Summary: This atrocity & the seriousness of its repercussions forced Jacob to finally take action with His family & seek God’s intervention. He tells his family to “Cast away the foreign gods you have with you." This focal point is the basis for revival.
GENESIS 35: 1-15
CAST AWAY OUR IDOLS
Sometimes it takes massive impacting events that awaken us so that we begin seriously considering our need for revival. As we grow older and settle into the routine of life and become not much different from the average believer, the Lord mercifully sends or allows shockwaves with the hope of reviving our stale relationship with Him.
God first speaks to you through His Word and in your inner being. But if your won’t listen, then God has to speak to you through your life situation or circumstances. How much easier it would have been to have listened to the Word of God in the first place. But God’s love is so intense and so deeply desirous of our good that when we become deaf to His Word or fail to respond to it, He mercifully knows how to get our attention through the events of life. Of course He would rather have us to respond to His Word without this special prompting. But when all else fails and after a long period of patience, then God speaks to us as individuals and nations through the problems and tragedies of life. [Walter Kaiser, Jr. Revives Us Again. Broadman & Holman Publ. Nashville, TN. 1999. p. 31.] [These problems and tragedies we often bring upon ourself because of our refusal to heed God’s Word.]
Although God is not the author of evil, Satan is, He does allow horrible things to happen to us to alarm us with how serious life and our spiritual health and maturity really are. Such were the circumstances in which Jacob found himself in Genesis 35. The whole problem started in his family, this time it centered around his daughter Dinah by his first wife Leah.
Jacob had just moved back into the land of Canaan [though it had been ten years since his return and meeting with Esau and Succoth’s founding- 33:17] from Paddan Aram (Gen. 33:18) when Shechem, the son of Hamor, ruler of that area, saw Dinah, took her, and raped her (Gen. 34:2). This tragedy set off a string of events that would permanently alter the lives of all who were touched by them. Nevertheless, God was still in control, allowing His will to be worked out in spite of the violence and reprehensible evil involved.
Hamor came to Jacob to negotiate a marriage for his son, settle the bride-price, and to establish friendly relations, only to learn that there was trouble. Dinah’s brothers in particular were outraged at what had happened to their sister; “a thing that should not be done” (Gen.34:7). Hamor offered favorable terms, involving the offer of intermarriage between their families, but he had no understanding of the impossibilities this presented for a people who were not to be unequally yoked to unbelievers. But then, what real difference was there between unbelieving Shechemites and Jacob’s family? In practice their lives seemed too much alike.
Jacob had promised God some thirty years earlier, when he was fleeing the wrath of his deceived brother, Esau, that if God would be with him, watch over him, and return him safely to Canaan, then Yahweh would be his God, and he would serve Him. But like so many of us in these “foxhole” experiences, Jacob had forgotten his vow. Yet God had returned him safely to his land and had blessed him and had caused his life to overflow with the bounty of God’s goodness (Gen 28:20-22). How, we ask in amazement, could Jacob have been so ungrateful? Jacob had nothing but problems when he cried out for help. Was thirty years not enough time to remember and make good his vow to God? Perhaps Jacob thought himself a self-made man, that he did it himself. After all, had it not been by his own hard work, wits, sheer willpower and drive that he had become what he was?
But now Jacob had family trouble, and that was different. To make matters worse, Jacob’s self-made sons decided to take things into their own hands and pour vengeance on Hamor’s clan. First there was deceit: the sons pretended that all would be well if the men of Hamor would be circumcised; then Dinah could be given in marriage (Gen 34:13-16). Once evil is let loose there may be no stopping it, except through a genuine change in the lives of all who are affected. But in this situation Jacob still did not see the necessity for calling his sons or these heathen to repentance. It’s difficult to call others to repentance toward God if you have forgotten your promises to God.
The situation deteriorated further. The men of Hamor’s city yielded to the demand to be circumcised, totally unaware of what evil lay lurking in the hearts of Jacob’s sons. On the third day after this operation, while they were still in pain, every male in the Canaanite city, including Hamor and his son Shechem, was murdered by two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi (Gen. 34:25-26). None of this had the approval of consent or Yahweh. [Kaiser, 33.]