Gen. 35:1-3 – “Then God said to Jacob, 'Go up to Bethel and settle there, and build an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you were fleeing from your brother Esau.' So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, 'Get rid of the foreign gods you have with you, and purify yourselves and change your clothes. Then come, let us go up to Bethel, where I will build an altar to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and who has been with me wherever I have gone.'” (emphasis added)
- Jacob is terrified that his sons' rash attack on Shechem will bring vengeance from the Canaanites – just as he feared Esau‟s vengeance 20+ years ago. Notice that Jacob addressed “his household” and “all who were with him.” He was staring into the faces of the Shechemite women and children that his sons took captive. His deceitful history and his sons‟ sins stared back at him. But he CHOSE to focus on God's promise rather than his own fear or failure. His woven moment is one of purposely, consciously remembering God's faithfulness and moving forward.
- Surely, in this collecting of ALL foreign gods, Rachel surrendered the household gods she had stolen from her father, Laban (Gen. 31:34). Was this the first Jacob knew of Rachel's thievery or idolatry? How would Rachel have felt about giving up the idols? Did it put a wedge between her and Jacob? Soon after arriving in Bethel, Jacob buried the woman who would have been his wet-nurse, Deborah – another strong female relationship in his life…strong enough to mention in the biblical record. Both the idols and Deborah were buried under oak trees. Though a spiritual victory for God at Shechem – overcoming idolatry – the personal turmoil for Jacob may have caused a few knots in this woven moment. Sometimes the best strategy for knot removal is simply to submit to the Master Weaver's hands and wait. Woven moments aren't always free of snags, but they can all be made beautiful by the Master.
- God reminds Jacob that he is named, “Struggles with God.” Why? My guess is: Because Jacob was struggling with God. Let's face it, life's been hard. Dinah was raped. His sons just killed and captured an entire city of innocent people. And then Jacob's mother-figure (Deborah) died. Wouldn't you be struggling with God? So in this woven moment, God calls Jacob to recall the wrestling match on the riverbank of the Jabbok. And with the memory of struggle came a renewed assurance of blessing.
- How many times had Jacob heard his Grandfather Abraham tell the story of God's promise and calling? How many times had Isaac told Jacob of the Land promised to his descendants? Now, the same Almighty God speaks into this woven moment, a tapestry of history with a legacy that will stretch into eternity. The newly named Israel is forever woven into the fabric of his forefathers, the Promised Land and God's story. Just as we are woven into our own stories of family, experience and God's plan.