The Difference Between Godly and Cultural Stability

Genesis 33 ended with Jacob’s family worshipping together. They were in God’s will living at Shechem on their way to Bethel where God had called them. The next chapter shows how quickly things can change. Jacob’s family got comfortable and settled down in the culture around them. Their hearts were no longer inclined toward Bethel. They became under-whelmed with God’s will, and the results were tragic.

Allured to the Culture (verses 1-12)

Especially after the spiritual gains of chapter 33, Genesis 34 leaves us wondering, where did this come from? We don’t know how much time has passed since the last chapter, but we see a pattern similar to other patriarchs who failed in dark times: there was no adherence to God’s spoken Word, and worship was absent from Jacob’s life. Neglecting one’s personal time with God quickly becomes a slippery slope resulting in a stagnant walk.

Jacob is out of the picture for most of the chapter. Lacking spiritual leadership, his daughter Dinah fell into a daily habit of accepting and being active in the worldly culture. Her parents didn’t supervise the time she spent with her pagan friends, with tragic consequences.

We forget God when we make anything else the center of our lives. A recent poll showed that 75% of people who don’t identify themselves as Christians are seeking meaning for their life through their vocation. Even 40% of Christians try to find purpose in their jobs. It is easy to become distracted by our culture and its purposes like Jacob’s family did, elevating worldly goods above spiritual growth. But we were created and saved for eternal purposes. In our context, God’s purposes in the local church should be the priority for His people.

Compromised the Faith (verses 13-24)

As Jacob’s family fell out of the habit of worship, they found themselves doing things they should have thought unimaginable. Simeon and Levi murdered an entire city. The men began to prepare a marriage contract for Dinah with a man who was not walking with the Lord. They were prepared to intermarry with unbelievers if they adopted one point of their religious practice. Circumcision was not required for salvation in the Old Testament, but Jacob’s family had reduced their faith to mere externalism.

Declension of the Home (verses 25-31)

When Jacob grew comfortable in the worldly culture, his family suffered the consequences. One speaker said, “It’s easier to raise boys than it is to change men.” Without their father’s spiritual guidance, Jacob’s sons showed the same deceptive nature that Jacob did before he was saved.

When Jacob stopped progressing in his walk, things quickly went bad in his home. The same thing can happen to us. We’re all born with deceitful hearts and a wicked sin nature. Fortunately, the solution is simple: staying diligent in our personal walk with the Lord, and following His will as a family instead of taking our cues from the culture.

Application Points

  • How is your personal walk? Neglecting time with God can quickly bring grave consequences. How can you make your walk with the Lord the top priority in your life?
  • Have you become distracted by the culture? Where do you find your meaning and purpose? By whose wisdom do you govern your life?
  • If you have children, how do you help them balance their time spent with unbelievers? We are called to be Light in the culture, but we must also balance that with protecting our children.
  • As a family, what is the most exciting thing in your schedule each week? Do you look forward to times in worship with God’s people? Should we ever enjoy good things in our culture at the expense of worship, as a regular habit? What priorities are you teaching your children?

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • James 4:13-17 – Seek the Lord’s will in planning.
  • 1 Samuel 2:12-36, 2 Samuel 13-15 – Other examples of failed parenting.
  • Deuteronomy 6:6-9, 11:18-21 – Parents’ responsibility to teach their children God’s Word.
A Hymn to Encourage: “The Solid Rock”

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.