Reading Genesis really is something of a roller coaster ride as hopes are raised and then dashed before that cycle is repeated again and again. All is glorious perfection in Eden but that perfection is short lived. A fresh start is anticipated post the flood but the flood did not eradicate sin. The promises to Abraham lift our hopes and expectations but again as the account unfolds one episode raises us while the next drops us again.
The account of Jacob as we have seen follows this pattern but it also reminds us that God is not thrown off course by the failures of people and in every up and down we are given assurance that His plans and purposes will prevail regardless of the failures of human beings to whom He has entrusted the fulfilment of the promises at an earthly level.
So, following the depths to which the family, father and sons, sink in the affair of Dinah and Shechem God is still on the throne.
God said to Jacob, “Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you…. 35.1
In response to this we see a different Jacob as he assumes leadership of his household.
Get rid of all the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. 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. 35.2-3
What a contrast to the Jacob who was silent in the face of the rape of his only daughter and who was paralysed by fear of the aftermath of the whole sordid affair 34.30
What brought about this change?
God spoke and Jacob listened and obeyed!
What was the outcome?
A fresh statement of the promises.
I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation will come from you and kings will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you and I will give this land to your descendants after you 3511-12
There were many trials to follow. The death of Rachel as she gave birth to Benjamin; Ruben’s incest and its consequences; the extended account of Joseph interrupted briefly in chapter 38 with another sordid sexual episode between Judah and Tamar all of which by the unfathomable grace of God, failed to divert the great plan of redemption culminating in the birth of Jesus.
What can we take away from this today?
The importance of hearing and obeying God.
That God is a promise keeping God!
That having made us his own he will not let us go!
That he having begun a good work in us will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1.6) for he is the same unchanging God as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob