Blueprint? We Don’t Need No Blueprint!
Introduction: If your son or daughter told a friend that they could move into your house, what would be the most common question in the world for that friend to ask? Have you asked your parents if it’s ok? Right? It wouldn’t make any sense to move your stuff into somebody else’s house until you knew if it was ok with the owner.
And if you want to start a business, get married, or make some other major decision in your life, what would be the one thing that is more important than any other to do? Well if you’re priorities are straight, it would be to pray. Right? Talk to God about it.
If you’re going to testify in court, you need to swear concerning the matter. This only means something if what you are swearing on can affect you if you lie. If you swear on a bag of neon gummy worms, it really makes no difference if you lie or not. The gummy worms can’t do anything to you, except make your mouth happy and your teeth rot.
Hebrews 6:16 says, “For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute.” This has been the standard since the very beginning. By Jacob’s time, vows had been made for over 2000 years. People had invoked God’s name, and the elders of a home were checked with concerning great family matters.
But today, we see a passage where all of that is thrown to the wind over deceit and greed. Let’s look at today’s passage and learn from it. Let’s heed the message before us and apply it to our own lives.
Text Verse: Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? 27 And will not the physically uncircumcised, if he fulfills the law, judge you who, even with your written code and circumcision, are a transgressor of the law? Romans 2:36, 37
Circumcision is a rite and a distinction of a certain group of people which served a particular purpose. Paul is adamant that the gentiles who come to Christ do not need to be circumcised. In fact, he uses circumcision as a standard by which we can judge the reality of our faith in Christ.
If we trust that Jesus is sufficient and that the law is set aside in Him, then we know that circumcision is unnecessary. But if we attempt to be justified before God by getting circumcised then he says that we become estranged to Christ and become a debtor to the entire law. It is, in essence, a self-condemning act.
Jesus Christ is all-sufficient for us. His work is accomplished and the proof of it is that He was vindicated by the Spirit – testified by the resurrection. We need add nothing to His work to stand justified before God and so… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.
I. The Deceitfulness of Outward Appearance
13 But the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father, and spoke deceitfully, because he had defiled Dinah their sister.
The sons of Jacob came together to form a plot against Shechem and Hamor. This is pretty clear and plainly evident. The verse says that they spoke deceitfully in the matter. However, Albert Barnes gives his insights into the Hebrew of the verse –
He said, they “Answered – deceitfully – Which nothing could excuse; yet, to show that they had had much provocation, it is immediately subjoined וידברו vaidabberu, they spoke thus because he had defiled Dinah their sister; for so this parenthesis should be read.”
In other words and not to get too confusing, he is saying that the wording in the Bible is important to show the clear intent. They were provoked and so they acted deceitfully, even if what they did was inexcusable. They acted unjustly, but they did it because they thought they were right.
This might seem like trifling, but by the time we finish this chapter, you should see what is being pictured and why it’s important. Of all the commentaries on this incident, the one that is most likely to give you an idea of what is being pictured comes from Jamieson Faucett Brown and it’s concerning this verse.
Please listen closely and try to think about what they say here. Depending on how well you know the New Testament, you may be able to see the whole picture. If not, I will explain it in next week’s sermon. Here’s what they say, though they merely state the fact and unfortunately don’t go any further with it –
“But that outward rite could not make the Shechemites true Israelites; and yet it does not appear that Jacob’s sons required anything more. Nothing is said of their teaching the people to worship the true God, but only of their insisting on their being circumcised; and it is evident that they did not seek to convert Shechem, but only made a show of religion -a cloak to cover their diabolical design. Hypocrisy and deceit, in all cases vicious, are infinitely more so when accompanied with a show of religion; and here the sons of Jacob, under the pretense of conscientious scruples, conceal a scheme of treachery as cruel and diabolical as was, perhaps, ever perpetrated.”
Think about what I just read and try to tie it into what you know about the New Testament. As a hint, I would direct you to Acts 15 and the book of Galatians in particular. As we go on, remember that Jacob, who pictures Jesus, never makes any comments, nor does he intervene.
14 And they said to them, “We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one who is uncircumcised, for that would be a reproach to us.
