Jacob: coming home [part 2]

Jacob left home a 40-year old virgin and now he returns with two wives, twelve children, and countless wealth. Jacob is content settle in Schechem, but God speaks to Jacob and says, “Get up, go to Bethel and live there.” And like Abraham [cf. Genesis 12:4], he obeyed. God not only wants Jacob to leave his place of comfort, but also to cleanse his home of impurities. God point out that their home was filled with spiritual lethargy and idolatry. Jacob surprisingly responds with obedience.

This is the first time we see Jacob rise up and become the spiritual leader of his home. After cleansing his household Jacob worships God.[1] In response to his faithfulness God protects Jacob’s family as they pass through the land. When Jacob enters his homeland God blesses him and reminds him of his new name [Israel, cf. 32:28], His creation mandate [35:11; cf. 1:28], and the covenant promises of land and lineage given through his father and grandfather.

Why does God repeatedly ask Abraham [12:1-3], Isaac [17:4-6], and Jacob to “be fruitful and multiply”? Does God simply love babies and enjoy the families? Yes, but there is more to it than that. God begins with a promise, “I am God Almighty” [El Shaddai, 17:1] and ends with the command to fill the earth. He is not God Almighty merely in general, but Almighty in relation to Israel. His Almightiness is there for Him and His children. The promise enables the command, “You can be fruitful and multiply because I am God Almighty. I am the covenant God of Abraham and Isaac. My Godness and my Almightiness are covenant Godness and covenant Almightiness. And if you will trust me as God Almighty, you can and you will be fruitful and multiply. And companies of nations and kings will come from you.”

The promise God mentions here, Paul the Apostle later extends to the Gentiles. Through Jesus Christ the Gentile Christ followers inherit the blessings of their father Abraham [cf. Romans 4:16-18; Galatians 3:6-8,16,29]. This is the very same logic that Jesus uses in Matthew 28:18–19 when He says, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” In other words, “I am Christ Almighty; go and be fruitful and multiply my disciples.” Our confidence to share the message of Christ comes from the authority and the Almightiness of Christ.

As Jacob’s life comes to his final refrain we are now seeing a rhythm of regular worship and intimacy with God that was lacking in his life. This new foundation of faith would be tested as his beloved wife, Rachel, dies giving birth to his son Benjamin, and as his youngest son Reuben has an affair with his stepmother [Bilhah]. This great sin against his father cost him his position as the firstborn son [Genesis 49:3-4; 1 Chronicles 5:1]. In God’s sovereignty He uses this sin of Rueben to open His promised line through the line of Judah.

Finally, after at least twenty long years away from home Jacob alas returns to see his father Isaac. Jacob’s sons got to meet their grandfather just before he dies at the age of 180 years old [35:28-29]. His two reconciled sons Esau and Jacob bury him. And the genealogy listed at the end of Genesis 35 through chapter 36 illustrates that God will keep what He promised to Jacob. The names of Jacob’s 12 sons roll off our lips with ease [Ch.35], but the sons of Esau are unfamiliar to our ears [Ch.36]. God is faithful to follow though and bless those He calls. Bank on it, if He is your God He will do all that He says He will do.

Jacob Comes Home and God Comes through Just as He Had Said.

[1] Note: Jacob builds an altar in Schechem to honor the God who appeared to him, he builds an altar after God cleanses his home, and he builds an altar and pillar at Bethel because God has provided, protected, and fulfilled all His promises. Jacob once a wanderer is now a worshiper.