BIBLE STUDY

DCLM Search The Scripture 17 July 2022 || Lesson 28 (Adult)

DCLM Search The Scripture 17 July 2022

DCLM Search The Scripture 17 July 2022 || Lesson 28 (Adult) || Jacob Returns To Bethel

Deeper Life Search The Scripture 17 July 2022 || Lesson 28

PREVIOUS STS MANUAL

ADULT STS LESSON 28 – JACOB RETURNS TO BETHEL

MEMORY VERSE. “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. (Gen 35:1)

TEXT: Genesis 35:1-29; 36:1-43

DCLM Search The Scripture 17 July 2022 || MESSAGE

The preceding chapter ended with the gruesome murder of the Canaanites by Simeon and Levi which brought great distress to Jacob, their father. He was perplexed by the heartless act and the consequent risk of extermination looming on his life and family (Gen 34:30).

While at crossroads, God commanded him to return to Bethel. Recall that Jacob made a vow of reciprocal devotion, worship and service to God at Bethel if He would preserve his life and provide for him while on self-imposed exile and flight from Esau. About twenty years later, he was reminded in a vision prior to leaving Padanaram that, “I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred” (Gen 31:13).

God expected that he would return to Bethel and promptly fulfil his vow. As it were, Jacob returned and dwelt in Shechem for many years without complying. The command to return to Bethel is, therefore, a solemn rebuke for delay in fulfilling his vow as well as a call to spiritual renewal and restoration t z first love, fervency, devotion and faithfulness (Rev 2:4,5; 3:15-19).

These also apply to the present-day believer, as “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). We must not delay or renege on fulfilling our vows to the Lord to avoid accompanying distress and afflictions (Jonah 2:9, 10).

However, God still rescues from trouble and afflictions when we repent and return to Him wholeheartedly. Thus, the text focuses on Jacob’s return to Bethel and his unique encounter with God there.

DCLM Search The Scripture 17 July 2022 || Lesson 28 (Adult)

1. JACOB’S ENCOUNTER WITH GOD
Gen 35:1-4; 28:1,2,5, 10-22; Exo 19:10,14; Josh 24: 15,18,21; 1 Sam 7:3

“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.” Bethel is significant as a place of prayer, consecration, spiritual renewal and covenant with God.

The command to return to Bethel and dwell there came with a reminder of a previous encounter. The Lord reminded Jacob of his vow at Bethel while in distress when he fled from his brother, Esau. Jacob had promised that: “…If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee” (Gen 28:20-22).

The Lord who is always faithful to His word answered his prayer. Jacob had been given not only bread and raiment but an estate; he had become two bands (Gen 32:10; 33:1,2,5,11). While the Lord had performed His part of the bargain, we have no record of Jacob performing his.

  • DCLM Search The Scripture 17 July 2022 || Lesson 28 (Adult)

The Scripture affirms the sinfulness of making a vow or consecration to the Lord and reneging on the same. “When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for be hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed” (Deut 23:21; Eccl 5:4).

The Lord knows the danger that human beings face when they get so enamoured with material prosperity that they forget the Source of their wealth. Hence, He warned the children of Israel to beware “when thou … have eaten and be full… lest thou forget the LORD” (Deut 6:10-12).

Jacob, the fugitive who once had a stone for his pillow, was now a man of great wealth, having flocks and herds, camels and asses (Gen 28: 1; 32:5,13-15). He became so preoccupied with the care of his estate and wealth at the expense of his relationship with God. If anything, divine benevolence is designed to elicit gratitude and commitment from recipients. No one or thing merits our devotion or should be given priority above getting connected and maintaining our relationship with God.

Jacob’s promptness in obeying the command to return to Bethel is heartening. Bethel was a place of divine encounter with God. The solemnity of the occasion required adequate preparation. God is holy; therefore, they must appear before Him clean and pure. Jacob knew that righteousness and holiness pleased God. Hence, He exhorted his household to “…put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments” (Gen 35:2).

God gave the same command, through Isaiah, to the children of Israel: “Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes” (Isaiah home, in the church, at school or workplace. Observe that Jacob commanded his household to put away “strange gods”. It is important that we set our hearts and house in order before appearing before God.

