Posted by: Esther | October 31, 2007

Burying Our Sins

In the book of Genesis chapter 35, Jacob and his family are found breaking God’s first and second commandments:

Exodus 20:3-6 “You shall have no other gods before Me. “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. “You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

These commandments, however, are written on Jacob’s heart (passed down as an example from his father and grandfather); for Moses had not yet been born to receive the stone tablets on Mt. Sinai.

As we look at this chapter in Genesis, we will see how God’s calling convicts Jacob to bury his sins as a picture of Jesus. I suggest reading all of Genesis chapter 35 and Romans chapter 6 in order to follow along in this examination of the Word as Light.

The Calling

Genesis 35:1 Then God said to Jacob, “Arise, go up to Bethel and live there, and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau.”

I love this, because God doesn’t say, “Repent of your sins and then go to Bethel.” Remember that his sons had just avenged their sister by killing the men in the city of Shechem, yet God does not wait for Jacob to get his family out of the world before He calls him. So many people think they have to “shape up” or “get right with God” before they can go to church or before they can have a relationship with Him, but God showed His great for love for us by sending his son to die for us while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), not after we repented and not when we called Him, but while we were still sinners.

The Conviction

Genesis 35:2 So Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, “Put away the foreign gods which are among you, and purify yourselves and change your garments;

It was God’s merciful calling that convicted Jacob to clean up his act. God didn’t have to mention his sins. Jacob knew what they were. All God had to do was show that He loved Jacob unconditionally. I think this can be a lesson for us in childrearing as well. We are not God, so we will not always see when they sin; but as we show the same unconditional love that God shows us, their own conviction will bring them to repentance. This is also testimony to Jacob’s good heart. The same parents raised Esau, who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. So as we raise our children in our relationship with God, we must rest on faith, knowing that God knows their heart and that He will work all things together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to {His} purpose (Romans 8:28).

Burying our Sins at the Cross

Genesis 35:4 So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods they had and the rings in their ears, and Jacob buried them under the oak at Shechem.

2 Peter 2:24 who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness–by whose stripes you were healed.

Jesus has already buried our sins at the tree on which he was crucified.

Romans 6:10 For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God.

Burying the Flesh/Sin Nature

Genesis 35:8 Now Deborah, Rebekah’s nurse, died, and she was buried below Bethel under the oak; it was named Allon-bacuth.

I believe that Rebekah represented Jacob’s flesh, his sinful nature. The fact that the burial of her nurse takes place at this point in Jacob’s life is no coincidence and should not be overlooked. Remember it was Rebekah that convinced Jacob to decieve his father in Genesis chapter 27. So in this scene, her nurse (the caretaker of the deceiver) is buried under the oak tree. What a perfect picture.

Romans 6:3-4a Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death,

Receiving A New Name and A New Life

How significant it is that after Jacob buries his sins and fleshly nature he receives a new name.

Genesis 35:10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; You shall no longer be called Jacob, But Israel shall be your name.” Thus He called him Israel.

Romans 6:4-9 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with {Him} in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be {in the likeness} of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with {Him,} in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him.

Sin No More

At this point God gives Jacob instructions and promises.

Genesis 35:11-12 God also said to him, “I am God Almighty; Be fruitful and multiply; A nation and a company of nations shall come from you, And kings shall come forth from you. “The land which I gave to Abraham and Isaac, I will give it to you, And I will give the land to your descendants after you.”

We are also given instructions and promises.

Romans 6:12-13 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin {as} instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members {as} instruments of righteousness to God.

Romans 6:22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

We have all been called. All we have to do is believe that Jesus (God’s only begotten Son) took all of our sins, past, present and future, with him to the cross. And like Jacob, we need to bury our own sins and literally get rid of them. Get rid of the idols that come before God: a t.v. show, sports, money, etc. Bury your sinful nature: worry, anger, lust, envy, etc. and present yourself to God as an instrument of righteousness and he will give you a new life.

Do not let the Book contradict itself. This is not salvation based on works, but a natural response to the love that He has shown us.



  1. I have read Genesis 35 and Romans 6. Your message is well taken. The calling of God, convictions with God’s unconditional love, the stripes of the cross heals, sins are buried at the cross, walk in newness of life, free with the promise, and sin becomes no more. It is ingenuous to bridge the old with the new, and a loving reminder! In God We Trust : )

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