Genesis 33-35 – The Blessing of Full Obedience and the Consequences of Partial Obedience

“Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.” All too often we sing the words to this familiar Christian hymn without giving them much thought. These important words convey exactly what the Bible teaches. The divine method for happiness and blessing is full trust in God and complete obedience to His Word. Lack of faith and partial obedience not only result in unhappiness and loss of blessing, they bring serious consequences in the life of the believer.

Let us see how Jacob failed to fully trust and obey the Lord in Genesis 33. After his reconciliation with Esau, who had traveled some distance to meet him, Jacob did not continue on his way back to Bethel in full obedience to the Lord’s command. Instead he went in a different direction and settled in Succoth (33:17). God had told Jacob to return home to his relatives and He would take care of him (31:3). There was no need to continue to fear Esau. But Jacob once again turned aside from the path of trust and obedience. He apparently decided to stay away from Bethel indefinitely since he built a house and barns in Succoth (33:17). As a result, Jacob experienced more years of unhappiness and loss of blessing.

Living in Succoth brought many associated problems. Not too far away was the pagan city of Shechem. It was “natural” for Jacob to spend some time there with his family for “business purposes”. Perhaps he erected the altar nearby to “justify” his relationship with this pagan city (33:18-20). But believers cannot play around with token trust and obedience and expect to go unscathed. Genesis 34 records the tragedy that took place in Jacob’s family as a result of his not going back to Bethel. Jacob’s daughter was abducted and raped, and his sons Levi and Simeon became liars and murderers. What a lesson for us! There is always bad fall-out when faith and obedience come short. And it affects others besides ourselves! God has given us many precepts and principles to guide our lives as growing Christians. His Word covers everything–control of thoughts, relation to parents, guidance in vocation, sex life, role of men and women, borrowing money, forgiving others, you name it. God does not expect us to question or change or compromise His commands–He expects us to simply trust Him and obey Him. That’s “where it’s at” for spiritual blessing and happiness.

Jacob was finally ready to listen with both ears to God. In Genesis 35:1 God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel, and live there; and make an altar there to God…” Jacob got the message! The connections with paganism were severed and in full trust and obedience Jacob came back to Bethel (35:2-6). Here he built an altar (35:7) and here God blessed him (35:9). If only Jacob had come back sooner! In 10 or 15 years will you look back and say the same thing about your life? “If only I had trusted and obeyed God more–right from the start!”

God continued to work in Jacob’s life. God continues to work in our lives. But there is no short-cut to
graduation in the school of God! God wants to bless us and make us “happy in Jesus”, but that cannot be unless we trust and obey.

Dave Reid

Read Genesis 33:1-35:20.

Looking at the partial obedience of Jacob, where can you see places in your life where you are not being fully obedient to God? Do you see the great blessing in turning in obedience in this area of your life?

There Is A Fountain by William Cowper

Posted on: April 21, 2016 - 10:00PM

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