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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