Posts Tagged ‘Idols’

Genesis 35:3-4 – LETTERS TO JACOB  

Letters to Jacob © Image created by Ross Cochrane

Dear Jacob, 

I hear you are moving away from Shechem.  I’ve got to admit that I feel relieved. Shechem may be a good place for trade but it is a morally corrupt place and dangerous for your family. You know this of course, from the recent events that have transpired. I honestly don’t know how you will manage. You will need God’s help. 

I am concerned about you. Jacob, I feel I know you well enough now to be able to encourage you to find God’s plan and follow it. God answered your prayers during a stressful time in your life many years ago. Remember. He will do it again. 

I have also been experiencing a little stress recently. Nothing in comparison with you, but I also need motivation to go to the Bethel that God wants for me and honour Him in that place. I can declare that He has never left me, or forsaken me, even in my lowest moments when I haven’t been listening to him. He remains faithful always. 

All the best with your move, 



Dear Ross, 

Just a quick note. You have heard right. We are moving. “We are now going to Bethel, where I will build an altar to the God who answered my prayers when I was in distress. He has been with me wherever I have gone.” (Genesis 35:3 NLT) 

I have collected all pagan idols and earrings from my family and household, and buried them under the great tree near Shechem(Genesis 35:4 NLT) 

My family and household servants paraded their connections with false religion on their bodies, but at least they gave them up willingly to me. Burying them under the great oak was a good idea. I was trying to indicate that Shechem and its pagan ways are finished? We are dead to the world and alive to God. As for me and my family, we will worship the Lord. 

My grandfather Abram built an altar at Shechem near this great oak TreeSo buried the remnants of our idolatrous living in the shadow of his altar as a sign to God that I mean business? It’s not going to be easy. 




Dear Jacob, 

I am impressed and inspired by your letter. Like you, I want to bury what is past and enter into new pathways that God has designed for me. May God help us bury all that stands in our way of serving Him.  

Acts 3:19 (NASB) says, “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;” 

This letter will probably get to you while you are traveling.

By the way, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but what did you do with the women and children that your sons took captive after the massacre? You mention nothing of them. I am just hoping that they were not buried also.  

You must be afraid of retaliation from the towns around you. I’m glad you are moving and I am praying for your protection. 

Looking forward to your next letter.  

Praying for your protection, 


Pastor Ross

The Get It button © Image created by Ross Cochrane


Sometimes I wonder if I had the opportunity to get a new start and live anywhere in the world, where I would want to be?

Genesis 35 is about getting a new start in life, but it involves much more than simply getting away and moving house. It is a fitting story for the new year.

Who is this Old Testament Character? You may know him. Let me give you some clues…


  • I grew up in a dysfunctional family, getting by with my deceptions.
  • My Father favoured my brother but didn’t like me much, but I’ll get over it.
  • My mother encouraged me to get away with being dishonest and deceptive against my own brother to the point where he threatened to kill me.
  • I had to get out of there quick and run away from home because it would have been dangerous to stay.
  • I began living with my uncle who wanted only to get rich and tricked me into working for him for free for almost 14 years.
  • I was tricked into marrying a person I didn’t get along with.
  • I got together with the woman I loved and married her also. I loved her and tolerated the other one.  
  • I got away with having a number of illegitimate children with other women
  • Despite all this dysfunctional lifestyle, I was told directly by God to get away and move to a specific place back in my home country.
  • I ignored God, however, and instead got together with some people who lived immoral lives, trading and mixing with them, and even allowing their religious idols into my household.
  • The Mayor’s (kings) son raped my daughter and took her into his home and I let him get away with it.
  • My sons took action, however, and got even by retaliating against the terrible crime committed against their sister. My sons behaved like a terrorist group, getting out of control and going on a rampage, killing every male, and taking women and children captive and plundering the town.
  • In the midst of all this stress, sin and horror, when I just didn’t get it, God spoke to me directly again, and gave me a promise of protection and a new destiny?

Who am I?


This is a story about getting a new start. No matter what you have done. No matter how dysfunctional your life is. No matter what mistakes you have made. No matter what kind of a parent, son or daughter you have been. How can you get a new start? How can you get back to God?

What would you do if you were the head of a totally dysfunctional family who is getting nowhere in life and you wanted to get a fresh start?

Fortunately for Jacob, God tells him what to do, because Jacob is a wimp. I know, he is chosen but he’s also a wimp. I know he’s a father of the faith, but I don’t really like him. God disagrees with me however. He’s sees in him something that I don’t and he encourages him to get up and go.

“Then God said to Jacob, “Get ready and move to Bethel and settle there. Build an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother, Esau. 


God says, get ready to make a new start. Get ready to become the person you were created to be. Get ready to start understanding your purpose in life.

If it was me, I’d probably say, Stop being so foolish and take some initiative in getting your life right with God and helping your family do the same. You’ve had plenty of opportunity.

