Reading 12

Because of fear, Jacob seems to have forgotten God’s promises, forgotten his own identity, so after Jacob makes many mistakes and bad decisions, God reminds him of who God is, of who Jacob is, and of God’s never-changing promises to him.  

Now after his fear-filled interaction with Esau, we see in Ch.33:18, 18  Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, and 20 There he erected an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel. Which means, God, God of Israel.  

Gen Ch.34

Here we see Shechem’s abuse of Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, and his father’s Hamor’s attempt to make this crime go away.  

But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter. Please give her to him to be his wife. Make marriages with us. Give your daughters to us, and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 You shall dwell with us, and the land shall be open to you. Dwell and trade in it, and get property in it.”

We don’t here from Jacob on this, but his son’s are furious.

13 The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father Hamor deceitfully, because he had defiled their sister Dinah. 14 They said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a disgrace to us. 15 Only on this condition will we agree with you—that you will become as we are by every male among you being circumcised. 16 Then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to ourselves, and we will dwell with you and become one people

18 Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor’s son Shechem.

20 So Hamor and his son Shechem came to the gate of their city and spoke to the men of their city, saying, 21 “These men are at peace with us; let them dwell in the land and trade in it, for behold, the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters as wives, and let us give them our daughters. 22 Only on this condition will the men agree to dwell with us to become one people.

All the men of Shechem agreed, but did God want them all to be One People?

25 On the third day, when they were sore, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city while it felt secure and killed all the males. 26 They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house and went away.

What was Dinah doing in Shechem’s house?  Apparently, Jacob agreed to the marriage, he agreed to the uniting of the house of Jacob and the house of Shechem, but this was not in accordance with God’s plan.  

The land of Canaan would be given to the children of Jacob, not by the Canaanites, but by God, not through politics and intermarriage, but by the miraculous power of God.    

So Jacob is once again living in fear, now he is afraid of the surrounding cities.  

Ch.35

35 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”

Its as if God is telling Jacob, “Do not be afraid, remember Me, remember who you are, remember what I promised you.”

And as they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities that were around them, so that they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.

We can see that Jacob had made some pretty bad decisions, due to his fear of man, and because of his doubt in God.  It seems that he was so terrified of Esau, that when he reached Shechem, he relaxed, and put down his guard.  

First, he got too close to Hamor and the people of Shechem, why would he want to settle so close, and get so involved with Canaanites, people who were under the judgement of God?  

It seems also that Jacob forgot that he was no longer Jacob, but was given a new name by God, he was Israel, and God had promised him all the promises of Abraham and Isaac.  Why did he fear man?

God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him (for the second time), “… no longer shall your name be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he called his name Israel. 11 And God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply. A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall come from your own body. 12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”

Jacob needed to be refocused, sometimes we need to be refocused as well. 

Acts Ch.2

On the day of Pentecost, the Church is together in Jerusalem, and with the sound of a great rushing wind, they are filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages.    

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?

12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”

Peter steps up to tell them all exactly what this means, and he preaches the gospel to them all, saying—  

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ 22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— 23 this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. 24 God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it.

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls. 

Now notice the life of this new Church—

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Remember how Jacob lived?  In fear, in compromise?  He forgot who he really was, he forgot God’s promises, he even allowed idolatry to fester in his own house.  He lived defeated, but God intervened.  

In this passage we see the early Church, and we ask, “How could they live that way?”  

They knew who they were in Christ, they knew God’s promises to them, and therefore, they were devoted to the—

– Apostle’s teaching,

– to the fellowship of the Church,

– to the Lord ‘s supper, the remembrance of Christ,

– and to prayer.

Do you know who you are?  Do you know the promises of God, in Christ?  When you are not living in your true identity, when you are not living according to God’s promises to you, in Christ, you, like Jacob, will live in fear and defeat.  

In Psalm 34, David wrote—

 I sought the Lord, and he answered me 

and delivered me from all my fears.

 Those who look to him are radiant, 

and their faces shall never be ashamed. 

     This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him 

and saved him out of all his troubles. 

     The angel of the Lord encamps 

around those who fear him, and delivers them.

     Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! 

Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! 

17  When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears 

and delivers them out of all their troubles

18    The Lord is near to the brokenhearted 

and saves the crushed in spirit. 

19    Many are the afflictions of the righteous, 

but the Lord delivers him out of them all. 

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~ by James M. Winslow on 2022/03/09.

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