Reading through the Bible together
Though Jacob’s story will continue through the remainder of Genesis (his funeral comprises most of the final chapter), the focus shifts from his story to the story of his son, Joseph. Before the focus shifts away from Jacob, we read of three great losses in his life and two significant interactions between God and Jacob. The first loss is the death of Deborah, a life-long beloved member of Jacob’s household (v. 8). The final loss is Isaac’s death (vs. 28-29). In between these two losses is Jacob’s great loss, Rachel’s death while giving birth to Benjamin (vs. 16-20). An additional heartache is Ruben’s violation of Bilhah. Like believers today, Jacob suffered the heartaches and tragedies so common to all who live on this fallen planet.
Yet in the midst of suffering and loss God reminds Jacob (and us) that He has not forgotten the child of His care. God reminds Jacob of His presence with the ladder at Bethel and calls Jacob to return there (v.1). On the way, God provides supernatural protection (v.5) no doubt needed after the events of chapter 34. Once in Bethel, God appears to Jacob again, renews the family promises, and reminds Jacob of his new name, Israel (vs. 9-12).
God is faithful despite the uncertainties of life, the losses we suffer, or even our sins which bring pain to ourselves and our families.
Director of Outdoor Leadership and Education
Southern Adventist University