Genesis 35:1
Then God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel, and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau."
Sermons
Spiritual RenovationJ.F. Montgomery Genesis 35:1, 2
A Call to Religious ObservancesD. Wilson, M. A.Genesis 35:1-15
At Bethel AgainW. S. Smith, B. D.Genesis 35:1-15
Family Reformation; Or, Jacob's Second Visit to BethelSpurgeon, Charles HaddonGenesis 35:1-15
Forgetfulness of God's GoodnessThe Evangelical PreacherGenesis 35:1-15
God with UsR.A. Redford Genesis 35:1-15
Jacob Returning to BethelJ. Bradley, M. A.Genesis 35:1-15
Jacob Sent to BethelHomilistGenesis 35:1-15
Jacob's Return to BethelM. Braithwaite.Genesis 35:1-15
Jacob's Second Journey to BethelT. H. Leale.Genesis 35:1-15
LessonsA. F. Barfield.Genesis 35:1-15
Lessons from the Life of JacobG. Deane, B. Sc.Genesis 35:1-15
The Forgotten VowGenesis 35:1-15
The RevivalE Craig.Genesis 35:1-15
The Second Journey of Jacob to BethelF. W. Robertson, M. A.Genesis 35:1-15
Jacob's settlement with his family at Bethel. This was a solemn renewal of the covenant to the patriarch at the end of his pilgrimage. It was the occasion for a new dedication of himself and his household by vows and offerings, and by separation of themselves from all heathen things and thoughts around the newly-erected altar El-Bethel.

I. REVELATION the basis of faith. God went up from him after he had spoken with him, and there he set up a pillar of stone, and poured a drink offering thereon, and he poured oil thereon.

II. PERSONAL EXPERIENCE the background of a consecrated life. We should make the memory of Gears goodness the foundation on which we build up the monuments of our life. Mark the places by offerings. Let the Bethel of our worship be the Bethel of his praise. - R.







God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there.
I. IT WAS UNDERTAKEN AT THE CALL OF GOD.

II. IT WAS ACCOMPLISHED IN THE SPIRIT OF OBEDIENCE AND CONSECRATION.

III. IT WAS ACCOMPANIED BY THE DIVINE PROTECTION.

IV. IT WAS FOLLOWED BY INCREASED SPIRITUAL BLESSING.

1. The old promises were renewed.

2. He has increased knowledge of God.

3. His religious character is purified and raised.

(T. H. Leale.)

I. REFRESHING OF EARLY RECOLLECTIONS.

1. Respecting this pilgrimage to Bethel, observe, first, that it was done by Divine direction — "God said to Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel." Let us not imagine that a voice spoke articulately. There were simple modes of thinking in those days; men had not learnt to philosophize on their mental operations. They strongly felt an impulse within them. They knew that it was a higher one, and in the simple poetry of thought they said, "God is speaking." The voice that spoke to Jacob was the voice within him, the voice of conscience — the same voice that speaks to us.

2. Observe, secondly, Jacob's preparation for this act of remembrance. He puts away the strange gods from his household.

3. The third thing we mark here is the consecration of the place (ver. 1). It is not in reference to God, but for a help to our own feelings that we consecrate certain spots of earth and buildings. There are sacred places, not sacred for their own sake, but sacred to us. Where we have loved and lost, where we have gained new light and life, the church where our forefathers worshipped, the place where we first knew God — these are by instinct hallowed. Hence we are told that God met Jacob in Bethel; not that He came down from another place, for He is everywhere, but that Jacob experienced a feeling of awe, a feeling that God was then specially near to him. In this meeting of Jacob with God, there are two facts to observe.(1) The first is that since he was last at Bethel he had increased in the knowledge of God. He knew Him then only as God, now he knows Him as the God Almighty (ver. 11). This is but a type of our own life; our knowledge of God must always be progressive.(2) Another thing we perceive, that in these twenty years there had been a growth in his personal religion. Once it had been but a selfish religion — he adopted a system of barter with God; if God will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, then shall God be my God (chap. Genesis 29.). Now there is a higher step, it is gratitude; God has done it, and now God shall be his God (ver. Genesis 35:3) — a higher motive, but not the highest; he has yet to learn to serve Him, not in happiness, but in misery; to serve Him in trial, because He is God, and to learn to say simply and believingly, "Thy will be done."

