Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Jacob Gives Thanks -- Genesis 35:7


And he built an altar there, and called the place El-bethel, because there God had revealed Himself to him, when he fled from his brother.

You will remember in Genesis 35:1 when God told Jacob to go to Bethel, He also told him to make an altar there to Him. Jacob, now safely in Bethel with his household, follows through on this additional request from God. He builds an altar to the Lord and he calls the place where he built the altar, El-bethel. The actual word can be translated as the ‘God of Bethel’ or when one also translates the word Bethel itself, El-bethel literally means ‘the God of the House of God’.

What is the implication for us today, especially when so many of us may feel we have reason to be dissatisfied with the church? In our text we read that Jacob names this place after ‘the God of the House of God’ because that is where God revealed Himself to Jacob in the time of his greatest need. While God’s omnipotence and His omnipresence allows Him to reveal Himself to anyone, anytime, and anywhere, Jacob somehow captured the desire of God in wanting to be best revealed to us in ‘His own house’ or Bethel.

We need to grasp that same understanding. God may reveal Himself to us anywhere, but like those created in His image that rule as men, He rejoices in inviting us to His House/Castle in order to reach out to us and reveal His plans for us. Do we want the full blessing of God on our lives? If so, I believe we cannot have them while we remain in a state of broken fellowship with our church, our local House of God.

If you are in such a circumstance, please seek what God (not you) would want you to do with respect to this matter. Is it time for you to built an altar to God in your El-Bethel?

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Jacob’s Household Reaches Bethel -- Genesis 35:6


So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him.

Recently, some of my contacts on social media were discussing what they might do in the event that the United States goes through its darkest hours economically and politically, something which by the way I believe is highly likely in the near future. I was able to point out that indeed, unlike the old Roman god of mythology Mercury who was dubbed ‘the god of safe passage’, our God is indeed the ‘real stuff’. He is the God of Safe Passage. He proved it for Abraham, Isaac, and now in this passage, Jacob. I know He will see you and me safely ‘home’ and ‘back to Him’.

Jacob arrived in Bethel where God wanted him to be for his own good. And not only did He see to it that Jacob made it, but He saw to it that all the people who were with him did also.

Where does God want you and I today? In the mid of all this confusion in the world, all this fear and uncertainty, where does He want you? I believe that if we really put all our own preferences and fears aside, we would have to admit He has already told us, especially if we have asked Him. What remains is for us to do what Jacob did in the earlier verses we studied. Realize he wasn’t where God wanted him. Make the necessary changes in himself. Help his family and household or business to make the required changes. Then go where, or do what, God wanted him to. In exchange, God gave him and his household safe passage through enemy territory and a safe arrival at Bethel. He can and wants to do that for you and me, in our lives, right now. Is God speaking to you? If so, follow Jacob’s example, and just do it!

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Monday, March 15, 2010

God Provides Jacob Safe Passage Home -- Genesis 35:5


As they journeyed, there was a great terror upon the cities which were around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

God tells Jacob to take his family home to Bethel and symbolically ‘back to God’. As Jacob obeys and travels on his way, he has to travel near some cities. By now, all of them had likely heard of what the Israelites had done to the Shechemites. And any one of them could have easily attacked the Israelites in retaliation or out of fear that they may be next to be wiped out by them. The Israelites were fewer in number and a possible surprise attack from one or more of these cities could have been devastating to Jacob’s family. We also have no ready evidence (that is, evidence found within this text) as to whether or not these cities were normally the warring type. Possibly they commonly attacked those traveling by, looting them, or taking them into captivity.

But they did not. In fact, they were struck with a great fear of the Israelites as they passed by or near their lands. They did not pursue them in any way and were glad to see their backs.

