Today’s reading comes from Genesis 35-37. Before reading I invite you to pray and asked God to speak to you as you read his word.
Jacob has returned home. He has been graciously welcomed by his brother whom he stole the birthright and their fathers blessings. He has been blessed with eleven sons and a daughter from two wives and two concubines. Now God is requesting that he return to Bethel the place where he built and altar when God appeared to him in the dream as he was fleeing from his brother.
This is a holy place and he knows that to enter and live there they must purify themselves. They have come from a pagan land. His children have grown up amongst idols of all kinds. Jacob knows their influence has crept into their lives, so before returning he gives this command … “Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build and altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.” Genesis 35:2b-3 NIV84. Jacob knew what they were about to do was holy and that they were to enter a holy place, so he prepared his family for it.
Friends, as Christians we no longer have a holy place. Our church building is not any more holy than our schools, our cars, or our homes. God does not dwell in just one spot like he did during the patriarchal days. Before the Temple of Solomon, the Tabernacle of the wilderness period through King David’s life, and the altars built to God, God did reside in these specific locations. That’s what these altars, the Tabernacle and the Temple all represented … God’s presence. But now God resides within the believer. The temple is now each individual Christian as Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 … “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
Church, what actions do you need to take in your life to purify yourself before God just as Jacob and his entire household did? They did so when they came near the spot where Jacob had witnessed God. You as a Christian have the Spirit of God residing in you! Think about and pray about what impurities, what gods in your life need to be worked on and removed from being near and in the temple of the one true God.