I'm honored to have award-winning author Anita Mathias as my guest today. Anita has been blogging through Genesis and Matthew on her blog since June. Here she shares her reflection on Genesis 35. You can find more of her insights at Dreaming Beneath the Spires.
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So Jacob has an amazing vision of a stairway between heaven and earth,
and angels ascending and descending on it. And at the top was the
Lord, who promises him the land, fruitfulness, blessing, protection,
his presence and his favour.
Jacob is fleeing the brother whom he had effectively disinherited and
deprived of the blessings of the first-born through deceit.
Hardly the best place to meet God and be promised his blessings,
wouldn’t you say?
But God is gracious and compassionate, full of mercy and abounding in love.
* * *
So after Jacob’s sons Simeon and Levi disgrace and endanger him
through slaughtering every male in Shechem and then looting it, Jacob
is on the move again, back to the place of blessing.
God suggests that he returns to Bethel and settles there, building an altar.
In preparation, Jacob commands his household, “get rid of the foreign
gods you have with you, and purify yourself and change your
When they do so, and bury all the foreign Gods, and the rings they
wore as amulets or charms, God gives them safe conduct. “Then they set
out, and the terror of God fell upon the towns all around them so that
no one pursued them.”
And at Bethel, God blesses him, and promises him fruitfulness and the
land, Eretz Israel.
Getting rid of foreign gods was a precursor of protection and blessing.
* * *
Why was this so important?
Because we can only be in one place. We are either in the waterfall of
God’s goodness and favour, or we are not.
We are either relying on God, or on our own strategies for success,
for wealth, or getting our own way, for example. (Nothing wrong with
strategies. Strategy is fun--and strategic action is obviously more
effective than random action. However, we have to continually ensure
that our strategies either originate with God, or have been run by
him, and have his approval.)
For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen
those whose hearts are fully committed to him (2 Chron. 16:9).
Somehow being wholly committed to God, wholly in the river of his
love, is necessary to being able to wholly access his ideas, and his
inspiration, and to experience his undeserved blessings. Selling
everything to buy that pearl.
All I have is yours, and all you have is mine, Jesus says. They are
correlated. Perhaps all we have needs to be His, for all He has to
Our lunch must be handed over to Jesus for 5000 men to feed on it.
* * *
How do we reach this level of surrender?
Reaching total surrender to God and totally experiencing his
blessings, ideas and provision, like everything else in life, is a
matter of one step at a time, one step of obedience at a time.
Practice, blow it; get up, practice again.
I have not reached total surrender, alas, though I want to--because I
think living in Jesus is a more exciting place to live than following
my own whims and strategies.
Here are some areas I am working on: turning to Jesus rather than food
when in a low mood; not worrying about my work, but entrusting it to
him and asking for his ideas; doing my fair share of house-running
But the real battleground for me is within. Forgiving and praying
blessing on those who injured me. Blessing those I feel envious of,
and asking God to bless me indeed, instead of lingering in envy. Not
dwelling in the negative, but turning my thoughts and words to the
positive. Praising and thanking God when I do not feel like doing so.
Tweak, tweak, tweak, until I am aligned with Jesus, and living in Jesus, with Jesus himself living in me.
Anita Mathias is the author of Wandering Between Two Worlds
(Benediction Classics, 2007) and blogs at Dreaming Beneath the Spires,
Anita lives in Oxford, England with her husband, Roy, and daughters,
Zoe and Irene. Visit her at Facebook at Dreaming Beneath the Spires or
on Twitter @anitamathias1.