GENESIS 34 HOMILETICAL MANUSCRIPT
By Lance Waldie, box 1667
(Image) Imagine for a moment the terrible possibility of your own sister being raped. If you don’t have a sister then imagine some young girl that you know and love being raped. It angers you doesn’t it? Imagine this young girl going out one night, a young girl that you love intensely and would even die for. She goes out one night and some young punk overpowers her and takes advantage of her. This young boy, he’s not a man of course, is used to getting anything and everything he wants. He’s well-respected but known to be a spoiled rotten fool who believes he can take anything he wants. Now he wants your sister, and keeping in line with his nature, he just takes her and violates her. How does that make you feel. I must confess, the very thought of it makes my blood boil. No one could ever do that despicable act to someone I love and get away with it. My sin nature wants revenge, and I want to be the one who metes it out.
Now let’s say that my dad finds out about it. I’m counting on him to take control. The problem is, he wants to make peace with the boy’s father and sweep everything under the carpet because he doesn’t want to imagine that his daughter was raped. As a result, the boy’s father makes a deal with my dad and everything is supposed to be alright. Unacceptable!
(Need) There is a great need today for recognized leaders to stand up and take control of the situations that demand proper leadership.
(Subject) The question we want to look at today is this: How should our recognized leaders stand up and seize the situations they are faced with?
(Text) Our text today comes from Genesis 34. This is the story of Jacob’s daughter Dinah and the man that raped her – Shechem. Following the rape of Dinah, Jacob failed to take control of the situation and bowed to the plea bargain of the guilty. Jacob’s sons, however, were not satisfied, so they did things their own way and in so doing they took the sacred covenant of circumcision, and they took the Lord’s name in vain. They took matters into their own hands because their father would not stand up to the wicked act of Shechem, and what happened was anything but good.
(Preview) In looking at this lengthy passage today, I want us to see three things: First, the exegetical proposition: Usurpation of leadership leads to the taking of God’s name in vain, resulting in the distress of Jacob’s family. Second, the theological proposition: Apathetic leaders breed misguided usurpers (taking God’s name in vain). And third, the homiletical proposition: Act decisively when a church/staff/family member crosses the line sexually creating a blemish on the face of God’s church..
Before we get into the text I’ll tell you that this passage is just another insight into the life and character of Jacob – the man God calls Israel. This passage shows how God works in spite of how we behave and works His good and perfect will through our imperfect choices. Jacob is a regular guy making regular mistakes, and we should remember this in our own lives.
Let’s take a look at the story in Genesis 34. For time restrictions I won’t be reading the entire passage, but we will plow through the gist of the message here. Look at verse 1… “Now Dinah the daughter of Leah, whom she had born to Jacob went out to visit the women of the region.” This one girl of Jacob, who is most likely no more than 16 years of age and who appears to just have the desire to get out of the camp full of her older brothers, decides to take a walk in small town in Canaan. She wants to see what’s going on with the women of this city, but when she leaves this young man notices her. He is a young prince, the son of King Hamor, and he seizes her and rapes her. This is probably a life that he is used to given the fact that he’s a prince, and prince’s had all they wanted – they were just plain spoiled. When he finishes with Dinah, he decides he likes her, and in keeping with the life he has had, he commands his father in verse 4: “Get me this girl to be my wife.”
The next scene is Jacob having heard about the rape and Hamor coming to Jacob to talk about the matter. Jacob’s sons, when they heard what happened, were exceedingly angry as any brother would be when his sister is raped. But to add insult to injury, Hamor offers no apology for what happened – he only makes a deal with Jacob in order to cover over the offense his son committed. He offers Jacob the land, something God had already given to Jacob, and the opportunity to intermarry and be of one people with his own. Then, to top it off, Shechem himself, the rapist, tells the Israelites that he just has to have Dinah – he will give anything for her. The fact that this rapist can even face his accusers without apology – and make such a request – is preposterous.
But verse 13 reveals that the wheels are already turning in the minds of the sons of Jacob: “The sons of Jacob answered Shechem and his father deceitfully because he had defiled their sister Dinah.” Because they were commanded to be circumcised they made this deceitful condition of the Shechemites in verse 15: “Only on this condition will we consent to you: that you will become as we are and every male among you be circumcised.” This was their condition the Israelites gave in return, and they seemed to know the Shechemites would bite.
In verses 18-19a we read, “Their words pleased Hamor and Hamor’s son Shechem. And the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he was delighted with Jacob’s daughter.” What Shechem wanted was sex and a relationship with Dinah, and the speed at which he went out and met the demands of the Israelites attests to that. There is still no apology – no remorseful feelings, and when he goes to tell the men of the city about the pact he coerces them by telling them that they will own the Israelites and their property. His influence is evident because the men of the city agree to this, unbeknownst to them that they have signed their death warrant.
