Jacob believed that idols should have no place in his household. He wanted nothing to divert his family’s spiritual focus. Thus, Jacob ordered his household to get rid of their gods. Unless we remove idols from our lives, they can ruin our faith. What idols do we have? An idol is anything we put before God, not just physical objects; they can be thoughts or desires. Like Jacob we should get rid of anything that could stand between us and God.
God reminded Jacob of his new name Israel, which meant “he struggles with God.” Although Jacob’s life was littered with difficulties and trails, his new name was a tribute to his desire to stay close to God.
Problems and difficulties are painful but inevitable; you might as well see them as opportunities for growth. You can’t prevail with God unless you have troubles to prevail over.
The verses that have touched our hearts while reading the chapter are as follows:
then come, let us go up to Bethel, that I may make an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”
and there he built an altar and called the place Elbethel, because it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother.
God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel.
God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you.
Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, we come to your presence as children who seek their father’s counsel. Lord, you are omniscient and omnipotent, you know our every thought and one every desire. Give us the grace to always abide in you. Today’s world lacks the wisdom and conviction of being near you. Help that we all may dwell in your peace and blessings forever and ever. Amen.
Chapter 35: God Blesses Jacob at Bethel
1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and settle there. Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”
2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and purify yourselves, and change your clothes;
3 then come, let us go up to Bethel, that I may make an altar there to the God who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.”
4 So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak that was near Shechem.
5 As they journeyed, a terror from God fell upon the cities all around them, so that no one pursued them.
6 Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him,
7 and there he built an altar and called the place Elbethel, because it was there that God had revealed himself to him when he fled from his brother.
8 And Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried under an oak below Bethel. So it was called Allonbacuth.
9 God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him.
10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel.
11 God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you.
12 The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.”
13 Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him.
14 Jacob set up a pillar in the place where he had spoken with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured out a drink offering on it, and poured oil on it.
15 So Jacob called the place where God had spoken with him Bethel.
The birth of Benjamin and death of Rachel
16 Then they journeyed from Bethel; and when they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel was in childbirth, and she had hard labor.
17 When she was in her hard labor, the midwife said to her, “Do not be afraid; for now you will have another son.”
18 As her soul was departing (for she died), she named him Ben-oni; but his father called him Benjamin. 19 So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem),
20 and Jacob set up a pillar at her grave; it is the pillar of Rachel’s tomb, which is there to this day.
21 Israel journeyed on, and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.
Concluding materials on Jacob’s sons and Isaac’s death and burial
22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine; and Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.
23 The sons of Leah: Reuben (Jacob’s firstborn), Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun.
24 The sons of Rachel: Joseph and Benjamin.
25 The sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s maid: Dan and Naphtali.
26 The sons of Zilpah, Leah’s maid: Gad and Asher. These were the sons of Jacob who were born to him in Paddanaram.
27 Jacob came to his father Isaac at Mamre, or Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had resided as aliens.
28 Now the days of Isaac were one hundred eighty years.
29 And Isaac breathed his last; he died and was gathered to his people, old and full of days; and his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.