Recently, a friend of mine asked me to preach for him as he was out of the country. Their church has been going through the entire book of Genesis, so I was asked to pick up in Genesis 35. Throughout my research, study, and preparation I was encouraged in so many ways. The most important thing that stuck out to me was the importance of remembrance in the life of the believer. Genesis 35 helps us to develop this theology of remembrance which has such great implications for us today. I’ll break this up into three part’s which reflect my sermon.
Our Remembrance Of The Goodness Of God Stirs Our Affections for Jesus
Our Remembrance Of The Goodness Of God Stirs Our Affections for Jesus.
Within Genesis 35 we find Jacob commemorating special conversations with God through the building of pillars and making offerings. The question some may have, is why did Jacob build these pillars? The reason being that remembrance causes us to grow in our affections for God. It is good for us to consider where we came from and what God has delivered us from (Col 1:13). For instance, the New American Commentary states, “The recurring motif of divine guidance appears in the patriarch’s speech to his family: “[God] has been with me wherever I have gone” ”. Therefore, Jacob’s recollection of the goodness of God causes him to remember the promises of God. Jacob is also caused to deal with the reality that God has never been far from him but continues to go with him wherever he journeys.
Further, we see how God causes Jacob to step into a place of remembrance. John Calvin notes, “God chooses and assigns Bethel, rather than any other place, for his [Jacob’s] sanctuary; because the very sight of it would greatly avail to take away terror, when he would remember that there the glory of the Lord had been seen by him ”. This divine direction places Jacob in a situation where he can rely on the both the goodness and promise of God. Jacob is able to trust God not only for his own life, but also for the life of his family.
By remembering the past, Jacob is ready to the face the trials of the future.
Similarly, Charles Spurgeon affirms the importance of remembrance as he states, “A revival of old memories is often most useful to us, especially to revive the memory of our conversion. ”. Spurgeon is expressing how important a recollection of who and what we were apart from God serves as a helpful and needed practice to continually remind of our great need for God. In the same way that Jacob is faced with the reality of how God had delivered him from his turmoil and tragedy when he ventured to Bethel, when we recollect our own conversion experience we can rest in the goodness of God. Our practice of remembrance encourages us to rest safe and secure in the sufficiency of God in the midst of trials we may face in the future.
- A. Mathews, Genesis 11:27–50:26, vol. 1B, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2005), 611.
 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ge 35:11.
C. H. Spurgeon, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 24 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1878), 52.