This is the beginning of the deceitful speech mentioned in the previous verse. The reason it’s deceitful is that there is no such law at this time in history. In addition to that, both Isaac and Jacob married daughters of uncircumcised people.
They are making a law up which doesn’t exist and stating it in a way which makes the marriage seem unbecoming and against their supposed religion. The Geneva Bible states it this way, “They used the holy ordinance of God as means to accomplish their wicked purpose.” Keep thinking and hopefully you’re staring to connect the dots.
15 But on this condition we will consent to you: If you will become as we are, if every male of you is circumcised,
The deceit continues… “we will consent.” They have absolutely no intent on consenting. They’re making a show of their personal standards as superior to those of Shechem and using them as a tool against them by supposedly claiming that they will be joined to them through the sacred rite given to Abraham for his descendants.
The law given to Abraham is recorded in Genesis 17 and it said this –
“9 And God said to Abraham: “As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. 10 This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; 11 and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. 12 He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. 13 He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. 14 And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
Nothing else is given and they are adding to the law with an invention from their own heads. Again we turn to the Geneva Bible for their insights, “Their fault is even greater since they made religion a disguise for their deceit.”
Circumcision was never meant for the gentiles except those who come directly into the home of the line of promise.
16 then we will give our daughters to you, and we will take your daughters to us; and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people.
This verse is given in response to verses 9 and 10. These are the things Hamor asked for and so they are agreeing to the request which is based on the added terms they just gave. All of this appears to be a bargaining session in order to bring about reconciliation, but instead it is a trap which will end in death.
One of the problems with what is happening here is that nothing has been thought through clearly. If Hamor or Shechem had stopped to think about it, they would have realized that Jacob’s wives were from non-circumcised people or they could have at least asked if that were the case.
There is also no record of them giving an explanation for their circumcision. The sons said it would be a reproach to them, but there is no reason as to why. And another hugely large oversight, which I’ve mentioned already, is that there is no record of them having talked to Jacob.
On the surface, the story seems to be flowing and explanatory for the people of Shechem, but in reality, it is a little bit of light and a whole lot of obfuscation and hidden agenda. And this brings us to an obvious parallel that we should consider.
Just because someone has a particular trait, we tend to take them as authorities in an area they may not be. Actors can act and they may be very good at it, but it makes no sense for congress to call them in to speak about environmental or political issues, and yet they do.
We also tend to vote actors into political office because we assume they will be good at it. Yes, politics is largely an act, but not all actors in fact make good politicians. Even most politicians don’t make good politicians. Notoriety is no indication of ability.
Doctors are highly trained at fixing people but it doesn’t mean they’d be any good at fixing our faucet sink. Far too often we tend transfer intelligence or capability of a person in one area into other areas. This leads to all kinds of mistakes. How much worse when it deals with religion.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone follow a religious figure for whatever nutty reason. They may be a good speaker with no sound theology at all, but people follow them. They may be charismatic and quick with wit and so they have a large church.
I’ve seen people follow Jewish Christians, simply because they’re Jewish regardless of their rather crazy ideas about Christianity. It’s happened with Muslims who have converted to Christianity too. Suddenly, they are held up as specialists because of where they came from.
This is deceptive and dangerous and it ties in directly with the verses were looking at and the picture that they’re making in the New Testament. This incident with Dinah is trying to teach us something; something important and which can affect our walk with the Lord in a deep and eternity-changing way.
17 But if you will not heed us and be circumcised, then we will take our daughter and be gone.”
One commentator says that the family of Hamor and Shechem must have been rather small because they otherwise wouldn’t have sought an alliance with the family of Jacob. Comments like that make absolutely no sense, but when someone reads what he says, they will have that stuck in their head forever.
Once again, when you read commentaries, be careful to not accept them at face value. Instead, compare them against the backdrop of the story. Hamor could have had an immense and important family and it wouldn’t change the narrative at all. He is the king of the area and Shechem, his son, is in love. Period.
This is what matters to him. It’s true that from an earlier sermon, we learned that Jacob is a very wealthy man in his own right, but the size or wealth of Hamor’s family is irrelevant. The love of Shechem and possibly the wealth of Jacob is what’s highlighted.
