One of the compelling reasons we know the Bible to be true is that it never just seeks to flatter its heroes. No attempt is made to simply gloss over their imperfections and mistakes; in fact, the opposite is true! The Bibles gives it to us ‘warts and all’! We see this in the life of Jacob, on one hand, the great patriarch of the nation, on the other, a scheming, conniving man who struggled to keep his house in order.
In Genesis 34 we are given the sad account of Jacob’s daughter Dinah’s flirtation with the world. It started off as simple curiosity, maybe with so many brothers in the house, Dinah wanted some female company for a change! But when we are not content with our circumstances, when we think the lot we have been given isn’t enough, or that it won’t satisfy, we leave ourselves open to temptation.
We see this with the tribe of Dan in the book of Judges. They were not content with the land – the boundaries – God had set for them on the west of Israel. Instead, they took a piece of land right at the top of Israel; but because of this they fell into idolatry through the influence of the surrounding nations. Whenever we are not content with the boundaries God sets for us, it will inevitably lead to compromise and idolatry.
Just as we see in Psalm 1, Dinah started off by just ‘walking’ past, then find’s herself ‘standing’ and observing. Soon she is found ‘sitting in the seat of the scornful’. That is not to say for a moment she deserved what happened, Shechem’s treatment of her was despicable! But if she had just realised – as so many young people need to know today – that the bright lights of the city do not bring the love and acceptance people crave. There will be a city, one day, whose Bright light we will be drawn to – when Christ is The Light in the New Jerusalem – but until then we need to understand that ‘all our fresh springs are in Christ’. All that we are looking for and longing for is found only in Christ. Never in this world.
Dinah ends up staying in Shechem, as so many do, mistaking lust for love.
Jacob could have acted, he didn’t. There are important parenting lessons to be gleaned here!
But that is not the end of the story! We read:
“Then Jacob said unto his household, and to all that were with him, Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments: And let us arise, and go up to Bethel; and I will make there an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress, and was with me in the way which I went. And they gave unto Jacob all the strange gods which were in their hand, and all their earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the oak which was by Shechem.” (Gen 35:2-4)
We may have failed, we may have not done what we should, we might have been a little too attracted to the world, but the LORD is gracious, and if we are willing to humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God (1 Peter 5:6), if we are willing to confess our sin (1 John1:8-9) – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16) – we can pack up, bury our false gods at the foot of Calvary’s Tree, and make the short journey to Bethel – the House of God.
(The audio teaching for Genesis 34-45 is now available online – https://www.calvaryportsmouth.co.uk/sermons/genesis-chapter-34-35/)