Syncretism and the Promise
This is one of those passages that make you cringe. There’s a lot of ugly stuff in this chapter. Everyone in the story acts wickedly. What are we to make of it?
There is good news and bad news to be drawn from it. Let’s give the bad news first. Jacob, who in the previous chapter had such a life-changing encounter with God doesn’t seem to have a changed life. Shouldn’t we expect that? When a person goes from unbelieving to believing, to realize and embrace God as the giver of your inheritance, to go from darkness to light, we expect to see that new life manifested in the way they live. And we don’t in this passage. That’s bad news for all of those who see Jacob as a changed man from his encounter with God at Peniel in the previous chapter.
At the same time this is good news. Again, we are so much like Jacob. There are moments, hours, perhaps even days, months, years in which we act like no different from the days prior to our encounter with God. And yet, despite Jacob’s inexplicable silence and absence at a time when it is most needed and despite the even worse vengeful and bloody actions of two of his sons, the Lord is still their Lord. This does not mean the Lord favors their actions, but it does show us that their wickedness has not disqualified them from God’s promises. That is good news.
What brought Jacob to this point?