Genesis 35

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“Then God said, “I am El-Shaddai—‘God Almighty.’” (Genesis 35:11 NLT).

January 17, 2018

The Bible is primarily a book about God. Verse by verse, chapter by chapter, book by book, the Bible is the story of how God has progressively revealed Himself to man, with its ultimate revelation found in Jesus Christ.

When Jacob returned to the place called Bethel, where God had first appeared to him, God once again appeared. This time the Lord revealed more about His own character by revealing one of His names, “El-Shaddai,” which means “God Almighty.” God wanted Jacob to know that His promises were sure because His power was complete. He is the omnipotent One, the all-powerful One, El-Shaddai, God Almighty. What God promises, He is more than able to do.

“Then Israel journeyed and pitched his tent beyond the tower of Eder” (Genesis 35:21 NKJV).

January 17, 2017

Jacob, whose name became Israel, had finally found a place to pitch his tent. The place was called the “tower of Eder” (Hebrew: “Migdal Eder),” which literally means “Tower of the Flock.” It described a hill with a tower where the shepherds could watch over their sheep. Migdal Eder was located between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. It was a area of beautiful pastures and streams where Jacob’s flocks could graze and where he could finally be at rest from his running. Yet, it was also a place of grief and disappointment as he mourned the death of his wife Rachel and heard of the sinful incest of his son, Reuben. Migdal Eder was not mentioned again in the Scriptures until the prophet Micah, who wrote that it would be the place where the Messiah would be announced (Micah 4:8). And so, the gospel writer Luke reported that it was in the fields “nearby” Bethlehem that the angel appeared announcing the Messiah’s birth to the shepherds keeping watch over their “flocks by night” (Luke 2:8). Migdal Eder, the place where Israel found rest, was ultimately the place where the whole world could find rest. The place where Jesus Christ was first revealed.

“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” (Genesis 35:10 NKJV)

January 17, 2015

God appeared to Jacob again at Bethel (“Beth” Hebrew for “house,” + “El,” “god.” Literally, “House of God.”) and He officially changed his name. Jacob, whose name was given to describe the way he grasped the heel of his twin brother Esau at birth, was now to be called “Israel.” This reflected a new start for Jacob. He was no longer Jacob (“Supplanter,” “heel-grabber”), but “Israel” (One who wrestled with God, one who prevailed with God). As Jacob (The phrase “you’re pulling my leg” may have arisen from his name), he tricked his brother Esau out of his blessing and birthright. But he met his match at deception in his father-in-law, Laban, who pulled a bridal night switch on him. Yet, even here, he out-smarted Laban in the end. But now his deceptive days are over. From now on he would not be living by his wits, but walking with a limp, leaning on God’s wisdom. And his twelve sons would become the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

“God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Paddan-aram, and blessed him” (Genesis 35:9)

January 17, 2013

Jacob returned to the place where he’d had the “ladder” vision when first fleeing from Esau. The first time he was at Bethel, he was single, childless and afraid. This second visit, he returned with wives, concubines, servants, camels, donkeys, cattle, sheep and twelve sons. I wonder if he reflected on how far God had brought him since his earlier visit? It’s good to go back to the place where you first felt close to God. It often helps put us back on track when we’ve lost our way. It surely helped Jacob to be reminded of God’s name change (his new identity) and God’s purpose for him.