There are several popular shows today about how to organize your home. But before the experts can display your items neatly in clear matching bins, they have an important request: Edit! Go through all of your belongings and get rid of what you do not need. Only then can they put your home in order.
In Genesis 35, Jacob and Rachel had some purging to do. God had instructed Jacob to settle in Bethel and build an altar to Him. Even though Jacob had robbed his brother and was running away in self-preservation, God protected and prospered him. This altar would remind him of that truth. Before Jacob could move, Jacob led his household in a major purification project. Jacob instructed them to bring all the foreign gods they had acquired, and he buried them (vv. 2–4). This is the first purging process of its kind recorded in Scripture—and the first clear call to monotheism. As God deepened His call on Jacob’s family line, He expected undivided devotion.
In Bethel, Jacob built the altar. Then God appeared to Jacob again, calling Himself “God Almighty” (v. 11), reiterating yet again His covenant promises. He also changed Jacob’s name once more to “Israel” (v. 10). As the Jacob and Rachel narrative comes to a close, the entire scene speaks of transformation—the slow and deliberate work of God in the lives of His own. Jacob’s family had moved on, but they had not yet reached Bethlehem when Rachel went into labor. Sadly, it was a difficult birth, and Rachel died. Her final words were to name this baby Ben-Oni (Son of My Trouble). Jacob later changed it to Benjamin, meaning Son of the Right Hand.
>> Through Rachel’s life—and Jacob’s—we see the nature of God. He accomplishes His will in spite of our failings. We also learn what it means to follow Him with a singular focus, to purge our idols. Are there idols you need to purge?
Lord, forgive us for the things we cling to instead of you. Open our eyes to idols we are unaware of and grant us godly grief and repentance. Teach us to flee from everything that distracts us from you.