II. THE GATHERING OF HIS DISFORTUNES.

1. The first of these was one not so keenly felt — the death of Deborah, Rebekah's nurse. He buried her at Bethel, under an oak (ver. 8), and the story gives us an interesting view of the ancient relation between master and servant.

2. But Jacob's second blow was of a different kind — Rachel dies, his early and youthful passion, his beloved wife, the only one whom, with all his strength of affection, Jacob loved, and whose children were dearer for her sake to him than all the others. Even his father and fondly indulgent self-sacrificing mother he seems to have regarded with coldness. From this moment he becomes a mourner for the rest of his life; and yet we can see the infinite good of this. Jacob was a selfish, comfort-loving man; these sorrows drew him out of himself to think of something higher.

3. The last blow was the death of Isaac.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

I. GOD REMINDS OF HIS BENEFACTIONS. "God, that appeared to thee," &c.

1. An incident of the past brought to mind.

2. The place of future dwelling indicated.

3. Continual worship required for continued favours. The altar should not be absent from the home.

II. THE BENEFACTOR'S WILL OBEYED (vers. 2, 3).

1. An immediate response. "Then."

2. A proposal for preparation. "Put away" — wrong thoughts, desires, purposes, practices.

3. A summons to Divine service. Self-devotion first, then concern for all whom we can influence.

III. THE BENEFACTOR'S GOODNESS ACKNOWLEDGED.

1. He declared God's supremacy.

2. He owned God's kindness.

3. He realized God's presence.

(M. Braithwaite.)

I. EVERY SPIRITUAL HISTORY HAS ITS SPECIAL PLACES, WHERE MEMORY LOVES TO LINGER, AND WHERE SPIRITUAL POWER PERTAINS.

II. SPECIAL MERCIES DEMAND SPECIAL REMEMBRANCE.

III. THE TEXT MAY BE APPLIED TO A DEVOUT REMEMBRANCE OF THE TIME AND CIRCUMSTANCES OF OUR EARLY CHRISTIAN LIFE.

1. Diligence in searching the Scriptures.

2. Fervour of private prayer and devotion.

3. Careful cultivation of the public means of grace.

4. Ardour of Christian zeal and work. The strong man grows stronger by exercise, so the robust Christian is always an active one.

IV. BETHEL WAS THE SCENE OF "VOWS" WHICH HAD BEEN PARTIALLY NEGLECTED AND FORGOTTEN. Prosperity has turned more heads than Jacob's.

V. "DWELL THERE." A picture of a man of activity and business retiring to spend the leisure of age amidst the contemplations of religion and the memories of its power.

(G. Deane, B. Sc.)

Homilist.
I. GOD'S COMMAND TO WORSHIP.

1. This intimates that God places man in the most favourable circumstances to obey His commandments.

2. It intimates the employment of man's highest and noblest faculties.

3. It implies the necessity of having the consciousness of God's presence.

4. It suggests the spirit of entire dependence upon God.

II. THE NECESSARY PREPARATION TO OBEY THIS COMMAND.

1. A willing heart.

2. A determination to have all obstacles removed.

3. A sincere love for the pure.

III. THE RESULT OF POSSESSING A WORSHIPPING SPIRIT.

1. A manifestation of Divine power.

2. Safety in the midst of foes.

(Homilist.)

The Evangelical Preacher.
I. HERE IS A REFERENCE TO JACOB'S PAST EXPERIENCE OF JEHOVAH'S KINDNESS. "The God that appeared to thee."

1. His fleeing from the wrath of an enraged brother.

2. The manifestation of God to him as his Friend.

3. His consecration of himself to God.

II. HERE IS A CALL FOR GRATITUDE TO GOD FOR HIS PAST KINDNESS. "Arise, and go to Bethel."

1. God was peculiarly kind to Jacob. He had given him more than he asked — two wives, ten children, and large possessions (chaps. 29., 30., 31.).

2. God had subdued the anger of his brother, even though Esau had kept it up twenty years.

3. Jacob returned to his own country, but forgot his vow. He settles down for eight years before he visits Bethel, and not then until visited by a domestic affliction, and God thereby reminded him of his neglected duties; then he and his household went up to Bethel, and paid his vows, and had a renewed instance of God's favour.

