Reading For Friday Genesis 35:1-15
By remembering the past, Jacob would be ready to face the trials of the future. God intervenes at this point and directs Jacob to move his family to Bethel. He was to build an altar to the God, who had appeared to him there so many years before. Jacob led his family well and called for them to make spiritual preparations before going back to that sacred place. He instructed his family to remove all foreign gods, purify themselves and symbolize the same by changing apparel. The family complied. Jacob buried all the pagan accoutrements of his family under the oak at Shechem. God kept his word to bring Jacob safely back to Bethel, for his terror fell upon the Canaanites, and they were afraid to attack Jacob.
At Bethel, Jacob built an altar that he called, “God of Bethel.” The joy of returning safely to Bethel was somewhat marred, however, by the death of Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse. She was buried under the oak there. Deborah may have come to live with Jacob’s family after the death of Rebekah. God appears again to Jacob at Bethel. The purpose of this revelation was to confirm the promises made in the first Bethel appearance. At Bethel, God reiterated Jacob’s spiritual name, Israel. God repeated the Promise that a great company of nations and kings would come from Jacob. The Land Promise was also renewed. Jacob set up a stone monument there and gave an offering. The patriarch publicly named the spot Bethel, “the house of God”.
The first time Jacob's name change is mentioned, the focus is on the patriarch’s transformation, from “Jacob” the heel-grabber and deceiver to “Israel” the one blessed of God. Here the name renewal highlights the national importance of the name.
Thing To Consider:
- Why is it important to be reminded of God's promises?
- Why does Israel instruct his family to put away anything else that was worshipped?
- What lengths did they go to in order to put their idols away?
- What does this teach us about repentance?
- What does this account show us about God's rule over the nations?
- What does Israel's worship teach us?