And God said to Jacob, Arise, go up to Bethel, and dwell there: and make there an altar to God…
I. JACOB CALLED TO SERIOUS CONSIDERATION. Bethel was forgotten. How often is it forgotten by us! Time wears out the impressions of mercies received. Afflictions come upon us, public calamities, and the approach even of pestilence; we are alarmed and distracted, but we never think of our vow, and of raising our altar, and beginning a thorough, speedy downright conversion to God as the God of mercies. Brethren, we should often turn back the book of our lives. We are fond of reading many books, but no book would be so profitable as the book of our past history.
II. THE PROMPT OBEDIENCE TO THE DIVINE ADMONITION WHICH JACOB RENDERED. The pious man, the conscientious master of a house, loses no time when Providence concurs with his own conviction of duty, in rousing him to religion, and in reminding him of his past neglects and family derelictions; and, therefore, we find Jacob addressing his household, and all that were with him, thus: "Put away the strange gods," &c.
1. Jacob addresses his household as one who well knew that he was answerable to God for it.
2. He exhorts them to put away the strange gods that were among them. Alas! idols will enter the best family, in spite of Jacob, because they are the creatures of the human heart, and they regard not Jacob's prohibition. Therefore, when providences are moving, when conscience is awakened, when every heart trembles, then Jacob must say to his family — and every head of a family, every master, every parent, must say unto his household — "Put away the strange gods that are among you." For whatever takes the place in our heart of the Lord God, is a strange god and an idol; whatever takes the place of God's name is an idol; whatever takes the place of God's revelation, God's truth, is an idol. A strange god! "Covetousness, which is idolatry." A strange god! The world is the strange god of the worldly-minded. Talents, beauty of person, dress, pleasure, are the strange gods of the young.
3. But besides putting away their strange gods, Jacob called his family to purity of heart. "Be clean, and change your garments."
4. Family prayer. The preceding led up to this.
(1) Scriptural exhortations to this duty.
(2) But, further, family prayer comes under the promise, "Where two or three are met together in My name, there am I in the midst of them."(3) The third argument is, the example of the saints in every age.
(4) But the fourth argument is, that family prayer, like social, rests on the nature of man. We are destined to live in society, and are bound together by mutual wants and sympathies; and, therefore, man's religion, like his nature, must be social.
(5) Once more, the duties of the head of a household towards his family cannot be discharged without its observance. You wish to train up your children in the fear of the Lord; but is it possible to do so while you neglect to afford them an example of what you wish them to practice.
(D. Wilson, 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.