III. HERE LEARN A LESSON OF GRATITUDE TO THE GOD OF ALL YOUR MERCIES. For this is recorded for that purpose.

1. How many mercies have you to be thankful for! Not only common, but special mercies.

2. Many a place has been a Bethel to the Christian's soul.

3. Think of your vows and resolutions, and carry them out, and you will have renewed seasons of enjoyment, and fresh instances of the Divine favour.

(The Evangelical Preacher.)

I. THE VOW MADE.

II. THE VOW FORGOTTEN. A common occurrence.

III. THE VOW CALLED TO REMEMBRANCE.

1. The Lord is never at a loss for means in order that His ends may be gained.

2. Mark the way in which He acts here.

(1)First a gentle hint — "Arise, go to Bethel."

(2)Then the command, "and make there an altar."

3. Has not the Lord brought your vows to your remembrance?

(1)Failure.

(2)Sickness.

(3)Conscience.

IV. THE VOW PAID.

1. How soon the influences of the most impressive scenes may pass away.

2. God's forbearance when the performing of the vow is so long delayed.

3. By acting rightly ourselves, we influence others.

4. Bethel was to Jacob the house of God, and he went there. So it is right for you, in a particular place and in a marked manner, to perform your vow.

(A. F. Barfield.)

I. JACOB WAS NOW IN A MOURNFUL STATE OF MIND, AND YET A VERY COMMON ONE.

1. Forgotten mercies.

2. Forgotten vows.

II. Let us look now at THE COMMAND GIVEN TO JACOB IN HIS FORGETFULNESS.

1. The Lord remembers our promises and vows.

2. The Lord often reminds His people of their forgotten mercies and vows. He did so in this case again and again.

III. We come now to our third point — THE OBEDIENCE THE PATRIARCH RENDERED TO THE DIVINE COMMAND.

1. Here is something to surprise us. There were strange gods, we find, in the house of Jacob at this time; yes, idols in the house of almost the only man in the world who worshipped the true God; and he knew they were there, and tolerated them. Well may we ask, how was this? We must go back for an answer. The Rachel whom he so tenderly loved, and for whom he had so patiently waited and laboured, was an amiable and affectionate woman; but she wanted one thing, and that one thing was a decided love for the Lord God of Israel. She had been brought up in an idolatrous country, and she herself was half an idolater. Accordingly, when he married her, he introduced a worshipper of false gods into his house; she had her secret idols, and she brought them with her. Here began, perhaps, Jacob's own forgetfulness of God, and here undoubtedly began much of the ungodliness and wretchedness of his children. Shall I say that we may learn here the vast importance of the connections which we form in the days of our youth? that there is a loud warning given here to the pious young never to let their affections wind round one who does not plainly and decidedly love the Lord? to let the heart break rather than give the heart to an idolater? I had rather speak to men like this patriarch, men who have households, children, and servants. I would say to them, Dear brethren, look through your houses" and ask, "Are there no idols here? Is there nothing here that takes God's place in our hearts or our children's? Is there nothing here that is opposed to God's will and law, and tends to God's dishonour?" Bad books, bad company, dangerous amusements, practices which the world does not condemn nor even some of those who profess to live above the world, but such as will not bear the trial of Scripture for one moment, such as you would see the evil of in a moment did they not in some way or other fall in with your taste or interest — these are all idols; these will lead to irreligion and ungodliness in your houses: these will bring down on you God's displeasure and judgments. Mischief will rise up in your families from these things, and through your families God will smite you for them.

2. There is something also here to instruct us. It is the promptitude and decision of the patriarch's obedience.

(J. Bradley, M. A.)

I. JACOB CALLED TO SERIOUS CONSIDERATION. Bethel was forgotten. How often is it forgotten by us! Time wears out the impressions of mercies received. Afflictions come upon us, public calamities, and the approach even of pestilence; we are alarmed and distracted, but we never think of our vow, and of raising our altar, and beginning a thorough, speedy downright conversion to God as the God of mercies. Brethren, we should often turn back the book of our lives. We are fond of reading many books, but no book would be so profitable as the book of our past history.

II. THE PROMPT OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE ADMONITION WHICH JACOB RENDERED. The pious man, the conscientious master of a house, loses no time when Providence concurs with his own conviction of duty, in rousing him to religion, and in reminding him of his past neglects and family derelictions; and, therefore, we find Jacob addressing his household, and all that were with him, thus: "Put away the strange gods," &c.

