Dinah, the daughter of Jacob, was defiled by Shechem the son of Hamor. Although Jacob the father of Dinah was in the land promised him, and as far as the letter of the law is concerned was complying with the command to go to the land of his fathers, Abraham and Isaac, he tarried for about ten years in the vicinity of Shechem. Hamor the father of Shechem was disturbed by the immoral conduct of his son, and he was fearful of the consequences of his son’s sinful liberties taken with Dinah. Subsequent events reveal that he had reason to fear what Jacob’s family might do. Yet we must see the truth of Psalm 105:14, 15 here as the explanation for that fear. We read, “He suffered no man to do them wrong; yea He reproved kings for their sakes, saying, Touch not My anointed, and do My prophets no harm.”
The speech of Jacob’s sons shows that they also knew the letter of the law. For when Hamor requested Dinah for his son, they refused such marriage—even though Shechem and Dinah had behaved as one flesh, and the birth of a child might very well result from their evil deed—on the ground that their covenant daughters might not marry the uncircumcised. What God meant by this law is that no believer might marry an unbeliever. The mere act of circumcision does not make one qualified to marry a believer. His circumcision must be an act of faith. And Jacob’s sons presented to Hamor the matter of a mere cutting away of flesh as a requirement for marriage in the covenant sphere.
These sons of Jacob also corrupted the whole idea of circumcision by demanding it of all the Shechemites. They had something far different in their minds and were speaking deceitfully. They used the things that are holy for their unholy purposes. And although it is true that they never intended to marry the daughters of the land, they left that impression, and proposed circumcision so that it could be realized.
Well may we ask in all this, “Where is Jacob?” He holds his peace until his sons know about the defilement of Dinah. He takes no action himself, and he lets his sons answer Hamor and Shechem. He also agreed to their corruption of the sacrament and that in this way there could be fellowship and intermarriage with these Canaanites. He put his sanction on such an outward conformity with the law, with keeping the mere letter of the law. A serious and momentous occasion was here. But God was not sought. His instruction was not coveted. And does Jacob recede into the background and keep silent because he realizes his sin in staying there in the land for ten years? He had nothing to do with the treachery and deceit of his sons, but is he silent in a feeling of guilt, or in a desire to stay here longer and enjoy life there in fellowship of the unbelievers?
Jacob had exposed his children to this very evil. He kept them where they could be influenced by the heathen. Just turn to Genesis 35:2 and read of Jacob telling his household to “put away the strange gods” that were among them. One cannot warn parents too often or too thoroughly about the dangers of exposing their children to the world, whether that be in the schools of the world, or the immorality and evil philosophies of the world’s books and television, programs. When, some years later, Israeli entered Canaan from Egypt under Joshua, God told them to break down every idol, and to destroy all the idol worshippers, lest it be a snare to their children. This command came from God and not from Joshua. It is not an idea of man that to expose your children to the world is dangerous. God warns us in all of Israel’s history that the world is full of temptations for our children, and that we must do all we can to keep our children from these, temptations and from falling in them. We may not see how close we can bring our children to them without getting burned!
It is not at all out of place today to warn parents of covenant children that they are too permissive as to where their children go, what they wear, and who they follow. Indeed, children will say—and we know that they do—”But everybody is doing it.” AND THEY MAY BE CORRECT, that even in the church they are doing it! Then the answer of the covenant parent must not be, “But you are not going to do it!” Such an answer ignores and denies the truth that they are dealing with covenant children in whom the Spirit of Christ dwells. You can rile your child, stir up his flesh and put his old man of sin on the defensive that way. But your calling is to address and approach your child in his new man in Christ. Your answer therefore must be a calm and yet definite, “But the God Who made you, and Whose law you are obliged to keep, forbids it and calls you to come out from among the world and to be a separate people.” We must not sell short the Spirit in our children any more than we must in the rest of the members in our church. All too often we think that we have to do it all; and the still small voice of the Spirit using the Word of God just does not seem to have the power that we think that we have ourselves for this awesome task of bringing up our children in the fear of God’s name.
