-Jacob is told by God to move southward to Bethel (House of God) and build to Him an alter for worship. Jacob commands that all in his household put away their foreign gods and purify themselves and change their garments. *Application* This is symbolic of the change we should experience as we come to Christ as a new creature, holy and pure before the Living God.
-These idols were buried there in Shechem before they take off under an oak tree (common marker of territory in these parts and later places of idol worship, Ezekiel 6:13). This is an important event in the family of Jacob and demonstrates his complete devotion now to Yahweh God. *Application* We also need to bury every idol that hinders us from following the One-True Living God.
-They journey to Bethel and build the alter as the LORD had commanded. Then God appeared to Jacob again and blessed him with his new name, Israel. He stated that He is the God Almighty. He commanded Israel to be fruitful and multiply and that nations would come from him and kings (Even the King of kings, Jesus). God gave him all the land promised to Abraham and Isaac for his descendants after him. Then God went up from him in the place where He’d spoken with him. *Application* Are we so close to God that we hear His voice and know Him?
-Jacob set up a pillar in this place and anointed it with oil and named it Bethel.
-They now journeyed toward Ephrath (that is Bethlehem, where David was from and Jesus was born). On the way Rachel went into severe labor with her son Benjamin and passed away as she delivered him. How sad must Israel have been to lose his true love near the end of his long journey back home. He builds her a memorial pillar there at that place, which stills stands to this day according to tradition just on the outskirts of Bethlehem.
-Then Israel journeyed on and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder. It happened here that Reuben, Israel’s oldest son, lay with his dad’s concubine, Bilhah (mother of Dan and Naphtali, Genesis 35:25). This is a sin that Israel takes note of and takes away Reuben’s double blessing far down the road near the time of his death in Egypt (Genesis 49:4). *Application* We now have the first three sons of Israel with serious marks on their record. Incest by Reuben, and murder lead by Simeon and Levi in the town of Shechem. Therefore, it is the fourth son, Judah, who is eventually given the blessing of the Messianic line (Jesus’ forefather and father of David, Genesis 49:9-10). Not much is said about Reuben’s sin here, but serious sin always has serious consequences even when it is realized far down the line of time. We may think we can escape God’s judgment, but He has a way of keeping everything in account when we don’t repent of it.
-The twelve sons of Israel are now recounted for genealogical purposes. He finally comes to Mamre where Abraham and Isaac had lived and is with his father once again. Isaac lives until the ripe old age of 180 years and is finally gathered to his people. His sons Esau and Jacob bury him. Interesting to note the order here and that Israel is once again called Jacob. Wonder why???
Verse to memorize: Genesis 35:4