Today's Manna

January 24, 2017
Friend or Foe?
by Eric Doucet
Scripture Reading: Genesis 34

Lust. Rape. Anger. Greed. Dysfunctional families. Deception. Revenge. Mass murder. No mention of God. Sounds like a Tuesday night on ABC. However, these evils aren’t what’s on tv tonight, they're all mentioned in Genesis 34.

Jacob made a vow to God at Bethel after God promised to bless Him (Gen 28:20-22). Twenty years later, in Genesis 31, verses 3 and 13, God reminded Jacob of His promise and of His expectation for Jacob to honor his vow by returning to the land of his fathers. God’s reminder to Jacob of his original vow at Bethel, coupled with the fact that God commands him to move to Bethel in Genesis 35:1, seems to indicate that God expected Jacob to return specifically to Bethel to honor his original vow.

However, when Jacob first returned to Canaan he stopped short of Bethel, dwelling first in Succoth for some time, then at Shechem. The fact that Jacob did not return to Bethel is symbolic of his refusal to keep his vow by refusing to submit to God.

Shechem was located at the intersection of a couple of major trade routes, which made it attractive to Jacob as he tried to mix his faith with his desire for fortune. Shechem was also a populated, pagan city which should have caused great concern for Jacob related to his family. Jacob’s seemingly harmless decision to live in Shechem had disastrous consequences, notably his teenage daughter’s rape and the mass murder committed by his sons.

Jacob failed to recognize the danger the culture posed to his family and future. He feared Esau, yet he became friends with people he should have feared much more. The Canaanites, because of their idolatry and paganism, were Jacob’s real enemy. They didn’t just want to intermarry and do business with Jacob’s family, they wanted to take over the people of God so that they would all be “one people” (v. 22), a crafty attempt by the devil to destroy the Seed of the woman.

The real danger believers and churches face today is not the frontal assault of the enemy on fundamental doctrines, it is the assimilation of the church into the world. Instead of compromising and conceding, we need to live in such a way that the distinction between church and culture is clearly visible. We can maintain this distinction if we will submit to the Lord Jesus Christ and make Him, His Word, and His Church the priority of our lives.

Texas A&M University Student Resources