Tuesday after the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany of our Lord
Posted on February 5, 2019 byunder
Scripture: Genesis 35:1-21 (NKJV)
35:1 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”
2 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. 3 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.” 4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem. 5 And they journeyed, and the terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.
6 So Jacob came to Luz (that is, Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. 7 And he built an altar there and called the place El Bethel, because there God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother.
8 Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the terebinth tree. So the name of it was called Allon Bachuth.
9 Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. 10 And God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.” So He called his name Israel.
11 Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. 12 The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land.” 13 Then God went up from him in the place where He talked with him.
14 So Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it. 15 And Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him, Bethel.
16 Then they journeyed from Bethel. And when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel labored in childbirth, and she had hard labor. 17 Now it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said to her, “Do not fear; you will have this son also.” 18 And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin.
19 So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). 20 And Jacob set a pillar on her grave, which is the pillar of Rachel’s grave to this day.
21 Then Israel journeyed and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder.
These verses remind us that the one catholic Church is established by our Lord and has been consistent throughout history. Jacob was called and appointed to lead the people under his care. He taught them to turn from their other gods and trust in God above all things. They worshiped God, and their identity was known among the peoples around them. People lived and died; others were born, and still others were born again, such as when Jacob was renamed by the Lord. God taught them to abide in the blessings and promises that He gave them, and He abided with them.
It is always important that we remember the changing story of history as it progresses in this world; there are always valuable lessons to learn from it. And we should always remember that the Lord’s Church is a holy and sublime institution through which He has worked great wonders in the world. But it is also important that we not forget that His Church and His blessings are with us through the common, ongoing simple realities as well. The Church is not about blips in history, or just one day a week. And our identity as His people is not just about bloodlines or corporate institutions. His Church is established throughout all times, before and after us, by His Word and His Spirit as people are made to walk faithfully through all aspects of life.
We pray: Almighty God, who knowest us to be set in the midst of so many and great dangers that by reason of the frailty of our nature we cannot always stand upright, grant to us such strength and protection as may support us in all dangers and carry us through all temptations; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.