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Always Guiding - Genesis 35 -36

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1 Always Guiding Genesis 35:1 – 36:42 20220116 With destruc=on all around recognize the outstretched protec=ve hand of God Introduc)on In July of 2018 my family made a trip to Colorado Springs to unwind and spend some =me together. One of the ou=ngs we did as a family was drive up to the top of Pike’s Peak, which is 3000 feet higher than Mt. Hood. We drove to the top and did some exploring, ate some donuts from the summit house, and took in the vistas. This was the first =me the rest of my family had been there but it wasn’t the first =me I had been there. Years before I had been in the area with my military unit and took a trip with my commanding officer to Pike’s Peak for some mountain running and then later a train ride up to the top – where I also ate some donuts. So, I was able to think back on that previous trip when I was there with my family. I had an earlier experience and now a later experience in the same place with many years in between. Have you ever had a similar opportunity to compare a place that you had been years before, as a younger you or with different circumstances, with a later visit to the same place? It can bring back all kinds of memories when this happens. Our minds try to bring the events together in some way melding the old with the new. This is the type of situa=on we will see in the text with Jacob – many years before he had passed through a place he called Bethel. It was as he was fleeing his brother Esau. He le\ the land of his up brining in a hurry because his brother was so upset with him that he would have likely killed him if he remained. Jacob didn’t have much to his name, he had only his staff the Bible says (Gen. 32:10). Yet, when he went through Bethel, though he was fleeing death and an ugly situa=on, I believe, he was content. He had what he wanted even if he wasn’t sure how it would all work out. Then the most amazing thing happened to him. God revealed himself to Jacob! He called out to him and showed him a beau=ful vision of the heavens opened and angels ascending and descending. The LORD made promises to Jacob – as is usually the case – he made those promises based on his own sovereign choice and nothing par=cularly that would give any credit to Jacob. God was showing Jacob undeserved favor. Much, in the way of life, happened between that first =me passing through Bethel and the journey we will cover in today’s passage. Just like going back to a place years later can bring about a whole slew of memories for us this is something Jacob is going to have to deal with in a manner that is commensurate with is calling. As we recently finished up Genesis 34, Jacob is once again in a place where he is afraid of what others will do to him. His sons have decimated the people of Shechem and now he believes he will be destroyed. He needs an interven=on. Maybe you have had this same concern? You’ve been running a\er everything else but what you should be running a\er and it is catching up to you. Your fear is rising higher and higher and it seems as if peace will never be obtainable. And I have to say apart from God doing a work on your behalf you are right about that. For that reason, even with destruc=on all around, you have to recognize the protec=ve and outstretched hand of God. He wants to shelter you from the destruc=on, calm your fears, and give you a las=ng peace. Let us now look together at how we can recognize the protec=ve and outstretched hand of God – so that we may receive the wonderful working of God in our life. Recognize and Respond (vv1-8) 1. v1 “God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared...”” a. I know I’m star=ng us out with this point of recognize and respond and in v1 we read “God said to Jacob” and you’re thinking well of course I would recognize something as obvious as God talking to me! b. S=ck with me, CH Spurgeon said, “God will give us no new promise, but He will make the old promises look wondrously new.” i. As a church we hold to the complete sufficiency of Scripture, believing that the 66 books of the Bible are the inspired word of God. In it contains God’s special revela=on about himself to us and numerous promises. 1. So, though I don’t expect you to come up to me and say, God said to me __________ in a God said to Jacob sort of way. 2. I do fully expect you to be able to say God was speaking to me through his word as you spend =me taking it in, reading the Scriptures, medita=ng upon what God has revealed to us 2 in his word. And like Jacob when this happens you have an opportunity to make a choice as to what you will do. a. Recognize – this is the word of God b. Respond – to what he is saying, 3. Now look at how Jacob responds. 