GO UP TO BETHEL
Genesis 35:1 ¶ 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.
Genesis 35:6 ¶ So Jacob came to Luz, which is in the land of Canaan, that is, Bethel, he and all the people that were with him. 7 And he built there an altar, and called the place Elbethel: because there God appeared unto him, when he fled from the face of his brother. 8 But Deborah Rebekah’s nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth.
Jacob has vowed that he would confirm the Lord God to be his Lord if he was brought back to Canaan in peace. And it would be done there at Bethel. Genesis 28:18 And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. 19 And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. 20 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, 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, 21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God: 22 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.
But instead of performing his vow at Bethel, he builds his own house at Succoth! Genesis 33:17 And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. 18 And Jacob came to (‘peace and safety, before’) a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. 19 And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money. 20 And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe-Israel.
It is very unwise to make a vow to the Lord God and then not preform it! Ecclesiastes 5:2 Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few. 4 When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. 5 Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay. 6 Suffer not thy mouth to cause thy flesh to sin; neither say thou before the angel, that it was an error: wherefore should God be angry at thy voice, and destroy the work of thine hands?
And the Lord had even reminded Jacob of his vow. Genesis 31:13 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. But in the mean while he had to deal with Laban chasing him to keep him from leaving Syria. And he had to meet Esau, whom he feared would prevent him from going on into Canaan. So he allowed what the Lord God wanted to be pushed aside in light of these ‘more pressing matters.’ And THAT is a most serious concern. Matthew 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
But the Lord God did not allow it to be pushed aside! For he already had put into place one single little daughter – the only daughter of Jacob’s whose name is recorded – Dinah! He had other daughters. But Dinah is the only one mentioned by name. This sets her apart as unique among the entire family to reveal that the Lord had a special part to play through her in his dealings with Jacob!
Take note of the plural word, “daughters” in these verses which clearly show that Jacob had more daughters besides Dinah. Genesis 37:35 And all his sons and all his daughters rose up to comfort him; but he refused to be comforted; and he said, For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him. 46:7 His sons, and his sons’ sons with him, his daughters, and his sons’ daughters, and all his seed brought he with him into Egypt.
And hidden in the prophetic revelation within the birthing and naming of his sons, there even lies a subtle warning about this situation. Notice these verses: Genesis 30:20 And Leah said, God hath endued me with a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun. 21 And afterwards she bare a daughter, and called her name Dinah. Zebulun means “dwelling.” And just as here, as soon as a ‘Zebulun’ is mentioned, a ‘Dinah’ (whose name means ‘judgment’), comes up next. So as soon as Jacob builds his own house and settles down to ‘dwell’ there, Dinah goes wandering about, and gets raped by a Hivite, bringing down judgment on the whole community! Genesis 34:1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her.
Not an army, just one little daughter. No other daughter’s names are ever mentioned, as they are not to play a part in this written record of the history of God’s redemption. And as she had the same mother, Leah, with Simeon and Levi, read what they did. Genesis 34:25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. 26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out.
And humanly speaking, none of these events would have taken place if Jacob had kept his vow and went up to Bethel! Bethel means, “house of God.” But Jacob, instead, built a house for Jacob! And this was even contrary to the entire ‘personality’ of the Patriarchs! Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.
Remember Jacob’s word at his previous encounter at Bethel – And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: (Genesis 28:22).
And here is the result of all this! Genesis 34:30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house. And now, under these horrible conditions, Jacob is commanded once again, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there:
For after he finally ‘dwells’ at Bethel, he does not go to Shechem! So we assume that he never would have gone there if he had gone to Bethel as instructed. For once he leaves Bethel (“house of God”), he is led to Bethlehem (“house of Bread’). So we assume that if he had gone to Bethel, as instructed, his daughter would never have been raped. Nor would his sons ever have become murderous, having to have a curse within their blessing, when he blessed all twelve sons before he dies in Egypt. Genesis 49:7 Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel. Nor would that inordinate fear expressed in the Genesis 34:30 verse, just listed, have come upon him.
But consider this glorious verse of how the Lord God did protect him, even amidst those dangerous circumstances when he finally did go up to Bethel! Genesis 35:5 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.
Romans 5:20 … But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: 21 That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. Wretched sinners! Saved from sin of their own making by one who knew no sin! Romans 5:19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.
And what was the personal purposes of the Lord God with Jacob at this time? His word states that he was “stirring up his nest.” That is, he was disturbing the comfort zone which Jacob built for himself and thought to remain. Deuteronomy 32:9 For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. 10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye. 11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings: 12 So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
And God brought him on from Bethel – the house of God – to Bethlehem – the house of Bread.(Genesis 35:16,19). And finally directing him on to the tower of Edar, which means “the tower of the flock!” For once we are brought, realizing our sin, to the ‘House’ of Jesus Christ, wherein God dwells, we are brought to know him as our Bread of life! And then we are sent to serve his flock! John 21:15 So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
For it is by the tower of Edar – the tower of the flock – where we shall always find our Beloved! Song 1:7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest, where thou makest thy flock to rest at noon: for why should I be as one that turneth aside by the flocks of thy companions? 8 If thou know not, O thou fairest among women, go thy way forth by the footsteps of the flock, and feed thy kids beside the shepherds’ tents.
Now we read that there were three important women with whom Jacob’s life had been effected that were taken from him. First we read in Genesis 35:8 But Deborah Rebekah’s nurse died, and she was buried beneath Bethel under an oak: and the name of it was called Allonbachuth. Here was his mother Rebecca’s nurse who came out of Syria with her when she came to marry Isaac (See Genesis 24:59). So the Lord God was ending an era in his servant Jacob’s life. No more would this dear nursing ‘mother’ be among them to provide for those that had need of milk and not strong meat. The ‘time to be born’ in Jacob’s life has come to an end. His 12 sons and many daughters were upon the earth now, and the Lord was ending her labors. And she was buried under “the oak of weeping,” as there was so much love for her. The same work of the church is carried out in this manner. One in a certain time plants. Another in his ministry waters. Then God gives the increase. Then its time to move from Jerusalem to Judaea, and then on unto the uttermost parts of the world. (Matthew 28:19; Acts 1:8, 8:1).
Next we see the Jacob’s beloved Rachel dies also. Genesis 35:19 And Rachel died, and was buried in the way to Ephrath, which is Bethlehem. Rachel, unlike her sister Leah was known for her beauty, but not for her bearing children! Genesis 29:17 Leah was tender eyed; but Rachel was beautiful and well favoured. 29:31 And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.
Therefore the Lord was also bringing to an end the physical looking upon the outward appearance for the selecting of those to please men’s eye in the service of the church. 1 Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29 That no flesh should glory in his presence. Isaiah 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. For as Rachel dies in childbirth, so does the outward ‘beautiful feet’ of gospel evangelism when there comes a day of adversity! (Ecclesiastes 7:14).
Then Bilhah was defiled by Reuben, Jacob’s first born son. (35:22). And with this birthing, nursing and now Bilhah’s fruitfulness ended, there comes an entire chapter about the spread of Esau’s clan. Depravity is essential in order to provide the necessary affliction to form the glory of Joseph’s reign! Hebrews 5:8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; 2 Timothy 2:12 If we suffer, we shall also reign with him:
Pastor Gene Breed
June 22, 2016