As I write this, I am in the middle of reading Athol Dickson’s The Gospel According to Moses: What my Jewish friends taught me about Jesus, Brazos Press, Grand Rapids, 2003. In it, Dickson explains one key Jewish approach to learning as being the encouraging of Torah students to ask God some really difficult questions. He shows us how God actually welcomes and desires that we do so because of His complete love for us. It is a book well worth reading for many reasons. It has changed my view on how to deal with some of man’s most searching questions, especially those dealing with the many paradoxes we find riddled throughout Scripture (e.g. up to this point in Scripture, the paradox of fertility – He commands Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply, yet He chooses three barren women through which to bring about His covenant with Abraham to fruition, namely Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel; the paradox of obedience – God hated Cain’s murder of Abel but told Abraham to kill his son as a sacrifice; the paradox of the promise – He tells Abraham He will give him the land of Canaan but Abraham had to pay gold for a burial spot therein for his wife Sarah and later the Israelites paid for the land with their lives; and so on).

Well, with that kind of thinking in mind, let me ask a difficult question, in my faith, for as Athol Dickson suggests, it does indeed take “more faith to ask than it does to fear the asking”. Here’s my question: Is it possible that one of the reasons God allowed (I am pretty sure He did not ordain) Jacob’s sons to murder the Shechemites was in order that Jacob’s family might have ‘safe passage’ as they headed ‘home’? And if so, how could God do that?

I do not know the answers to those questions. But I do not feel any less ‘faithful’ or ‘believing’ because I asked them. I also believe that it is possible that God may answer them later in His word or as I delve deeper into what He has already said. But it is also possible that He may not answer them now or later, because He wants me, as Dickson also postulates, to learn something else by my continuing to ask them repeatedly, or perhaps in a different manner. Suffice it to say, God knows my questions and He has the answers.

In the meantime, from our text here, I can rejoice that God does indeed arrange circumstances to protect us. Sometimes that happens without us knowing it, but when we are made aware of it, it behooves us to give Him the praise and the glory. Has God arranged circumstances to protect you lately?

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jacob’s Household Responds To His Leadership -- Genesis 35:4


So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had, and the rings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.

Notice once again the Bible does not record any challenge to Jacob’s leadership from his family. All we read is their immediate response to his instructions. That must have been a joy, a big relief, for Jacob.

Can you imagine the scene? Foreign idol gods were being brought from all over the household. But the text also mentions they were giving up their earrings. Why earrings? In the East, there is a pagan connection to earrings for many wore them as charms or in honor of their pagan gods and at the very least, earrings were seen as objects of superstition. These they seem to have given up willingly on their own, perhaps being convicted in their hearts that they should. They wanted their “going home to God” to be as complete as possible. In hindsight, we can well wonder whether indeed this scene could have occurred much earlier in the life of Jacob, had he taken the lead as he now was doing. They could have gone “back home to God” sooner and saved themselves much disgrace and troubles.

Finally, the verse tells us that Jacob took all these things and hid them under a particular oak tree. Why not destroy them, Jacob? There is a possibility that Jacob hid these things in a place that would be unknown to those in his household that had given them up. He wanted not only to help separate his household from these things, but also to ensure that there was little opportunity for them to return to them. The majestic oak tree in the area was indeed a respected landmark. Perhaps it was the same tree that his grandfather patriarch Abram had originally pitched his tent (Genesis 12:8; 13:3). There, in what was deemed to almost be sacred ground, he hid the rejected objects believing no one would dare disturb the ground to uncover them.

We don’t know why he did not destroy them. Perhaps given the circumstances, it was the wisest thing to do. Sometimes, we just need to make it difficult, not impossible, for people to return to their idolatry if they so choose. God does not want anyone to be forced into a “no choice” situation. He wants us to “come back home to Him” willingly and voluntarily, knowing that we must continuously rely on Him to keep us from going back to “disturb the ground” to pick up the idols we once adored.

Evil and pagan worship does not disappear from the face of the earth just because we have come home to God. It still exists. Our task is to be walking continuously with God away from it.

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jacob Shows Family Leadership Again -- Genesis 35:2-3


So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your garments; and let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and has been with me wherever I have gone.”

In the previous verse, God spoke to Jacob and told him to go and stay in Bethel. The Bible has no record of Jacob’s verbal response to God. Instead, we observe a man who has been given his instructions and begins to carry them out. Either as one large group, or on several occasions of smaller numbers being present, Jacob in turn instructs his family and household to get ready to move. What he says is most revealing of what had been going on.

