Renew Yourself and Your Family (Gen.35:1-5) May 27, 2012
Today, we will talk about renewal which is what we absolutely need as the saved children of God in order to enjoy the blessings He has prepared for us, especially “renewal of the family”. Renewing is a process in which you change something for a new work. Although how full of idolatry and evil deeds your life as a nonbeliever must have been, God will begin a new thing through Christ as long as you come within Him (2Cor.5:17). This is the beginning of renewal. You may still fall into Satan’s schemes and fail even after your spirit has been saved because of your old habits and nature, but God will never give up on you and help you until the end (Phil.1:6). Theologically speaking, you may call this the process of sanctification, but essentially it is the progression of renewal. To what extent do you want to be renewed and born again? It is until you become a witness to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). This is the result of renewal. Seeing you change as time passes by is the evidence itself. You were not like this in the past, but you have no idea how you can change like this. In the meantime, you will see the power of the Gospel as you see how God’s blessings come upon your work, family, and children. This is evangelism. What is one thing that people who always fail cannot do? It is renewing themselves. They are the same from ten years ago and twenty years ago. Koreans (especially immigrants) are one of those groups of people who can never renew themselves; even after living here in the U.S. for a number of years their perspective is still not globalized. Sometimes a church seems unable to adapt to this society. I see many elders participate evangelism camps these days. It is not something you can participate just because you have time. It tells me that they are putting effort to renew themselves and that it is an important time for them to receive important answers and blessings. Our multiethnic ministry is receiving strength, lay leaders, professionals, and Remnants and putting their hearts together for short-term mission trips, and the rest of us are doing evangelism camps in the respective regions on a regular basis. Do you know how important this time is for our church? Today’s passage is about Jacob’s family. He was someone who lived through many afflictions. Even at a very young age he realized the significance of the blessing of a firstborn and tricked his twin brother to take it away from him. As a result, he had to flee from where he was living and was tricked in the similar way as he tricked his brother. His uncle deceived him that cost him almost twenty years, and even after he finally got what he wanted and headed back to his home but problems did not cease; his one and only daughter was sexually molested and her brothers tried to avenge her that put the entire household on the verge of a war. Jacob was now waiting to lose everything and fall. At that time, God came to him and gave him the solution: renewal.
1. God told Jacob to go up to Bethel.
(1) What does it say in verse one about Bethel? It was a place where God appeared when Jacob was fleeing from his brother Esau. God came to Jacob when he was fleeing in fear after committing a crime. Rom.5:8 records the same words. This is salvation (Rom.5:8). What is the beginning of all renewals? It is salvation. Only when you receive salvation will you and your life change.
(2) There is a covenant God gives to His people at the moment of their salvation. It is what He gave Jacob in Gen.28:13-15, but He gave it to us as well. From a legalistic standpoint, God should have reprimanded Jacob and warned him of a judgment, but He gave him a covenant instead. He gave you His plan to bless your life as a promise. This is the Gospel. This is what you received when you were saved.
a. “I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.” That was the land where Jesus would come and become the Lord of the land. When you are within Jesus, it is not just to the extent your sins are forgiven. You will enjoy the blessing of conquering the land.
b. “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.” This is the covenant of the Remnant and the covenant of evangelism and missions. When you go to work or go to an evangelism field, you must hold onto this covenant. Because of you your work and your region will receive blessings. I am not telling you to be conceited. You must discover your identity and realize how important you are.
(3) Why do problems keep on coming to God’s people? Why do believers keep on getting afflicted? It is because they have lost hold of this covenant.
a. All you have to do is hold onto the covenant and receive the guidance from the Holy Spirit, give thanks, and triumph today. It is because either you do not know the covenant or the covenant you are holding onto is vague that you keep on comparing yourself to others and trying to do something through humanism which ultimately ends in failure. You are always anxious. From his birth Jacob was chosen as the people of the covenant. That is salvation (Eph.1:3 and 1Pet.2:9).
b. A big part of the responsibility falls on the parents for not passing down the covenant. Jacob’s parents failed to do this and they died without seeing their son again. Your last days will be blessed if you stake your life on passing down the covenant of Christ to your children even if you cannot do anything else.
2. God told Jacob to build an altar to God in Bethel. This signifies the restoration of covenantal worship. From where do we receive strength sufficient enough to renew ourselves to the extent we enjoy God’s blessings? That is the blessing of worship.
(1) There was something that Jacob vowed to God. First, he vowed that God would be his one and only God and second, he said he would make the rock he was resting his head on and the place where the rock was a temple of God. He basically vowed to live a life of worshipping God. Third, he vowed to give tithe from what God gave him. That means Jacob asked God to bless his wealth. However, he could not live up to any of those three vows he made.
(2) We must think about one thing here. If you really restore the covenant, you can worship God anywhere. What is important is your heart. This is the answer Jesus gave the Samaritan woman (Jn.4:20-24). But of course there is a clear reason for us to have worship in one place.
a. That is the blessing of the church God gave us. Church is a place God allowed us to bless us. There are the grace we must receive (blessing of the Pulpit), thanks to give, and background of prayer (important especially for students and soldiers). The time schedule of the Pulpit and the church is your time schedule. If you do not know this, there is no reason for any church to exist in this land.
b. A prime example of someone who really enjoyed blessings worshipping God in the church God allowed him (condition John Wanamaker asked for when he took the office of Postmaster General). Restore worship and Pulpit. True answers will begin.
3. There was something Jacob resolved at last. He discarded all foreign gods, purified himself, and changed his clothes.
(1) He threw away what needed to be discarded and began anew. It is wrong to say that you want to begin anew without letting go of your hidden scars, and you old habits and nature. If you failed after you made a resolution to renew yourself, keep trying and start over. People of the covenant will eventually triumph.
(2) Problem is that people do not even think that renewing themselves is necessary. That is why God has to keep on giving you problems in order for you to realize who you are. Problems come because you do not think about renewal or do not come to a resolution to renew yourself, but God does not just solve those problems right away. You must keep on fighting the spiritual battle against yourself and Satan who is working in the background and stride forward toward renewal. What is the conclusion of today’s passage? Jacob and his household made a resolution and went up to Bethel. They buried all foreign gods and rings in their ears. This is not just an average resolution. When the saved people really hold onto the covenant and resolve, the Holy Spirit has to work. It says in verse five, “[T]he terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.” We have a reason for our renewal (covenant) and also the mystery from which we can receive the strength to renew ourselves. I bless and hope that the blessings of true renewal may begin.