Genesis 34:1-31 – Sin in Shechem
God’s desires for his people to be holy and live separate from the world. Now Shechem was prominent city, but not where Jacob was supposed to be. He had traveled over 500 miles and had only 50 miles to go to Bethel, where God told him to go. He bought land and settled there for 10 years. Delayed obedience is disobedience and outside God’s will. It was a land of wicked and sinful people and a land of idol worshippers. Jacob’s family was under great influence from Shechem. In chapter 34 there is no mention of God, only evil.
Jacob did the very same thing Lot had done. Lot settled in Sodom and we know what kind of place that was. One day Jacob and Leah’s daughter, Dinah went to visit the women in the city. The world is alluring to our children even those from Christian homes. The world breeds entitlement. Dinah was raped. “When Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, the ruler of that area, saw her, he took her and violated her.” – Gen. 34:2. The scripture was clear. She is violated. This might have been avoided, if she had not been allowed to go alone. It was very dangerous in that day for women to be alone. Shechem (who had the same name as the city) had no sense of doing anything wrong. It was their culture to take what they wanted. This could have been avoided if Jacob had gone to Bethel as God had told him and not stay in Shechem. God wants us to separate ourselves from the world and not live as the world lives. – 2 Cor. 6:17-18.
Then Shechem wanted to marry Dinah, but he needed her family’s approval. His father, Hamor after seeing Jacob and all his wealth, wanted his people to intermarry with Jacob’s people. Her brothers, Simeon and Levi became very anger when they heard about what had happened to Dinah. They let their emotions get out of control. They made a cruel plot and pretended Shechem could marry Dinah. First all the men had to be circumcised. The men agreed. While the men were still hurting and could not fight, Simeon and Levi attacked them killing every man and looted the city. They took their flocks and carried off all their wealth including their women and children. Two wrongs don’t make a right. All the men, women and children of the town were not responsible for what happened to Dinah.
Jacob was unhappy about their behavior, because they had acted wickedly. Jacob’s family was not using their special identity as God’s people. Now Jacob’s whole family was in danger. Jacob’s sons did not respect God by using circumcision to their advantage. They used it to take revenge instead of using it as a covenant with God.
Jacob’s sons took revenge for what happened to Dinah. God’s people should not take revenge. That’s God’s job. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.” – Rom. 12:17-19. It’s not a sin to be angry. It’s how you handle it that can become sin.
Principle: Settling outside God’s will engages with evil and endangers others.
Where are you compromising God’s Word?How are you resisting the world?
How is disobedience compromising your family?
When someone wrongs you, do you take revenge or do you leave it for God? Maybe polite revenge?
Do you do what is right in the eyes of others?
People’s choices impact people. God knows if you’ve been violated. You can trust Him. The harm you endured is recorded in His heart.
Jacob’s sons used circumcision for their own selfish revenge. Misusing something God has ordained is wrong. This is being done today. Same sex couples want to be married and is now before the Supreme Court. God established marriage between one man and one woman before America’s civil right were ever established. Marriage resembles God and His church.
Genesis 35:1-15 – Renewal by Repentance
There are murdered people everywhere, Dinah is violated and dad is silent. Then God came to Jacob to talk to him. Would you want to talk to Jacob? What a God we have! God wants to pull Jacob out of the pit and restore his relationship with Him. God reminds Jacob the last time he messed up. Jacob recognized his mistakes. God gives Jacob 2 commands: go to Bethel and to settle there and make an altar to Him. Jacob served God, but his family did not. They were influenced by the culture around them and used idols. “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.” – Gen 35:2. They had to choose between God and their idols. So they gave them up and repented. They all returned to Bethel and God blessed Jacob and his family by sending terror to the towns all around them so no one who pursue them for the wrong his sons had done.
There are truths in spiritual cleansing:Ps. 51:7, 10; Is. 1:16; Heb. 9:13-14; 1 John 1:7-9 – we are to get rid of anything that will tempt us, we are cleaned from our past by the blood of Christ.
Matt. 3:8; Acts 2:38; James 4:8-10 – we are to repent and be baptized and produce fruit.
1 Cor. 10:20; Eph. 5:1; 1 Thess. 1:9 – we are not to participate with demons and we are to turn from idols and serve the living God.
An idol can be anything we desire in place of God. We all have idols. Where you spend most of your time, money and energy can be an idol. It could be your job, your children, your hobbies, your money or your pleasure. “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” – 1 John 5:21.
What do you need to be cleansed of?What idols do you worship?
Have you repented of your sins?
If so, how has God blessed you?
What a contrast from chapter 34 and 35 – from evil to God’s grace. When Jacob was at his lowest, God called his name to come back to Him. This is what Easter is all about. Jesus came to earth to pay the price for our sins. His death gives us salvation from sin and power over sin. We all sin and God desires us to come back to Him.
Principle: Repentance results in a fresh revelation of God.
Genesis 35:16-36:43 – Separation from Esau
At Bethel Jacob built an altar to God as God had told him to do. There God repeated his promises to Jacob. Rachel gave birth to another son, Benjamin and then she died. Benjamin was the only son born in the Promised Land. As the custom the oldest son was to have sex with his father’s wives, and then he would be the family leader. Reuben was the oldest and he had sex with Bilhah who was Jacob’s concubine. Jacob knew this was wrong, but he could not control his adult sons. Jacob decided Reuben must not receive the birthright. Instead, he decided that Joseph would receive the birthright.
This family was dysfunctional, like many families today. But God through His amazing grace works through it all to bring us to Jesus. This is very encouraging that we don’t have to be perfect. God loves us in spite of our mistakes.
Jacob and Esau’s father, Isaac lived 180 years, and then he died. Jacob and Esau came together and buried him.
There are now 2 distinct people – Edomites and the Israelites. The Edomites, Esau’s descendants were godless and lived lives of idolatry. The Israelites, Jacob’s descendants worshiped God. The Edomites and the Israelites were enemies.
Principle: God calls believers to separate our hearts from the world so we resemble Him to the world.
What do you need to resist the world in your life?How will you pray for your descendants? One can turn to God and one can turn away.
While we were still sinners He died for us. We need to trust every Word of God. He knows more than we do and He knows us. Because of His resurrection, we have all we need to live a holy life. He’s calling your name.
While He was on the cross,
you were on His mind.