Wow! There is a ton of family history and drama that occurs in these 29 verses of Genesis 35. Let’s lay out the big ones from top to bottom.
- God tells Jacob to take his family and hit the road to Bethel.
- Jacob instructs them to get rid of all their foreign idols and they move forward without trouble from anyone. (Why did Jacob’s peeps still have foreign god’s? Seems like he would have made that rule long before now. Anyway?)
- Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, dies and is buried.
- God changes Jacob’s name to Isreal. We know how much God loves a name change.
- They move on from Bethel and on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem) Rachel dies giving birth to Benjamin. Note, she named him Ben-Oni, but his father named him Benjamin.
- Then we are introduced to Reuben. Another sinful son of Leah & Jacob’s like Levi and Simeon we learned about last week. Reuben sleeps with his father’s concubine Bilhah. Let’s be honest, that’s just all kinds of wrong. Yikes.
- Jacob/Isreal finally returns home to his father Isaac and at 180 years old Isaac dies his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.
Whew!!! That’s a lot. Keep in mind this didn’t happen in just a couple of days. I don’t know exactly how long it was, but I can say that I have had weeks that felt as if this much happened in just a few days. Ever had one of those?
Even with a packed chapter like this, my heart couldn’t get past sitting on what I mentioned in #2 of our list above.
So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.” (v. 2)
In the Message translation is says, “alien gods” and in the KJV it says, “strange gods”. Any other than our one true God and Creator is the wrong thing. And so my mind began to consider all of the strange gods that I may have tucked under my camel’s saddle (or in my heart) that I haven’t been paying attention to or identified as idols. I found a few, but I realized that the one at the top of the list is my own children. I’ve let fear blind me into not recognizing it sooner. As of a week ago, I now have two teenagers. Fear of them being hurt physically, sexually or emotionally, trying drugs, taking the wrong step so they don’t get to attend the college they want, not making the school team they are trying for, being hurt by friends . . . (I could actually keep typing for a while) can be overwhelming.
This fear and worry about my children is an idol that I have placed in line ahead of God. My step today is to pray, place this fear and worry at the feet of my Heavenly Father, ask Him to give me the faith and trust that He loves my children more than I ever could and know that His hand is upon them and the plan He has for their lives.
So, I ask you today. What is your strange god? What keeps your mind and heart spinning and working in a nonproductive way and is hindering trust and faith in your Heavenly Father. It’s more difficult to identify when it isn’t something tangible sitting on a shelf shining in the sunlight, but I assure you it’s just as much of a hindrance. I pray that as you take time to consider this today that God will open your eyes, as He did mine, and give you the courage and strength to identify it, place it at His feet and serve the One and Only God. You are LOVED!