Day 4: Vayishlach/Genesis 34:1-35:12
Just because a believer says the right words or offers eloquent prayers, it does not make him authority or righteous. The journey to righteousness is full of places where faith and belief are tried, tested, and purified.
This is the road Yacov traversed, along with his family, when dwelling within Canaan. Spiritually speaking, Shechem and his people were not Covenant keepers, nor did their desire circumcision to render them such. In the gate of his people, Shechem revealed the real motives regarding intermarriage with Israel. Not only would his personal passion be temporarily squelched, but the possessions of Israel were presumed to soon belong to those Hivites. It’s possible that circumcision could have led to a Covenant relationship with Elohim, but will never be known since Simeon and Levi took vengeance for the disgrace of Dinah, their sister.
The fruit of the Hivites’ lives was not yielded from the Ruach, nor were these inhabitants necessarily called by YHVH to walk in Covenant relationship with Israel. It was apparent that greed motivated them, even to the point of rationalizing the removal of the foreskin from every male in the region.
That’s reasonable, right?
Simeon and Levi’s actions may or may not be questionable, since we may not have all the facts; and, we do know that Yacov had an ongoing, automated response to irrationally fear man (Esau, Laban). What is important is the elimination of wrong fruit and wrong lifestyles for the right reasons. When YHVH calls a man or a nation to respond, that is motivation enough to respond with integrity and fortitude.
A person can journey with YHVH all their lives and still need pruning, honing, and correction. Yacov was not exempt from doing wrong, making mistakes, or saying things he shouldn’t. Likewise, his family, servants, and those sojourning with him were not above reproach, nor did they have all the answers to life or spirituality. YHVH knew Yacov’s and company’s maturity and used that knowledge to require Yacov and his household to, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments.”
After meeting Elohim face-to-face, after seeing the ladder in Bethel, after being affected in his hip and his name being changed to Israel, Yacov still had the idols in his possession. Furthermore, it was not enough to be rid of the idols themselves, but all that was associated with those false elohim was to be purged. This included the rings in their ears that would have commemorated false elohim. It would not be until these were eliminated that the Creator would explicitly call Yacov by his new name, Israel, and, at that same time, extend the personal Covenant from Abraham and Isaac to Yacov for the Promised Seed and the Promised Land.
Our Elohim is Jealous. We are not allowed to have other false Elohim, or their memorabilia, around us so to seduce us or lull us into spiritual complacency, which leads to bondage, once again. YHVH asks us to purge our lives, our family’s lives, and our homes from the filth of idolatry and those idol’s influences.
What does that mean in practical terms? Well, if we do not worship Nimrod, Tammuz, or other Babylonian gods, why would we participate in traditional Christmas activities? For that matter, why would we want an idolatrous, commemorative “tree” in our homes for that time of year? Chanukah is not without its pitfalls. The Chanukkiah is a bastardization of the Menorah, which was used in the Tabernacle and Temple. If that’s not bad enough, the center candle is commonly referred to as the shamash, which was the Babylonian sun god. Each time a candle is lit from this “servant” candle and the name of that false god is used, it does not edify YHVH, but proves that we are in need of purging.
These are only two examples of ways in which believers tolerate false elohim in their lives. Because of Catholicism, Christian traditions, and worldly alliances and dependency, most believers have some type of idolatry in their lives through ignorance and unsound teaching.
Our motives need to be pure and our resolve sure. YHVH desires us for Himself only. He will not share our attention and he does not desire our love when it is selfishly used to get what we want. YHVH asks us to rid our lives of the world, idols, and anything that would divert our attention and affection to Him. As we do this in faith and obedience, our names are called Israel because we belong to the Creator and are not of this world. We have separated ourselves from it; and, that is a beautiful sight in the eyes of the Father.
Dwell upon Exodus 20:2-4, “He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, the covenant he made with Abraham, the oath he swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant: ‘To you I will give the land of Canaan as the portion you will inherit.’”