1. Jacob addresses his household as one who well knew that he was answerable to God for it.

2. He exhorts them to put away the strange gods that were among them. Alas! idols will enter the best family, in spite of Jacob, because they are the creatures of the human heart, and they regard not Jacob's prohibition. Therefore, when providences are moving, when conscience is awakened, when every heart trembles, then Jacob must say to his family — and every head of a family, every master, every parent, must say unto his household — "Put away the strange gods that are among you." For whatever takes the place in our heart of the Lord God, is a strange god and an idol; whatever takes the place of God's name is an idol; whatever takes the place of God's revelation, God's truth, is an idol. A strange god! "Covetousness, which is idolatry." A strange god! The world is the strange god of the worldly-minded. Talents, beauty of person, dress, pleasure, are the strange gods of the young.

3. But besides putting away their strange gods, Jacob called his family to purity of heart. "Be clean, and change your garments."

4. Family prayer. The preceding led up to this.(1) Scriptural exhortations to this duty.(2) But, further, family prayer comes under the promise, "Where two or three are met together in My name, there am I in the midst of them."(3) The third argument is, the example of the saints in every age.(4) But the fourth argument is, that family prayer, like social, rests on the nature of man. We are destined to live in society, and are bound together by mutual wants and sympathies; and, therefore, man's religion, like his nature, must be social.(5) Once more, the duties of the head of a household towards his family cannot be discharged without its observance. You wish to train up your children in the fear of the Lord; but is it possible to do so while you neglect to afford them an example of what you wish them to practice.

(D. Wilson, M. A.)

I. THY ADMONITION FROM GOD. How common a fault it is, to put off some religions duty to what we think a more convenient season! Then, oftentimes, God reminds us by some affliction — some loss — some calamity — of our want of earnestness, and bids us do what we had long left undone in His service.

II. THE PURIFICATION OF JACOB'S HOUSEHOLD.

1. The strange gods were to be given up and put away.

2. They were, moreover, to cleanse themselves and to change their clothes. Outward signs of inward consecration and cleansing.

III. THE FULFILMENT OF JACOB'S VOW.

IV. THE RENEWAL OF GOD'S PROMISE.

1. God reminds Jacob of his recent change of name.

2. God reminds Jacob of His own Almighty power.

3. God renews the Abrahamic promise in its threefold form of —

(1)An on reaching blessing;

(2)A promised numerous seed;

(3)A promised possession of the land.

(W. S. Smith, B. D.)

There are critical times in mast families; times when much decision of character will be needed on the part of the father to guide things aright. Even the heathen outside began to smell the ill savour of Jacob's disorganized family, and the one alternative was — mend or end. If you notice, Jacob himself was in a bad way. His business was to remain in Canaan a mere sojourner, dwelling in tents, not one of the people, but moving about among them, testifying that he looked for "a city that hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God." He expected to inherit the land, but, for the time being, he was to be a stranger and a sojourner, as his fathers Abraham and Isaac had been. Yet at Succoth we read that he built booths — scarcely houses, I suppose, but more than tents. It was a compromise, and a compromise is often worse than a direct and overt disobedience of command. He dares not erect a house, but he builds a booth and thus shows his desire for a settled life; and though it is not ours to judge the purchase of land at Shechem, still it looks in the same direction. Jacob is endeavouring to find a resting-place where Abraham and Isaac had none. I will not speak too positively, but the patriarch's acts look as if he desired to find a house for himself, where he might rest and be on familiar terms with the inhabitants of the land. Now the Lord his God would not have it so. Children of God cannot mix with the world without mischief. The world does hurt to us and we to it when once be begin to be of the world and like it. It is an ill-assorted match. Fire and water were never meant to be blended. The seed of the woman must not mix with the seed of the serpent. A stand must be made. Something behoves to be done, and Jacob must do it. The Lord comes in, and He speaks with Jacob, and since the good man's heart was sound towards God's statutes, the Lord had only to speak to him and he obeyed. He was pulled up short, and made to look at things, and set his house in order, and he did so with that resolution of character which comes out in Jacob when he is brought into a strait, but which at other times is not perceptible.