Over a period of time, we can assume many in Jacob’s family had started to incorporate foreign gods in their beliefs. They had become impure in their worship. Although Jacob was afraid for his life now, he and his household had gone through many years of prosperity up to this point. It is in these boom times that we all have a tendency to let our relationship with God sag, as other things take its place. We are attracted to new idols. That had happened to Jacob’s household and to a certain extent to him. Now he takes charge once more as head of the home and instructs them all to “return to God, we’re going home.” We see here the ever-constant need for senior male leadership in a family. But we also see the need for male role modeling. It was after Jacob got right with God, that he could instruct his family to do so. The very fact of ‘silence’ between verse one of this chapter when God spoke and verse two when Jacob spoke to his household, suggests he recognized that he himself needed to get ‘back to God’. With that decided in his own heart, he could now lead his household in following him.

First, the foreign gods had to go. Secondly, he called for their purification. The Hebrew word used here is taher and its meaning is threefold. It refers to being clean in a physical sense, as in free from disease, but it also means to be clean in a ceremonial sense that is to present oneself for purification through a ceremony. Finally, it has the meaning of being morally clean. This is purity of both the heart and mind. God wants us to demonstrate our purity not just through ceremonies and rites, but by pursuing righteousness and justice. And not only does He expect the fathers of households to live that way, but just as importantly, he expects us to “command our children and our households” to do so. In Genesis 18:19 when He describes Abraham, He says, “I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.”

Some of Jacob’s children had foreign gods because, as you will remember, their mother Rachel had clung to the household gods of her father Laban, and had stolen them from him the night of her escape with Jacob’s family. Like parent, like children. We can teach what is right with our mouths, but our actual behavior trumps our speech lessons when it comes to our children’s imitating us. Other of Jacob’s children may well have had the gods of the Shechemites that they had taken in plunder after Leah’s sons had murdered all the men. Also, it is very likely that some of Jacob’s servants he brought with him or picked up in his travels were worshipping foreign gods. While our English translations refer to “foreign gods” the more direct Hebrew translation would be “gods of the stranger” or “gods of foreign nations”. Perhaps for the sake of prosperity, Jacob had allowed his servants and others to worship these gods, turning a blind eye in order to avoid conflict or losing them, not thinking of his responsibility to keep his household and business pure.

Continuing in the theme of purity and becoming clean, Jacob ordered his household to wash themselves and then change their garments. In particular, Leah’s sons, Simeon and Levi may well have had blood on their hands from the slaughter of the Shechemites (therefore their need to wash) and even on their clothes (thus the need to change their garments). You cannot go to meet with God without preparation of body and heart. Cleaning one’s clothes without one’s heart is not sufficient.

Now, Jacob tells his people that he has resolved to follow God’s instructions, given to him by God Himself. And he underlines the fact that this is indeed the God that was there for him during the times of his distress, and the God that has gone with him wherever he went.

I believe that is the lesson for us today as we study these two verses. Are we prepared to say to ourselves, our family, our business, “I will follow the instructions of the God who spoke to me. I will ‘go home’ where He is and live there. And I will take you with me. For God has always been there for me, for us, when we were in distress. He has followed us wherever we chose to go. Now we will return to where He wants us.”? That is leadership. That is true role modeling. That is being a true follower of God.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Once Again, God Directs Jacob -- Genesis 35:1


Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”

Old, fearful for his life and that of his family because of his sons’ massacre of the Shechemites, and still a wanderer, Jacob once more hears the voice of God. Even at our lowest moments in our lives, God is still there and He very much wants to communicate with us.

And what does God tell him, but the very same thing He told him before. “Go to Bethel and live there – don’t just visit this time.” Way back in Genesis 31:13 God basically said to Jacob, “I am the God of Bethel. Come back to the place of your family. I am the God that met you there in Bethel". But as we know, Jacob did not follow instructions very well, settling instead in Shechem, and ultimately being party to the murderous revenge that his sons took on the Shechemites who had raped his daughter Dinah and brought shame to his own family.

