The AMI QT Devotionals for January 8-14 are provided by Tina Hsu. Tina, a graduate of Biola University and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.), currently serves as a staff at the Church of Southland, Anaheim, California.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“The Way of Escape”
Genesis 35:1-5 (NASB)
Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.” 2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments; 3 and let us arise and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever, I have gone.” 4 So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods which they had and the rings which were in their ears, and Jacob hid them under the oak which was near Shechem.
5 As they journeyed, there was a great terror upon the cities which were around them, and they did not pursue the sons of Jacob.
Jacob and his family had settled in Shechem after purchasing some land from the sons of Hamor. As they dwelled inside the land of Canaan, they quickly become vulnerable to attack by the surrounding cities because Jacob’s sons deceitfully killed the men of Shechem and plundered their wealth as a revenge towards Shechem, who defiled their sister, Dinah (Gen. 34). Jacob needed to problem-solve and figure out a way of escape for his family.
By chapter 35, we begin to observe small steps of Jacob’s transformation and the new way in which he reacts to circumstances. The turning point for Jacob was in the previous chapters— when the Lord personally appeared to him at Bethel when he was in distress about meeting Esau (Gen. 32), and when he received mercy from Esau at their reunion (Gen. 33). Although he would still face sinfulness in himself and in his sons later on, Jacob was becoming different in that he began to look to God in his circumstances. He knew by experience that God is the source of all blessings and that He is merciful. By looking to God, he got rid of other sources of security and safety—such as the foreign gods—so that he could place his trust fully in God, from whom all blessings flow.
In trying to remedy his sons’ mistake, he didn’t flee, deceive others, or problem-solve with his own rationale like he did in the past; instead, he listened to the Lord, who told him to move and to prepare a place of worship at Bethel. This time he knew the answer was to look to God, “who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me wherever I have gone.” God provided a right way of escape for Jacob—the “escape” was to worship God. And God indeed protected Jacob and his sons from the surrounding cities.
This morning, let’s invite God to be the source of wisdom and insight in all our circumstances, so that we may react to situation with faith instead of fear or self-dependency.
Prayer: Dear Father, I thank You and I celebrate the small victories You give me in my growth and walk with You. As I continue to encounter circumstances that cause me to react with fear or worry, remind me to look to You and to earnestly seek You, because You have always answered me in my distress and have been with me wherever I have gone. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Romans 9
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 Corinthians 10:13-14. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it. Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
Questions to Consider
- Why is Paul giving the Corinthians this encouragement and warning?
- How does Paul describe God’s faithfulness?
- What is idolatry?
- In the context of this passage, Paul tells the Corinthians of Israel’s history of displeasing God, in their acts of idolatry, immorality, testing God, and grumbling. His point is that Israel’s history was written down in the Old Testament for our instruction, so that we may be aware that our struggles with temptation are common, and that people in all generations struggle with common trials. This is supposed to encourage us as well as to exhort us to actively overcome these temptations.
- In our trials and temptations, we may humanly feel that they are beyond what we can handle, but from God’s point of view, He is able to provide you the way of escape and to teach you how to endure it. He is faithful to help you become an overcomer!
- Idolatry is anything in our hearts that replaces our security and trust in God. It could be a material thing, but also be way of thinking or impure desires.
Tonight, reflect on the word “arise.” Often, Jesus used the verb “arise” to command the sick to receive His healing and to instruct His servants to go on a mission. God called Jacob to arise as well and to take a step of faith towards Him. How is the Lord leading you to arise and to do His will?