1. Can you think of some times when we re-commit ourselves or renew our vows to each other? (In times past we would “rededicate” ourselves to the Lord; renew our wedding vows.)
2. Why renew our wedding vows? Simply put, a vow renewal is a way to celebrate your marriage. Perhaps you’ve made it to a significant milestone in your marriage and you want the world to know you’d do it all over again in a heartbeat. Maybe you want to reaffirm your commitment to each other after a rough period in your relationship.
Sometimes it is called a reaffirmation ceremony. As we study Genesis 35 today we will discover Jacob recommitted himself to the Lord and the Lord renewed His promises to Jacob.
(Write the four session headings on the board—purify Yourself, Obey God’s Directives, Remember God’s Promises and Treasure God’s Promises.)
In today’s study, we discover four fundamental actions that will get us back on track when life derails us. From Jacob’s example of hearing and answering God’s call on his life, we learn no situation is hopeless when we include God!
Purify Yourself! Read Genesis 35:1-4
1. What actions were Jacob and his family to take to purify themselves before beginning their journey to Bethel?
Identify Shechem and Bethel on the map. Jacob and his family were to leave Shechem and journey back to Bethel.
2. Why was purification important for Jacob’s family? (Jacob was preparing his family for worship of the One true God, so he wanted them to get rid of all idols that would keep them from worshiping Yahweh. They needed a fresh start.)
Jacob knew that his heart and the hearts of his family members needed to be totally focused on the Lord. Jacob felt he owed his allegiance to Yahweh since God had helped him on every step of his journey.
3. Altars had been used before, but this is the first time we find God giving someone instructions to build an altar. What is the purpose of an altar? (A place to worship God and make sacrifice offerings to Him!)
4. What actions might a person take today in preparation for meeting God?
5. Why do we sometimes have trouble identifying and removing idols from our lives? (Sometimes our “idols” aren’t tangible things. God wants us to purify ourselves and remove idols in our lives that may distract us from worshiping Him. Jacob’s wives were not raised to worship the One true God. Rachel even snuck her family’s idols into her belongings.)
Getting rid of all of the idols meant that Jacob’s whole family would be committing to worship Yahweh—to putting away everything that would come before their worship of God!
6. What things show that a person is purifying his or her life? (Sometimes it is nothing more than a fresh commitment of our life to God and His calling on our life!)
(Briefly discuss the events in Genesis 34 to help understand these verses a little better.)
Obey God’s Directives! Read 35:5-8
At God’s command, Jacob obediently led his family to Bethel with God protecting them along the way. Notice that protection of God came after Jacob was obedient, teaching us that we must obey God first.
1. Which is more difficult—obeying God in the big stuff or in the small stuff?
· Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden. Gen. 3:24
· Moses wasn’t allowed into the Promised Land. Deut. 3:27
· King Saul lost his throne. 1 Sam. 13:13-24
2. How did God move to fulfill His promise to Jacob to receive the land of Abraham and Isaac? (Earlier God had been working in Esau’s heart to forgive his brother rather than destroy him. Here God caused the inhabitants of the land to be afraid of Jacob’s family.)
God works to bring about His purposes for us in ways we cannot always see.
Jacob made a vow in Genesis 28:20-21 that God would be his God
3. What is the significance of returning to a location where a significant spiritual event took place?
4. How important is it for those experiences to be relived?
Remember God’s Promises! Read Genesis 35:9-13
1. What promise did God make to Jacob here? (The same promise God had made to Abraham and Isaac! God is faithful and will fulfill all of His promises. As the old hymn says: “All Your promises are true, I will lift up my eyes to You. For You’re all that I need. And by faith I receive the wonderful things You will do.”)
In his first Bethel experience, Jacob saw God and the angels in a dream, but now the Lord appeared to Jacob while he was fully awake, reaffirming His promises made at Bethel and Peniel. Although Jacob may have forgotten these promises or taken them for granted, God still remembered His word.
Jacob had spiritually matured. He knew that these blessings came from God and not from anything he could control or manipulate.
2. Why did God remind Jacob of his new name? (God officially reminded Jacob again when He blessed him. God’s mercies are “new every morning”—Lam. 3:23, and He reminds us we are new creations in Christ Jesus—2 Cor. 5:17. Just as God took away the shame of Jacob’s past by giving him a new name, God gives us a new identity in Christ.)
Notice that when God first appeared to Jacob, He introduced Himself by His personal name Yahweh. Now God referred to Himself as “God Almighty” to emphasize His all-sufficient power to accomplish the great future He had promised to Jacob and his descendants.
3. What are some promises God has made to you in His Word?
4. How do these promises influence your daily life?
Treasure God’s Promises! Read Genesis 35:14-15
Once again Jacob marked the place where he had encountered God. Markers or memorials help us reflect on a significant event. The greatest privilege in life is discovering and treasuring the Lord’s precious promises.
1. When God finished speaking to Jacob, what sustained Jacob to remain faithful to the Lord? (Jacob set up a stone marker as a reminder of God’s promises.)
2. What are some ways people commemorate significant spiritual commitments today? (Journaling about important markers in our spiritual journey can bring great encouragement during times of difficulty. Sometimes people will write notes in their Bible to remind them of a special commitment or promise and place a date along with it.)
3. How do these compare with the actions taken by Jacob?
Remembering God’s promises will help sustain us through trials and temptations.
Summarize and Challenge!
1. Jacob needed a fresh word from God so God called him to go back to Bethel. Do you need to “go back to Bethel”?
2. Is there a commitment you’ve made to God in the past that needs renewing?
3. What helps you remember everything God has done for you?
Take time this week to consider God’s Word, a prayer journal, verses prominently displayed at home or work, songs, or other items that remind you of God’s answering your prayers.
Identify a way God has shown Himself faithful in your life. Mark your new commitment to God in some way that you can go back to and remember what happened there. Perhaps even this Scripture!