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erasing a mistake

January 26 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading: Genesis 33:16 - 35:29; 1Chronicles 2:1-2

A Costly Mistake

Some mistakes can be easily erased - others cannot. Perhaps you are working on your taxes. You know that one mistake could be very costly so you consult with a tax specialist. Another mistake might be moral, and that mistake may be forgiven but not erased. Whether financial or moral, mistakes can affect us and our family. Sometimes this can be devastating. What do we do about it? In today’s story, Jacob makes a devastating mistake. Apparently, this was caused because he looked after his own interests instead of God and his family.

Genesis 34 gives the account of Dinah, the only daughter of Jacob - she was raped and her brothers took revenge. What may have caused this in the first place? What might we learn from this?

If we compare Genesis 33:16-20 with Genesis 35:1 we learn that Jacob did not return to Bethel, nor did he go to Seir as he told his brother. He stopped his journey and settled in Succoth, near the city of Shechem, in the opposite direction of Seir. Perhaps he feared living too close to his brother. Besides, Succoth was a good place for his livestock. Jacob got distracted as we often do. Jacob was evidently lured by the good grazing land there. He was looking out for his business interests, not the interests of God or his family. For this, Dinah suffered the fear, humiliation, and shame of being sexually assaulted. If Jacob had been in the place where God wanted him, this would probably not have happened. Fathers must lead their families in righteousness, and this means protecting them as well as providing for them. If you are married, are you looking out for the interests and protection of your family or are you seeking your own way?

Dinah went to visit the Canaanite ladies of the land in Shechem. Why did she do that? Why did she not visit the Israelite ladies in her community? Perhaps it was Jacob's poor leadership. Jacob's family was not supposed to intermingle with the surrounding nations, but Jacob bought land in Succoth from Hamor, the leader of that area (Genesis 33:19). He intended on settling down and living there. Dinah became acquainted with Shechem at that time. He was obsessed with her and raped her. When Dinah's brothers found out their sister was violated, they were incensed and sought revenge. His sons had learned how to deceive from their father, Jacob. Although God allowed Jacob’s sons to act with revenge for this evil crime against Dinah (more...), and though it brought fear to other nations when they heard about it, the situation was still handled deceitfully and could have caused Jacob a lot of trouble with his new neighbors. God gave the solution to Jacob: Go back to Bethel. Leave Succoth and return to the place where I first made a covenant with you. Today, God promises forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life to all who will call upon him for their salvation (more...).

Jacob smartened up; he knew that he made a costly mistake and this time it hurt his family and reputation. Full devotion and obedience to God are necessary for God’s blessings, not half-hearted commitments. To show his full commitment to God he told his family to get rid of their idols (which they had probably gotten from the people of Shechem), purify themselves and change their clothes (Genesis 35:2-4). What about us? Have we realized that full commitment to the LORD means getting rid of idols (anything that is more important to us than God), purifying ourselves by repentance and changing our clothes (meaning our ways and habits)? How can God give us his blessing if there is no genuine repentance and commitment? Full commitment to God leads to God’s blessings.

God rewarded Jacob's new commitment by protecting his family from their neighbors. He caused the fear of God to fall upon them; no one pursued them (Genesis 35:5). At Bethel God renewed his covenant of blessing with Jacob, and officially changed his name to Israel. Jacob means deceiver. Israel means God fights - He rules. God will fight his battles; he does not need to deceive to win. In God's grace, Jacob was also allowed to arrive home before his father died, and in a spirit of unity he and his brother Esau buried their father. Isn't God's grace good? Praise him for his wonderful grace! Let’s beware of our weaknesses and repent of our sins. Let’s trust God and live a life of full obedience and devotion.

Lessons to live by:

  • Beware! Mistakes can be costly. Do as God says.
  • Fathers must lead their families in righteousness, and this means protecting them as well as providing for them.
  • Today, God promises forgiveness, peace, and spiritual life to all who will call upon him for their salvation (more...)
  • Let us repent of our old ways and live a life of total obedience and devotion to God. This is the way to God’s blessings.

Today’s Bible Memory Verses:

Romans 13:13-14

Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (NIV)

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