II. What a Man Sows, That He Will Also Reap
18 And their words pleased Hamor and Shechem, Hamor’s son.
This proposal must have seemed too good to be true. Hamor had offered them to dwell in the land, join them, trade with them, acquire possessions, and the like. And then Shechem had offered any dowry they wanted to name. Instead, all they have asked for is something that Jacob’s family had already done – be circumcised.
If this sign is what bound them into such a strong and united force, then it must be a good thing. Right? And once they all had the same sign, then there could be no distinction between them. In essence, they would be one group and what they had would belong to them.
To think this through, it would be like having a US passport. Along with that, you would have all the rights of a citizen of the US. This is what they’re thinking. But just as carrying a passport doesn’t mean a change in the person – as we’ve seen in recent terrorist bombings by American muslims, neither does getting circumcised mean anything without the inclusion of what the circumcision means. Paul explains this in Romans 2.
What seems like a great deal, in fact, means nothing – either from a spiritual standpoint, nor as we will see, from the viewpoint of those who bear the sign. This is evidenced in history as well.
The ancient historian Herodotus says that there were other groups, some in Egypt, and some as far away as the Black Sea, that practiced circumcision. And yet, they had no part in the covenant with Abraham.
19 So the young man did not delay to do the thing, because he delighted in Jacob’s daughter. He was more honorable than all the household of his father.
Shechem may have taken the wrong steps in his initial dealings with Dinah, but he wanted to make it right and so he immediately went to be circumcised. As it says, “because he delighted in Jacob’s daughter.” He saw that she was what he wanted and he immediately took steps to get her.
To help you think through what’s going on, I want to remind you that the name Dinah means “vindicated.” If you remember, her inclusion in the birth record of Jacob’s children is tied to the resurrection of Christ. Paul says that Jesus was “vindicated by the Spirit.” Dinah pictures that vindication.
Jesus was judged as righteous because of His righteousness, and the Spirit so acknowledged that in the resurrection. I’m telling you this to help you think the story through. Shechem is delighted in what he sees and he is willing to do what he thinks is right in order to receive it.
Once again though, just because we think something is right doesn’t mean it is. Muslims really think that blowing themselves up for allah is right, but it isn’t. Mormons really think that the Book of Mormon is right, but that doesn’t mean it is. Shechem is making a fatal mistake, even though it is with good intentions.
Unfortunately, Shechem’s status as an honorable person makes him, and his argument towards those around him, seem worth pursuing. They will be misdirected by a guy who has been misdirected. When you listen to spiritualists or TV evangelists, their sweet sounding arguments must be based on the Bible or they are no different than Shechem’s words to his own people.
20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came to the gate of their city, and spoke with the men of their city, saying:
In the traditional custom of the biblical Middle East, the important affairs of the people are always conducted at the gates of the city. It is the equivalent of the courthouse in America. Anything that needs to be addressed, decided, judged, etc. would be done at the city gates. We’ve seen this already in Sodom when Lot was there.
We’ve seen it in Jacob’s dream when the Lord appeared above the ladder and Jacob exclaimed that it was the “gate of heaven.” We see it again now, and it will be seen time and again throughout the Bible. And so Hamor has gathered the people together there.
In order to get somebody to do something which may not be pleasant, you first have to get them to accept that the benefits will be pleasant. You can’t get a person to explode themselves in a shopping mall unless you can tell them that they’ll have a reward for doing it – maybe seventy-two perpetual virgins.
It would be much easier to get someone to charge up a hill and into oncoming machine gun fire if you’ve filled his head with notions of glory, and maybe safety for their family too. Whatever the situation, it’s easier to give the negatives after telling the positives or at least giving them both at the same time.
And so this is what Hamor and Shechem do…
21 “These men are at peace with us. Therefore let them dwell in the land and trade in it. For indeed the land is large enough for them. Let us take their daughters to us as wives, and let us give them our daughters.
The good news about Jacob and all of his wealth becoming theirs is given. They are at peace with them and so it would be a great thing for them all to join together and become one group of people, right? And anyway, the land is large enough for them as well.
This sounds like the state of the Syrian refugees right now. America is giving them a blank slate to migrate to America because, of course, the land is large. But there is truly evil intent here. Just because they are refugees doesn’t mean they are allies.
