Genesis 33:20
There he set up an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.
Sermons
Jacob's Faith and PietyT. H. Leale.Genesis 33:19-20
Jacob's Thankfulness After DeliveranceBp. Babington.Genesis 33:19-20
LessonsG. Hughes, B. D.Genesis 33:19-20
The Family AltarW. H. Lewis, D. D.Genesis 33:19-20
The Fruits of PrayerR.A. Redford Genesis 33
And he said, Let us take our journey, and let us go, and I will go before thee. The offer probably made with kindly intention. No sign of bitterness in Esau's feelings; but ignorance of the necessities of Jacob's march. Jacob knew it was not possible with safety (cf. 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.







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.)

1. Jacob and his seed desire to usurp nothing but what they buy from the world.

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.

By calling this altar "El-Elohe-Israel," or God the God of Israel, it was virtually saying, "I erect this altar for the worship of my family, to the God with whom I have prevailed in supplication, and who has proved Himself the hearer of my prayer." Such an altar should there be in every household; and, without further special reference to our text, I proceed to the subject I have chosen for this occasion,, namely, that of family worship.

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.)

See the practice of faithful men, ever when God hath been merciful to them, and delivered them out of danger. Now Jacob buildeth an altar in the true thankfulness of his soul unto God for this great mercy and deliverance of him from his brother Esau. And he calleth it the mighty God of Israel: giving to the sign the name of the thing which it signified, which is usual in the Scripture. Thus would God it might kindle some heat in our hearts and consciences, to consider ourselves, the dangers we have been in our days, the dangers of the land wherein we inhabit. The dangers of wife, children, and friends, and now our safety and deliverance from all our fears. For this hath the Lord done for us, and whatsoever it is in our eyes, surely it is wonderful even through the world. But where now are our altars? That is, where are our thanks and most grateful songs for our deliverance? We have found mercy as Jacob did; yea, for more, for greater Esaus have come against us, than did against him, not with four hundred men, but many thousands, to captivate us for ever as their slaves when they had slain their fill. And yet we live, and by God only who hath strangely revenged us upon them that would thus have eaten us up. That is, as I say again, we give not thanks for the custom of our time, as he did after the manner of his. At the first peradventure we did, but it was soon at an end. Now are we fallen into a deep sleep again, and both God and His mercy is forgotten. Our danger also, as if it had never been. But in the Lord I beseech you, let us awake again, look upon Jacob here what he cloth, and every man and woman follow his example. Build God an altar, not in earth with lime and stone, but in your heart of most kind and thankful remembrance for all His mercies to the land, to our dread sovereign, to ourselves, our souls and bodies, to our wives and children, to our neighbours and friends, and infinite ways that we cannot name. Bless His majesty for them, and let not the remembrance die, till you die yourself. A thankful heart is all that the Lord seeketh, and it is all that indeed we can do to Him.

(Bp. Babington.).

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