Israel again set out and pitched his tent beyond the Tower of Eder.
Genesis 35:16-29Genesis 35:16-29. These family records mingle well with the story of God's grace. The mothers "Ben-oni is the father's Benjamin." Out of the pain and the bereavement sometimes comes the consolation. A strange blending of joy and sorrow is the tale of human love. But there is a higher love which may draw out the pure stream of peace and calm delight from that impure fountain. Jacob and Esau were separated in their lives, but they met at their father's grave. Death is a terrible divider, but a uniter too. Under the shadow of the great mystery, on the borders of an eternal world, in the presence of those tears which human eyes weep for the dead, even when they can weep no other tears, the evil things of envy, hatred, revenge, alienation do often hide themselves, and the better things of love, lessee, brotherhood, amity come forth. Jacob was with Isaac when he died, and Esau came to the grave. - R.
Put away the strange gods that are among you.I. MANY CHRISTIANS ARE SUFFERING FROM SPIRITUAL DECLENSION. They hardly realize it, it has crept on them so quietly; but they have drifted far away from their Bethel and Penuel. Gray hairs are on a man before he knows. Summer fruit is beginning to rot within long before its surface is pitted with specks. The leaf's connection with the branch is severed, even when it looks green. The devil is too shrewd to make Judases at a stroke; he wins us from the side of Christ by hair-breadths.
II. IDOLS ARE THE INEVITABLE SYMPTOM OF INCIPIENT DECAY. Go at autumn into the woods and see how the members of the fungus tribes are scattered plentifully throughout the unfrequented glades. All through the long scorching summer days their germs were present in the soil; but they were kept from germinating by the dryness of the air and the heat of the sun. However, there is now nothing to prevent it; nay, the dank damp of decay is the very food of their life. Where the shade is deepest and the soil most impregnated with the products of corruption, they love to pitch their tents. Wherever, therefore, you find these fungus growths, you may be sure that there is corruption and decay. Similarly, whenever there has set in upon the spiritual life the autumn of decay, you will be sure to find a fungus — growth of idols — the sorrowful symptoms that the bright summer time has passed, or is passing away from the soul.
III. THESE IDOLS MUST BE SURRENDERED BEFORE THERE CAN BE VICTORY OR PEACE. The reason for Jacob's flight before those alien tribes was, of course, the censurable and merciless action of his sons; but above and beyond this lay the fact that Jacob had been giving some measure of countenance to the existence of idolatry in the camp. I always find in Christian experience that failure and defeat indicate the presence of some idol somewhere and the need of more complete consecration to God. It may be a hidden idol; and it may be hidden by the Rachel of your heart, lovely and beloved: but if it be there it will be the certain cause of disappointment. You say that you do not find yourself able to overcome besetting sin; that you are tripped up before you look to Christ; that you are sometimes hot as juniper-coals, and then cold as ice; you talk about your experiences as if Christ had failed — no such thing! Get down on your knees, search out the idols, ransack all the camel baggage in spite of all that Rachel may say, bring out the accursed things, and bury them.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.)
I. How WE MAY STILL BE GUILTY OF THE EQUIVOCAL CONDUCT RECORDED IN THE TEXT.
1. We are thus guilty when we retain privately those evil practices we have renounced in public. Iniquity is iniquity to God, whether done in the eye of the sun or wrought in thickest darkness; whether coarse or refined; whether called by its true name or wrapped in glozing gilded speech. Burke tells of that "sensibility of principle, that chastity of honour which ennobled whatever it touched, and under which vice itself lost half its evil by losing all its grossness." This is rhetoric. When vice is divested of all grossness it has not lost a particle of its evil in the judgment of heaven; the secret idol, the idol skilfully veiled or richly adorned by taste, is equally hateful to God with the open and gross idolatries of inferior civilization.
2. We are thus guilty when we practise partially the evils we have renounced as a whole. In the days of the English Reformation, the reformers finding the coloured windows in the churches to be objects of reverence to the people, ordered them to be broken and replaced by plain glass. But where the authorities had a love for the beautiful they contented themselves by taking out a few panes here and there — a saint's head, a martyr's nimbus, an angel's wing, and having thus mutilated the figures, trusted they would do no harm. Somewhat after this fashion are men apt to renounce the world and sin. We deal delicately with things, habits, associations, pursuits, pleasures, employments, which ought to be utterly sacrificed, and sacrificed for ever.
