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THE FORGOTTEN VOW OF JACOB
"THE FORGOTTEN VOW OF JACOB"
And Jacob said to his household
and to all who with
him, "Put away the
foreign gods that among
yourselves, and change your garments. Then let us arise and go up to
And they journeyed, and the
terror of God was upon the cities that all
around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. So Jacob came to Luz
1. We begin our study today with a reading of Gen 35:1-7...
a. Where we find God telling Jacob to go to
b. In which he is to build an altar
2. Why did God command this?
a. Nearly thirty years earlier, Jacob had made a vow
b. But he seems to have forgotten about it, and God is now calling
him to fulfill it
3. There are several lessons that can be gleaned from "The Forgotten
Vow Of Jacob" which can easily be applied to our service as
[But before I point these lessons out, a little more historical
background might be helpful...]
I. THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
A. THIRTY YEARS BEFORE, JACOB HAD MADE A VOW...
1. It was made as he was fleeing the wrath of Esau (for Jacob had
stolen Esau's blessing from their father Isaac)
3. On the way, he stopped at what is now called
map) - Gen 28:10-15
And behold, the stood above it and said: "I the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you andin your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. Behold, I with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you.”
a. There he had a dream, in which he saw what we commonly call
"Jacob's Ladder" (angels ascending and descending on a
ladder between heaven and earth)
b. In this dream, God promises to be with him and safely
return him to his home
4. The dream prompted Jacob to make his vow - Gen 28:16-22 - Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the is in this place, and I did not know ” And he was afraid and said, "How awesome this place! This none other than the house of God, and this the gate of heaven!”
Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and
took the stone that he had put at his head, set
it up as a pillar, and
poured oil on top of it. And he called the name ofthat
a. To make the LORD his God if God carries out His promise
b. To sanctify the stone upon which his head had rested and
which he has set up as a pillar
c. To give God a tenth of all that God will give him
B. FOR THE NEXT TWENTY YEARS, JACOB DWELT IN
1. As God promised, He was with Jacob
2. Jacob prospered both in family, and in gaining wealth - Gen
3. Upon Jacob's return, God kept him safe...
a. From Laban, who was pursuing him - Gen 31 (He left with his daughters and his flocks)
b. From Esau, who was coming to meet him - Gen 32-33 (This is the guy Jacob had duped twice – Birthright and then his blessing)
C. BY THE TIME OF OUR TEXT (GEN 35), JACOB HAD BEEN LIVING IN
1. He had settled near the city of
2. But he had not bothered to go back to
had appeared to him and where he had made his vow
[So it appears that Jacob had forgotten his vow, and for this reason
God commands him to return to Bethel - Gen 35:1 -
What lessons or principles of truth can we learn from this? There are
II. THE APPLICATION
A. FIRST, GOD EXPECTS US TO KEEP THE VOWS WE MAKE...
1. He does not take vows lightly, and neither should we - cf.
Ecc. 5:2-5 - Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.
2. So let's be sure to keep any covenant or vow that we make with
God; for example...
a. The "vow" we made when we became Christians
b. I.e., to turn from sin, and to follow Christ with all our
-- Are we faithfully keeping this "vow"?
B. SECOND, WE ARE PRONE TO FORGET OUR VOWS WHEN GOD HAS FULFILLED
HIS SIDE OF THEM...
1. We saw where God fulfilled His side, but Jacob had not
2. This "forgetfulness" seems to occur most often when vows are
made in times of trouble
a. Like those made when we are in a place we just want to escape with our life.
b. Or those made in an airplane during extreme air turbulence
or mechanical problems
c. Or those made in an effort to solve marital problems
3. But such vows are just as binding as those made upon careful
C. THIRD, WE ARE PRONE TO FORGET OUR VOWS WHEN THINGS ARE GOING
1. In the case of Jacob...
a. He had a nice family
b. He had become extremely wealthy
c. He had settled down in his home country
2. The same is often true of many Christians...
a. Many obey the gospel at times in their lives when they are
b. But later, especially if they enjoy financial security,
they forget their commitment to God and Christ
3. But consider God's warning to
after they entered the "promised land" - Deut 8:11-20 - "Beware that you do not forget the your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, lest— you have eaten and are full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell and your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; when your heart is lifted up, and you forget the your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water;who brought water for you out of the flinty rock; who fed you in the wilderness withmanna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do you good in the end— then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’
"And you shall remember the your God, for He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as this day. Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. As the nations which the destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the your God.
D. FOURTH, WE ARE PRONE TO FORGET OUR VOWS WHEN WE HAVE ALLOWED
OURSELVES TO BE INFLUENCED BY THE WORLD...
1. Note that Jacob's family had accepted the foreign gods of the
people around them - cf. Gen 35:2 - And Jacob said to his household and to all who with him, "Put away the foreign gods that among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments.
2. In similar fashion, many people do not live up to the vow they
made when they became Christians - cf. 2Ti 4:10 (Demas) =
a. E.g., many teen-age Christians
1) Zealous at first
2) But when influenced by...
a) Their peers
b) Popular music
c) Humanistic teaching in the schools
...they often lose interest in spiritual matters
b. E.g., many adult Christians, who are influenced by the
materialism and immorality of our society
3. But again, this is no excuse for "forgotten vows"
E. FIFTH, IF WE HAVE FORGOTTEN OUR VOWS, WE NEED TO GO BACK TO THE
1. We noticed that Jacob was told to go back to
2. In a similar way, Jesus told the church at
to the beginning - Re 2:4-5 -
a. They had left their "first love"
b. They were told to "remember...from where you have fallen"
c. And to "repent and do the first works"
3. For Christians who have left their "first love", they too need
to "do the first works" (the fundamentals, such as Bible
study, prayer, etc.)
F. FINALLY, WHEN WE FULFILL OUR FORGOTTEN VOWS, THERE ARE RENEWED
1. When Jacob fulfilled his vow, God appeared to him and renewed
the promises that had been made to Abraham and Isaac - Gen 35:
2. So it can be with us!
a. It may be that we have forgotten the original commitment we
made when we first obeyed the gospel of Christ
b. But if we will just return to Christ...
1) In full repentance and prayer
2) And fulfill our vow of service and devotion to Him
...all the spiritual blessings that He has to offer can be
ours again! - cf. 1Jn 1:9 - If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1. Are you a Christian, but not living the dedicated and committed life
that God expects?
2. Then, like Jacob, you have forgotten your vow...
a. And you need to come back to the Lord in full repentance
b. The blessings of heaven await you if you do!
If you are not yet a Christian, these same blessings can be yours if
you will only accept the gospel of Jesus Christ - cf. Mark 16:15-16
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