DCLM Search The Scripture 17 July 2022 || Lesson 28 (Adult)

Aside strange gods, everyone who seeks to be in fellowship with God forever must do away with strange women or men, apparel, doctrines and all other things the Scripture reveals He hates (1 Kings 11:1,8; Ezra 10:10; Zeph 1:8; Heb 13:9; Prov 6:16-19).

Godly parents and spiritual guides should focus on the total well-being of those under them to avoid compromise and backsliding. Jacob’s promptness in heeding the divine command to return to Bethel shows the importance he attaches to God’s word. Believers should obey God’s word without delay. Jacob’s instruction also covers cleanliness and change of garments.

A shabby appearance does not befit God nor does it show reverence for Him. It is also abhorrent to see all kinds of strange, night club garments that so-called believers wear to places of worship today. We must always dress well and comport ourselves with reverence for God and His house. Of note is the response of the women who gave to Jacob “all their earrings which were in their ears” (Gen 35:4). Jacob buried the images and earrings where no one would have access to them, highlighting the necessity of complete separation from all objects of sin (2 Cor 6:17; Isaiah 2:20).

None of the women prized the earring above fellowship with the God of heaven. Spiritual revival or reformation is often preceded by repentance and separation from sinful objects. “And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver” (Acts 19:18,19).

Having removed the objects of defilement, Jacob and his family were now ready for their journey. God calls all lukewarm believers who have left their first love and reneged on their consecration to Him to remember their initial encounter with Him and their vow. He wants them to repent of their ingratitude and unfaithfulness and part with objects of defilement. He wants them to renew their consecration, fulfil their promise to live in holiness, righteousness, obedience and serve Him throughout their lifetime.

DCLM Search The Scripture 17 July 2022 || Lesson 28 (Adult)

2. JACOB’S JOURNEY BACK TO BETHEL
Gen 35:5-29; Psalm 93:5; Prov 12:28; 16:7; 2 Sam 14:14; Psalm 90:10,12; Acts 9:1-6; 13:9; 2 Tim 2:19; Deut 27:20; 22:30

“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” (Gen 35:5). The inhabitants of the surrounding cities were restrained by the divine presence and power from attacking Jacob and his household.

There is great profit in separating ourselves from all forms of defilement of the flesh and spirit. This is the condition for becoming God’s peculiar children (2 Cor 6:14-18). As believers, we are assured of divine protection while we live in holiness and walk in the will of God. With God on our side, we are assured of victory over Satan and his wicked agents (Prov 16: 7; Rom 8:31).

Thus, as Jacob journeyed to Bethel in obedience to God’s commandment, he enjoyed divine protection. Jacob and his family finally arrived Bethel safely. There, he built an altar of worship unto the Lord and called it Elbethel, meaning, the God of Bethel (Gen 35:6,7). By this name, he was making a grateful recognition of God’s favours and intervention at the time of his distress.

Believers should always appreciate God for His past mercies and His promises of continual blessing and protection. Jacob’s example in erecting an altar unto the Lord is an encouragement to all believers to have designated places for corporate worship and fellowship. Christian worship centres should be commodious, neat and befitting. God is not honoured when our church buildings are decrepit and dilapidated.

Three funerals of Deborah (Rebekah’s nurse), Rachel and Isaac (Gen 35:8,16-19,29) took place while Jacob was in Bethel. These instances of bereavement show that death is a common experience of all humans and it can even occur while in transit. Since no one knows when or where death will come calling whether at home, work or place of worship let us always be ready. Jacob’s handling of Deborah’s burial needs special mention. Deborah was a nurse/ maid to Rebekah (Gen 24:59).

Now old and dependent, she was adopted into Jacob’s family. While at Bethel, she died and was buried at a place called Allon-bachuth, meaning, “the oak of weeping.” Jacob was kind-hearted and honoured the old maid the way a son would do to a departed parent. Jacob’s action towards Deborah teaches us that old faithful and helpful servant in the family should be treated with care.

Besides, Isaac Who was thought to be nearer his grave, outlived Rebekah who did not live to witness the return of her son, Jacob from the house of Laban. The lives of God’s faithful children are in His hands; He is the ultimate Decider of when they depart this world. While at Bethel, God appeared to Jacob to comfort and bless him. He also confirmed the change of his name from Jacob to Israel, as earlier announced by the angel that wrestled with him (verse 9; 32:28).

