This sermon is part of the sermon series A Messy, Blessed Life.See series.
The first thing I noticed about our story today was the stories on either side of it. When we last saw Jacob, he finally had been reconciled with his brother, Esau, and he was settling down in the land God had promised him. What happens next, as described in Genesis 34, is almost too grim and grimy to be read in church!
Jacob has one daughter, Dinah, and she is raped by one of the local boys, Shechem. Her older brothers, Simeon and Levi, go berserk. They end up massacring every man in town, and their brothers join them in the looting. Verses 30-31 tell how the story ends:
Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, "You have brought trouble on me by making me a stench to the Canaanites and Perizzites, the people living in this land. We are few in number, and if they join forces against me and attack me, I and my household will be destroyed." But they replied, "Should he have treated our sister like a prostitute?"
What would an event like this do to a person—let alone a parent and a man of God? Frederick Buechner, in his novel about Jacob's life,Son of Laughter, has Jacob say, "The bitterness and terror that was in the blood of the slain men of Shechem seeped through their skin and into the blood of their slayers and into all of us. It became our bitterness and terror and taint. We were an abomination in the sight of the Fear [God]. We were an abomination in our own sight. We avoided each other's eyes and touch like the eyes and touch of lepers. We were like rats gibbering and scuttling through the wreckage we had made of ourselves."
On the other side of our story for today, we have Genesis 35:16ff. The love of Jacob's life, Rachel, dies after giving birth to his son. She lives long enough to give him a name that means, ...
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Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He is the author of Feels Like Home: Reflections on the Care of Souls and Pastoral Graces: Reflections on the Care of Souls (Moody Publishers), as well as being a frequent contributor to Preaching Today and CT Pastors. To learn more about his Pastors' Gatherings visit www.leeeclov.com.