2. v2 “So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you...” a. In the face of God’s call upon Jacob’s life – even when he is afraid of the people all around him, even when he has no peace, even when his family seems to be barely hanging together. He knows with clarity what needs to be done. As the head of his household, he doesn’t hesitate to speak into the situa=on that he is well aware of. b. With God’s call upon his life, he responds with an immediate spiritual house cleaning. This has to happen from =me to =me in our own lives. i. Men, it may seem like no one in your home is wan=ng to listen to you, but mark my word, if you take the spiritual well being of your family to heart as Jacob demonstrates here you might be surprised at the quick response to such a leading. c. Follow the same pajern: It is a good one! i. Put away the foreign gods among you – in our context put away that which is taking the place of God or your worship of him (it could be an obsession with work, a favorite social media plakorm, Instagram, Tik Tok, Facebook, or a certain video game, or books being read hours on end for entertainment, it could be something kept hidden from others but all things are known to God) so first put away. ii. Purify yourself – that would have been some kind of ritual to commemorate the pulng away of that which didn’t belong (don’t be afraid to do something similar and do it in such a way that people who care about your growth in your walk with the Lord can celebrate the step being taken with you) iii. Change your garments – signifying to others that you are no longer your old self, the places you once frequented may no longer be places you should go, the way you used to talk is being changed. d. Follow this pajern: Put away, Purify, and Change e. Which then allows for the response God is asking of Jacob 3. v3 “Then let us arise and go up to Bethel, so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me...”” a. I so appreciate the clarity with which Jacob demonstrates here. One moment he is terrified of the peoples all around him then God speaks with him and his whole worldview is clarified. He sees, he recognizes the protec=ve and outstretched arm of God and he takes ac=on. b. Wonderful clarity is brought to his mind – Worshipping God is what he must do for it has always been God who has been with him wherever he has gone. He recognizes that. The mere men=on of Bethel causes him to recall what has taken place from that first =me passing through there un=l the present. i. What immediately comes to his mind is that God has always answered him in his distress and where he has gone. 4. vv4-7 The household, Jacob’s family members, his household servants, his hired hands all do as the Patriarch requests. The response to the Lord’s hand of protec=on is immediately no=ced and now instead of him being in a place of fear and terror of what the people of the land might do to him – instead the terror of the Lord comes upon all the surrounding ci=es and he is able to travel without hinderance all the way to Bethel. Where he does as the Lord commanded him and he builds an altar to the LORD to worship him there. a. Present here in the text, at the place that is supposed to be this wonderful place of worship Jacob is met with the most obvious sign of the fall that we face in life. When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden that God had placed them in, the consequence of that sin, just as God promised entered in. Death became a part of our world. This is what Jacob experienced. b. v8 The death of a dear member of his childhood household – Deborah, this woman who is called the nurse of his mother died – and so they buried her. c. This isn’t the last =me we will come up against the reality of death in our passage today. Even though rela=vely lijle space is given to Deborah on the page before you. i. We all know the when someone near to us passes away it is no small thing. The las=ng impact of the loss never departs completely. 3 ii. The anguish of the loss at first is o\en the most intense but that doesn’t mean it just tapers off to nothing. iii. O\en spikes of grief come back when memories are s=rred. 1. When a place is visited again that was last visited with your loved one. 2. A movie is on that reminds you of him. 3. The flavor of ice cream she enjoyed most is being served at an event and so you cry but no one else knows why. Transi)on: O church, throughout this first sec=on Jacob recognizes and responds to what God has called him to do. This doesn’t mean everything is suddenly perfect for clearly death is present but the family is being oriented towards God. The recogni=on and response to God’s protec=ve outstretched hand is met by God’s speaking. Receive and Rejoice (vv9-15) 1. vv9-12 “God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him. And God said...”” a. This passage is not the easiest passage to translate. I’ll just state that right upfront. It could read that this is all happening at this =me at Bethel. Or it could be a recoun=ng of when the first part happened as Jacob was coming back from his =me in Paddan-aram and wrestled with God throughout the night and received his new name plus a new and expanded aspect of the blessing as it starts in v11. b. The transla=on and exact reading aside - the obvious message: God is clearly for Jacob. He has chosen this man to be the one to carry on the promise that we have been tracing through the book of Genesis. He restates the covenantal promises and expands them here. Not only is the promise of a great na=on reiterated and a possession of the land, we also see here God telling Jacob that kings will come from him. c. This idea that kings will come from the family line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob immediately causes me to jump forward to King David and then many years later King Jesus. Even the sign Pon=us Pilate had nailed above his head captured this. It read, “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews” (Jn. 19:19). i. It surely gave great hope to Jacob to hear the LORD speak in this manner. But it must give us here listening to this message a renewed sense of hope in what God