God says, GET READY and secondly He says,


  • Move to the place where you can hear from God.
  • Move to the place where you are least tempted by your sin.
  • Move away from the world’s values and towards God’s values.

But the main message is get moving. Get out of there and get going. Take action. Don’t just sit there and do nothing. Make a decision to act.

So God says GET READY, GET MOVING and then He says


Build an altar. In other words build a place of worship, something that shows your wholehearted devotion to God. Build an atmosphere of faith that will enable your family to find healing for their dysfunctional lifestyles. Build something of value that will last as a legacy and an example for you and your family.

And finally Jacob got it. He knew what he had to do in order to GET READY, GET MOVING, and GET BUILDING and it would mean burying things he needed to…


Get rid of anything that would hinder you obeying God.

So Jacob told everyone in his household, “Get rid of all your pagan idols,

How do I get a new start? Remove or get rid of your idols. What is it that gets in the way of you worshiping and serving God alone. Get rid of it.

If you are going to get a new start you have to make deliberate decisions to get tough and get rid of all the hindrances of your past life.

GET READY, GET MOVING, GET BUILDING, GET RID OF and Jacob says to his family,


 “PURIFY yourselves, and put on clean clothing.”  

Get clean inside and out. Repent of your sins. Get rid of the world’s influence and let God purify you from the inside out. Get right with God. Find forgiveness and get a new start in Christ

 Romans 13:14 (NLT) says, “… clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.”  

Clean clothes and hands to symbolise clean lives.

James 4:8 (NLT) says, “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.” 

5 things to do for a new start…

  • GET READY by making a Choice
  • GET MOVING by taking definite action
  • GET BUILDING by developing a culture of worship
  • GET RID OF anything that would hinder you from worshiping and serving God
  • GET CLEAN by confessing your sins to God and finding forgiveness that comes from believing in Christ alone.

If God can forgive and purify Jacob and his family, then anyone can come to Him to find forgiveness and get a new start. Any heart can be made clean.  


The new year often gives us opportunity for A NEW START. So the first lesson for the new year from this story is an invitation about getting right with God and getting rid anything that might get in the way of your relationship with God.

Deuteronomy 4:29 (NLT) says “… if you search for Him with all your heart and soul, you will find Him.”  

Acts 16:31 says “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.”

God is saying to you like He did with Jacob, “GET READY to take some initiative and GET MOVING toward Me rather than away from Me. GET BUILDING the altar of worship in your life. GET RID OF the old way of life and embrace a new way by believing in Jesus. Jesus laid down His life for you so that you could GET BACK to God and find forgiveness.”

Hope you GET IT (the invitation of God), GET AFTER IT (salvation), GET ON WITH IT (your God-given purpose) and GET BACK (into a relationship with Christ), GET OVER IT (your past) by GETTING YOUR HEAD AROUND IT (Forgiveness) and finally GET AHEAD IN LIFE by GETTING SOMEWHERE with your GOD. (Couldn’t resist more GETS, but I am serious about wanting you to GET THE MESSAGE). 


Pastor Ross

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls
© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 28

It was 3 days after becoming one of the kings counsellors that Absalom remembered the dagger and went to the box in which he had kept his most precious of possessions since childhood. It was still there where he had laid it many years ago. As he withdrew it from its leather sheath, he noticed that the blade had lost some of its lustre, but the workmanship was still superior to anything he had seen and it was deadly sharp.

It was the leather strands bound around the hilt that drew his attention. They were darkened by the years, but he looked for end strands that could be unravelled. He finally found an end by picking at the leather around the base of the hilt and soon the strands were unwinding to reveal the hidden secrets of what lay beneath.

Gradually the ivory hilt of the dagger began to be revealed. It bore a strange inscription which fascinated Absalom but the savage image is what drew Absalom’s attention. Skillfully carved in the shape of a wolf and lion in mortal combat, the animals were portrayed with such powerful imagery, muscles tense and so carefully rendered that Absalom could almost feel the terror of the scene. He could imagine the piercing, savage eyes of each beast as claws, fangs and jaws lunged in to make the kill.

He also realised why Asahel, like the soldier he had seen in the marketplace, had covered the hilt with strands of leather. The dagger was an illegal weapon for an Israelite to carry since it bore the images of animals. No images or likenesses of birds, animals or fish were to be carved or worshipped by anyone in Israel. These animals obviously represented Caananite gods but Absalom was curious about the Canaanite symbols and the why the dagger was made.

Asahel had obtained the dagger as part of the plunder from his first raid into Canaanite territory. Concealing its hilt by binding it with leather, he had carried it with him into the battle against Abners army where he had lost his life.

Concealing the hilt by placing the dagger and its sheath inside his cloak, Absalom determined to find out more about the image and why it was so beautifully made. Joab was in charge of some Philistine iron smiths. Perhaps they would know. From now on he would begin to wear this beautiful weapon hidden from the eyes of those who might question the images on the hilt.