“Closure” is a good word for this chapter. A lot happens in this chapter and all of it moves in tying together the loose ends of Jacob’s story.
This chapter begins with God once again appearing to Jacob and telling him to go back to where it all started, the place where Jacob, on the run for his life, first met God in the vision of a ladder and promise of protection.
Bethel. “The house of God.”
God speaks and Jacob responds. And when he relays the message to his family, he adds the curious detail, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you and purify yourselves and change your garments.” For Jacob, this is more than a trip down memory lane. Apparently, the family has picked up some distractions along the way, made God the One and Only into God the One Among the Many.
I wonder how often we simply add God to our collection of modern culture gods.
What if this situation of Jacob’s keeps happening? In fact, to continue the story of Jacob’s family, which becomes the nation of Israel, throughout the Old Testament story, idolatry stalks them and clings to them at every turn. And rarely does it look like foreign gods instead of God, but instead like foreign gods alongside God.
God alongside the other gods is just as bad as the other gods instead of God.
Here we see the great father take stand. It ends here. Put them away. Get rid of ’em. This is where everything changes.
This matters because the last remaining thread of the story is reconciliation with the father, Isaac. So what if renouncing our “foreign gods” is the prerequisite to healing our broken relationships?
What about you? What do you see?