Each week, in our Selah small group, we study the chapter the Pastor is teaching on the upcoming Sunday. Normally, my Quiet Time is rewarding as I search the scriptures and steep in them all week. But recently, we covered Genesis 34, and let me tell you it was miserable. As a friend of mine quipped, the title of Genesis 34 could be Rape, Foreskins, and Pillage, Oh My!
The Cliff Notes version of Genesis 34 is as follows. This dark chapter describes the rape of Dinah, Jacob’s daughter by Hamor’s son Shechem. Then, for Shechem to marry Dinah, he and his whole town were tricked by Jacob’s sons into being circumcised so they could coexist with the Israelites. The brothers were avenging their sister’s name and honor. The men of Shechem were deceived into being circumcised; and “on the third day, when they were still in pain, two of the sons of Jacob and Leah, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came upon the city unawares, and killed all the males.”
So, you understand…five days camped in this dismal chapter felt like a looooong time. (Here is more info on Selah) After day two of Selah Genesis, I had a hunch something, rather Someone was missing.
Someone Was Missing
The next morning. I was determined to fill out the Character of God section and combed through the 31 verses to discover, understand and record how God displays His character, I made a heartbreaking discovery. Try as I might, I could not find Him anywhere in Genesis 34.
Everyone, Dinah, the brothers, and even Jacob were just living their “best life now” without God and the results were horrifying.
All I can say is after a long week contemplating the massacre in chapter 34, I thank God that there is a Chapter 35.
The next week when I was studying this new chapter using Selah, it was such a joy for me to discover God over and over again in Genesis 35! To my delight, He is literally everywhere in this chapter. Verse by verse reveals a new facet of His character and how He patiently interacted with a stubborn heel grasper. Just look at what God does in this chapter!
God calls Jacob to:
-Repentance (turning away from sin and turn toward God) v.1-4
-Remove remnants of the old life. v. 2, 4
-Return to Him v. 1, 3
-Rebuild an alter v. 3
-Re-establish commitment to God v. 3
-Renames The name of Jacob (heel grabber) was changed by God to Israel (one who wrestles with God) v. 10 Please note, Jacob emulates God and renames Ben-Oni (son of my sorrow) to Benjamin (son of my right hand) v. 18
Results of a Right Relationship:
-Restrains the enemy v. 5
-Reveals Himself v. 7, 13
-Removes people from our lives, even when we are in following His will (Deborah v. 8, Rachel v. 19, Isaac v. 27, Reuben v. 22)
-Reassures and Restates His blessed calling v. 11
-Reunites brothers v. 29
And as I mulled over this list, I gathered three lessons to apply to my life and perhaps yours too.
The first lesson is God is Consistent. Hebrews 13:8 confirms “He is the same yesterday, today and always.” He is not making it up as He goes. God has an unwavering plan and if you look, you can trace the crimson thread of redemption woven throughout the Bible. It starts in Genesis 3:12 and His redemptive design remains the same until the last verse of Revelation.
The second lesson is God is Merciful. Maybe Genesis 35 stands out so brightly because there was a Genesis 34 preceding it. (This tender mercy gives me great hope when I mess up!)
Read for yourself how quickly the situation went south! First with the daughter, then the brothers, and ultimately with Jacob. And girls, without God, our life can go just as quickly out of control. One well-known teacher once said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.”
The final lesson is God is the Redeemer. I noticed how God deals with us the same way when we have a Genesis 34 Moment in our life. You know, the times we live our life the way we want without consulting God beforehand. The times we go off-road and head out on our own like Dinah to discover what I refer to as “New Horizons”. The times we fall and sin. In Genesis 35 we see a pattern that reminds us once again Who He is and what He has done on the cross. John 1:9 TPT says, “But if we freely admit our sins when his light uncovers them, he will be faithful to forgive us every time. God is just to forgive us our sins because of Christ, and he will continue to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
God Calls Me When I Stray To:
-Repentance to turn away from sin and turn toward God (Acts 3:19)
-Remove (again) remnants of my old life (Eph 4:22-32)
-Return to Him (Joel 2:13, 1 John 1:9)
-Rebuild the altar to worship, commemorate His faithfulness, make a memorial, to make a covenant, to take refuge (Romans 12)
-Re-establish my commitment to God (1 John 2:1-2)
Results of a Right Relationship:
-Restrains the enemy
-Reveals Himself to me
-Removes people from our lives, sometimes because of the consequence of sin or as protection
-Reassures me of our relationship
-Restates His blessed calling
Friend, I encourage you to take some time this week to read over Chapters 34 and 35 of Genesis. They are as opposite as night and day. It is so easy to get caught up in the ” I would never do this” thinking of self-righteousness. Be honest, have you slipped or gone off the road on your own without God? Let this be a reminder of what God calls you to do WHEN you stray and the benefits of a right relationship with Him through His son Jesus.
If you want to learn how to use the Selah Method in your daily time in the Word, email me at ShelleyNoonan@hotmail.com I would love to help you!