There he set up an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.
Psalm 137:4; 1 Peter 4:4). Reminds us of the attitude of many worldly persons towards Christians. "The carnal mind is enmity against God." Yet worldly men may have sincere regard for Christian men; bear unconscious testimony to excellence of Christianity. And here a danger to Christians. Let us journey together. I like you; you are unselfish, trustworthy. And why not? Because in journeying with Esau he must be leader, or he would cease to be Esau. The world's good-will does not mean a changed heart. Without any pronounced dislike to higher aims, it shares them not, and knows not anything more real than earth. There is a journey we all take in company: in the thousand ways in which men are dependent on each other; in the courtesies and good offices of life; in what belongs to our position as citizens or family men. But in what constitutes the road of life - its stamp and direction, its motives and aims - no union. We have another Leader (Hebrews 12:2). The pillar of fire led Israelites not according to Roman judgment.
I. THIS DOES NOT IMPLY KEEPING ALOOF FROM MEN, OR FROM HUMAN INTERESTS. We are called to be the salt of the earth. It is an error to shrink from contact with the world as dangerous to us. This of old led to monasticism. But there may be a spiritual solitude even when living in the throng of a city. In secular matters refusing to take an interest in what occupies others (cf. Luke 6:31), as if God had nothing to do with these; or in spiritual things avoiding Christian intercourse with those who do not in all points agree with us; or being engrossed with our own spiritual welfare, and turning away from all concern for the welfare of others (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:20-22).
II. IT DOES IMPLY A REAL CONSCIOUSNESS OF BEING REDEEMED, set free, bought with a price; OF HAYING A DEFINITE WORK TO DO FOR GOD, WITH WHICH NOTHING MUST INTERFERE; a real way to walk in, from which nothing must make us turn aside. And in order to this, watchfulness over self, that in seeking to help others we ourselves are not ensnared.
III. SOME WAYS IN WHICH THE WORLD IN ITS FRIENDSHIP TEMPTS CHRISTIANS.
1. By the plea, there is no harm in this or that. We must not think that all actions can be brought to an absolute standard of fight and wrong. This is the spirit of legality, the spirit of bondage, and leads to partial service instead of entire dedication (cf. Luke 15:29). Loyalty to Christ must direct the Christian's life; desire not merely to avoid direct disobedience, but to use our time and powers for him who loved us and gave himself for us.
2. By the display of good feelings as the equivalent of Christian graces. Esau's kindliness and frankness are very attractive. Yet he was a "profane person;" not because of his anger or any sinful act, but because he thought little of God's blessing.
3. By making Christians familiar with worldly aims and maxims, and thus insensibly blunting their spiritual aspirations. The way of safety is through prayer for the Holy Spirit's help, to maintain the consciousness of Christ's presence. - M.
1. Jacob and his seed desire to usurp nothing but what they buy from the world.
And he bought a parcel of a field.I. HIS FAITH. He bought a parcel of ground as a pledge of his faith in the future possession of that country by his posterity (ver. 19). This purchase of a portion of land, concerning which God had promised Abraham that it should be his, showed Jacob's deep conviction that the promise was renewed to him and to his seed.
II. HIS PIETY. This was an evidence of his faith. He gave himself up entirely to God, and this inward feeling was expressed outwardly by acts of obedience and devotion. His piety is seen —
1. In an act of worship. "He erected there an altar." This was in keeping with his vow (Genesis 28:21).
2. In the use of blessings already given. He called the altar "El-Elohe-Israel" (ver. 20). He now uses his own new name, Israel, for the first time, in association with the name of God. He uses that name which signifies the Mighty One, who was now his covenant God. He lives up to his privilege, uses all that God had given. He had vowed that he would take the Lord to be his God.
3. In the peace he enjoyed. He arrived in peace at his journey's end (ver. 18).
(T. H. Leale.)
2. God's pilgrims mind no great purchase below, but only a place for a tent: a little place.
3. It is lawful for Jacob to deal with Canaanites in just exchanges (ver. 19).
4. Saints would not have a house but that God should dwell in
5. Succeeding saints repair religion and the means of the exercise of it, set up by progenitors.
6. Altarworship, or worship by Christ, is that which saints have ever practised.
7. True religion is terminated in the Almighty God.
8. Religious worship is the true memorial of God's making His Church truly Israel (ver. 20).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
He erected there an altar. —
1. We may remark, first, that it is clearly the duty of every family to maintain such worship.
2. We may pass on, therefore, in the second place, to the advantages of family worship. Among its lesser benefits, we may remark in passing that, rightly conducted, it makes a profitable impression upon those out of the family, who may chance to witness it. Family worship is also of unspeakable advantage in maintaining all the other institutions of our holy religion. We can hardly enumerate the advantages of family worship to the household itself. That it draws down the blessing of God upon the domestic circle needs no proof, for we have for our encouragement, not only the general promises made to prayer, but the special assurance that "where two or three are gathered together in Christ's name He will be with them"; and we have farther, the evidence of actual experience. If we value the salvation of our loved ones we shall not neglect this means of securing it. The restraining influence of domestic worship upon all the annoyances and disturbers of domestic peace is most powerful and valuable. Who can kneel down and pray daily before his family against a sin which he habitually commits? How can the inmates of a dwelling cherish unkind feelings towards each other while united in common prayer?
3. We may next notice the manner in which family devotions may best be performed.
4. Our last point will be to notice the objections and difficulties which are commonly opposed to the duty. One may reply, that all these arguments and statements may be very good and true, but that he makes no profession of religion, and it would be improper, therefore, for him to set up family worship. Why so? Is it wrong for him to pray in secret, or in the house of God, or to give his children religious instruction? And why any more so to pray in the family?
(W. H. Lewis, D. D.)
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