has planned as well. This promise was made like 3700 years ago! Most of us gathered here today are Chris=ans who are ajemp=ng to be fully devoted to this King, King Jesus, who is our Lord and our Savior and he reigns forevermore. He has been known throughout the ages. The one promised from Gen 3:15 who would one day come to bruise the head of the serpent and whose heel would be struck in exchange. ii. King Jesus who was at crea=on with the Father and the Holy Spirt being eternally existent. Sent into the world to be born of the virgin Mary who was found with child by the Holy Spirit. iii. King Jesus who lived the perfect life, suffered under Pon=us Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried, and rose again on the third day from the dead, ascended into heaven where he sits at the right hand of the God the Father. He will come again to judge the world. iv. In the =me while we await the grace of Jesus’ life is made available for the people of this world. When we get away from the lie of trus=ng in ourselves to figure out how to be saved and put our trust fully in Christ’s completed work, he does what we could never do. He grants us freedom from sin, from death, and from eternal separa=on for God by reconciling us by his atoning work. What we could never do in our imperfec=on God did by the perfect blood of his Son. v. This is what the whole story of the Bible is revealing to us a lijle bit at a =me. Even here early in the first book of the Bible we cannot escape God’s purposeful ac=on being taken on the behalf of sinful man. 2. As this interac=on, this celebra=on, this fulfillment of what God asked Jacob to do and also the fulfillment of what Jacob promised he would do for God – for he did make a vow to God at Bethel many years before (Gen 28:20-22). This concludes with God going up from him in that place where he spoke with him (v13). This is where the rejoicing comes in. It is what always must follow such an occasion. a. v14 “And Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone. He poured out a drink offering on it and poured oil on it.” i. This is an offering given to the LORD – poured out as a sacrificial offering to the LORD. ii. Much really of what we are seeing in the interac=ons between Jacob, his family, and God Almighty are foretaste of what will later become wrijen into the Law as handed down through Moses hundreds of years later. God is direc=ng his people. 4 iii. Church, this is a truth that cannot pass us by. He is direc=ng us as his people as well. We can be easily caught up in pursuing things we ought not to but He is pa=ent, His love endures, and our responsibility is to respond to His voice. When he speaks we receive what he says in His word by the power of the Holy Spirit and we take the steps that must be taken. For some of us that is a radical life change for others your faithful response is so subtle it may hardly be no=ced but all is seen by God. iv. We rejoice in the victories that God brings about, when a sin is turned away from, when a friend hears us share the gospel with them and you can see that this =me it has made a no=ceable difference, we rejoice when a child clearly has embraced the faith once for all delivered to the Saints. We rejoice in the victories that God brings about. Transi)on: When we recognize the protec=ve and outstretched hand of God we are in a place to receive the wonderful working of God in life. Jacob commemorates this working by naming the place Bethel v15 the house of God. Of course, the wonderful working of God in life doesn’t always mean our personal life will be easy. Jacob lived a life full of travail but that doesn’t mean that God’s will was not being done. We must consider the broader aspect of God’s working beyond what is happing inside of us but also around us in the forming of na=ons. For the na=ons are being put on display in Genesis. Revela)on of Genera)ons (35v16-36v42) 1. vv16-18 “Then they journeyed from Bethel. When they were sHll some distance from Ephrath, Rachel went...” a. In Gen 30:24 Rebekah had cried out to the Lord a prayer, “May the LORD add to me another son!” and here she gives her very life for the life she has born. The favorite wife of Jacob dies in the act of giving him a son, the son of his old age, Joseph’s only brother. b. This tears at our hearts to think of the agony of dying in such a way. It may not be as common here in the west with our advanced medical technologies and with fewer births on average. But here is Jacob’s favorite wife, wan=ng to please her husband by producing a son – God’s word says in Gen 30:22 God remembered Rachel, listened to her and opened her womb. She bore Joseph! But immediately called for another. Gen 30:24 c. She died bringing another son into the world v19. With Benjamin being born the sons of Jacob are complete. i. The 12 sons of Jacob and their names as we read in vv22-26. The 12 tribes of Israel which become the focus of a great deal of the remainder of the Bible as God uses them to advance his plan. d. However, with the death of Rachel comes the inevitable mourning and a commemora=on of her life through burial v20. i. The people who have been called out by God know that it is a great loss when a life is lost. Our sensibili=es as God has designed us are greatly offended by the death of another image bearer – we cry out, “It isn’t right!” ii. And that is correct, death entered in because of our sin and the only cure for death is through Jesus Christ who grants forgiveness for sins. e. Yet