Burying the ‘Both-And’

Jen Wilkin | June 8, 2016


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.” So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem. (Gen. 35:2–4)

What does it take to make us cast away our idols? For Jacob, as for most of us, it takes a crisis. In the wake of his daughter’s rape, Jacob’s non-response invites mass bloodshed when his frustrated sons take justice into their own hands (Gen. 34). Desolate and chastened, Jacob renews his resolve to worship only God, commanding his household to get rid of the foreign idols in their midst. Determined to put the past behind him and live in the truth that God is his only hope, he symbolically buries the idols under an oak tree. Why there? Because it was the place idol worship was practiced. With…


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