God’s Grace in the Midst of Wickedness – Genesis 34

 

Genesis 34 is probably one of the most disturbing chapters in all the Bible. It shows how far mankind can go in their sin. However, it also shows God’s grace in the midst of such wickedness. As the New American Commentary states: “In the context of the Joseph narrative (chaps. 37–50), chap. 34 provides for the author’s goal of demonstrating the surpassing grace of the Lord, whose redemptive purposes survive the moral failures of the nation’s fathers. The purpose to bless the patriarchal family was not cancelled by the villainous behavior of Jacob’s sons.”[1] In this chapter, there are several truths that we encounter that serves as a reminder of our need to obey God and trust in His grace.

The consequences of disobedience (v.1). In Genesis 31:13 we see how Jacob was instructed by God to return to Bethel. However, after his meeting with Esau, Jacob stops off in Shechem instead of going straight to Bethel. While staying in Shechem, Jacob and Leah’s daughter, Dinah, becomes a little curious and decides to go and visit the other girls in the land of Shechem. Dinah finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Warren Wiersbe says, “Was Dinah naive, rebellious, or just plain ignorant of the ways of the world? Why was it so important that she get to know the women of the land, and why didn’t her mother advise her and somebody dependable accompany her on her sightseeing trip? (Her brothers were out in the field with the flocks.) For that matter, why was Jacob tarrying in this pagan neighborhood and deliberately endangering his family? He should have been at Bethel leading them closer to the Lord. The name of the Lord isn’t mentioned once in this chapter, and the wisdom of the Lord is surely absent as well. When we disobey the Lord, we put ourselves and our loved ones in danger.”[2] I am afraid that too often we fail to realize how our disobedience does not just hurt us, but it also hurts others. The consequences of sin have a trickle-down effect. Some sins can even bring consequences that will last for generations. This is why we must carefully calculate every decision we make.

An invitation for sin (v. 2-4). What is recorded in these verses is very tragic. There is absolutely no excuse for the behavior of Shechem. What he did was reprehensible. It must be made clear that we are responsible for our own actions no matter what the circumstances are. However, there are several layers here that need to be dealt with. It began with Jacob’s disobedience. He led his family to a place that was not part of God’s plan. Anytime we get out of God’s will and plan for our lives, we are asking for trouble. The behavior of Jacob’s daughter also shows a lack of proper upbringing and care. The fact that Dinah went out away from her family to mingle with the wrong crowd reveals her own rebellious heart. It is similar to a rebellious teenage girl today who goes out into the world dressing provocatively. Let me make it clear: when a girl is raped, it is not her fault. The rapist must carry the blame. However, there are times when we invite sin into our lives. When we let our guard down and we put ourselves in compromising situations, we are asking for trouble. Many times we like to get as close to sin as we can without falling. Yet, every time we do, we end up doing things and being in situations that we regret. Sometimes our actions bring about unintended consequences. This tragic event in the life of Dinah would have never occurred if it were not for her being in the wrong place at the wrong time and if it were not for the disobedience of her father.

The spreading nature of sin (v. 5-31) Sin has a way of spreading like wild fire. What Jacob’s sons did in response to the rape of their sister was despicable. One sin always leads to another sin. Nothing good ever comes from sin. This is what we may refer to as the exceeding sinfulness of sin. All that occurred in Genesis 34 came about because Jacob took a detour rather than going straight to Bethel as God commanded him. One bad decision can lead to a multitude of hurt. As history tells us, it never gets better. Sin grows and grows and the world becomes more and more wicked.

God’s Grace. Through all of this you would think God would have given up on Jacob. All throughout the history of Israel we see the amazing grace of God. There were many times when God had every right to pour out his wrath and destroy it all, but He did not. There are many times in our lives when God could have and should have cast us into hell, but He did not. Think about your own life. Think of the many times when you could have ruined it all, but God intervened. Think of the many times you fell into terrible sin, but God forgave. God’s grace is truly amazing.

 

 

[1] Mathews, K. A. (2005). Genesis 11:27–50:26 (Vol. 1B, p. 577). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[2] Wiersbe, W. W. (1997). Be authentic (p. 63). Colorado Springs, CO: Chariot Victor Pub.

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