And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. Then 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 in the way which I have gone.” (Genesis 35:2-3)
It was necessary that Jacob go to Bethel that he might fulfill the vow he had made there when he was fleeing from Esau years before. Then he was alone; upon his return he had multiplied into many, including servants from Syria and those taken as spoil from Shechem. But before going to this very special place — a holy place — the instructions was given to discard their idols, change clothes and wash. More importantly is the inference to purify their hearts before going to the “house of God.”
This circumstance would be repeated, years later, when Israel gathered at the foot of Mount Sinai to meet with God. The LORD told Moses to instruct the people to consecrate themselves and wash their garments in anticipation of the LORD’s arrival on the mountain (Exodus 19:10-11). This same scenario will be replayed at the end of days as well. Through the prophet Ezekiel, God says that He will gather His people from all the different nations and will, “sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you” (Ezekiel 36:24-25).
The implication is clear; God’s people have been defiled among the nations and must be cleansed of the pollution of the world. We are a kingdom of priests and must be set apart if we are to function in that calling. Therefore, the trappings of the nations cannot be such an important part of our existence lest we become defiled. If we are to ascend the hill of the LORD and go to “God’s house,” we must wear clean garments untainted by the world. The Psalmist put it this way:
“Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart.” (Psalm 24:3-4)
Let us allow Him to cleanse our life today and purify our heart that we may be ready to stand before Him without guilt or shame when He comes.
Blessings and Shalom,