Genesis 33:18 – 34:12 God’s blessing and protection are found only on the narrow path, not the wide path

Genesis 33:18 – 34:12  God’s blessing and protection are found only on the narrow path, not the wide path

Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Paddan-aram, and camped before the city. 19 He bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred pieces of money. 20 Then he erected there an altar and called it El-Elohe-Israel.

1 Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land. 2 When Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, the prince of the land, saw her, he took her and lay with her by force. 3 He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her. 4 So Shechem spoke to his father Hamor, saying, “Get me this young girl for a wife.” 5 Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter; but his sons were with his livestock in the field, so Jacob kept silent until they came in. 6 Then Hamor the father of Shechem went out to Jacob to speak with him. 7 Now the sons of Jacob came in from the field when they heard it; and the men were grieved, and they were very angry because he had done a disgraceful thing in Israel by lying with Jacob’s daughter, for such a thing ought not to be done.

8 But Hamor spoke with them, saying, “The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage. 9 Intermarry with us; give your daughters to us and take our daughters for yourselves. 10 Thus you shall live with us, and the land shall be open before you; live and trade in it and acquire property in it.” 11 Shechem also said to her father and to her brothers, “If I find favor in your sight, then I will give whatever you say to me. 12 Ask me ever so much bridal payment and gift, and I will give according as you say to me; but give me the girl in marriage.”

Background

Jacob has returned safely to the Promised Land. However, he did not establish his base in Bethel as originally planned, for he was attracted to the city of Shechem. As a result of Jacob’s presumptuousness and carelessness, he incurred for his household horrendous consequences. Today’s devotion reminds us that those who walk on the narrow path are blessed. They are not deeply concerned with the risks or where the path may lead them. They place their trust unreservedly in God who alone is faithful to bless and protect.

Observation

Now Jacob came safely to the city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan.

Jacob entered the city Shechem and was readily accepted by the indigenous people. He bought land and set up base for his household. Jacob chose to reside in Shechem because it was a prominent city. He supposed by erecting the altar there he was walking in faith. But he erred in his decision for it was meant to be at Bethel where God appeared to him 20 years ago. He eventually returned to Bethel ten years later to fulfill his vow. However, the idle years at Shechem brought on by his carelessness and presumptuousness caused the family horrendous consequences.

Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had borne to Jacob, went out to visit the daughters of the land.

A girl of marriageable age would normally not venture out alone to an alien city. Dinah’s improper and imprudent act suggests that she had intended “to be seen” and to distinguish herself from the indigenous daughters of the land. Unfortunately, Dinah’s bid proved all too successful. Shechem’s act (saw her, he took her and lay with her by force), suggests that Dinah’s demeanour and appearance appealed to his base instincts. It also spoke of the wickedness and lawlessness of the city, where the strong ruthlessly take from the defenceless whatever they want.

Shechem’s demeanour towards Dinah: He was deeply attracted to Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the girl and spoke tenderly to her, in no way infers true love but brashness, brutality and lust. A just man will not take a girl forcefully or for that matter, anyone in disregard for their rights. Thus, he will most definitely abuse her again once he has gotten her father’s approval for her hand in marriage. Moreover, Shechem’s request, “Get me this young girl for a wife”, showed no remorse or intention to compensate the family he has wronged. And neither did Hamor, his father reprimand him for his wrongdoing.

Now Jacob heard that he had defiled Dinah his daughter.

Jacob’s reaction to the news of her daughter’s violation is mind boggling for he did nothing when he could at least send messengers out to inform his sons. Perhaps, he feared what mess his sons might create for this new found friendship with the locals. But when they heard, they became indignant because Shechem had done a disgraceful thing in Israel, which implies crimes warranting the most severe of punishments.

The soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter; please give her to him in marriage.

Hamor spoke to Jacob courteously about Shechem’s deep longing for Dinah albeit unapologetically. For there was no mention of the disgraceful thing that Shechem has done to Dinah. And the fact that Dinah remained detained in Shechem’s house speaks of their utter disrespect for Israel or for the moral law. By offering to settle for Dinah’s hand in marriage, Hamor implicitly supported Shechem’s right to violate and take whatever he wished. Hamor urged Jacob to consider the economic advantages to his offer: the land shall be open before you; live and trade in it and acquire property in. But beneath this seemingly conciliatory offer lies an injustice, an unfinished business that would soon be resolved by treachery.

Truth

God’s blessing and protection are found on the narrow path, not the wide path

Bethel was the place that Jacob encountered God, it was also the place that he vowed to return to worship God. In short, the plan was Bethel, never the city of Shechem. But Jacob detracted from his original plan because he was attracted by the riches and prominence of the city. Although Jacob erected an altar at the city and call it El-Elohe-Israel, that did not change God’s plan. And until Jacob realign with God’s plan, he will continue to encounter needless pain and setbacks. The unfortunate incident that happened to Dinah was the result of Jacob’s presumptuousness and carelessness. Divine blessing and protection is found only on the narrow path, not the wide path. Jesus said,

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Matthew 7:13-14

The narrow path represents the path of God’s will that does not appeal to man’s intellect or senses. The wide path represents the paths that are tried and tested, that appeal to man’s fleshly desires. In fact, many believers gravitate towards the wide path thinking it is the narrow path as they are led by their passions and presumptions. They suppose by declaring God’s promises over themselves and being diligent in attending church worship services, they obtain divine endorsement for their soulish intentions. Many cannot find divine peace or favour in the wide path that leads to emptiness and loss. Until they repent and return to the narrow path, they will idle away the years that otherwise could have brought them closer to greatness.

