Summary: Sometimes we refuse to bear down spiritually until we or our family hits bottom.
1. Jim Lopardo tells this story: I was a percussion major when I was in college, and during a rehearsal of the student orchestra, my section kept making mistakes.
"When you’re too dumb to play anything," the professor conducting us sneered, "they give you a couple of sticks, put you in the back and call you a percussionist."
A friend next to me whispered, "And if you’re too dumb to hang on to both sticks, they put you in the front and call you a conductor." [source: Reader’s Digest]
2. Nobody like a demotion, whether it be in a band or at work. But sometimes God uses a demotion in life to wake us up.
3. Some of you came to Christ and got serious about serving Him through a divorce or relational breakup, through a financial downturn or the death of someone close to you.
4. Sometimes we have to hit bottom before we are ready to surrender our lives to Jesus Christ. And it can often be difficult to discern exactly how far down is down.
Main idea: Sometimes we refuse to bear down spiritually until we or our family hits bottom.
I. Jacob’s Family Hits A New LOW (34:1-34:31)
A. Jacob’s daughter Dinah is RAPED (1-2)
No fault of her own. She was merely visiting some of her girlfriends. It was not the girl’s fault, nor was her father careless in protecting her.
B. The PERPETRATOR, Shechem, wants to marry her (3-4)
In some cultures, if a man raped a single woman, he had to marry her. If it was a married woman, death.
C. Jacob’s sons, Levi and Simeon, PLOT revenge (5-29)
They have the same shrewd gene that Jacob had. They are schemers and do a great job at deceiving their enemy. Dinah is their full sister; they all had Leah as their mother.
There was an ethic that brothers were to protect and avenge their sisters. But this thing got carried away. If they were to kill Shechem, then Shechem’s family would seek revenge. So one thing led to another. Although men do have a special responsibility to defend women and children -- and a large part of what it means to be a man is doing just that -- there had to be a better way to deal with this situation.
D. They MASSACRE Shechem’s extended family (30-31)
And those they did not kill, the women and children, they took as slaves.
We do not know what happened to Dinah; lots of Jewish legends, one being that she married Job.
E. Jacob is BESIDE himself (34:30-31)
Let’s read these verses. Note the predicament that resulted. Since Jacob and his family were considered foreigners, committing such an awful crime was even more dangerous. Jacob must have been living in dread.
Jacob was now anxious to move.
Sometimes we refuse to bear down spiritually until we or our family hits bottom.
II. Jacob Finally GETS SERIOUS About Spiritual Leadership (35:1-14)
A. God DIRECTS him to settle near Bethel (1)
"Wasn’t it dangerous for Jacob to set out to Bethel? Of course it was! Jacob was in such a precarious place, the only thing which could save him was a radical obedience to the Lord. No matter what the circumstances look like, the safest place for you to be is doing the will of God!" David Guzik
"A sign outside a Bradenton, Florida, restaurant didn’t mince words: ’Closed, Thanks to Our Customers.’" [Reader’s Digest]. In Jacob’s case, his place in the community was "closed thanks to my sons."
B. Jacob trades spiritual PASSIVITY for Leadership (2-4)
"Throughout the Bible, garments symbolize character. The inward life of the unregenerate is compared to a polluted garment" (Barnhouse).
We know that we cannot fix our souls by doing something to our body. But there is much to be said for the psychological effect of making a break. Clean clothes symbolize a fresh start. In a way, baptism symbolizes a fresh start. Some theologians correlate circumcision in the OT with NT baptism, but that is not correct, in my view. But putting on clean clothes in repentance is the proper correlation.
Galatians 3:27, "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ."
Being baptized in/with/by the Holy Spirit is being clothed with power, according to Luke 24:49, "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."
The Targum of Jonathan shows the Jewish understanding of the earrings, "and the earrings which were in the ears of the inhabitants of the city of Shechem, in which were formed the likeness of their idols:’’
C. God honored Jacob’s family with PROTECTION (5)