Are you longing for blessing on your life? The pattern we see in today’s reading is that first we put away the foreign gods from among us, purifying our lives from sin and any uncleanness, and then the Father gives us a new name and covenant promises.
“And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, ‘Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone.’
“So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem” (Genesis 35:2-4).
Put Away the Foreign Gods
We “modern people” tend to think that we don’t have any foreign gods among us, although a quick trip through any home decor shop will quickly show you that it’s the style to decorate our homes with Buddha statues and the statues of pagan elephants, animals, monkeys, you-name-it. Pagan symbolism is rampant on jewelry, home and beauty products, and television/video, and I haven’t even started to talk about pagan holidays and festivals, music, feasts, and more, all of which are rampant in America and throughout the world. My recent series on “the three frogs” reveals more way these pagan voices speak into our lives daily, often without our being aware of them.
These things are marketed as “world travel” and “cultural awareness,” and we often thing they are harmless. However, this has never been YHVH’s opinion!
“I am YHVH your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, YHVH your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:2-4).
He will not share His glory with another — so if you want to draw close to Him, you must kick all the rest to the curb! Literally!
Years later, when Paul takes the gospel to Corinth, check out how those early believers in Yeshua reacted:
“…The name of the Master Yeshua was magnified. And many who had believed came confessing and telling their deeds. Also, many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all” (Acts 19:17-19).
These things are full of demonic uncleanness, even if they are beautiful and seem harmless.
“They sacrificed to demons, not to God, to gods they did not know, to new gods, new arrivals that your fathers did not fear” (Deuteronomy 32:17).
“Rather, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons” (1 Corinthians 10:21).
“But the rest of mankind… did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk” (Revelation 9:20).
If you want to be part of the people of God, grafted into Israel, you must listen to the words of Jacob and “put away the foreign gods that are among you.” Do not hesitate! Do this today!
Purify Yourself and Change Your Garments
We tend to think that spiritual things are… “spiritual” — never affecting the physical, here-and-now world we live in every day. So when the Bible says things like “purify yourselves” (which means to take a bath), we think that’s just symbolic, not literal.
Not so fast.
Let’s look at some other passages of Scripture:
“Then YHVH said to Moses, ‘Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their clothes. And let them be ready for the third day. For on the third day YHVH will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people'” (Exodus 19:10-11).
“Then Moses brought Aaron and his sons and washed them with water” (Leviticus 8:6).
“Whoever carries any such carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. It is unclean to you” (Leviticus 11:28).
“He who eats of [an unclean animal’s] carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening. He also who carries its carcass shall wash his clothes and be unclean until evening” (Leviticus 11:40).
“On the seventh day the priest shall examine the scale [of leprosy]; and indeed if the scale has not spread over the skin, and does not appear deeper than the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him clean. He shall wash his clothes and be clean” (Leviticus 13:34).
“He who is to be cleansed shall wash his clothes, shave off all his hair, and wash himself in water, that he may be clean. After that he shall come into the camp, and shall stay outside his tent seven days” (Leviticus 14:8).
Taking a bath and washing your clothes is a very biblical thing to do. Our Father is not interested having us just think about righteousness, or study and read our Bibles, or just discuss Biblical concepts with our friends, or read or watch videos from teacher we enjoy. He is much more practical than that. True holiness is extremely practical and affects our daily routines, actions, and habits. Like taking a bath. Doing the laundry. Washing our hands.
You can learn more about these practical ways to draw near to God by reading these posts I’ve written:
- Hating What God Hates
- Set Apart to Be Holy
- How God Defines Food
- Food’s Many Gray Areas
- Keeping Clean: The Laws of Niddah
“Just as you presented your members as slaves of uncleanness, and of lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves of righteousness for holiness” (Romans 6:19).
“I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced” (2 Corinthians 12:21).
“But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints” (Ephesians 5:3).
“For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:7).
Receive Covenant Blessings
“Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. And God said to him, ‘Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.’ So He called his name Israel.
“Also God said to him: ‘I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land'” (Genesis 35:9-12).
Here’s an important fact for you to know: The name Israel means “to prevail with God.” You can spot other names with God’s name (El) by dividing names in your mind:
The root of his name (Isra, from Strong’s #8280) means “to turn around in power” or “contend, have power, contend with, persist, exert oneself, persevere.” I think this is an amazing name! Jacob has determination, and he is willing to exert himself no matter the cost to turn from the ways of pagan idolatry and to wrestle and pursue the God of his fathers.
And after being blessed, being given a new name, and being reminded of God’s own name and attributes,
Jacob Israel is given covenant promises. And as you follow in his footsteps, these promises extend to you as well. Wrap your head around that!
These are the “doctrines of baptisms,” or the teachings about how to be clean. The goal is to prevail, to be an overcomer, by ridding our lives first of anything that God hates. It takes determination, exertion, and persistence throughout our entire lives.
And it’s so worth it!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture in this blog post taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
To Study Further:
- Genesis 36 gives an extended history of Esau’s family tree. It might be true that only genealogists and archeologists care that much, or even understand what all the references in this chapter are talking about! However, I’m praying that YHVH raises up a new generations of scientists, historians, and researchers who will love diving into these sections of Scripture, bringing new evidence of the truth and literal accuracy of the Word of God to the public eye.
- In Psalm 39:12, the Psalmist says he is a stranger and a sojourner, as all his fathers were. He is likely referring to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob here. Compare to Hebrews 11:8-10.
- My daughter Kaitlyn is starting a new blog, with a category devoted to cleanliness. She has a lot more to add in the days to come, but I recommend checking it out and bookmarking it for future reference.