A friend of mine, a lady, was deciding between two suitors. One was a promising business man whose his character was suspect. The other was an honest limousine driver, plain but godly. She chose to be practical and married the one who can bring her material comfort although her friends have warned her against him. A few years later, the marriage ended in divorce because he cheated on her on multiple occasions. My lady friend has chosen the wide path that leads to pain and unfulfilled dreams.

Why do people choose the wide path? It is because they are fixated on their desires. But the few who choose the narrow path, are not concerned with the risks or where it may lead them. They simply obey God’s will fully trusting in Him to provide and to protect. Proverbs 3:5-8 speaks of the blessing of a man who trusts God with all his heart,

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.
Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil.
It will be healing to your body
And refreshment to your bones. Proverbs 3:5-8

God will bring about justice for all who exercise faith

Injustice in city of Shechem. Dinah was subject to grave injustice when she was taken against her will and violated. However, the perpetrator was none other than the son of Hamor, the ruler who was not only unapologetic, he aided his son’s course by retaining Dinah in his house.

Divine provision of justice in Canaan. When there is no justice at the social level, when rulers themselves are corrupt, one has to appeal to God for justice and protection. Because it is God’s desire to bring about justice in Canaan, He entrusted to Jacob two companies of angels at Mahanaim. Joshua, through angelic assistance took Jericho and eventually the whole of Canaan through which he established justice by the Law of Moses.

Divine provision of justice through Christ’s authority. Jesus taught about God’s earnest desire to bring about justice for His children,

“Now, will not God bring about justice for His elect who cry to Him day and night, and will He delay long over them? I tell you that He will bring about justice for them quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” Luke 18:7-8

He also taught that the onus remains on believers to exercise faith (will He find faith on the earth?) How do believers exercise faith? By standing firm on the truth while taking authority over their circumstances through the heavenly armies. “When the Son of Man comes” refers to His eventual return to judge and rule the world. It also refers to the authority that Christ is granting to the church. The church is responsible to take up the authority of Christ to wage war against forces of wickedness that are operating behind the evil doers in all facets of society: family, workplace, community, and nation. The apostle Paul said that the true battle is not against men, but the spiritual forces of wickedness that are behind them.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

How do believers wage a spiritual warfare? Therefore, in order to establish justice on earth, believers must wage war in the spirit realm by taking up the full armour of God. Paul continued,

Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm… And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit. Ephesians 6:12-13,18

In short, believers are to do the following:

  • Stand firm by walking in the truth. Here, we establish our testimony and credibility as a people of righteousness.
  • Take up the great commission to establish the culture of justice, mercy and godliness where we are planted.
  • Be skilled in waging an effective warfare in the spirit realm. This involve a.) the ability to discern who the enemy is and what they are doing. b.) To be granted authority over the heavenly armies, being able to interact with them as Jacob, Joshua, King David and Jesus did.

If the church will focus on waging warfare against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places, we will see less corruption in the government and the streets will be safer. Unfortunately, churches are not producing soldiers, but babies crying out to be served and blessed. Instead of teaching the word and training soldiers, they are preoccupied with shoring up members so they may appear successful in the eyes of the world. Hence, we see the infiltration of politicians without values and terrorist organisations in developed nations. The spirit of worldliness, or the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places are actually in the church. The apostle John said that the anti-Christ came not from the world, but from within the church: even now many antichrists have appeared… They went out from us, but they were not really of us. 1 John 2:18-19. Therefore, believers must be vigilant in keeping the church pure and holy. 

Application

Are you always fighting battles in your heart, family and your financial situation is not getting any better? Perhaps, your heart has been treading on the wide path, even though you appear religious on the outside. Set your heart right by walking on the truth not because of the benefits, but because you love the truth and you love God.

Dear Lord, I am determined to walk in your will and fulfil my commission. Guide me and lead me back onto the narrow path. I trust that as I seek your righteous virtues, you will provide for my every need. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

If you want to see breakthrough in your family, church, and community, you must take up the armour of God and become a full time soldier. You must stop focusing on your personal welfare, for a soldier fights not for himself but for the kingdom’s welfare. You must clean up your life and stop your dealings with the agents and passions of darkness. You must discipline yourself in the training of righteousness by reading the word and praying in the Spirit. As a soldier of Christ, we must learn to discern and “see” the enemy. We must be trained to use the sword and heavenly armies effectively.

Dear Lord, grant me the wisdom and ability to see and discern the enemy. Grant me heavenly authority over the angels to wage war against them. I take up the armour of God and the sword of the Spirit. Teach me and use me to establish justice and truth in my family, workplace, church and community. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

Sample prayers to wage war against the enemies of darkness.

In Jesus’s name, I send the angels to destroy the spirit of strife in my family and workplace. For God loves unity, not disunity. I command strife and quarrels to leave immediately.

In Jesus’s name, I send the angels to protect the honour of individuals in the company. I send the angels to destroy the spirits behind gossips and the lying tongue. I command gossips and lies to leave.

In Jesus’s name, I send the angels to imbue selfless vision and an attitude of righteousness among the management. Give them wisdom to discern what is true and false. In so doing, the company will conduct its affairs justly and reward fairly. I cast out the spirit of injustice and falsehood.

In Jesus’s name, I send the angels to destroy the spirit of greed and unrighteousness among the leaders of the nation. Imbue values of justice, mercy and humility within them. I send the angels to do the will of God in debasing those who are evil and promoting those who are righteous.


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