Taking all this into consideration one can begin to understand the words of Jesus when He asked, “Shall the Son of man find faith on the earth?” And we begin to realize that if the days were not shortened the very elect would be deceived. For our children live and grow up in a far more dangerous world than did the children of the patriarchs in the old dispensation. There were places where parents could keep their children relatively safe from the world, at least to a far greater degree than we can. Our children come in contact with hundreds more children of the world than did Jacob’s children. The automobile, the places of work, the television and radio entrance into our homes, the easy access to the magazines of the world and to their filthy books all serve to expose our children to the world in those things that their flesh wants desperately. Gone are the days when father and mother had their children home with them on the farm, from which it was a long and time-consuming journey to go and meet other families and the youth of the world. Jesus saw all this coming, and this is part of His reason for asking whether when He comes again He would find faith in our children. But we had better beware lest we use all this as an excuse for not forbidding our children fellowship with the world. Work with them we must; and therefore it becomes so important that parents do warn their children about making friends in the world, and against seeking careers that are going to take them away from the church that holds to the truth, and from worshipping God on the Sabbath day. They must be taught to come out from among the unbelievers and be a separate people.
Jacob’s tarrying among the heathen not only occasioned the defilement of Dinah but also the murder committed by Simeon and Levi. And let it be remembered that these sins so often go hand in hand. Years later it is David who murders to cover up his adultery. And today many are the parents who do the same as Simeon and Levi. No, even though we used to hear of shotgun weddings, far more often is it today that parents of daughters (and strangely enough not of sons) have murder in their hearts, and even with the mouth declare, “I could kill him!” And this is true even when their daughters tempted these young men with their dress and ways, and the parents did nothing to stop their daughters from advertising themselves. Such hatred in these parents, and the hatred in Simeon and Levi does not spring forth from a love of God: It is not because God’s law is trampled under foot. It is not because God has been sinned against, but rather that they have been humiliated, they have been sinned against, and their pride has been hurt. All such reaction to sin is a sinful reaction that is as evilas the sin which they decry. It roots in love of self. It comes from family pride, not love of God and of His law.
Then there are those who do not react so violently but do say to their children (sons as well), “How could you do this to us?” Here too the question is not, “How could you do such a deed of hatred toward the living God?” And because they see it only as a sin against themselves, a breaking of their trust, a blow to the pride of the family name, they are in no position to handle the matter spiritually and to give good counsel to their children. Truly this business of being a covenant parent is an extremely difficult one. And blessed are those parents who when this sin enters their family are able to counsel their children and point them to the law of God first, and then to the cross of Christ which blots out also this sin, yea also these sins of fornication and murder.
But to return to the narrative, Simeon and Levi quite plainly consider fornication worse than lying and murder. And there is such a tendency in us to put sins in classes of bigger and smaller sins. And we, who lie and steal and murder in our hearts, take God’s name in vain and desecrate His Sabbath, in pride look down upon the fornicator as though we are above such things, while we fail to understand that every sin is an act of hatred against God, and fail to remember that the whole curse and death came into the world, not by a multitude of “big” sins, but by an apparently harmless deed of eating a piece of forbidden fruit. But it was hatred of God! And that is why the wages of every sin is death.
Let it be noted that Dinah is now living with Shechem, adding to the evil. For we read in Genesis 34:26, “And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house and went out.” Dinah was living in fornication and plainly loved Shechem the unbeliever. And the brothers accuse Shechem of dealing with Dinah as an harlot. How easy it is, to see sins of others and of other families and be blind to your own and those of your family. They see no sin in Dinah. They see no sin in cruel, cold-blooded murder and deceit. They do not even stop at the death of Shechem but “slew all the males” of the city! Perhaps you say, “These men were now circumcised. The condition had been fulfilled and Dinah could now be the wife of Shechem. It is not fornication for her to live with Shechem.” But understand well that the brothers themselves had made the arrangements for this unholy marriage. And they are guilty of the sin of Dinah. They must see their own sin before they cast the first stone. They must weep over the sin, not the loss of family pride. They must teach the Shechemites the truth, sound doctrine, and not a little outward practice of circumcision.
And Jacob? We would rather look away, for he makes such a pathetic picture in this whole incident. He who held his peace, and did not reprove Dinah, and he who approved of the marriage if only the external rite of circumcision was followed, now after that murder complains that his sons have troubled him and madehim stink among the inhabitants of the land. But Jacob, Does not the whole thing stink in the nostrils of God? That should concern you first of all. And Jacob, Does not your whole stay in that land and failure to heed God’s command and go to your kindred stink in the nostrils of the holy God?
Would to God that church fathers, leaders of the congregations, elders, ministers, professors of theology seeing the evils in their churches would smell the stink that God smells. And then not try to cover it all up—it will smell under the rug just as fiercely, and breed more putrifying foul matter—and find ways to keep it in the church, but remove it by radical surgery, if need be, so that the congregation is a delight to God. The seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2and Revelation 3 demand that. Let us not react to sin in a sinful way. That stinks in God’s nostrils, and it should stink also in ours.