Gen. 35:1-5 Jacob returns to Bethel

1 And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.
2 Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments:
3 And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went.
4 And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.
5 And they journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob.

     Jacob was probably glad to hear God’s instruction to move back to Bethel (meaning "house of God"), after the terrible experience of folly in Shechem.   Bethel is a place of return and re-dedication.  God wanted Jacob to build an altar as an act of worship and sacrifice.  Bethel was a place of rest and revelation.  It was there Jacob escaped his brother’s wrath and was visited by God in Gen. 28:10-22.  The return to Bethel must be accompanied with a purity of worship.  Idols must be gotten rid of, wrong customs and culture, including clothing must go.  God desires for his children to return to him in sincerity and purity.  If returning to God involves a change of wardrobes, or culture, then He is worthy of all of that, and nothing is off limits with God.  No doubt the surrounding Canaanite territories were afraid because of the horrible event that occurred in Shechem by Jacob’s sons.  But God has a way of working through the troublesome situations to use it for His good pleasure and in this case the protection of His people.  Fathers should ever be careful to watch over their families to make sure they aren’t retaining idols and false worship practices which can be learned from the ungodly cultures surrounding them.  Fathers should take great care to lead the family in serving and worshiping God.  In our dispensation, no doubt, the house of God refers to the church (1 Tim. 3:15).  The church is where we hear God's word preached to us (which is the N.T. ordained way of receiving Biblical instructions).  The church is a place of return, rest, re-dedication and Bible instructions.  May we as fathers (heads of homes) be ever so careful to allow the church culture to influence our homes rather than the worldly cultures.  As we strive to please God, He will bless us with His divine hand of protection.  May we learn to trust Him more and more.

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