Series of 15 Sermons by Pastor Ron Thomas On
"The Life of Jacob"

801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040

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Text: Genesis 33:17-20. "And Jacob journeyed to Succoth, and built him an house, and made booths for his cattle: therefore the name of the place is called Succoth. 18 And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. 19 And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem's father, for an hundred pieces of money. 20 And he erected there an altar, and called it Elelohe Israel."

Introduction: The brothers, Jacob and Esau are now reconciled and part in peace. Esau returns to Seir, and Jacob travels five miles downstream toward the Jordan river to a place called "Succoth," (sook-kohth') which means booths. Here Jacob builds a house for himself and booths for his cattle. Succoth was a well watered region, a magnificent highland site on the eastern side of Jordan and north of the Jabbok. It is of interest, that Jacob stops and settles here, because the Lord had told him to leave Haran and to return to the land of Canaan, back to Bethel, where God had first appeared to him. Succoth is not Canaan. It is not Bethel. He is on the wrong side of the river. Jacob remains in Succoth for several years. Perhaps as many as two or three years.

In time, Jacob moves again. He crosses the river and actually enters into the land of Canaan. He travels to the vicinity of Shechem, where Abraham had paused on his first journey into the land of Canaan. Shechem was approximately forty-one miles north of Jerusalem, in the valley between Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim. Once there, he settled in a town called Shalem and bought a parcel of ground, establishing claim to property in Canaan. He is now in Canaan, closer to Hebron and Bethel, however he is not where the Lord told him to go. We know that he has not totally forgotten the Lord, because he builds an alter and names it, "Elelohe Israel" (ale el-o-hay' yis-raw-ale') which means "the mighty God of Israel." It could be that Jacob builds this alter with his past deliverance from Laban as well as Esau in mind.

Jacob settles down to raise his family there in the region of Shechem. This was a beautiful place, with well watered, verdant, fertile land. Perhaps this is what attracted Jacob to stop here and put down roots. It no doubt seemed to be the perfect place for his livestock as well as his family. Years pass, without incident.

As we enter Genesis 34, we get a sense that Jacob and his family were well received by his Canaanite neighbors, even comfortable with them, as his children grow up before him. Verse 1 says, "And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land." His neighbors were Hivites, a very populous tribe, descendants of Ham through his son, Canaan. Here is evidence that Jacob and his children were building relationships with their neighbors in Canaan.

Then it happened. Notice Genesis 34:2-4. "And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. 3 And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. 4 And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife."

Jacob is soon to learn the danger that comes with RAISING KIDS IN CANAAN. His daughter Dinah who was born to Leah, was visiting a friend in the near-by city of Shechem. Dinah was about 15 to 17 years old and in the flower of her youth. She was growing into womanhood, yet still a girl, naive, foolish, and immature. Shechem, the young son of a prominent family, fell desperately in love with her. Just how long this relationship had existed or how involved we do not know. In verse 2, it says that he "saw" her, which can mean simply that he looked at her, or it could imply that he gave her attention. It says that he "took" her, a Hebrew word that means to use force, to capture. Then it says that he "lay" with her, he imposed his will on her and forced her to have sex, and "defiled" her or dishonored her.

This was not a rape and run case, because verse 3 tells us that Shechem cleaved to her and began to speak to Dinah from his heart, in an effort to console her and express his affection for her. He involved his father, and sought his help to intervene and intercede for him in an effort to control the damage and seek the permission of Dinah's father to marry her.

In time, word came to Jacob, who remained silent about the incident until his sons came in from the field. Notice verses 5-8. "And Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter: now his sons were with his cattle in the field: and Jacob held his peace until they were come. 6 And Hamor the father of Shechem went out unto Jacob to commune with him. 7 And the sons of Jacob came out of the field when they heard it: and the men were grieved, and they were very wroth, because he had wrought folly in Israel in lying with Jacob's daughter; which thing ought not to be done."

These brothers who no doubt were very protective of their sister, were hurt and enraged when they heard the news about what had happened to Dinah. They were very quick to judge the matter and speak their minds. They said that this young man Shechem, had "wrought folly in Israel." The word "folly" speaks of shameful, vile, senseless, immoral behavior. To them, Shechem's deed was an act of grave immorality, an outrage against decency and family honor. It just should have never happened!

In verses 8-24, Hamor and Shechem sought to make peace with Jacob and his family, to arrange a marriage between Shechem and Dinah, as well as open the door to trade, and future marriages between the Israelites and Canaanites. Notice verse 9-10. "And make ye marriages with us, and give your daughters unto us, and take our daughters unto you. 10 And ye shall dwell with us: and the land shall be before you; dwell and trade ye therein, and get you possessions therein." They offered to give a dowry for Dinah, and presents as well, whatever it took to smooth things over and promote peace.