I. First, then, WHAT WAS TO BE DONE?

1. The first thing to do was to make a decided move. God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there." You must hasten away from Shechem, with its fertile plains, and make a mountain journey up to Bethel, and dwell there. You have been long enough near these Shechemites; mischief has come from your being so intimate with the world. You must cut a trench between yourselves and the associations you have formed, and you must go up to Bethel and remain there awhile. Every now and then we shall find it necessary to say to ourselves and to our family, "We must come out from among worldlings, we must be separate. We are forming connections which are injurious to us, and we must snap the deceitful bonds."

2. Now they must revive old memories. "Go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother." A revival of old memories is often most useful to us, especially to revive the memory of our conversion. Then you must come back to your first hours of communion. Where you lost your joy you will find it, for it remains where you left it. Then go back mourning and sighing to Bethel, and pray that the old feelings may be revived in you.

3. But now, again, Jacob must keep an old vow. I do not quite remember how many years old that vow was, but I suppose some thirty or so; yet he had not kept it. Be very slow to make vows, brethren — very slow. They should be but very seldom presented, because all that you can do for God you are bound to do as it is; and a vow is often a superfluity of superstition. But if the vow be made, let it not wait beyond its time, and complain of thee to thy God. An old and forgotten vow will rot and breed most solemn discomfort to thy heart; at first it will gnaw at thy conscience, and if thy conscience at last grows hardened to it, others of thy powers will suffer the same petrifying process. Moreover, a vow forgotten will bring chastisement on thee, and perhaps the rod will fall upon thy family.

4. It appeared to Jacob, next, that if he was to fulfil his vow, it was necessary to reform his whole house; for he could not serve the Lord and worship other gods. He said to all that were with him — to his sons first, and then to his hired servants and the rest — "Put away the strange gods that are among you." Yes, it must come to that. If I am to get back to my old position with God I must break my idols. And then next he said, "Be clean." There was to be, I suppose, a general washing, indicative of purgation of character by going to God with repentance and seeking forgiveness. Jacob also said, "Change your garments." This was symbolic of an entire renewal of life, though I fear me they were not all renewed. At any rate this is what was symbolized by "Change your garments." Alas, it is easier to say this to our families than it is to get them to do it. And do we wonder? Since it is so much easier for ourselves to say than it is for ourselves to do. Yet, beloved, if your walk is to be close with God, if you are to commune with the God of Bethel, you must be cleansed.

5. Well, then, the next and last thing which they were to do was to celebrate special worship. "Let us arise, and go up to Bethel, and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went." When we get wrong and feel that there must be a decided change, we must set apart special times of devotion. Family prayer is the nutriment of family piety, and woe to those who allow it to cease. I read the other day of parents who said they could not have family prayer, and one asked this question: "If you knew that your children would be sick through the neglect of family prayer, would you not have it? If one child was smitten down with fever each morning that you neglected prayer, how then?" Oh, then they would have it. "And if there was a law that you should be fined five shillings if you did not meet for prayer, would you find time for it?" Yes. "And if there were five pounds given to all who had family prayer, would you not by some means arrange to have it?" Yes. And so the inquirer went on with many questions, and wound up with this: "Then it is but an idle excuse when you, who profess to be servants of God, say that you have no time or opportunity for family prayer!" Should idle excuses rob God of His worship and our families of a blessing? Begin to pray in your families, and especially if things have gone wrong get them right by drawing near to God more distinctly.

II. And now I come to my second point — WHAT HAPPENED IN THE DOING OF IT? Well, several things happened, and one or two of those were rather surprising.

1. The first was that all heartily entered into the reforming work. I am sure they did, because the fourth verse says, "They gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hands" — all of them — "and all their earrings which were in their ears." He had not said anything about their earrings. Was there any hurt in their earrings? For a woman to wear an earring is not such a dreadful thing, is it? Perhaps not, but I suppose that these earrings were charms, and that they were used in certain incantations, and heathenish customs. Now, as soon as Jacob speaks they all give up their idols and their earrings. I like this. It is a blessed thing when a man of God takes a stand, and speaks, and finds that his family are all ready to follow. Perhaps it was the fear that was upon them just then, the fear of the nations round about which made them so obedient. I am not sure it was a work of grace; but still, as far as outward appearance went, there was a willing giving up of all that could have grieved the Lord. And you will sometimes be pleased, Christian friends, when things get wrong and you determine to set them right, to see how others will yield to your determination. You ought to take courage from this.