Yet God was willing to give him one more chance to listen. God always gives us more chances to listen to Him than we deserve. But this time, in Jacob’s case, the instructions are very specific – “live at Bethel” and “worship Me there”. God wanted Jacob back where he belonged, no longer to be a wanderer. He wanted him to go back to the place from whence he came and where both his family and heart were. And to the place God Himself, in Genesis 31:13, described as a place that “He was the God of”. He wanted Jacob back to the place where Jacob had made a vow to Him (Genesis 28:19-21). That’s were God wants all of us. He wants us back at the point where we made our “vows” to Him. No matter how far we have roamed; no matter how much we have sinned; no matter how much we may have ignored Him in recent times – God wants us back to the point where we vowed that God would indeed be “our God”.

God tells Jacob that He was the same God that appeared to him when he was fleeing from the wrath of his brother Esau. He had been with him all along and now it was time to “head home” to where, without a shadow of a doubt, the point in Jacob’s life (and symbolically in ours) where we can once again say, and this time mean it, that “because of what the Lord has done for me, He will be my God.”

Have you forgotten that point in your saga when you would have given anything to see God perform a miracle in your life? The miracle was performed; you are still alive. It may not have been performed the way you would have planned, but God saw you through it. Or do you think you made it on your own? May we learn from God’s love and desire for Jacob. May we believe that this same love and desire is extended to each of us no matter what our circumstances and no matter how we may have failed Him, others, or ourselves. May we realize that not only does He want us ‘home’ but that ‘home’ is indeed where we need to be.

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Sunday, March 07, 2010

Jacob’s Sons Respond -- Genesis 34:31


But they said, “Should he treat our sister as a harlot?”

My wife and I have the joy of living with one of our daughters, her husband, and three of our five young grandchildren. So, I very often get a ring-side seat when it comes to children taking action in what we as a adults would term ‘revenge’. In fact, children themselves explain it as “I’m just paying her/him back”. One of the siblings may have torn a page out of someone else’s coloring book, or messed up the arrangement of toy parts that had been set up in one’s room, or took something good off of someone else’s plate when theirs was finished, and so on. The victimized child then strikes back and immediately one of the adults questions the behavior. The retaliating child responds with, “while she/he did so and so and I was just punishing her/him.”

That is exactly what Jacob’s sons, Dinah’s brothers, were saying when their father questioned them on the savage murder of all the Shechemites. I think if we were honest, we would have to admit that revenge is built into our human, post-fall, sinful nature.

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The trait starts to exhibit itself in each of us at a very young age. As we grow older we let it impact our family relationships and later, as appropriate, we take it into the boardrooms of our workplaces as we compete greedily for market share and industry rankings. Some get involved in politics and government, and find themselves in international conflicts. When wars break out, we often hear, after an attack, be it a regular military ambush or an act of terrorism, that the other nation “is now expected to retaliate”.

But wait, it is not supposed to be like that at all. Not when we’re four, or fourteen, or forty, or Presidents of companies or nations. Elsewhere in scripture, God has clearly given us to understand that revenge is His. Yet, this is one of the most difficult lessons for mankind to understand, accept, and comply with.

Let me challenge you today as you face your world of relationships. Let me challenge you as you experience unfairness in your family, your workplace, your school, your community, and your nation. Let me challenge you as you deal with the loss of a loved one caused by a drunk driver, a mad gunman, or even an immoral war. Let me challenge you as you live your life disabled because of a mistake made in the hospital, with a medication you were prescribed, an abusive relative, or because someone inflicted you with AIDS. Your nature dictates ‘revenge’ but realize that originally God created you to be governed by your ‘spirit’ and it begs for you to ‘let it go’. Your spirit is crying out to you to ‘let it go for good’ so that you can start living life again with joy and purpose. It knows you and I need to remember that our God, without Whom we could not breathe, has said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” May we all live our lives like that.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Jacob’s Concern For His Own Welfare -- Genesis 34:27-30


Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me, by making me odious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and my men being few in number, they will gather together against me and attack me and I shall be destroyed, I and my household.”