The sons of Jacob seemed to be agreeable, but had one stipulation. All the males of the city must be circumcised. This was the outward mark, a sign of their covenant relationship with God. Hamor agreed, returned to the city, and verse 24 says, "And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city." Amazingly, the men of the city complied and a disaster seemed to be diverted, however the two brothers of Dinah, Simeon and Levi had a secret plan. Verse 13 reads, "And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister." Later we read in verses 25-29, Simeon and Levi waited three days, until the men of the city were too sore to defend themselves, and led the sons of Jacob, plundering the city, killing all the males including Shechem and his father, taking the women and children as captives, claiming all their cattle and wealth. Suddenly the agreement was history, there would be no marriage, no wedding plans.

The setting of peace and tranquility was quickly disturbed by a sinful act, which sent the brothers of Dinah spinning out of control, ending in a sordid tale of passion, cruelty, and disgrace. The sons of Jacob, God's chosen people, living in His holy land, had behaved like cruel pagans. Jacob was distressed. Notice verses 30-31. "And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I being few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house. 31 And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?" Jacob is not acting, he is reacting. It is easy to see that he is motivated by fear, not faith. He does not rebuke his sons for their actions. All he can think of is the repercussions for such an event and their own safety. Now he must move on, he must get his family out of there and go to Bethel.

Jacob has been slapped in the face by reality. He now realizes ten years have passed since he left the house of Laban, and he has done nothing noteworthy to prepare his family spiritually for the strong currents of life in Canaan. He had been too busy building a material empire, gaining the things of the world, to attend to his children's spiritual welfare. What a sad story of family life in Canaan.

Here is a story that hits close to home. RAISING KIDS IN CANAAN speaks to the heart of every father and mother. We must remember that at this time, Canaan was no safe haven for Jacob and his family. It was full of people who were a constant threat to their welfare. The Canaanites were immoral. They had a twisted, distorted mythology which acted out religious rituals built around the worship of sex. Jacob had let down his guard, he had grown too casual, too comfortable, too negligent, as a father and as a result, his family was touched by the immorality of the Canaanites around him.

What was the problem? Where did Jacob fail as a father allowing the deadly influence of Canaan to devastate his home?

FIRST, JACOB'S FAMILY FELL APART IN CANAAN BECAUSE OF CARNALITY. Jacob was a father who had the name, minus the nature. His name was Israel, but he remained habitually Jacob. It is one thing to call yourself a "Christian," and another thing to live like it! Jacob is still dominated by the old man, his lower nature!

In Genesis 33:18 we see evidence of Jacob's carnal tendencies. It says, "And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city." The name "Shalem" means peace. This is an attitude that prevails in Jacob all through this whole story. He seems to be in a mind set and posture to have peace with his neighbors, no matter the cost. He is all too willing to compromise and conform for the sake of prosperity and peace. This of course is death to a Christian and a family, living in this godless, sinful world. James reminds us in James 4:4b, that "the friendship of the world is enmity with God. whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."

Also it says in verse 18b, that Jacob, "pitched his tent before the city." Sound familiar? Remember Lot who "pitched his tent toward Sodom?," and by doing so Peter says, "vexed (himself and his family) with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds." Lot eventually lost his family. The imprint of the world was upon his wife and children, holding them as captives to Satan and sin!

SECOND, JACOB'S FAMILY FELL APART IN CANAAN BECAUSE OF HYPOCRISY. Jacob builds an alter here, but later we learn that he allowed idols in his home. In Genesis 35, Jacob decides it is time to head for Bethel, to a right relationship with God, but before he does, he tells his family in verse 2b, "Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments." Think about it! Jacob was claiming allegiance to the God who forbids idols, and at the same time allowed them in his home! Before he could get back to a right relationship with the Lord, he had to put away some things in this life, family, and home.

Some years ago, there was a Gospel tract that asked the question, "What if Jesus came to your house today?" What would He find? What would we need to change, to put away? Would we need to change our garments, our clothes? Would He be comfortable with how we are dressed? Are there publications, magazines, we would hide? What about the things we watch on television, the music we listen to? What about the overall attitude and spirit of our homes? Would we need to change our language?

There are families which go to church every Sunday, but destroy a church's teaching and influence by the way they live Monday through Saturday! When our children hear us say one thing and do another, it confuses them and eventually provokes them to wrath and rebellion. Ephesians 6:1 instructs our children to obey their parents, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right." However, verse 4 of the same chapter gives this instruction to the parents, "And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."