They are our enemies who happen to be on the losing end of the battle. There is no reason why the surrounding muslim nations can’t take them in and every reason for us to not rush into this. But our administration has evil intent for us. Like those in Shechem, we will face the consequences of the choices we make.
III. Drinking the Kool-Aid
22 Only on this condition will the men consent to dwell with us, to be one people: if every male among us is circumcised as they are circumcised.
“See all of these great things will be ours and all we need to do is just be circumcised. It’s a small thing, right? Just think of all the great stuff that will go along with it though.”
Once again, the Geneva Bible is very insightful about the situation, “Thus many pretend to speak for a public profit, when in reality they are only speaking for their own private gain and convenience.”
Hamor and Shechem have been duped and they in turn now pass this on to the people of the city. This is what Jesus would call the blind leading the blind. A person is never more unwilling to see the truth than when he follows someone who is already deceived. Think of any cult, and the people in it, and you will see the pattern perfectly presented.
23 Will not their livestock, their property, and every animal of theirs be ours? Only let us consent to them, and they will dwell with us.”
Shechem wants Dinah and he is willing to do anything to get her. He has failed to do his due diligence in the matter and his desire for her has even led his father to not see the matter clearly. And in order to make it come about, they together plan to entice the entire city to follow them in their misguided intent.
In the customary way of bad governments, hoodlum gangs, and disreputable business takeovers, the prospect of easy, unearned wealth is portrayed to the residents. We see this in commercials all the time and we hear it from our politicians every day.
It’s the same type of thing that got Eve duped in the Garden of Eden. The three evils which are mentioned from the beginning, right to the end of the Bible – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.
The lust of the flesh is seen in the mentioning of the daughters for the men. The lust of the eyes is seen in Jacob’s wealth, and the pride of life is seen in the boasting in the flesh – the circumcision. “We will be circumcised and we will be a part of the covenant people because of it.”
The same pattern caused Eve to fall, it has brought down kingdoms, and it is the thing that John warns against in his first letter to us –
15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. 1 John 2:15-16
It’s also the way that Jesus was tempted by the devil at the beginning of His ministry. However, He prevailed over the temptation. Now He offers to us His victory apart from these things. I hope you’re continuing to see this story opened up as a picture of what lies ahead in the New Testament.
The lesson learned in this story about Dinah is a lesson which will hopefully serve as a reminder to all people about how to properly conduct our affairs around those who would wish to deceive us and steal us away for themselves and for their own boasting and not for the glory of the Lord.
24 And all who went out of the gate of his city heeded Hamor and Shechem his son; every male was circumcised, all who went out of the gate of his city.
Who is it that’s doomed to destruction? If good intent got us to heaven, we wouldn’t need Jesus. Because we often believe that listening to a fine sounding argument can supposedly keep us out of trouble, Hitler was able to dupe Neville Chamberlain.
In the same way people keep believing our politicians who tell us that taxing the rich and spending what we don’t have will lead to economic prosperity. When in fact, we are heading down the path to financial ruin and economic collapse.
It’s so sad, but if anyone in the city had stopped to ask Jacob what he thought, things probably would have gone differently. But Jacob’s sons – the children of Israel – made all of the proposals and promises, and they had obviously left dad out of the picture. As I’ve noted several times already. Not a single word spoken by Jacob has been recorded during the entire incident.
Jacob pictures Jesus and so maybe it’s clearing up for you now. No one has asked what the significance of circumcision is. No one has asked why they should be circumcised, only that it was what they needed to do in order to get what they want. And no one has prayed to the Lord nor have they invoked him in a vow.
What circumcision signifies, what it entails, has been completely left out of the discussion. No explanation from the most important person in the house has been asked for. And once again I’ll note that God is never mentioned in this chapter – not God in general, not the Lord in particular. He has been ignored by everyone.
You may wonder why we use the term sheeple… it’s because for the most part we just follow along without questioning. We’re silent as we get sheared and we’re silent as we go to the slaughterhouse. We trust even where trust isn’t due and we obey those who deserve no allegiance.
A whole town follows the good, but misguided intentions of a man who is in love with a girl, but who has been misdirected concerning how to get her. And many, many people throughout the ages have been misdirected by those who are in love with an idea, but who are misguided about how to receive it.