DCLM Search The Scripture 17 July 2022 || Lesson 28 (Adult)

Believers need to seek confirmation of whatever revelation they receive. The name ‘Jacob’ means heel-catcher, supplanter or deceiver; his new name ‘Israel’ means the prince of God or one that has prevailed or will rule. The change of name was a confirmation of his transformed life and character. Anyone who seeks to walk with God must first be converted and become a new creature in life and conduct. Many in our world today claim to be following Jacob’s example by changing their heathen names to Christian ones without any corresponding change in their lives and character.

Remember, “every one that nameth the name of Christ [must] depart from iniquity”. The Lord revealed Himself to Jacob as God Almighty, El-Shaddai, the all-bountiful or all-sufficient One who is able to make good His promise in due time and supply every need (Gen 35:11; Phil 4:19). God also renewed the Abrahamic covenant with Jacob by saying; “..the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land” (Gen 35:12).

The Lord is ever faithful to His covenant and will surely perform His promises in our lives, families and endeavours. So, we must repose our faith in Him. No doubt, Jacob led his family into personal cleansing in the bid to renew their relationship with God. But some of his children were unaffected by this spiritual revival. While still smarting from a recent barbarous murder of the Shechemites by two of his unrepentant children, Reuben worsened Jacob’s distress by committing incest with his father’s concubine (Gen 35:22).

This was the meanest thing to do in the wake of spiritual revival. “Doth not even nature itself teach” of the vileness of the act? The Scripture affirms that even Gentiles detest such abominable act (1 Cor 5:1). Great judgment awaits those who practice such wickedness. “Cursed be he that lieth with his father’s wife; because he uncovereth his father’s skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen” (Deut 27:20; 22:30).

Adultery and fornication are condemned in Scripture and will damn the soul in hell if there is no repentance. Saints are commanded to flee fornication and all sins and maintain purity of heart and life that please God (Gen 39:12; 1 Cor 6:18). Like Esau, Reuben failed to rule his passion but allowed his lust to ruin his destiny. He would later smart for his action as his father cursed him for his incest. Thus, the right of the firstborn was withdrawn from him and given to Joseph (1 Chro 5:1,2).

DCLM Search The Scripture 17 July 2022 || Lesson 28 (Adult)

Sin may titillate the flesh at its inception but it will surely leave a sore taste of misery and woe in the mouth in the end. While at Bethel, Jacob visited Isaac, his aged father in Hebron (Gen 35:27). Jacob’s action teaches us not to fail in our filial duties to our parents when they are alive. The command to all children of all ages is, “Honour thy father and thy mother”. This includes visiting them from time to time as may be appropriate. Filial love and honour for parents attract longevity of life with prosperity (Exo 20:12).

3. ESAU’S GENEALOGY, MATERIALISM AND SPIRITUAL DESTITUTION
Gen 36:1-43; 25:29-34; 27:30-40; Jer 49:7-22; Mal 1:1-4; Heb 12:16,17

The text furnishes us with the names of sons and dukes who are descendants of Esau. The greatness and material wealth of his descendants show the fulfilment of the blessings Isaac pronounced on him. It proves the impartiality and love of God for all; “…for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matt 5:45).

However, we find a pitiable example of spiritual destitution in Esau and his family. There is no record in Scripture of Esau erecting an altar of worship to God as his brother often did. His indifference to spiritual heritage which initially manifests with sale of his birthright to satisfy his hunger and consequent loss of the blessings of the firstborn became a habit during his adult life.

Consequently, he became a sad commentary in the history of the patriarch. The Scripture warns of the danger of such a lifestyle. “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears” (Heb 12:16,17).

Esau was a profane person secular, irreverent and irreligious; he was reprobate because he placed no value on relationship with God (Hosea 8:12). The Bible warns believers against passion for carnal things and reminds us that “…we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.. Therefore, we need to prioritise on the spiritual above the mundane (1 Tim 6:7; Psalm 62:10).

DCLM Search The Scripture 17 July 2022 || Questions for review:

1. What danger does material prosperity pose to our commitment to God?
2. How should believers respond to God’s call to spiritual restoration and consecration?
3. What is incest and how can we prevent it in our family?
4. In the light of the certainty of death, how should saints lead their daily lives?
5. What are the exemplary actions of Jacob towards his parents and Deborah?
6. What do we learn about the choice of Esau and its toll on his descendants?
7. Why is Esau not a good example of a follower of Christ?

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