Coping with Burdens

28 December 2014 am – Genesis 35 – Gen 14 – Scott Childs

Introduction: The life of a Christian is not necessarily a life without burdens. Christians get sick, lose loved ones, and have car troubles like everyone else. In fact, often Christians have burdens that unbelievers do not have. Christians carry the burden of persecution. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” (2Ti 3:12) Besides persecution, the apostle Paul also mentions burdens of the ministry. “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” (2Co 11:28)

Jacob certainly had his share of burdens. When we left him in Genesis 34, two of his sons just murdered all the men of Shechem and spoiled the city. Now Jacob feared that the surrounding cities would attack him.

God never promised His people a life of ease, but He did promise to help us cope with our burdens.

Transition: This morning we are going to learn what Jacob did to cope with his burdens.

1.        Jacob Drew Near to God

Jacob talked to the Lord about his burdens and the Lord instructed him to move down to Bethel [see map] (v.1). God also told him to build an altar in Bethel. By his actions, it appears that God also told him to clean house spiritually.

a.         He obeyed God’s Word (v.1-8)

1)         Jacob had become slack in the spiritual leadership of his home. He knew that some of his family and servants had idols. He knew that idols were wicked, yet he tolerated them to keep family peace. One of the worst offenders may have been his wife Rachel who stole her father’s idols and probably still worshipped them. Jacob now stepped up his spiritual leadership and insisted on change (v.2).

a)         He told his household and all his servants to put away their idols.

b)         He told them to be clean (or take bathes).

c)         He told them to change their garments.

d)         Bathing and putting on clean clothes were reminders to them of what they were supposed to be doing inwardly. While no father can force an inward spiritual change on his household members, he can insist on and monitor outward compliance.

2)         Jacob announced the reason for this cleansing. They were moving to Bethel to build an altar unto God (v.3). God had reminded Jacob of the need for animal sacrifices to cover their sins.

3)         His family and servants obeyed his command (v.4). They brought all their strange gods and all their earrings. Evidently, it was a heathen practice to wear earrings with idols engraved upon them. Jacob buried them under an oak. We do not know why he did not destroy them.

4)         They then journeyed from Shechem to Bethel under the protection of the Lord (v.5).

O  Men, as with Jacob, God holds us accountable for those under our care. We do not have carved idols in our homes, but an idol may be anything that receives more honour than God. Many Christians idolize godless music, pictures of worldly heroes on the walls, godless entertainment on TV, video, and Internet, covetous gambling habits, and idols of the heart like greed and prosperity. We must step up as godly leaders and spiritually clean house. God demands that we separate from our sin before we can come near to Him.

b.         God drew near to him (v.9-15)

1)         God demanded that Jacob come near to Him. God did not lower himself to Jacob’s level. This sounds a great deal like the Victory Steps found in James 4:7-10.

V   “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.”

2)         Once Jacob submitted to God, drew near to Him, cleansed his hands and heart, mourned over his sin, and humbled himself, then God drew near to him (v.10-13).

3)         Jacob then worshipped the Lord (v.14-15).

O  One of our greatest needs today is for revival. My former pastor, Dr. Rick Flanders, defines revival as “getting back to normal”. The normal Christian life is to walk in the Spirit, to walk in the light, to abide in Christ, and to be in sweet fellowship with God. That is the greatest need in our lives, in our homes, and in our church.

2.        God Sustained Jacob during His Burdens

Being right with God does not eliminate all burdens, but it does assure us of God’s comforting presence during burdens. We read here that Jacob faced many difficult burdens, yet the Lord was with him to comfort him.

a.         Deborah, a close friend, died (v.8)

1)         Deborah was the nurse of Jacob’s mum. No one knows why she was with Jacob’s family. My guess is that after Jacob moved back to Canaan, This very elderly woman went to help him care for his large family.

2)         Evidently, Deborah had helped to rear Jacob. When she died, he lost a dear friend.

b.         Rachel, Jacob’s dear wife, died (v.16-20)

1)         They travelled southward from Bethel. As they neared Ephrath, which is Bethlehem, Rachel, who was expecting another child, went into labour. During the birth of her son Benjamin, she died.

2)         This must have been a hard blow for Jacob. He loved Rachel dearly, and his heart must have grieved greatly. He set up a pillar to mark her grave (v.20).

c.          Reuben, Jacob’s eldest son, sinned (v.22)

1)         He slept with Bilhah his father’s wife.

2)         Obviously, this displeased the Lord and grieved Jacob’s heart.

d.         Isaac, Jacob’s father, died (v.27-29)

1)         Jacob finally arrived with all his possessions at Mamre where his father Isaac lived.

2)         Whether he arrived just in time to say goodbye to his father before he died, or whether he lived there for a while first, we do not know.

3)         Isaac died when he was 180 years old. Esau and Jacob, who were then 120 years old, buried him.

O  If we stay in fellowship with God, we can avoid some of the burdens that sin brings in people’s lives, but we cannot avoid all burdens. Death of loved ones is a burden that everyone eventually bears.

O  No matter what kind of burdens you are bearing, God wants to help you cope with them. Drawing close to the Lord is the best thing any of us can do. Then, when burdens threaten to overwhelm us, we can cast our burdens on the Lord.

V   (Psalm 55:22) “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.”

Cast Your Burden on the Lord

Cast your burden on the Lord and He will keep you,

He has promised He will never ever leave you,

He will always be there ready to uphold you,

Cast your burden on the Lord for Jesus cares.

Conclusion: Are you struggling to cope with your burdens this morning? If so, the best thing you can do is follow Jacob’s example and draw near to the Lord. Put into practice the Victory Steps found in James 4:7-10. Then cast your burden on the Lord for Jesus cares.

If you are not 100% positive that Christ has forgiven your sins, made you His child, and given your an eternal home in heaven, that is where you must begin. I would be delighted to help you.

Men, are you fulfilling your spiritual leadership role in your home? If there are things in your home that distance you and your family from God, you need to ask God for wisdom and strength and then lovingly yet firmly to clean house spiritually.

Song: Is Your All on the Altar? 381