2. Another circumstance happened, namely, that protection was afforded him, immediate and complete. "They journeyed: and the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them, and they did not pursue after the sons of Jacob." "When a man's ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him"; and now that Jacob has determined to set things right he walks unharmed. You do not know how much of personal trouble which you are now bearing will vanish as soon as you determine to stand out for God. You do not know how much of family difficulty that now covers you with dread will vanish when you yourself have feared the Lord, and have come forth decidedly and determinedly to do the right.

3. In the next place the vow was performed. They came to Bethel, and I can almost picture the grateful delight of Jacob as he looked upon those great stones among which he had lain him down to sleep, a lonely man. He thought of the past, rejoiced in the present, and hoped for the future, for now he had come to be with God and to draw near to Him.

4. But what else happened? Why, now there came a death and a funeral. Deborah, Rebekah's nurse, died. Her name means a bee. And we have had old nurses ourselves, have we not, who have been like busy bees in our household. The good nurse died when they seemed to want her most, but it was better for her to die then than that she should have departed when Dinah's shame and Simeon's crime had made the household dark. It was better that she should live to see them purged from idols and on the road to her old master Isaac, for then she would feel as if she could say, "Now lettest Thou Thy servant depart in peace, according to Thy word: for mine eyes have seen Thy salvation." The moral of the incident is that the Lord may heat the fire all the more when He sees the refining process going on, and we must receive the further trial as a token of love and not of anger if He smites us heavily when we are honestly endeavouring to seek His face.

III. Now we close with the third head, namely, WHAT FOLLOWED THEREON. All this putting away of idols and going to Bethel — did anything come of it? Yes.

1. First, there was a new appearance of God. Read the ninth verse. "And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padan-aram, and blessed him": this was a new appearance of God. It is worth while to have been purged and cleansed, and to have done anything to be favoured with one of those Divine visits in which we almost cry with Paul, "Whether in the body or out of the body I cannot tell: God knoweth." A clear view of God in Christ Jesus and a vivid sense of Jesus' love is a sweet reward for broken idols and Bethel reformations.

2. The next thing that came of it was a confirmation to Jacob of his title of prince, which conferred a dignity on the whole family. For a father to be a prince ennobles all the clan. God now puts upon them another dignity and nobility which they had not known before, for a holy people are a noble people. You that live in God's presence are in the peerage of the skies. Such honour have all the saints who follow the Lord fully. God help us to keep close to Jesus, and enjoy daily communion with Him.

3. And then, next, there was given to Jacob and his family a vast promise, which was, in some degree, an enlargement of a promise made to Isaac and to Abraham before. "I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins." I do not remember anything said to Abraham about a company of nations, or about kings coming out of his loins, but out of the loins of Israel, a prince, princes may come. God puts upon His promise a certain freshness of vastness and infinity now that Jacob has drawn near to Him. Brethren, God will give us no new promise, but He will make the old promises look wondrously new. He will enlarge our vision so that we shall see what we never saw before. Have you ever had a painting which hung neglected in, some back room? Did it one day strike you that you would have it framed and brought into a good light? When you saw it properly hung on the wall did you not exclaim, "Dear me! I never noticed that picture before. How wonderfully it has come out"? And many and many a promise in God's Word will never be noticed by you till it is set in a new frame of experience. Then, when it is hung up before you, you will be lost in admiration of it.

4. I will not detain you except to say that you may also expect very familiar communion. Notice the thirteenth verse, "God went up from him in the place where He talked with him." Talked with him! Talked with him! It is such a familiar word. God talking with man. We say "conversing" when we are speaking in a dignified manner; but "talking!" Oh that blessed condescension of God when He speaks to us in the familiar tones of His great love in Christ Jesus. There is a way of converse with God which no tongue can explain: they only know it who have enjoyed it.

( C. H. Spurgeon.)

