Summary: A teaching message on Genesis 35

Genesis Series #59 September 15, 2002

Title: Life Lessons for Our Spiritual Journey



Welcome to New Life in Christ. Today we continue with message #59 in our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Genesis.

Read Genesis 35:1-15

Opening Prayer

Today I will be sharing with you on the topic: Life Lessons for Our Spiritual Journey. The Christian life and spiritual growth can be figuratively described as a journey. It has a beginning point, when we respond to God’s call, and it has a goal, Christ-likeness or spiritual maturity. Along the way in this journey we can experience delays, detours, discouragement, dangers, etc.

In a literal journey, from one place to another, a person may need certain things to help make that journey successful, by arriving at the intended destination. For instance, a person may need a map, a compass, transportation, guidance, provisions, or specific instructions. In a similar way, we need certain things to help us complete our spiritual journey successfully. God has provided these things. They include instructions, provision, encouragement, etc…

This chapter in Genesis is the story of Jacob progressing on his journey toward the goal, after an unnecessary delay in Shechem. His journey figuratively represents our spiritual journey, in the same way as Israel’s deliverance from bondage in Egypt figuratively represents the Christian’s deliverance from the world and slavery to sin. Since Jacob’s literal journey represents our spiritual journey, we can learn from this chapter several important life lessons for our spiritual journey. There are several life lessons for spiritual journey which I will share with you today. The first is this:

1. To make progress on our spiritual journey we must not stop short of complete commitment to God.

Read Genesis 35:1

The city of Bethel was were Jacob had his first supernatural encounter with God, when he had a dream of a ladder reaching to heaven and God spoke to him. Jacob had promised to make the Lord his God and to give him a 10th of all that he had, if the Lord brought him back safely (Genesis 28:20. ) It was inferred in this vow that Jacob would return to Bethel to keep this promise. So in a sense, Bethel represents Jacob’s commitment to the Lord.

The problem was that Jacob stopped short of fulfilling his commitment. For one reason or another he stopped short of Bethel and settled in the city of Shechem. He was in the Promised Land and he was worshiping the Lord (Genesis 33:20), and he had still stopped short of complete commitment. He was like many Christians today who have a verbal commitment to follow the Lord with their whole hearts, but after some time has passed, so does their zeal and commitment to the Lord. They may have some commitment but not complete commitment and this hinders their spiritual progress.

This stopping short of complete commitment to God was keeping Jacob for making progress on his journey in arriving at the destination or goal that God had intended. This is why we see in verse 1 the emphasis God places on Jacob returning to Bethel. During a time of tragedy and trouble (Genesis 34), when God had Jacob’s attention, God specifically tells Jacob to "Go up to Bethel, and settled there, and build an altar there to God. . ."

Jacob had entered and settled in the Promised Land. He had even built an altar to God, but God is still calling him to keep moving, and to keep progressing. It was not enough for Jacob to settle and build an altar in Shechem; he was to go to Bethel, onward to complete commitment to God. This reveals to us life lesson number 1 for our spiritual journey.

1. To make progress on our spiritual journey we must not stop short of complete commitment to God.

Many times Christians find themselves in the same situation as Jacob. Jacob had a relationship with God, he experienced his blessings, and progressed in the right direction, but he did not go all the way, he did not keep going. Christians are in many ways doing the same thing. Many times we enter into a relationship with God and began to experience the blessings of God, and even progress toward spiritual maturity, but then we began to relax our efforts and our zeal and we accept the status quo.

God is calling us to complete commitment but all too often Christians put their spiritual lives in park before they have crossed the finish line. We cannot be content with where we are spiritually. We have to keep going! I hope we do not have to experience trouble and tragedy like Jacob did before we will get moving on again with our spiritual journey.

1. To make progress on our spiritual journey we must not stop short of complete commitment to God.

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