Genesis 35* God commands Jacob to go to Beth-el, He puts away idols fromhis family. (1-5) Jacob builds an altar, Death of Deborah, Godblesses Jacob. (6-15) Death of Rachel. (16-20) Reuben's crime,The death of Isaac. (21-29)1-5 Beth-el was forgotten. But as many as God loves, he willremind of neglected duties, one way or other, by conscience orby providences. When we have vowed a vow to God, it is best notto defer the payment of it; yet better late than never. Jacobcommanded his household to prepare, not only for the journey andremoval, but for religious services. Masters of families shoulduse their authority to keep up religion in their families, #Jos24:15|. They must put away strange gods. In families where thereis a face of religion, and an altar to God, yet many times thereis much amiss, and more strange gods than one would suppose.They must be clean, and change their garments. These were butoutward ceremonies, signifying the purifying and change of theheart. What are clean clothes, and new clothes, without a cleanheart, and a new heart? If Jacob had called for these idolssooner, they had parted with them sooner. Sometimes attempts forreformation succeed better than we could have thought. Jacobburied their images. We must be wholly separated from our sins,as we are from those that are dead and buried out of sight. Heremoved from Shechem to Beth-el. Though the Canaanites were veryangry against the sons of Jacob for their barbarous usage of theShechemites, yet they were so kept back by Divine power, thatthey could not take the opportunity now offered to avenge them.The way of duty is the way of safety. When we are about God'swork, we are under special protection; God is with us, while weare with him; and if He be for us, who can be against us? Godgoverns the world more by secret terrors on men's minds than weare aware of. 6-15 The comfort the saints have in holy ordinances, is not somuch from Beth-el, the house of God, as from El-beth-el, the Godof the house. The ordinances are empty things, if we do not meetwith God in them. There Jacob buried Deborah, Rebekah's nurse.She died much lamented. Old servants in a family, that have intheir time been faithful and useful, ought to be respected. Godappeared to Jacob. He renewed the covenant with him. I am GodAlmighty, God all-sufficient, able to make good the promise indue time, and to support thee and provide for thee in the meantime. Two things are promised; that he should be the father of agreat nation, and that he should be the master of a good land.These two promises had a spiritual signification, which Jacobhad some notion of, though not so clear and distinct as we nowhave. Christ is the promised Seed, and heaven is the promisedland; the former is the foundation, and the latter thetop-stone, of all God's favours. 16-20 Rachel had passionately said, Give me children, or else Idie; and now that she had children, she died! The death of thebody is but the departure of the soul to the world of spirits.When shall we learn that it is God alone who really knows whatis best for his people, and that in all worldly affairs thesafest path for the Christian is to say from the heart, It isthe Lord, let him do what seemeth him good. Here alone is oursafety and our comfort, to know no will but his. Her dying lipscalled her newborn son Ben-oni, the son of my sorrow; and many ason proves to be the heaviness of her that bare him. Childrenare enough the sorrow of their mothers; they should, therefore,when they grow up, study to be their joy, and so, if possible,to make them some amends. But Jacob, because he would not renewthe sorrowful remembrance of the mother's death every time hecalled his son, changed his name to Benjamin, the son of myright hand: that is, very dear to me; the support of my age,like the staff in my right hand. 21-29 What a sore affliction Reuben's sin was, is shown, " andIsrael heard it." No more is said, but that is enough. Reubenthought that his father would never hear of it; but those thatpromise themselves secrecy in sin, are generally disappointed.The age and death of Isaac are recorded, though he died not tillafter Joseph was sold into Egypt. Isaac lived about forty yearsafter he had made his will, chap. #27:2|. We shall not die anhour the sooner, but much the better, for timely setting ourhearts and houses in order. Particular notice is taken of theagreement of Esau and Jacob at their father's funeral, to showhow God had wonderfully changed Esau's mind. It is awful tobehold relations, sometimes for a little of this world's goods,disputing over the graves of their friends, while they are neargoing to the grave themselves.
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