Something a little different happens at our house, and maybe your too, on Saturday evenings.
We begin preparing to come to church on Sunday. This means that the kids get a bath, whether they want one or not. We select our “dress” or Sunday clothes. What makes these clothes different from what we wear any other day of the week is that the pants don’t have holes in the knees, the girls will often wear dresses, we wear shoes that are clean.
Why do we do all this? So we can continue our strange behavior with other people. We do this so we can come and for the most part, sit quietly with a bunch of other people who are also cleaned up and dressed up.
We make all these preparations not so much to act different as much as we do it to show respect and honor to God, the God many of us profess to love and worship.
In Genesis 35:1-5 we read that Jacob told his family to get ready to go to church, well to Bethel-the house of God. But before they did this Jacob wanted them to prepare themselves, which included getting rid of some stuff.
Jacob wanted to make sure his family was ready to go to Bethel to worship God. Before they left he gave them orders.
First, get rid of the foreign gods you have with you. These could have been idols or foreign gods that they had with them for years. Jacob told them to get rid of their foreign gods-so they buried them.
Next Jacob told them to purify themselves, which usually took the form of bathing, washing their clothes and for the men shaving. (Lev. 14:8-9; Num. 8:7) Sounds similar to what we do before we come to church doesn’t it?
The last thing Jacob asked them to do was to change their clothes. Their change of clothes may have been a way to represent a new and purified way of life. (Gen 41:14). Jacob’s family did what was asked of them. The preparations for going to the house of God went well for Jacob’s family. And the results were amazing!
After Jacob’s family had gotten rid of their foreign gods, purified themselves and changed their clothes they set out to go to Bethel. And the impact on the people around them was amazing. Verse 5 states “Then they set out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns around them so that no one pursued them.’
Because Jacob and his family got rid of the foreign gods they were holding on to and took time to present themselves to the Lord, the terror of God fell upon the people around them. It’s worth noting that the last thing Jacob said in Genesis 34 was that he was afraid that their neighbors would come and attack them because of the way his sons had treated their neighbors. Now the very people that Jacob feared would attack him and his family have the terror of God fall upon them and wouldn’t even consider pursing Jacob and his family. They go to Bethel where they build an altar and worship God. While here God also renews His promises to Jacob and blesses him again.
What does this have to do with us in the 21st century? We would do well to follow Jacob’s advice to his family.