“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.'”
– Genesis 35:1-3
Genesis 35:1-3 are such great verses in light of what we’ve read in the previous couple of chapters. Remember, at the end of Genesis 33, Jacob stopped short of going to Bethel—”Beth El,” the House of God—where God had told him to go, where he had told God he was going to go. He stopped 20 miles short in Shechem, and all kinds of sin and disastrous effects from sin flowed from that. And then God says to him, “Now it’s time to get up. It’s time to go to Bethel.”
Genesis 35:1-3 Reminds Us God Gives Us Second Chances
And I just read this, and I just think, “God, I praise You for second chances.” Aren’t you thankful for second chances from God? Not just second chances: third, fourth, fifth, a hundredth chances from God. He is so gracious. When we have sinned against Him, when we see the effects of sin in our lives, He comes to us in His mercy, He forgives us, He renews us, He restores us, and He brings us to Himself. That’s exactly what’s happening here in Genesis 35:1-3, and this is what happens when we confess our sin. This is 1 John 1:9, “We confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
And so I just want to encourage us as we pray today to pray in confession, in turning from sin, and realizing God loves us, God has given us second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, hundredth chances. In our relationship with Him, He is constantly faithful to us, so by His grace, let’s confess our sin, our need for His grace, and follow Him, experience communion with Him, worship of Him like He’s called us to.
Genesis 35:1-3 Leads Us to Confess Our Sins
God, we pray, we are sinners. Obviously, I don’t know how to confess specific sins for everybody who’s listening to this right now, but I just think about sins in my own life, think about my need for Your grace, our need for Your grace, as we sin against You in different ways, as we’ve done that today or the day before.
This Verse Leads Us to Thank God for His Grace
God, we thank You for Your grace. It gives us an opportunity to start over, to start new. We praise You for forgiving us of our sins, cleansing us from unrighteousness, for enabling us to experience communion with You. Even though we’ve sinned against You, that You cover over our sin, You restore us to Yourself. All glory be to Your name, O God. So, help us, help us today to experience what You have called us to experience with You: life in obedience to Your commands. God, help us to turn from sin, help us to walk with You and experience the fullness of life in You. We pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.