The Results of Disobedience

33:18 to 34:31

God had commanded Jacob to go back to Bethel (31:3 and 13) and Ya’akov had vowed to do so (28:20). But when he crossed back into the Promised Land he decided to linger in Succoth and Shechem for several years. Nowhere did Jacob seek God about his decision, and indeed, there is no mention of God in this entire section. The pastures of Succoth and Shechem were green, and his possessions had increased to the point where movement was difficult. So Ya’akov settled down to what he thought was the simple life, having either put off or put aside the fulfillment of God’s promise to him. But there was a worldly cancer that spread into the family of Jacob that was not seen in the family of Abraham or Isaac. The two for patriarchs had their problems, to be sure, but nothing like the dysfunction we see in Jacob’s family.515

Sometimes when we come off of a mountaintop experience, we meet the cruel cold reality of the world and we are unprepared for it. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, the people had molded a golden calf to worship; after Elijah defeated the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, he fell into a deep depression and after David defeated the Philistines and the Ammonites, reigning over all of Israel, and doing what was right for all his people, he became an adulterer and a murderer. King Solomon was the wisest man in the world and built God’s Temple; however, later in his life he became convinced that all was meaningless after his heart was turned to the gods of his many wives. Likewise, Jacob had wrestled with God and had finally received his blessing in the right way, but then he put God on the back burner.

This was the man who had seen the face of God! This was the man through whom ADONAI had promised that all the peoples of the earth would be blessed! This was the man who wanted the patriarchal blessing, which included being the spiritual leader of the family. And this was the man whom God’s goodness and mercy had followed all the days of his life! But he was also the man who was in spiritual decline at Shechem.516 It is always the same. There is only one way to coast spiritually, that’s downhill, and Jacob was coasting.


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