Getting Back to God
By Carolyn Dale Newell
Thursday, February 23, 2017
“And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.’” Genesis 35:2-3 (NKJV)
Fury and fear struck Jacob. Shechem found Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, attractive, and he forced himself upon her. Shechem and his father spoke with Jacob and his sons. Shechem wanted to make things right by marrying Dinah. They sought peace by giving all their sons and daughters to one another in marriage. Simeon and Levi, Jacob’s sons, deceived them by asking all the men of the city to be circumcised. While the men recuperated in pain, Simeon and Levi killed them. They kidnapped their wives and children plundering the entire city.
Jacob expressed his disappointment in his sons when he explained that the surrounding people would surely kill them now. They were too few in number to fight and survive.
Then God told Jacob to go up to Bethel and build an altar there. Bethel was the same place Jacob had fled seeking safety from his brother Esau. Jacob began cleaning house. He knew his family had carried foreign gods with them when they started this journey home. He never addressed that issue until now. Jacob collected their gods and buried them. Jacob told his family to purify themselves and put on clean garments. Once purified, once repentant, they would go to Bethel, which means “house of God”.
How easily Jacob and his family had slipped from God. It did not happen overnight, but slowly. Thankfully, God doesn’t hold grudges. He welcomes His children back with open arms. He protected Jacob’s family by placing a terror in the people surrounding Jacob, and no harm came to them.
One day, Jacob’s family would stray again. This time, they would plot to kill their own brother, Joseph. They decided instead to sell him into slavery.
How quickly we can slip away. Like Jacob’s family, we don’t get up one morning and declare we are going to take a step back from God. It starts with a missed church service here and there. Prayer time gets cut back. Bible study was neglected, and now there is sin.
What do we do when we see the warning signs that trouble is ahead? We get back to Bethel. Get back to God. We perceive how easily it can happen. How innocent it appears.
We need to stir up the flames of our spiritual fires. Get them blazing hot for God again. Make the point to be in church. Schedule the Bible study, and pray, as Paul commanded, without ceasing.
Has your fire gone out? Do you feel spiritually anemic? There is no better time than now to stir up the ashes of your life and reignite your flame.
Like Jacob’s family, we need to remove the things that have taken the place of God. The things that take our time and money. We can repent. We can change our garments, and the great thing is that God welcomes us back.
Sometimes we struggle with an adequate quiet time. Here are some helps I have found useful:
● A comfortable place to study.
● An uninterrupted time.
● An online Bible study.
● A Bible study book.
● A commentary and/or study Bible.
Lord, At times we find ourselves distant from You, and we wonder how we arrived there. Pull us close and help us remain in Your sweet presence. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
© 2017 by Carolyn Dale Newell. All rights reserved.
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Originally published Thursday, 23 February 2017.