"And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went."
Yesterday: Past Sin Does Not Go Away on its Own
Years have passed, and now Jacob has a family of his own. But still, his past haunts him and adversely affects his own home.
Today: Potentially, a Fresh Start with God
Jacob has been learning about the persistence of his guilt as a consequence of his past sin. Guilt for sin produces awful feelings in both the mind/heart and body. These feelings will never go away on their own. It is as if he is caught in his sin.
In a few years from this time, Moses will speak to Jacob’s children, the “Children of Israel,” as they are preparing to go into the Promised Land. These words are significant to us today. God is speaking to the tribes who chose to live on the other side of the Jordan, letting them know that they must stand and fight Israel’s enemies with their brothers, the other ten tribes.
“But if ye will not do so, behold, ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23).
And with these words, God lays down this truth. “Your sin will always find you out.” Whether it happens in this lifetime or not until eternity, this is a correct statement. The LORD will see to it. The consequences of Jacob’s sin, including running from his brother, began years before he married and had a family. These same “demons” are chasing him and will do so until God steps in and helps him to deal with his sin, His way.
“And let us arise and go up to Bethel.” (a)
“And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou [ran away] from the face of Esau, thy brother. Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went” (Genesis 35:1-3).
Parents: we understand that yesterday’s decisions, for good or bad, can have long-term effects on our families and on us now, in the present. We need to deal with yesterday’s failures in God’s way.
God said that it was time for Jacob to go back to Bethel. He needs desperately to renew his relationship with God. It was about time his family is introduced to his God. This should have happened years earlier before his weddings to Leah and Rachel and as he was meeting Uncle Laban’s family. Jacob can not get back the years that he didn’t walk with His God, but he can make things right with Him and live differently from here on.
Come back tomorrow as we see Jacob prepare his family for the trip to the “house of God,” at “Bethel.”
Quote: Believers, God’s gift of new life has made for us a new beginning. “Don’t lie to each other. You have taken off those old clothes—the person you once were and the bad things you did then. Now you are wearing a new life, a life that is new every day. You are growing in your understanding of the one who made you. You are becoming more and more like Him” (Colossians 3:9-10, HSB).
 God will change Jacob’s name to “Israel.” After his all-night wrestling match with the “Lord,” he is given this new name (Genesis 32:28). His character has changed from the former “supplanter,” to now a “prince.” When the Bible speaks of the “Children of Israel” it refers to Jacob/Israel’s offspring.
 The word “demons,” is used here for the guilt and anxiety of Jacob’s past sinful actions, nothing more. These images of his past sins are always in the back of his mind, haunting his thoughts. He knows that consequences are coming, and he has no control over them. Neither can he stop them! Yesterday’s sin left chilling recollections that unsettle him, while today, those memories are creating fears that are “eating him alive.” Sin is unrelenting! Only Jesus Christ could break sin’s power over us! PTL!
 The Harvest Study Bible. From Harvest Baptist Church, Guam.