“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.’ So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel so that I may make there an altar to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.’ So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.” -Genesis 35:1–4
So much we could talk about here but get the big picture. What happened is God had called Jacob to come back to Bethel where God had appeared to Jacob before. What happens at the very end of Genesis Chapter 33 is Jacob stops about 20 miles short of Bethel in a place called Shechem. And that’s where all kinds of evil comes upon his family which we prayed in light of yesterday.
And then in Chapter 35, God appears to Jacob again and says, “Go to the place I called you to go.” And so Jacob looks at his family and says, “Put away the foreign gods.” Remember the foreign gods that Rachel had stolen from her father’s house. Jacob says, “Put them away, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then let’s arise and go up to Bethel.”
Basically, this is a picture of repentance. This is Jacob saying, “I have, we have stopped short of what God has called us to do. We have not obeyed Him. And we have dishonored Him with these foreign gods among us, this lack of purity among us. So put away the foreign gods, purify yourselves, change your garments. Let’s go to Bethel so that,” and I love this phrase, “I may make there an altar there to the God who answers me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”
Is that not good news? Even when you, as a child of God, as one who has trusted in Him for salvation. Even when you wander away, even when you disobey, even when you allow idolatry into your life, God is faithful to still love you, to still hear your cries, and to be with you, to not leave you or forsake you.
God, we praise You for Your faithfulness to us. God, even as I say these words, I’m so overwhelmed in a fresh way right now about Your faithfulness to me. And to all who trusted in You and Jesus, for forgiveness of our sins, who are a part of Your family, oh God, we praise You that You are with us wherever we go. Even when we wander from You, even when we’re disobeying You, even when we are not pursuing You, You are pursuing us. We praise You for Your faithful love for us.
We praise You for new starts. We praise You for second chances. Not just second chances, we praise You for third and fourth and fifth and sixth and seventh and on and on and on chances. God, we praise You for Your mercy to come to us, even in our sin, and to say, “Let’s go. Let’s leave this behind. Let’s experience all that I have for You.” God, we praise you for You did this in Jacob’s life and family. We praise You for how You do this in our lives.
God, I pray for any one of us right now who is living in willful, deliberate sin. God that this prayer right now, this podcast episode You might use to remind people You love them, You’re with them, and You are ready to pull them back. You desire to pull them back to You and to life, abundant life that You have for us. God, we praise You for Your faithful love and just pray for the realization of that faithful love and some who are listening to this right now and in all of us, God, in all of us, none of us presume that there aren’t things in our house that we need to get rid of, that there are not things in our lives that we don’t need to reevaluate, that we don’t need to repent of.
So God, open our eyes to any and all sin in us. Open our eyes to any ways we’re stopping short of all that You’re calling us to do. And God, help us to follow You. Totally, completely, fully all the way, to do all that You are calling us to do in our lives. And to experience the fullness of the abundant life You have created us to live.
God, we praise You. We glorify You. We thank You for Your faithfulness to us when we fall short, for Your grace and Your mercy in our lives. And we pray that based upon Your grace and Your mercy, You would help us to obey and trust and follow You more and more and more fully with all our heart, all our soul, and all our mind, and all our strength to love and obey You.
For You are worthy of all of our love. You are worthy of all of our obedience. You are worthy of every single facet, detail of our lives. We praise and love and thank You, God. In Jesus’ name, we pray. In the name of the one who makes second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh chances possible. In the name of Jesus who died on the cross for all our sins in His name, we pray.