Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Genesis, Chapters 35-37 … To study these chapters, go to this link -
Genesis 35: 1-7: … [Getting Rid of All the Little “gods”] … 1 Then God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.”
2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. 3 Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” 4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem. 5 Then they set out, and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them. 6 Jacob and all the people with him came to Luz (that is, Bethel) in the land of Canaan. 7 There he built an altar, and he called the place El Bethel, because it was there that God revealed himself to him when he was fleeing from his brother.
Genesis 35: 11-14: … [Remembering God’s Promises] [And after Jacob [Israel] and God’s people arrived in Bethel] 11 And God said to him [Israel], “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will be among your descendants. 12 The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you.” 13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had talked with him.
14 Jacob set up a stone pillar at the place where God had talked with him, and he poured out a drink offering on it; he also poured oil on it. 15 Jacob called the place where God had talked with him Bethel.
My Journal for Today: Well, in being shepherded through Genesis, Chapters 35-37, today in my chronological read through the Bible, there is much about which I could reflect and journal. Certainly the chronicles of how the teenage Joseph, which we read about in Chapter 37, and how he was sold into slavery in Egypt by all his jealous brothers, would be solid meat for discussion today; but right at the outset of Chapter 35, the discussion of old Jacob, after he had been renamed “Israel” by God was emboldened to my attention for my comments this morning.
And if you’re reading with me here, you’ll note above in the text how Jacob (Israel) honored his LORD by establishing some boundaries and protocols on how God would be remembered and worshipped by his family and by God’s chosen peoples under his leadership. He set up a special altar in Bethel and made sure that the people were discarding any superficial or superstitious religious idols, jewelry, and/or trinkets, which was a common practice of the day, coming from a lot of the pagan superstitions and idol worshipping of the Bedouin cultures.
Today, a lot of young people wonder why it’s important for the worship of God to have church buildings and culturally-based religious ceremonies, contending that it’s not necessary to worship Christ (i.e., God) by coming to a designated “house of worship” and participating in corporate worship. BUT … today’s focus passage speaks to us and helps us answer that cultural trend today.
First … and foremost … our God is WORTHY of our WORSHIP! Jacob certainly recognized that; and God had reminded Jacob, being one of the sons of God’s covenant, that Jacob should lead His people by ridding them of all frivolous, small-g “gods,” which took the forms of superstitious jewelry and worthless personal idols. And so, Jacob (Israel) did exactly as God instructed him to do. He had the people shed all superfluous idols; and he set up a special altar – at God’s instruction – so that the people could remember Whom they were to worship and to be able to do so in a corporate – as well as an individual – manner.
Kids today do see through the superficiality of modern “religious practices.” And those criticisms and cultural revulsions about Christianity (or other religions) would be valid in my estimation. But when God’s people, … His New Covenant Church, … come together to remember what God has done for them in fulfilling the Old Covenant in the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus, they are coming together to signal their worship of THE GOD of the promises of the Old Testament [or Covenant] as well as to worship together THE GOD of the hope in Jesus Christ of the New Testament [or Covenant]. And such “religious” practices are much like those which were being established – under God’s command – by Jacob.
Certainly we need to rid ourselves of any use of idols in our lives and especially such religious practices as symbols or jewelry which we have in our lives to merely identify us as “christian” (with a small “c”). But if we wear a cross or put a “fish symbol” on our car to give witness to the God Who saves us; or we dress up and come to church on Sunday to remember and to genuinely desire to witness our faith practices in corporate worship of the living God, these practices are not only GOOD THINGs, they are a “Godly things!”
Yes, we do need to guard against religious practices which become legalistic and ritualistic, without having an “altar of purpose” which honors God and helps us to remember Who He truly is in our lives. Young people today would be right in criticizing and rejecting such practices. BUT IT IS NOT WRONG – in fact IT IS VERY RIGHT – for believers in the same God Jacob worshipped for us to have altars of worship in our lives which help us to worship the God of Jacob and the LORD of all with our lives. And we need to have these altars of worship in our lives 24/7 … as being the “living sacrifices” which Paul wrote about in Romans 12: 1.
So, I for one, being reminded and instructed by God’s word in today’s study, will continue to get dressed up on Sunday, to honor my LORD, and to come together with other like-minded CHRISTIAN worshippers on a traditional Sunday morning to sing praises to our Savior and to rekindle our remembrance of what He did for us in fulfilling the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob back in the days we’re reading about in God’s word today. And I pray that I’ll be able to eradicate any idols from my life which would detract from my lifestyle of living worship to my God.
My Prayer Today: … Lord, strip me of worthless idols and make me over into a living sacrifice of worship – everyday and in every way – for You. Amen