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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

July 20, 2016

Genesis 35:8:29

  1. Verse 8. We learn that Jacob experiences the death of someone who was very dear to him, Deborah, the woman who took care of his mother. She was only mentioned before (not by name) when she left Haran with Rebekah, who was going to marry Isaac (24:59). If she had cared for Rebekah as an infant, she would be very old by now, probably about 170. It is not revealed when she joined Jacob’s company, but her presence probably indicates that Rebekah had died sometime during Jacob’s years in Haran. As close as he was to his mother, the death of her beloved nurse would have been tough for Jacob. The name given to Deborah’s burial place, “The Oak of Weeping,” shows his grief. We are reminded that even though Jacob is now turning towards God and God’s plan doesn’t mean he will not have to experience all the trials most people have to endure. Your faith in God doesn’t give you a pass on difficulties. We will all have our own “Oak of Weeping,” but remember oaks stay put, but you must move. You can visit the oak, but you can’t live under the oak all your life.

  2. Verses 9-12. The Lord renews His covenant with Jacob. Jacob’s reconciliation with God, at Bethel, required several actions on Jacob’s part: First, he had to come to the point where he stopped going his own sinful way and once again obeyed that which he knew to be God’s will. Second, he had to get rid of the foreign gods he had tolerated, which were so offensive to God. Finally, he had to be reconciled with his family members whom he had injured and offended by his sins (Matt 5:23-24; 18:15-17). It is very important that God’s people follow through and keep the commitments they have made concerning participation in His will. Again God renames Jacob Israel. God had called Jacob Israel back in chapter 32, but it would seem that Jacob forgot his new identity. Don’t we all have a tendency to forget that we are new creations, and God has to remind us who we are in Christ and that our old ways should be behind us? Are you walking in your new identity? You will face opportunity after opportunity to compromise and not fulfill your calling. God not only reminds Jacob of his new name, God also promises Jacob many descendants and land. The only difference is that Jacob actually has sons when he hears this promise. This is the same promise he gave his grandfather. God is renewing his commitment to do what he promised. Jacob must enter the land with a fresh sense of his purpose. God uses Moses to show the ancient Israelites coming out of Egypt why they were making their way to ancient Israel. The ancient Israelites were fulfilling the promise of God made to Abraham by returning home.

  3. Verses 13-15. After hearing from God, Jacob makes a stone pillar that he anoints with oil and water. This would be the second pillar that Jacob has created in this place. The first time Jacob came to Bethel in chapter 28, God spoke to him and made a covenant with Jacob. God renews his covenant with Jacob and Jacob renews his as well. When God shows you mercy and grace, the appropriate response is worship. Have you lifted up a praise today for all that God has done for you?

  4. Verses 16-20. The next sorrow to hit Jacob after he moves to Bethel is his beloved Rachel died in childbirth. Jacob’s journey from Bethel toward Hebron was probably not a violation of God’s command since God only told him to go there and fulfill his vow. Jacob had loved Rachel at first sight. He had worked seven years for her and then, when he got cheated with Leah, he worked seven more for Rachel. Although his grief is passed over in Genesis 35, it is revealed about 40 years later, that this death brought great sorrow (Gen. 48:7). Rachel died while giving birth. As she breathed her last breath she named the boy Ben-Oni which means sorrow, but Jacob renamed him Benjamin which means son of my right hand. Rachel was not in her right mind when she named her son so Jacob had to correct her mistake. We have to be careful what we do and say when we are under great pressure. Jacob buried Rachel near Ephrath, an older name for Bethlehem (“house of bread”). Ironically, Rachel, who had cried in desperation to Jacob, “Give me children, or else I die” (30:1), died giving birth to a child. Jacob loved Rachel and made a pillar to remember her in the land and buried her in a tomb.

  5. Verses 2l-22. Jacob moves on from that place and in his old age, his oldest son, son of Leah, does the unthinkable. Reuben sleeps with his father’s concubine. This is actually an ancient ritual that means you are usurping the father’s authority and taking over. Obviously Reuben and his dad didn’t have a good relationship. We see David’s Absalom do the same thing later in 2 Samuel l6-21-22. Jacob hears of it, but doesn’t do anything about it. We are not sure why he doesn’t do anything, but nothing comes of this action.

  6. Verses 23-29. We get a list of all the sons of Israel to remind us who they are and the order in which they came. We also get a quick summary that Jacob went back to the land of his father and died there. There is more to the story, but we know that Jacob died in the land of his father. Jacob had left Beersheba with only a staff in his hand. Now he returned with 12 sons, a large household, and much livestock. Through Jacob’s l2 sons God would fulfill His promises. The end of the Jacob narratives is marked by the death of his father, Isaac. The purpose of this notice is not simply to record Isaac’s death but rather to show the complete fulfillment of God’s promise to Jacob (28:21). According to Jacob’s vow, he had asked that God to watch over him during his sojourn and return him safely to the house of his father. Thus, the conclusion of the narrative marks the final fulfillment of these words as Jacob returned to the house of his father, Isaac, before he died. The Bible says that when he died he was “gathered to his people, old and full of years.” That thought of being “gathered to his people” is an early hint of life after death. This, incidentally, is the last recorded time that Jacob and Esau meet. Many years earlier they had separated because of their father; now they had come together to bury him.

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