Today’s Family Friday post comes from the Prince of Preachers himself. This is a snippet from a sermon he preached by the same title: “Family Reformation,” taking the text from Genesis 35 and Jacob’s call to Bethel.
It appeared to Jacob, next that if he was to fulfil his vow, it was necessary to reform his whole house; for he could not serve the Lord and worship other gods. He said to all that were with him–to his sons first, and then to his hired servants and the rest–“Put away the strange gods that are among you.” Yes, it must come to that. If I am to get back to my old positions with God I must break my idols.
“The dearest idol I have known,
Whate’er that idol be;
Help me to tear it from its throne,
And worship only thee.”
The idols of the family: the acts and deeds of the young folk which would grieve God, the doings of the elder ones which are inconsistent with a profession of faith in Jesus, the ill tempers that have been indulged, the divisions of heart which have come up in the family, with all that is sinful and unlovely, must go, if we are to get right again. There must be a general breaking and burying of idols, or we cannot worship the God of Bethel.
And then next he said, “Be clean.” There was to be, I suppose, a general washing, indicative of the purgation of character by going to God with repentance and seeking forgiveness. Jacob also said, “Change your garments.” This was symbolic of an entire renewal of life, though I fear me they were not all renewed. At any rate this is what was symbolized by “Change your garments.” Alas, it is easier to say this to our families than it is to get them to do it. And do we wonder? Since it is so much easier for ourselves to say than it is for ourselves to do. Yet, beloved, if your walk is to be close with God, if you are to commune with the God of Bethel, you must be cleansed. The Lord cannot commune with us while we wallow in sin. “What concord hath Christ with Belial?” Sin must be put away. The best believer that lives must wash his feet if he is to draw near to God as he has done aforetime. All this Jacob was to undertake, and to him who had become so lax with his family it was no small work to screw up his courage and say to Rachel and all of them,–“Put away the strange gods that are among you, and be clean, and change your garments.”
Well the next and last thing they were to do was to celebrate special worship. “Let us arise, and go up to Bethel, and I will make an altar unto God, who answered me in the day of my distress and was with me in the way which I went.” When we get wrong and feel that there must be a decided change, we must set apart special times of devotion. We must say to our soul, “Soul, soul thou hast fed so little lately. This leanness of thine comes of neglecting spiritual feasting. Come, thou must humble thyself; thou must lay thyself low before God, and thou must approach the Lord with lowly reverence, and beg to be refreshed with his presence. Thou must set apart more time for feeding upon Christ, and upon his word, and never be quiet till thou becomes against full of grace and of the Holy Ghost.” In families it is often well, when you see that things are wrong, just to call the household together and say, “We must draw near unto God with peculiar earnestness, for we are going astray. We have not given up family prayer, but we must now make it special, and with double zeal draw nigh unto God.” I am afraid that some of you neglect family prayer. If you do I am sure it will work evil in your households. The practice of family prayer is the castle of Protestantism.”…Draw near the Lord again, more thoroughly than you have done before, for it is the only way by which the backslidings of persons and families are at all likely to be corrected. God grant a blessing with these words by the power of the Holy Ghost.