1. Observe, a season of prosperity is too frequently a season of religious decline. The religion of the Gospel, though it is a scheme of mercy, is a system of discipline. An undisturbed enjoyment of the goods of this world has, at the best, a sensualizing tendency. Now it is in these circumstances of repose — of gradual yielding to allowed indulgence — of lethargic sinking into spiritual self-complacency and inactivity, that men are apt to forget the vows of their distress, and, even within the sphere of their own influence and authority, to suffer sin around them without marking it with that holy indignation with which, at one time, it would have been reprobated and discountenanced. Without meaning to justify any thing decidedly wrong, the declining Christian, from the consciousness of his own listless and unprosperous state, and from a false application of the very principle of justice, deals more leniently with the faults of those around him than he would have done formerly, and remains silent when he ought to administer reproof. In the midst of comforts and indulgence we lose something of that holy jealousy, circumspection and activity, to which the heavy pressure of affliction and temptation had given birth.

2. But observe that God will not suffer His people to sink habitually into this state of spiritual sloth. He will, in His own time, deal strictly and retributively with the true Israel. We see this in the case of Jacob. Painful and humiliating as was the visitation to which he was exposed, yet the whole evil might easily be traced to one source. The disgrace of his daughter, the fraud and cruelty of his sons, the dishonour and danger of his whole family, and the stain brought upon the cause of God and truth, might be all fairly attributed to his incautious sojourning among an unenlightened and careless people, at a time when he should have hastened to Bethel for the performance of his vow. The more we are enabled to look into the history of individual Christians, the more we shall find that their respected afflictions are especially calculated to correct the prevailing evil of their characters; and that they may be traced to close connection with some of their prominent moral defects. The naturally proud man is frequently touched in the very core of his pride. The covetous man is often annoyed by worldly anxieties and losses. Still even the afflictions which are permitted to arise out of a Christian's errors have a merciful intention. Their specific object is the more ample sanctification of his soul and body. They are to work out for him "the peaceable fruits of righteousness."

3. But observe, that when God really calls a man to a review, and a cleansing of his ways, He makes him serious and in earnest. Any attempts at reformation which originate in merely human effort, are in their extent partial, and in their duration transitory. And it is indeed a beautiful sight when we see the soul of a sincere Christian thoroughly awakened by the dispensations of providence, and by the quickening power of the Spirit of grace, to renewed devotion and activity for God. When the command comes with power into the soul, "Arise, and go up to Bethel," then there is no more parleying, delaying, or excuse. The same spirit is shown in the conduct of Jacob. He appears at once to have been roused to aim strenuously at the revival of religion both in himself and his family; and he addresses himself without delay to the confession of his neglect, to the performance of his duty, and to a close inspection into the state of his household, that they also, in whatsoever thing they had sinned against the Lord, should be thoroughly reformed and corrected. Such a work of revival is the work of God; and wherever it occurs, it will be marked by certain characteristics which cannot easily be mistaken; for they savour too strongly of that heaven from whence alone grace and holiness flow, to be fairly attributed to any other source. The call of God to renewed devotion produces a sincere surrender of all idolatrous attachments, either to the things or the persons of this world. "Put away your strange gods. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods that were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them in the oak which was Shechem." The call of God produces a cessation from all impurity of the flesh and of the spirit. The reviving call of God will appear in an honest endeavour to repair those breaches which negligence has made, and to remedy by greater effort the evil of time wasted, opportunities lost, evil habits acquired and strengthened, and vows unpaid. "Let us arise, and go up to Bethel, and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress." The call of God to a revival of religion will appear in a renewed and faithful application, in the means of grace, to God, as a reconciled and covenant God; and this one of the most prominent features — one of the most satisfactory indications of a sincere revival of religious hope and devotion. Again; a sincere revival of religious influence in the heart leads to renewed endeavours to produce a gracious change in those connections over whom we have any influence. It is not sufficient to a gracious spirit to serve God alone. If we feel His love, and value His salvation, we shall be anxious for others — both for the honour of God, and for their eternal welfare. The unfailing mercy of the Lord extended yet farther; for we observe that when the humbled and penitent patriarch presented himself at last at Bethel, and built his promised altar there, "God appeared unto him again," in unchanging faithfulness and grace, "and blessed him, and renewed with him there His covenant and His promise." The subject addresses itself especially to one class of hearers — to those who, by experience, can sympathize with Jacob in this part of his history. It speaks to those who have "felt the powers of the world to come, and tasted of the heavenly gift."

(E Craig.)

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