in the middle of this =me of grieving another grievous event occurs. Reuben, Jacob’s first-born son and the son born to him by Leah takes this opportunity to further desecrate his father by having sexual rela=ons with Bilhah Jacob’s concubine v22. i. Why would he do such a thing? It is possible that he was ac=ng as Absalom did when ajemp=ng to usurp the power of his father David. For Absalom publicly did a similar act to make himself a stench to his father (2 Sam 16:21). ii. Whatever the reason was it seems odd that no retribu=on is taken but in Gen 49, when we get there, you will see that Jacob never forgets this atrocious act. 2. But let me say again, here in the book of Genesis we see this inten=onal and purposeful delivery of details that play a role in God’s plan (Reuben, Simeon, Levi – no but Judah). Even the no=ceable element of a deliberate closing out of certain branches of the families presented so that the primary story can con=nue. This is what is about to occur. a. vv27-29 For the two sons of Isaac, Esau and Jacob come together at the end of chapter 35 to bury their father who lived 180 years. He was old and full of days and in a way that only God could do the sons that were so antagonis=c towards each other are each present to honor him at his death and burial. If you are unfamiliar with the rest of Genesis, it is the line of Jacob that plays the primary role, but that doesn’t mean the promise God made of two na=ons being in Rebekah’s womb doesn’t need to be delved into further. 5 b. This is what chapter 36 covers in detail. It was read in the Scripture reading and I will not be going through it nearly as in depth but we have to recognize the significance of what God is doing by selng up na=ons not only from the offspring of Jacob but also from the offspring of Esau. i. This is in keeping with God’s word but it also is selng up the chosen, the elect, who will be opposed throughout by Esau’s descendants, famously described as the one God hated (Mal. 1:3, Rom. 9:13). c. Genesis 36vv6-8 “Then Esau took his wives, his sons, his daughters, and all the members of his household…” i. Does this descrip=on remind you of another division of sorts that took place? Abram and Lot right? ii. Lot’s descendants end up being enemies of God’s people and the descendants of Esau do as well. iii. As we are considering the Bible open before us, like you, I see this long list of hard to pronounce names and many places. But contained within this is evidence of God’s work in the details of life. He told Rebekah that she had two na=ons within her back when Esau and Jacob, these twin brothers, were inhabi=ng her womb (Gen 25:23). 1. In the book of Genesis this familiar pajern has been present – a focused look on the family or individuals who are God’s chosen ones but =me is also spent on those who are not. For they too are part of God’s sovereign plan to carry out his plan of redemp=on. Transi)on: This is what really is being presented before us and what we must be seeing – God is =relessly at work. He was, He is, and He forever will be about His kingdom purposes. Ensuring those who are his are carried along by his outstretched hand of protec=on. Conclusion My friends, the apostle Paul wrote in Eph 6 to Chris=ans in Ephesus that they were not wrestling against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authori=es, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. When we take a look at the divisions within Rebekah and Isaac’s home that resulted in Jacob and Esau becoming two na=ons, we see the physical manifesta=on of this cosmic bajle. When we take into considera=on divisions we are seeing within our own na=on or between na=ons we cannot forget that the world we live in is fallen, it is inundated with sin, and a cosmic bajle is being fought in heavenly places. Listen, God is not asleep at the wheel, no he is ac=vely involved in carrying out his plan. He wants you to be ac=vely involved with him. No=ce, as we close, how he pa=ently works in Jacob’s life. He intervenes in such a way the Jacob is ready to respond. He calls to Jacob, and that means Jacob has to be ready to hear what the Lord has to say. He calls Jacob into deeper rela=onship with him, telling him to travel to the place where they communed before. Where Jacob made a vow. He calls to Jacob to worship Him there now, so many years later. So, Jacob has to consider the frighkul place he finds himself in – he has become a stench to the people of the land, his family is fracturing, and he is afraid. Peace has completely departed from his life – and that is when God calls to him. Destruc=on was all around Jacob and you might find that you have destruc=on all around you as well that you have no peace in your life. I urge you if that is the case to recognize that the God who knew everything about Jacob, all of his lying, his chea=ng, his inac=on, and his striving – knowing all of it God reached out his strong and protec=ve hand to him, Jacob recognized the outstretched and protec=ve hand of God and accepted his leading in his life. Jesus Christ is God’s outstretched hand to a hur=ng world. He gave himself up so that the pain and suffering brought about by sin could be dealt with once and for all through his atoning work on the cross bringing a sure victory to the cosmic bajle for your soul. Receive Jesus’ outstretched and protec=ve hand for you, my beloved, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:7).
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