Jacob wanted to build an altar to God. An altar represents the presence of God—it was how one would have an encounter with God. He recognized the need to be clean before a holy God. He commanded everyone to toss out all of the other gods. They were to rid themselves of anything and everything that was not God the one true God. Then Jacob commanded that they take “a good bath and put on clean clothes.” They were purifying themselves. This was an outward display to signify a change of heart—a ceremonial cleansing.
Many scholars see this bathing as a likeness to baptism as this washing was done to signify their choice to serve the one true God. Baptism is an immersion into water or sprinkling of water which signifies purification. It is the ceremony people participate in when they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. In doing this, people choose to give their lives to the one true God. By doing so, you receive the Holy Spirit and therefore have the presence of God within you.
You may have already been baptized, but you might not have tossed out all of the alien gods in your life. Something might be pulling you away from the presence of God. Evaluate where you are today and see if anything is taking the place of God in your life. He should be first always. Today is a good day for a cleaning. Let us put on clean clothes and walk forward in His presence.
“Jacob told his family and all those who lived with him, ‘Throw out all the alien gods which you have, take a good bath and put on clean clothes, we’re going to Bethel. I’m going to build an altar there to the God who answered me when I was in trouble and has stuck with me everywhere I’ve gone since.’”
-Genesis 35:2-3 [MSG]
I heard of people who went from one job to a second job without having a moment to stop and shower. To be sure they did not start to smell a bit foul, they would douse themselves with cologne or perfume to cover up the fact that they did not have a chance to take a shower. The cover up may keep people from noticing that the person failed to shower; however, it does not take away from the fact that the person did not shower. The person is still dirty.
When we accept Christ we are washed by His blood—we are covered by His blood. But it’s not supposed to be a quick spray of cologne or perfume. It is supposed to be a true cleansing. It involves not only baptism but a constant relationship with Christ, becoming a new creation living out the purpose for which you were created.
Today, don’t spray on some cologne and pretend to be clean. Don’t try to take a short cut. There’s no short cut when it comes to God. You either are living in Christ or you are not. You decide.
“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” – 2 Corinthians 5:17 [NLT]