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September 13, 2020 | Doug Sauder
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“Now it came to pass on the third day, when they were in pain, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, each took his sword and came boldly upon the city and killed all the males. And they killed Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah from Shechem’s house, and went out. The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled. They took their sheep, their oxen, and their donkeys, what was in the city and what was in the field, and all their wealth. All their little ones and their wives they took captive; and they plundered even all that was in the houses. Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have troubled me by making me obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites; and since I am few in number, they will gather themselves together against me and kill me. I shall be destroyed, my household and I.’ But they said, ‘Should he treat our sister like a harlot?’”—Genesis 34:25-31 (NKJV)
Read through Genesis 34. Did you notice something missing? Read again and you’ll see there is no mention of God—no prayer for wisdom or request for guidance. In fact, the covenantal promise God created between Him and His people (circumcision) was profaned, used for trickery, and not in allegiance to Yahweh (Exodus 12:48).
On the surface, this chapter has no potential for spiritual value. It’s rife with abject brutality and malicious deception. So, why would God want it recorded for us to see? I believe the decisions made throughout this event show the dire cost of transgression. A transgression is a willful sin; a choice to sin against God. We can set aside the brutish and self-serving behavior of the Canaanites, for they didn’t serve God. But when we as God’s people violate God’s laws, then we open the door to disparaging His name.
In fact, Jacob’s words to his sons wield great truth for us all to bear. He accused his sons of making him “obnoxious among the inhabitants of the land.” Now, it’s rather pathetic that in the light of such carnage (that was done to his daughter and by his sons), Jacob worried only about his own standing and reputation. But, if you’re a parent, can you relate in some way? If you’ve raised your children with Christian values and then they suddenly go rogue, doesn’t something inside of you break? Don’t you sorrow for their choices? Don’t you feel betrayed in some way?
That’s how God feels each time we transgress against Him. And while any sin is great, how much greater is it when done under the guise of religiosity? Perhaps Jacob’s sons felt justified by their actions (surely in that culture it was condoned). But they went about it deceitfully, using circumcision, something God had established as a bond, to ravage a community. Not only Jacob’s, but God’s name also became obnoxious.
Matthew Henry wrote, “Religion is never more injured, nor are God’s sacraments more profaned, than when they are thus used for a cloak of maliciousness.” Jesus’ death and resurrection justified our sins; we are not justified in them. And it grieves the Lord when we transgress and cause people to question, “Is that what Christianity is?”
We all need to examine our intentions so we don’t injure our testimony of who God is and the work He’s done in our lives. May the chapters of our lives never be missing the value, guidance, approval, and wisdom of God.
DIG: Read through chapter 34 of Genesis. How does it leave you feeling?
DISCOVER: Take that feeling and consider how God felt about it.
DO: Now, take some time to reflect on any one of your transgressions (even the smallest—e.g. speeding with a Jesus fish on your fender). We’re all guilty! Then, commit to turning things around so you can be an effective ambassador for Christ.