3. We are thus guilty when we retain mentally what we have renounced in action. It is possible that the idols of life which have no longer any concrete existence may find asylum in the heart and brain, and be most steadily worshipped there. This is true —(1) When the evil renounced in the life is not also renounced in the will.(2) When the evil renounced in our life is cherished in our imagination we are victims of the patriarch's fallacy. It has been said: "It is possible to lead a life of imagination quite distinct from the active life." This is quite true. Our life may be as blameless on the practical side as it is stained on the mental side.(3) When the evil renounced in our life is cherished in affection we similarly err. We profess renunciation of the world — of its pomps and vanities; yet do we sympathize with the merely secular side of life. How intoxicated we are by a little prosperity! How depressed by a little adversity! The world has still a place in our heart; we are not altogether rid of the great idol.
II. We must feel the importance of COMPLETE CONSECRATION TO GOD. This secret clinging to sin is a source of weakness, unhappiness, and peril. The apostle writes to the Romans, "ye are dead to sin." How completely this idea cuts us off from the world of evil! how utterly it separates us from all godlessness and wickedness! We once heard a converted Persian relate that when he was converted to Christianity his angry kindred considered him a dead man, and celebrated his funeral obsequies accordingly. They were not far wrong. When one is converted to Christ he has absolutely renounced sin, the world may justly count him dead, and all the vices follow his bier.
(W. L. Watkinson.)
(A. Fuller.)1. Grace keeps hearts close in obedience unto God's call.
2. It is the duty of conscience in all governors of families and others to enjoin all with them to obey God's call. It is no violence.
3. It is rulers' duty in order to reconcile God, so much as they may, to bring souls to repentance.
4. The first part of repentance is to depart from evil.
5. Governors are bound to turn all under them from outward evils which they may prevent.
6. Images and relics of idolatry may not be suffered in the families of Jacob's children.
7. Repentance requireth not only negative but positive cleanness.
8. Typical repentance in outward washings was in the Church before the law was written.
9. Real endowment with righteousness unto God's likeness was intended by it (ver. 2).
10. It is Jacob's work to rouse his family to move towards God (so good rulers will do) when he himself is roused by Him.
11. Not only preparation but motion must be in penitents to God's house.
12. Repentance is then complete when men are brought fully home to God.
13. God is reached unto when His true worship is entertained by men.
14. God may and doth use some eminent minister to set up His worship, that others might know
15. God is known to Jacob and his seed to be a God answering prayer.
16. All. good providences to Jacob are mercies truly to his family.
17. Mercies of God to our fathers while we enjoy them bind us to own and worship the same God (ver. 3).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)1. When rulers obey God's call, He maketh subjects obey theirs.
2. Where God overpowers, souls freely and fully part with their desired jewels of vanity and superstition.
3. Good rulers will execute as well as enjoin sentence against false gods.
4. In bringing false worshippers to God, it is good to bury the monuments of their sin out of sight.
5. Jacob-rulers will not be content but in the destruction of all means of false worship.
6. Monuments of idolatry must die at Shechem, and not live at Bethel (ver. 4).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
PeopleAllon, Aram, Arba, Asher, Benjamin, Benoni, Bilhah, Dan, Deborah, Eder, Ephrath, Esau, Gad, Isaac, Issachar, Jacob, Joseph, Leah, Levi, Mamre, Naphtali, Rachel, Rebekah, Reuben, Simeon, Zebulun, Zilpah
PlacesAllon-bacuth, Bethel, Bethlehem, Canaan, Eder, El-bethel, Ephrath, Hebron, Kiriath-arba, Luz, Mamre, Paddan-aram, Shechem
TopicsBeyond, Edar, Eder, Flock, Journeyed, Journeyeth, Journeying, Migdal, Migdal-eder, Pitched, Spread, Stretcheth, Tent, Tents, Tower, Traveled
Outline1. God commands Jacob to go to Bethel.
2. He purges his house of idols.
6. He builds an altar at Bethel.
8. Deborah dies at Allon Bacuth.
9. God blesses Jacob at Bethel.
10. Jacob Named Israel.
16. Rachel travails of Benjamin, and dies in the way to Edar.
22. Reuben lies with Bilhah.
23. The sons of Jacob.
27. Jacob comes to Isaac at Hebron.
28. The age, death, and burial of Isaac.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 35:21
LibraryFebruary the Eighth Revisiting Old Altars
"I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress." --GENESIS xxxv. 1-7. It is a blessed thing to revisit our early altars. It is good to return to the haunts of early vision. Places and things have their sanctifying influences, and can recall us to lost experiences. I know a man to whom the scent of a white, wild rose is always a call to prayer. I know another to whom Grasmere is always the window of holy vision. Sometimes a particular pew in a particular church …
John Henry Jowett—My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year
Our Last ChapterConcluded with the Words, "For Childhood and Youth are Vanity"...
The Death of Abraham
The Trials and visions of Devout Youth
The National Oath at Shechem
And thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, too little to be among the thousands of Judah
Sovereignty and Human Responsibility
The Birth of Jesus.
Gen. xxxi. 11
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