And God said to Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar to God…
I. JACOB WAS NOW IN A MOURNFUL STATE OF MIND, AND YET A VERY COMMON ONE.
1. Forgotten mercies.
2. Forgotten vows.
II. Let us look now at THE COMMAND GIVEN TO JACOB IN HIS FORGETFULNESS.
1. The Lord remembers our promises and vows.
2. The Lord often reminds His people of their forgotten mercies and vows. He did so in this case again and again.
III. We come now to our third point — THE OBEDIENCE THE PATRIARCH RENDERED TO THE DIVINE COMMAND.
1. Here is something to surprise us. There were strange gods, we find, in the house of Jacob at this time; yes, idols in the house of almost the only man in the world who worshipped the true God; and he knew they were there, and tolerated them. Well may we ask, how was this? We must go back for an answer. The Rachel whom he so tenderly loved, and for whom he had so patiently waited and laboured, was an amiable and affectionate woman; but she wanted one thing, and that one thing was a decided love for the Lord God of Israel. She had been brought up in an idolatrous country, and she herself was half an idolater. Accordingly, when he married her, he introduced a worshipper of false gods into his house; she had her secret idols, and she brought them with her. Here began, perhaps, Jacob's own forgetfulness of God, and here undoubtedly began much of the ungodliness and wretchedness of his children. Shall I say that we may learn here the vast importance of the connections which we form in the days of our youth? that there is a loud warning given here to the pious young never to let their affections wind round one who does not plainly and decidedly love the Lord? to let the heart break rather than give the heart to an idolater? I had rather speak to men like this patriarch, men who have households, children, and servants. I would say to them, Dear brethren, look through your houses" and ask, "Are there no idols here? Is there nothing here that takes God's place in our hearts or our children's? Is there nothing here that is opposed to God's will and law, and tends to God's dishonour?" Bad books, bad company, dangerous amusements, practices which the world does not condemn nor even some of those who profess to live above the world, but such as will not bear the trial of Scripture for one moment, such as you would see the evil of in a moment did they not in some way or other fall in with your taste or interest — these are all idols; these will lead to irreligion and ungodliness in your houses: these will bring down on you God's displeasure and judgments. Mischief will rise up in your families from these things, and through your families God will smite you for them.
2. There is something also here to instruct us. It is the promptitude and decision of the patriarch's obedience.
(J. Bradley, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau thy brother.