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THE FORGOTTEN VOW OF JACOB

"THE FORGOTTEN VOW OF JACOB"
		

		 
                             Genesis 35:1-7
		

		 

Then God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to aBethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, bwho appeared to you cwhen you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”

2 And Jacob said to his dhousehold and to all who were with him, "Put away ethe foreign gods that are among you, fpurify yourselves, and change your garments. 3Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, gwho answered me in the day of my distress hand has been with me in the way which I have gone.” 4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign 1gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under jthe terebinth tree whichwas by Shechem.

5 And they journeyed, and kthe terror of God was upon the cities that were all around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob. 6 So Jacob came to lLuz (that is,  Bethel), which is in the land of Canaan, he and all the people who were with him. 7 And he mbuilt an altar there and called the place 2El Bethel, because nthere God appeared to him when he fled from the face of his brother.

	 
	 
INTRODUCTION
	
	 
1. We begin our study today with a reading of Gen 35:1-7...
	
   a. Where we find God telling Jacob to go to 
	
		Bethel
	
   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
	
   Christians
	
	 
[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)
	
      2. Leaving 
	Beersheba, he headed toward 
	
		Haran (consult map)
	
      3. On the way, he stopped at what is now called 
	
		Bethel (consult 
	

         map) - Gen 28:10-15 - Now Jacob owent out from Beersheba and went toward p Haran. 11 So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. 12 Then he qdreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there rthe angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

13 sAnd behold, the Lord stood above it and said: t"I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; uthe land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your vdescendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad wto the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you andxin your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. 15 Behold, yI am with you and will zkeep 3you wherever you go, and will abring you back to this land; for bI will not leave you cuntil 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 Lord is in dthis place, and I did not know it. 17 And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

18 Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, eset it up as a pillar, fand poured oil on top of it. 19 And he called the name ofgthat place 4 Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. 20 hThen Jacob made a vow, saying, "If iGod will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me jbread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that kI come back to my father’s house in peace, lthen the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar mshall be God’s house, nand of all that You give me I will surely give a 5tenth to You.”

	 
         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 
		
			HARAN...
	
      1. As God promised, He was with Jacob
	
      2. Jacob prospered both in family, and in gaining wealth - Gen
		
         29-30
	
      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 
		CANAAN
		
      TEN YEARS...
	
      1. He had settled near the city of 
	
		Shechem (consult map) - Gen 
			
         33:18
	
      2. But he had not bothered to go back to 
	
		Bethel, where the Lord 
	
         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 - Then God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to aBethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, bwho appeared to you cwhen you fled from the face of Esau your brother.”
	
	 
What lessons or principles of truth can we learn from this?  There are 
	
several...]
	
	 
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 qlet your words be few. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with rmany words.

When syou vow a vow to God, tdo not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. uPay what you vow. vIt is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay

	 
      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 
	
            heart
	
         -- 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 
	
         reflection!
	
	 
   C. THIRD, WE ARE PRONE TO FORGET OUR VOWS WHEN THINGS ARE GOING 
		
      WELL...
	
      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
	
            troubled
	
         b. But later, especially if they enjoy financial security, 
	
            they forget their commitment to God and Christ
	
      3. But consider God's warning to 
	
		Israel against forgetfulness
	

         after they entered the "promised land" - Deut 8:11-20 - "Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today, 12 nlest—when you have eaten and are 5full, and have built beautiful houses and dwell in them; 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold are 6multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; 14 owhen your heart 7is lifted up, and you pforget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; 15 who qled you through that great and terrible wilderness, rin which were fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty land where there was no water;swho brought water for you out of the flinty rock; 16 who fed you in the wilderness withtmanna, which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, uto do you good in the end— 17 then you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gained me this wealth.’

18 "And you shall remember the Lord your God, vfor it is He who gives you power to get wealth, wthat He may 8establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, xI testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. 20 As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, yso you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord 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 dhousehold and to all who were with him, "Put away ethe foreign gods that are among you, fpurify 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) = for rDemas has forsaken me, shaving loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for 
		Galatia, Titus for 
		Dalmatia.
	
         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 
		
      BEGINNING...
	
      1. We noticed that Jacob was told to go back to 
	
		Bethel
	
      2. In a similar way, Jesus told the church at 
	
		Ephesus to go back
	
         to the beginning - Re 2:4-5 - Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, gor else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent.
	
         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
		
      BLESSINGS!
	
      1. When Jacob fulfilled his vow, God appeared to him and renewed
	
         the promises that had been made to Abraham and Isaac - Gen 35:
		
         9-15
	
      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 qconfess our sins, He is rfaithful and just to forgive us our sins and to scleanse us from all unrighteousness.
	
	 
CONCLUSION
	
	 
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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