Please understand the context. Two of Jacob’s sons have just murdered every adult male in the city of Shechem in a clearly unfair attack. Likely all of his sons were involved in the looting of the city, taking for themselves all the livestock, all the earthly goods, and even the children and wives, of the Shechemites. As an engaged reader, I could hardly wait to hear what Jacob, to whom God had re-iterated His Covenant to make him a great nation, had to say about it all. And true to form, Jacob does not disappoint.

Surprisingly, his concern was all about himself. His sons’ actions were not criticized for what they were – sinful acts of violence based on revenge and personal gain, and perhaps even a twisted sense of cruelty. Instead, he lamented the fact that what they did caused him ‘trouble’. Their actions made him detestable among all the peoples of the land.

And to boot, Jacob was smart enough to know that if all the rulers of the neighboring cities united and decided to attack him and his family, his resources could not withstand the military offensive they would launch against him. Worse still was the fact, not that he would be attacked and defeated by the enemies’ much stronger and larger units, but that indeed he and his household would be destroyed. He would come to ruin.

Here is a man hand-picked by God, spoken to directly by Him, ensured of a legacy and a covenant underwritten by the Creator of the Universe, and with previous experience in God’s saving power and strength. And yet amidst certain adversity, although through no direct action of his own, he falls to pieces worrying about his ruin and destruction.

What does God need to do before man takes Him at His word? What does He have to do before you and I take Him at His word? In Focus on the Family’s “The Truth Project”, Dr. Del Tackett asks us a very piercing question. It is this: “Do you really believe that what you believe is really real?” I dare say that while our motions and often our emotions, especially during our singing of psalms and praises at our worship service, would indicate that there is nothing our God cannot do and that He knows what is the very best for us, our actual behavior during the rest of the week, and especially when we face great difficulty, would dictate that we answer Prof. Tackett’s question in the negative. “No, we do not.”

As you study this verse today, I challenge you to determine a personal means by which you can turn your answer to Del’s question into a positive one. I do not know exactly what that entails for you. I can only share with you what it meant for me. While I only recently heard the question asked by “The Truth Project” phrased the way it has been in that program, I dealt with a very similar question many years ago. My training and my personality had taught me to be ‘proactive’ in my approach to life rather than ‘reactive’ whenever possible. So, during my thirties I decided to make a very conscious decision, more as a defensive (proactive) course of action than anything else – just in case I ever needed to rely on that decision. And what was that? That God was exactly Who He claimed to be, and that any limitation in His demonstrated power on my life, or evidence of His grace or blessing on me, was or would be a direct result of my lack of faith or my own sin, and not for any lack of His love for me or any weakness in His own all-powerfulness.

Since then that decision has served me so well. Coupled with my own discipline to adhere to decisions I make about God and my faith, especially those that parallel Scripture, that very decision has been both a lifesaver and ultimately the means by which my life was freed up to pursue what God had in store for me. Let me share with you just two significant times when that became very clear to me.

The first is an occasion I do not talk about very often. It was a very dark time in my life. The situation had the potential of thrusting me in to total and utter ruin. Remember I said I was proactive, and even disciplined. I did not say I was always wise, or especially careful in my life. As a result I managed to get involved in a situation that was not what God wanted for me, no matter how much I tried to convince Him it was. Ultimately, because of Who He Is and because of how much He loved me, God arranged for me to be catapulted out of it against my own volition. My free will got me into the mess, but God’s Free Love pulled me out of it. But not without discipline, not without being set aside from Christian ministry for several years, not without heartaches, and what have you. Yet, when I realized that it was He who took charge, I yielded totally to His ‘tough love’ for me. In that experience, I also found out that being proactive and disciplined in an area of life that is not wise or appropriate for a Christian to be in, can indeed be humbling, if not devastating.

The second experience was in August 2008 when I was first diagnosed with colon cancer. That same day, I drew on my decision made nearly thirty years earlier, that my God was indeed the God of the Universe and the same God that was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. If God wanted to allow me to live, He would. If He wanted my life over, that would be fine with me. I did what I believed Scripture instructs us to do in those circumstances. I prayed and I asked the elders of my church to anoint me with oil. I started taking care of my God-given body by exercising regularly and eating healthier. And I left the rest to God. He didn’t let me down.