We learn that his boys had some absolutes, some values. When they heard what happened to their sister, they knew it was worng and were upset. Their response and actions were wrong, but Jacob does not demonstrate his own disposition toward this sinful act! Training a child to walk the straight and narrow is really not all that complicated. All we have to do is lead the way. We must be examples for our children, not object lessons.

THIRD, JACOB'S FAMILY FELL APART IN CANAAN BECAUSE OF LAXITY. As we read the first verse of Genesis 34, we get a sense that Dinah was used to going into town. It says, "And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land." Either Jacob had rules against this kind of thing, or it was alright with him that his daughter spends time in Shechem and develops relationships with these people. She had friends there. If Jacob had rules for his children, then it appears that there were no consequences for breaking those rules.

This is what happens when we become exposed to the wickedness, the immortality, of the world. Over time we become calloused to it. Soon it no longer shocks us. What once disturbed us, no longer disturbs us, and in time, we loosen our standards. We are no longer place barriers and binderies between our children and the world. There are less absolutes in our lives, less black and white, and more grey, more debatable things. There are fewer and fewer convictions, fewer and fewer things that are absolute, non negotiable in our lives! James Dobson said, "Sometimes we're so concerned about giving our children what we never had growing up, we neglect to give them what we did have growing up." Children need a moral compass.

FOURTH, JACOB'S FAMILY FELL APART IN CANAAN BECAUSE OF PASSIVITY. Passivity means to be inactive, unmotivated, and unmoved. A passive parent is one that is on his or her heels, uninvolved in the lives of children. A passive parent is one who tries to be a child's friend over being a parent. The priest Eli was passive with his sons. He did not act when he heard of their shameful deeds. David was passive with his children, especially Absalom. On one occasion, Absalom resorted to violence in an effort to gain his father's attention. In both instances, the results were devastating!

Jacob was passive in his prevention. Here is evidence that Jacob is not the spiritual leader in his home as he ought to be. He is not proactive. He does not provide alternatives to worldly activities and relationships. He is not like his grandfather Abraham of whom God said in Genesis 18:19, "For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which He hath spoken of him."

Jacob is passive in his reaction to sin. Where is Jacob's outrage? He is silent when he first learns of his daughter's defilement. It is always good to be in control of your emotions, not letting them rule, but Jacob is all but unmoved. He seems more preoccupied with his own safety, than the defilement of his daughter!

Jacob is not only passive in his reaction, he is passive in his action. There are two extremes given in this passage. Simeon and Levi went to one extreme as they literally massacred a city. Jacob however goes to the other extreme and seems all too willing to compromise. He goes the way of least resistance.

This decision to intermarry with the Canaanites is not the will of God. Deuteronomy 7:3-4 reads, "Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son.4 For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly." This is not a racial issue, it is a religious one! The Jews were separatist because God intended them to be. It was their uniqueness and holiness that kept them pure, from assimilating into the world!

Years ago, the Sheriff's office in a Texas city distributed a list of rules titled, "How To Raise A Juvenile Delinquent In Your Own Family."

Rule One: Begin with infancy to give the child everything he wants. This will insure his believing that the world owes him a living.

Rule Two: Pick up everything he leaves lying around. This will teach him he can throw off responsibility on others.

Rule Three: Always take his side in any conflict whether it be a neighbor, teacher, or policeman. Believe that they are all prejudice against your sweet, innocent child.

Follow these three simple rules and prepare yourself for a life of grief.

Some children walk the high road
While others tread the low,
A parent's life determines
Which way a child will go.

As parents raising kids in Canaan, we must not wait for a wake up call. Now is the time to learn to do better than Jacob.

As parents, we must be SPIRITUAL in the lives of our children. As parents, we best realize that we are not enough. We need the Lord on our side. We must keep our hearts in tune with His Will, in line with His Word, and empowered by His Spirit!

As parents, we must be CONSISTENT in the lives of our children. We cannot say one thing and do another. Our children must see consistency in what we say and do!

As parents, we must be FIRM in the lives of our children. Our children do not need another friend, they need a parent, someone who will love them enough to say the things they do not desire to hear, to make them do the things they do not want to do!

As parents, we must be DECISIVE in the lives of our children. Children need direction. They need our judgements and decisions that are based upon the truth of God's Holy Word.

As parents, we must be PROACTIVE in the lives of our children. Parents must be out ahead of their children, on their toes, not their heels!

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