Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

God renews his promises (Genesis 35:9-29)

At Bethel God appeared to Jacob again and renewed his great and precious promises. We can see that the Lord repeated the change of name given earlier to Jacob, which would be a reminder to him that the Lord intended to continue working in his life. 

It was also an indicator that God can combine what may seem to be separate. Jacob had received his new name at Peniel, but here at Bethel the Lord repeated it. We are prone to separate occasions when we met God and say this blessing was given here and that blessing was given there. God replies and says to us, ‘I can give you blessings together that I previously gave separately.’

God also described himself particularly when he said that he was God Almighty (El Shaddai). This was the name he had used when he appeared to Abraham (Gen. 17:1), and there it is connected to his ability to do the miraculous (give a son to Abraham and Sarah) and his determination to maintain his covenant with Abraham and his descendants. Jacob was reminded about the ability God possesses and the love that he has for his people, that he will take care of him and will fulfil his promises.

Through these spiritual high points in Jacob’s life, he experienced further tragedies and disappointments. The great tragedy he endured was the loss of his beloved wife Rachel in childbirth (vv. 16-20) and the great disappointment was the sinful behaviour of his eldest son Reuben (v. 22). Yet it looks as if his encounters with God helped him to cope with these sad experiences and he continued on his way to Isaac, which after all was the place where God’s people lived.

Jacob was to enjoy the company of Isaac for several years before the latter died when Jacob was 120 years old. No doubt they often marvelled at the way the Lord had worked in their lives. Jacob’s story reminds us of the mystery of God’s plan, the extent of his patience, the greatness of his pardon, the range of his providence, the gentleness of his power in restoration, and the certainty of his promises.

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