clean, our sins remain. He clothes us with his garment of righteousness. In the parable of the wedding feast, only those with the supplied wedding garments were allowed at the feast.

Mat 22:11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
Mat 22:12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
Mat 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Mat 22:14 For many are called, but few are chosen.

As the bride of Christ, we must be cleansed.

2 Pet 3:13 Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.
2 Pet 3:14 Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.

Returning to church should be with a new commitment to follow God's will. The church must preach the word of God. If the church is like the world? We might as well stay home. We are called to be kings and Priests, having authority and knowledge and wisdom from God. We are to worship God with all our heart. Church is not a place of empty rituals that have become havbit, nor should it be a place of showmanship and entertainment. Let us learn to worship God with all our Spirit and mind.

Hosea 4:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

Knowledge of God's word is a must, if we are to follow him. We cannot know everything, but we are to study and walk in his light. God uses his word to deliver people from the kingdom of darkness. We can expect great things for God. His presence brings the impossible. All good things come from God, He is not limited, yet he will never break his word.

Gen 35:5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.

The LORD protected them because they had put away idols and had cleansed themselves of sins and then God put fear into the nations to protect Jacob. Remember Jacob was concerned that the cities would come against him after the "Dinah" incident.

Gen 34:30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house.

Deu 11:25 There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.

Gen 35:6 So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him.
Gen 35:7 And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother.

Luz, meant Almond tree and He returned to Bethel, the house of God and renamed the place "the God of the house of God". Many backsliders return to the house of God, wanting to be with God; hopefully God is in that place. There is no darker feeling then to search for God in his house and find instead a party or a social club. These things are not the presence of God. The house of God must have the presence of God. I recall my own attempt to find God again after being away from him. I attended a church that was talking about dressing up in medieval clothing for a festival. I left that social club with great darkness in my heart. I visited a backslidden brother and played a game of chess. I remember that upon leaving him that their was a dense fog. The fog is dense out their in a world that has turned from God. We must turn on the light. God must be in our places of worship. The world has the games; we should be about the things of God.

Gen 35:8 But Deborah Rebekah's nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.

Allonbachuth means "oak of weeping". Apparently Rebekah's nurse had joined with them after Rebecca had died.

Gen 35:9 And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him.
Gen 35:10 And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.

The LORD reminded Jacob again of his new name. We need to remember our new names. We are not called sinners, but Christians or sons of God.If we see ourselves only as sinners, we act like sinners. May we live up to our new name in Christ Jesus.

Gen 35:11 And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins;<.br> Gen 35:12 And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land.

The LORD reaffirms his covenant with Jacob.

Gen 32:27 And he said unto him, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob.
Gen 32:28 And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.

Gen 35:13 And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.
Gen 35:14 And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he talked with him, even a pillar of stone: and he poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.

Jacob set up the stone that he had used for a pillow as a memorial, with other stones to make a pillar. He pored out a drink offering; a drink offering is as pouring out oneself as a living sacrifice. He also poured oil to consecrate this place. It was a holy place and a memorial of God's promise to him.

Gen 35:15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God spake with him, Bethel.

He repeated what he had done earlier in Genesis 28:10-19.

Rachel gives birth and dies

Gen 35:16 And they journeyed from Bethel; and there was but a little way to come to Ephrath: and Rachel travailed, and she had hard labour.
Gen 35:17 And it came to pass, when she was in hard labour, that the midwife said unto her, Fear not; thou shalt have this son also.
Gen 35:18 And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.

Benoni: "son of my sorrow"

Benjamin: "son of the right hand"

Remember that Jacob had cursed the one who had taken Laban's idols, not knowing that it was his beloved Rachel. How sad it is when one we love falls into sin. Satan wants to divide and to destroy families and relationships.

Gen 31:32 With whomsoever thou findest thy gods, let him not live: before our brethren discern thou what is thine with me, and take it to thee. For Jacob knew not that Rachel had stolen them.

Gen 35:19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem.

Sarah was not placed in the family burial place where Rachel was buried.

Mat 2:18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

Rachel was buried where Christ was born, in Bethlehem. Two Thousand years later, Jesus is born of a virgin and king Herod ordered all the children under two years, to be killed.

Gen 35:20 And Jacob set a pillar upon her grave: that is the pillar of Rachel's grave unto this day.

Gen 35:21 And Israel journeyed, and spread his tent beyond the tower of Edar.

Tower of Edar: Tower of the flock, a shepherd’s watchtower near Bethlehem.

Gen 35:22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:

This was a great insult and the sin of incest, for his father had produced brothers by Bilhah: Dan, and Naphtali. Reuben was firstborn but Jacob favored Joseph. God chose Judah to be the one to continue the promises to Abraham and the blessed redeemer; Jesus Christ.

The law given to Moses would condemn the sin of incest, even unto death.

Deu 22:30 A man shall not take his father's wife, nor discover his father's skirt.

Lev 20:11 And the man that lieth with his father's wife hath uncovered his father's nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Gen 35:23 The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob's firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun:
Gen 35:24 The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin:
Gen 35:25 And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali:
Gen 35:26 And the sons of Zilpah, Leah's handmaid; Gad, and Asher: these are the sons of Jacob, which were born to him in Padanaram.
Gen 35:27 And Jacob came unto Isaac his father unto Mamre, unto the city of Arbah, which is Hebron, where Abraham and Isaac sojourned.
Gen 35:28 And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.
Gen 35:29 And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.

Isaac died at the age of one hundred eighty and Esau and Jacob buried him. At funerals brothers who do not talk, and have gone their own ways come together in remembrance of the beloved father. Abraham needed a burying-place for Sarah, and bought the field of the Machpelah, at the end of which was a cave, paying four hundred silver shekels. The cave became the family burying-place, Sarah being the first to be buried there; later, Abraham, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, and Jacob were placed there.

Are we going to return to God and stop loving the things of the world more than him? It is time for a new beginning, Jesus is coming soon. What does Jesus consider for us to do when we return to him? James tells what is pure religion.

James 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
James 2:1  My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

Jesus gives us a parable of what the King of King wants us to do:

Mat 25:34  Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Mat 25:35  For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Mat 25:36  Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
Mat 25:37  Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
Mat 25:38  When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Mat 25:39  Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
Mat 25:40  And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

I believe if we study these commands that we can follow him better.

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