Now we read in verses 25-26, “On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city unawares, and killed all the males. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away.” Simeon and Levi knew exactly when to take these men out for good. Their evil scheme worked, and their brothers ended up joining the mess by plundering the city. What is interesting is Jacob’s response in verse 30: “Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, ‘You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land… I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” Jacob doesn’t seem outraged but scared – almost like he himself is afraid of his sons. The fact that he was so concerned about them when the news first came to him also gives some insight here. But the sons’ response says it all in verse 31: “Should our sister be treated like a whore?” As if to say, “Since you weren’t going to do anything about this matter, we felt we needed to.” This appears to be the inevitable problem when apathetic leaders fail to deal with the daily problems and tragedies they are faced with.
This leads us to the second point and the theological point of this message: Apathetic leaders breed misguided usurpers. In this case it leads to taking God’s name in vain, and taking into one’s hands the things that are meant for God alone. It’s just like Kelly said on Friday with the balloons when he spoke of letting God’s will prevail. We end up in the same place because God is sovereign, but the means by which we get there are what we will answer for. These men took the sacred rite of circumcision and used it deceitfully. This would equate to one of us “swearing on the Bible” or “swearing to God” in order to get our way or attain our own selfish ends. I might swear to God that I won’t kill the rapist I found in my house attempting to get to my wife so that he trusts me long enough to let his guard down. Then I just kill him by taking advantage of his trust. Or, I might swear on the Bible in a court of law as a person who is known to tell the truth in order to get my own way and achieve my own ends. That’s what Jacob’s sons did. And you know, I think Shechem and his father got what was coming to them – as I think Jacob felt too. But they were going to pay God’s way in God’s time. Killing them was appropriate, and it is something God was probably going to do, but they didn’t have to take God’s name in vain at the same time. In doing so they were as guilty as the Shechemites. Simeon and Levi paid the price, and the blessing went to Judah. God still worked out His plan, but that plan came through plan D following Reuben’s mistake too. What should Jacob have done? He should have stood up to Hamor, taken his daughter back, and told his sons to shut up. But in doing so he should have let them in on what he was going to do. It’s possible that Jacob was just dumbfounded as to what to do and just wanted the matter to go away altogether. There are many families like that today. I know one young man who was molested by his brother, and his father knows about it. He never did anything about it, and now the young man hates his father as much as his brother. Unfortunately, Jacob too just held his peace, much like what King David did when his daughter was raped. When he failed to act appropriately it made Absalom very angry, and he took matters into his own hands. The bottom line is that unresponsive leaders incite drastic reactions from subordinates who are directly affected by life’s inevitable tragedies. They take matters into their own immature hands and create a stain on the rest of the Christian church.
The third point I want to make from this passage is homiletical: As Christian leaders, whether at home or at church, we must act decisively when a church/staff/family member crosses the line sexually creating a blemish on the face of God’s church. How many times have we seen it happen? At the church where I grew up we had a pastor who came from Cedar Hill here in Dallas. He brought his old staff with him including the associate pastor and his wife – a woman he was sleeping with. They continued their adultery in Conroe in the pastor’s study! He was finally caught, but we had a stain. The whole Christian church is stained because of these people. Then there’s Joel Gregory at First Baptist Dallas. My great aunt has attended there for over 50 years, and she knew he had a girlfriend in addition to his wife. People knew, but when the recognized leadership dropped the ball a stain appeared. There was also the case of the two homosexuals who played the piano and organ in our church. The pastor was too spineless to act, so when he left for a short trip to China, the associate pastor fired them. In that case it was a good thing.
Conclusion: The issue here is that we must take control when problems like this occur. Our wives expect it. Our congregations expect it. Don’t be wimps. Act or someone else will do it for you, and they might not act accordingly. We are God’s leaders for the future, and our future needs leaders who know the truth and act. We’ve seen how Jacob did it. We saw what his lack of leadership did to the Israelites and to Simeon and Levi. We must take this narrative and use it to motivate ourselves to see what happens when we fail to lead properly.
You know, it’s like I said before, Jacob was a regular guy making everyday mistakes, but God works through that – that’s the good news of all this. I have been reading an old book titled The Light and the Glory by Peter Marshall and David Manuel – both of them are Covenant Theologians. They write of the Pilgrims, Puritans, and even Christopher Columbus. What they believe is that the church is the new Israel and that America is the new Canaan. Of course we believe they are wrong, but these Puritans really believed it, and God blessed them. Their hearts were fully devoted to God, and He worked through their bad theology. Now even if they are right and we dispensationalists are the wrong ones, no one can argue against the fact that God works through us too. He works through people whose hearts are fully devoted to Him – He most often ignores bad theology when the heart is right. He even worked through the Catholic church for 1500 years prior to the Reformation!