Summary of passage: God told Jacob to settle in Bethel and build Him an altar there. So Jacob and his household prepared to move, ridding themselves of their idols, purifying themselves, and changing their clothes. Jacob buried the foreign gods and their rings under an oak at Shechem. God protected them as they went so they would not suffer repercussions from the slaughter of Shechem.
9a) Go to Bethel and build Him an altar
b) Jacob vowed that the Lord would be his God and he would give a tenth if he returned safely to his father’s house.
c) Personal Question. My answer: To go where God wants me and follow His lead in my life and worship him by following his commands, which include tithing, praying, obeying, reading His word, praying, and much more.
10a) “To get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes.”
b) 2 Corinthians says to purify yourself from everything that contaminates body and spirit in order to perfect holiness. Ephesians tells us to put on our new self in the attitude of the mind in order to be righteous and holy. 1 John tells us to confess our sins and walk in the light and the blood of Jesus shall purify us from the unrighteousness. And to keep ourselves from idols.
c) Acts recounts how people renounced sorcery by burning their scrolls. An idol is anything we value and/or worship more than God. This can be our kids, our spouse, any material items such as our house, car, or job. And an image of an idol like in ancient times such as a Buddha statue or what-have-you. (Anyone reminded of the study of Isaiah here?)
Conclusions: Anyone else see a problem with the fact Jacob’s family had idols lurking around and it was only when God told them to leave did they see the need to dispose of them? I’m sure as soon as they reach Bethel more idols will appear.
The WORST part: Jacob, as supposedly the head of God’s chosen people, seemingly knew about these idols and condoned them! It seems he only got rid of them because God spoke to him again. Maybe he felt guilty. Or maybe they were too heavy to carry across country!
Jacob is chastizing his family mildly. It’s almost an after-thought. “Oh, yeah, by the way, you need to get rid of those idols you’ve had for 10 years now.” Seriously???
There is definitely some failed leadership going on here. This explains a lot about today’s society where the man does not take the primary role in the family and our children are failing because of it.
It’s safe to assume Rachel still had her idols here so she is setting the example that it’s okay to possess these idols. God doesn’t care. Wrong!
The changing of their clothes was symbolic here. Just like circumcision was an outward sign of being God’s chosen people the changing of the clothes here in OT times is an outward sign that they are changing their minds, their attitude, their character, and their ways and turning to God. It’s like the Ephesians passage we read. They are taking off (literally) their old selves and putting on their new and turning to God for their salvation.
The earrings also must have had some kind of pagan association since they got rid of those as well. We must also get rid of anything ungodly and separate ourselves from the world like Jacob did when he moved to Bethel away from the corruption of Shechem.
Good opportunity to learn from Jacob’s failing miserably as the head of his household and God’s and re-examine our own lives and see where we are failing in God’s call, where we are worshipping idols, where we are failing to set the example for others around us, how we can place ourselves away from worldly influences as much as possible, and how we can put God and His will back at the center of our lives. That’s my prayer anyways.
Map of Bethel: Quick reference point. Bethel is in red and Shechem is right above it.