I started my walk in the Jehovah’s Witnesses and I can testify first hand that they really think they are following the truth, but they’re not willing to ask the hard questions of those who lead them. And the leaders have been misdirected by others who have misled them.
Every person who buys a BBQ grill is responsible to pick up the instruction manual and check the instructions before turning on the grill. If they explode themselves because they didn’t put the thing together properly, they can’t blame the manual unless they used a faulty manual.
And every person who calls on God is responsible to pick up His instruction manual and check the instructions before committing to their call. If they wind up in the wrong place at life’s end, they can’t blame the instruction manual unless they used a faulty manual.
And even if they have the right manual, they need to make sure that if they don’t understand the instructions, that they check with the One who wrote them. This is what prayer is for. “O God, I don’t understand.” Please open my eyes to see the wondrous things in Your word. Guide me, teach me, and give me honorable teachers.
Relying on someone who isn’t qualified to interpret the instructions and handle them properly is as useful as drinking sand on a hot day.
This is where we have to stop today, but it’s not the end of the incident with Dinah. Next week we’ll see the tragic consequences of not following the blueprint of life.
But there is a blueprint… and it’s available to everyone here today. It’s the Bible. In it is wisdom, love, grace, and mercy. In it also is sadness and woe for those who don’t follow it properly. There is one key point of this book which is a necessary starting point for anyone who wishes to be pleasing to God. That point is Jesus.
Give me a moment to explain to you the importance of Jesus Christ and what the cross means to you personally…
Closing Verse:Wisdom is the principal thing; Therefore get wisdom. And in all your getting, get understanding. Proverbs 4:7
Next Week: Genesis 34:25-31 (The Gentiles Who are Turning to God) (86th Genesis Sermon) Make sure to read and study those verses.
The Lord has you exactly where He wants you and He has a good plan and a purpose for you. So call on Him and let Him do marvelous things for you and through you.
We Don’t Need No Blueprint!
The sons of Jacob answered Shechem
And Hamor his father they answered too
And spoke deceitfully to them
Since he had defiled their sister Dinah; their anger gre
And they said to them, “We cannot do this
To give our sister to one who is uncircumcised
For that would be a reproach to us, it’s something amiss
The situation is uncomfortable as you’ve realized
But on this condition we will consent to you:
If you will become as we are in this way
If every male of you is circumcised, then it’s true
We will give our daughters to you without delay
And we will take your daughters to us
And we will dwell with you as well
And we will become one people without a fuss
Can’t you almost hear the wedding bell?
But if you will not heed us and be circumcised
We will take our daughter and your dreams won’t be realized
And their words pleased Hamor the king
And Shechem, Hamor’s son was pleased also
So the young man did not delay to do the thing
Because he delighted in Jacob’s daughter, as you know
He was more honorable than any other
Yes, than all the household of his father
And Hamor and Shechem his son
Came right away to the city’s gate
And spoke with the men there, everyone
Saying: “These men are at peace with us, so we state
Let them therefore dwell in the land and in it trade
Indeed the land is large enough for this deal to be made
Let us take their daughters to us as wives
And let us give them our daughters, thus joining in their lives
Only on this condition will the men consent
To dwell with us, to be one community
If every male among us will in agreement
Be circumcised as they are circumcised, showing unity
Will not their livestock, their property…
And every animal of theirs belong to us?
Only let us consent to them, openly
And they will dwell here without a fuss
And all who went out of the gate
Of his city heeded Hamor and Shechem his son
Every male was circumcised on that date
All who went out of the gate of his city, yes every one
This story is showing us that we should heed with care
The things that we are told and to follow up with prayer
We need to use our minds to think
And to ponder life’s problems with care
And to make sure that the Kool-Aid we drink
Isn’t laced with something that shouldn’t be there
There is a way that seems right to a man
But the end is death, unfortunate but true
So we need to check with Author for His plan
We will be saved alive in glory when we do
The proper plan is given in the pages of God’s word
And so we should consult it for safety’s sake
It is a treasured gift from our precious Lord
And following it will keep us from mistake
Yes Lord, guide us and keep us on the right way
As we pursue You and Your word each and every day
Hallelujah and Amen…