Our example to others
Text: Genesis 34
Preached in Quabbin Valley on 1-18-09
Murder, on the part of Simeon and Levi (34:1–31)
If you remember the book of Genesis and the story of Jacob you will remember that Jacob was a very interesting character. Jacob steals his brothers blessing by deceiving his father with the help of his mother and then he is sent away because his brother Esau is angry. Jacob travels to his relatives who live a very far distance and while there he has some interesting times. He ends up taking some wives and has some children and he finally sets out for home, the Promised Land, Canaan. While he is in the land his daughter Dinah goes out to see the women of the land. Now we don’t know why she when out alone. Was she rebelling or was she naive but we know that she was taken by Shechem.
After Dinah, the daughter of Jacob is raped by Shechem, a local Canaanite prince, several events take place. Now you should remember that Jacob’s name means supplanter, layer of snares. Supplanter means “to trip up, cause to stumble.” It is not a very favorable descriptive name. And Jacob true to his name deceives and misleads, tricks his brother and father and who knows what else he does. But we see him starting to trust God more and more and follow God. God directs him to go to Bethel in chapter 35 and he goes but what have his children seen and learned form not only Jacob but his wives their mothers? They have seen rebellion, steeling, tricking, and deceit. They have learned from their parents to be this way. They have been taught well how to sin and we see this unfold over chapters 34-38. This morning I want us to look at chapter 34:1-31. This is the story about Dinah the daughter of Jacob and her two brothers Simeon and Levi.
The sin against Dinah (34:1-2): Dinah is taken and raped by Shechem.
This is a wicked act and one that is to be dealt with. But the man is repentant; it seems over the act and wants to marry her. He actually speaks softly to her and he wants to make things right and marry her. Now regardless of what we think of this man and his actions he was following the customs of his day which said that a virgin who was taken like that was to be married. He says in vs 11-12 that whatever they ask of him he will give them as a bride price. I don’t know that I would be allowing that as her father but we are not dealing with Shechen this morning. We have to know that background for what is going on in this passage but we are not focusing on Shechem. Make no mistake what he did was wicked and sinful and should never have been done.
a. The suggestion (34:3–12): There is a suggestion given, Hamor, the father of Shechem, meets with Jacob, he wants to propos close relationships between both peoples, beginning with the marriage between Dinah and Shechem. He, of course wants to reconcile the issue and to have their people mix with and become one people with Jacob’s. Now Jacob isn’t reported to have said anything. He is silent. We can deduce from the context that he wanted to make things right and was going to go along with this.
b. The subtlety (34:13–24): Now the brothers are pretending to agree with this suggestion (but inwardly detest it). Make no mistake that these brothers want revenge, they don’t want reconciliation, they don’t want justice they want revenge. Revenge is different than justice. Revenge is: an act or instance of retaliating in order to get even, an opportunity for getting satisfaction. But they want to go beyond even just getting even. But justice is: the maintenance or administration of what is just esp. by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments, the administration of law esp : the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity. The brothers insist that Hamor, Shechem, and his men must first be circumcised. And they all agree and go through this ritual thinking that this wrong is going to be made right and that the two peoples will have peace and become one people. But that is not what the brothers are planning.
c. The slaughter (34:25–29): On the third day, when the men of the town are helpless because of their wounds from circumcision, Simeon and Levi walk into their camp and slaughter them. They kill all the men. They don’t just kill Shechem and his father, they kill every male. Men who had nothing to do with this crime, who wanted to make things right between the two peoples. Simeon and Levi were brutal murderers of the innocent. These men who are furious over the crime against their sister go and commit an even greater crime against a whole city of people. They not only kill the men but take captive the women and children and plunder their goods. What Shechem did was wrong but what these children of Jacob did was far worse and they felt no shame, no remorse, and no pity for the people who they slaughtered who were innocent.
d. The scandal (34:30–31): Jacob rebukes his sons for causing his name to “stink” among the other Canaanites in the land, fearing that some might seek revenge. This man is worried about himself and not worried about the crimes that have gone on here from rape to murder and slavery and plundering other peoples goods.
What can we learn from this passage? What does this have to do with us?
Our example to our children and grandchildren, our family and friends, our coworkers and our neighbors, affects them. It can affect them for good or for bad. Jacob was a lying thieving, deceiving man and his children learned how to act and what was acceptable by his actions and his wives actions. If you want your child to do drugs then do drugs yourself and they will be more likely to do them. If you want your child to read their bible every night you need to set the example.
Proverbs 22:6 6 Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Our children and grandchildren see us and often follow our examples. That is something we need to be mindful of. The whole idea of “do as I say and not as I do” doesn’t work.
If you’re a so-called Christian and you walk around your work place swearing and gossiping, what kind of example are you for Christ? Someone once said and people have quoted it over and over again and I am going to quote it again, they said “sometimes you’re the only bible some people will ever read”. What people see you doing speaks volumes. Actions speak louder than words.
Revenge can often escalate and include innocent people and we are encouraged to turn the other cheek, to forgive as we have been forgiven and to walk in the light as He (Jesus) is in the light and to leave vengeance for God.
Deuteronomy 32:43 43 "Rejoice with him, O heavens; bow down to him, all gods, for he avenges the blood of his children and takes vengeance on his adversaries. He repays those who hate him and cleanses his people's land."
Hebrews 10:30 30 For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people."
Romans 12:19-21 19 Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord." 20 To the contrary, "if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head." 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1772 Caring For Family’s Killer
In 1946, Czeslaw Godlewski was a member of a young gang that roamed and sacked the German countryside. On an isolated farm they gunned down ten members of the Wilhelm Hamelmann family. Nine of the victims died, but Hamelmann himself survived his four bullet wounds.
Godlewski completed a twenty-year prison term for his crimes, but the state would not release him because he had nowhere to go. When Hamelmann learned of the situation, he asked the authorities to release Godlewski to his custody. He wrote in his request, “Christ died for my sins and forgave me. Should I not then forgive this man?”
Forgiveness is what we are called to and not revenge. Remember we have laws and they need to be obeyed and upheld and justice is to be served but not revenge, hatred, or vengeance.
Let’s contemplate the great example of Jesus and his forgiveness as we participate in the Supper.
Tan, P. L. (1996, c1979). Encyclopedia of 7700 illustrations : A treasury of illustrations, anecdotes, facts and quotations for pastors, teachers and Christian workers. Garland TX: Bible Communications.