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Gen. 35:1-29 - Revival - Part 4
In vs. 16 we move from the voice of God to the voice of a baby’s cry, and really, a mother’s last words. And another difficult pill to swallow here for Jacob.
Vs. 16-20 - “ Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni. But his father named him Benjamin.
So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar, and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.”
Here again we are able to see that God does not insulate those who walk in obedience from heartache. Understand this was the love of his life. This was a woman he worked 14 years of hard labor for, and now she is taken away as well.
So Rachel dies giving birth to “Benjamin,” and from Benjamin is going to come the first king of Israel. We know the Apostle Paul was a Benjamite, he was from the tribe of Benjamin. Just a rough ride here for Jacob, and of course that is, this side of the resurrection, just the way life is. And this baby here brings great joy, but also along with that, tears.
Vs. 21 - “Israel moved on again and pitched his tent beyond Migdal Eder.”
That’s talking about Jacob, not the Nation that’s coming forth.
It’s interesting how this man’s name is beginning now, after the wrestling match, to go back and forth from Jacob to Israel, from Israel to Jacob. Vs. 9 - he’s Jacob, vs. 10 he’s Israel, vs. 20 he’s Jacob, vs. 21 he’s Israel... Is that not really sort of like us? That we have this dual-competing natures within us?
There is that Jacob nature, that part of ourselves that seeks after our own desires as we sort of lapse into the flesh from time to time... And then there’s that Israel part of us where we’re really pursuing the things of God, and of course the Apostle Paul would pick up on this theme quite a bit in Gal. and Rom. (Gal. 5:7; Rom. 7:15-25) and he talks about the flesh nature being at odds with the Spirit, and how these strive against one another.
Recognize that we move from glory to glory, being transformed in the image of Christ (2 Cor. 3:18). By first of all recognizing these 2 natures within us in order that we might yield less and less to the flesh nature and really allow ourselves to move in transition from the time of Jacob to the time now of Joseph.
And this is just going to be a fantastic journey when we head into the last section in Genesis. This book just gets better and better as the progressive revelation of God moves forward, and that’s by design.
Vs. 22-29 - “While Israel was living in that region, Reuben went in and slept with his father’s concubine Bilhah, and Israel heard of it.
Jacob had twelve sons:
The sons of Leah:
- Reuben the firstborn of Jacob, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun.
The sons of Rachel:
- Joseph and Benjamin.
The sons of Rachel’s servant Bilhah:
- Dan and Naphtali.
The sons of Leah’s servant Zilpah:
- Gad and Asher.
These were the sons of Jacob, who were born to him in Paddan Aram.
Jacob came home to his father Isaac in Mamre, near Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron), where Abraham and Isaac had stayed. Isaac lived a hundred and eighty years. Then he breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him.”
We see in vs. 22 that Ruben goes and does something pretty dumb, pretty immoral as well. We know he was the firstborn and there was some thought that maybe he was trying to set up his dominance.
In that culture, to do such a thing was to kinda declare yourself as head of the family. “I’m gonna lay with my old father’s concubine. I’m the man!” And we see that in the O.T. with Abner and Absalon (2 Sam. 3:6-11; 16:20-23).
But in addition to the immorality here, this is really an act of rebellion that never really plays out in the favor of those who do it.
What’s interesting is Jacob’s silence. And notice the end of vs. 22, he was silent but he heard it. And notice we’re not using the name Jacob here but the spiritual name “Israel.” Jacob WILL remember this on his deathbed and Ruben is going to be robbed of what may have been. He will be deprived of his birthright.
To wrap up the chapter, we had the listing of the 12 sons there. And then, finally, we had the passing of Issac. And we remember Jacob was mom’s favorite, and daddy favored Esau. So Jacob, being the ill-favored son, probably wasn’t very excited about seeing dad, so there doesn’t seem to be any real drama recorded in these verses. He just sorta shows up and bury’s his dad.
In closing, remember that Israel gives us a picture of the N.T. believer. In our lives as soon as we get victory over one aspect of the flesh, its not too long before another little bugger rises up. We like to point at the devil and blame everything on him; we’ve got all too often this spiritual warfare theology in that “the devil made me do it;” everything’s the devil and everything is the attack of the devil, and we give the devil so much credit.
Know why? Cause it's easier to point to the devil that our own stinkin’ flesh. So the flesh is very persistent. The good news is, that through Joseph, the son of the promise, and really through the valor and honor of Joseph, one day will come the eternal Son of the promise - Jesus Christ, and it is through Jesus that you and I - Praise God - have been given the strength and the power to have victory over the flesh.
So one of the things we should be praying about this week is that the Lord would really quicken our hearts to seek personal revival in our lives and to seek and pray for authentic revival in our churches, that we would cry out to God to see a move in our midst. Let us pray this week that God would give us a real sensitivity to the sin in our lives and that He would give us a desire to really turn from that sin and turn to Him.
And it would do us well to deliberately meditate often on all that God has done for us in our lives, all that God has blessed us with, that we might set our hearts on a right path and not a bitter path.
Blessings to you all.
Taking It Home Genesis 35
- Read Genesis 35-36.
- How has God intervened in your life to call you back to fellowship and obedience?
- What is the only foundation for real life change? Why?
- What difference does it make for you to know that the normal location of the church is not Utopia but in the real world of wreckages and ruins?
- Overall, how does the story of Jacob point us again and again to God’s relentless grace? Why is that important?
- What are the main lessons you have learned from the life of Jacob?
- Remember to write out the things you are thankful for and the things the Lord has blessed you with. Be ready to share them at the service next week, as well as keeping them handy and periodically going over them during the coming year. Keep adding to them as you feel led.