God had proven Himself to me over and over in my life during my teens and as a young husband and father. He no longer had to do that. But unless I had made that solid decision that I did in my thirties – that beyond a shadow of a doubt, even when the Enemy tries to get us to doubt, the decision that God is Who He is and that “I really believe what I believe is really real”, I would never have been able to make it through my darkest days and/or my bout with cancer. I would encourage you to consider, proactively, making such a decision, and then never forgetting you did make it. It is then that life takes on a whole new perspective, one with assurance, confidence, patience, joy and total reliance on the only One Who can provide all of that.

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Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The Plan Collapses Into Utter Ruin Genesis 34:25-29


Now it came about on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came upon the city unawares, and killed every male. And they killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went forth. Jacob’s sons came upon the slain and looted the city, because they had defiled their sister. They took their flocks and their herds an their donkeys, and that which was in the city and that which was in the field; and they captured and looted all their wealth and all their little ones and their wives, even all that was in the houses.

Talk about an unfair massacre, this one would rank right up there. Soon after all these adults got circumcised, when their pain was at its height, along come Dinah’s two brothers, Simeon and Levi, and kill every male. There was no chance to offer more in exchange for their lives, no opportunity to beg for mercy.

We note that Jacob’s other sons were not identified here as having taken part in this mass murder. It was, according to the commentator Robert Jamieson, the “full brothers, on whom the protection of the daughters devolves--they are the guardians of a sister's welfare and the avengers of her wrongs.” He goes on to suggest that it is possible “the two fathers would have probably brought about an amicable arrangement of the affair.”

It appears that Dinah went to live with Shechem after he and his father had met with Jacob and his sons. This must have been part of the arrangement. Whether or not Dinah knew of what Simeon and Levi had been planning, we do not know. She may have been an accomplice from the inside or she too may have been taken by surprise as to what ensued. What is interesting though is that the brothers were prepared to leave Dinah with those that had done this awful thing to Israel (raping Dinah) long enough to accomplish their scheme against the Shechemites. It makes one wonder what the true motivation was.

The second part of this text indicates “Jacob’s sons came upon the slain”. Given the sentence structure, since Simeon and Levi had done the actual slaying, this likely refers to the rest of Jacob’s sons. Being only half-brothers, they felt they could avenge their half-sister’s defiling by only looting, rather than killing. And loot they did, taking everything in sight, including the Shechemites’ children and wives. All the wealth that belonged to the Shechemites was now uncontested in the hands of Jacob’s family. It seems Jacob continues, one way or another, to have his good fortune increase.

One of the amazing things about the Bible is that it certainly was not written from a political point of view. The descendents of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob pulled no punches and made no effort to remove from its pages any accounts that depicted their forefathers in a bad light. In fact, it is including those dark and stark truths about the history of the chosen people that validates its God-given inspiration, for men do not speak so negatively about their own doings.

What had seemed like a great arrangement, and a deal the Shechemites could not refuse, ended up in total disaster and ruin for them. Greed is never a sound basis on which to enter any transaction, let alone one that is as foolish as this one. But the Shechemites were not the only losers in this whole episode. Jacob had lost much as well.

You will remember that in Genesis 31:13 God instructed Jacob to return to his home in the region of Bethel. Instead Jacob went to reside near Shechem. And there, his family suffered the dishonor that they did. It seems that when we do not follow God’s instructions, we stand the risk of consequences. When we alone choose where we go, we seldom do as good a job as God. And as we see in Jacob’s case, choosing the wrong place can expose us and our family to things that God would rather have had us avoid. Jacob also left his young daughter Dinah without proper supervision as she headed towards the ungodly town of Shechem to check it out. So ungodly were these men that, once Shechem raped Dinah, it never occurred to him or his father to say ‘sorry’. Instead, they wanted her to be given to Shechem as just another one of his wives.

As parents we need to learn what are the important aspects of our children’s lives that we need to keep our eyes on. Certainly venturing into the big city for the first time may well be one of those aspects. What may appear like a great adventure in life’s journey can often end up in an incredible setback if the station stop was not part of God’s planned itinerary for us or our children.

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