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45. Go Up to Bethel

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And Dinah, the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her (Genesis 34:1~2)

We May Know the Road’s Exact Width

I have a younger cousin who lives in Hiroshima, Japan. He used to be a race car driver. Now that he is older and retired, he now works as a civil engineer. He makes bridges, tunnels, and roads in his city. I once visited his house and he told me, “Cousin, I built this bridge. I build this road. I built this tunnel.” Roads in Hiroshima are very rugged with many rocks. He said that he had built most of the roads in the area. We talked about many things in the car, and I asked him, “Hey, it seems that it was terribly difficult to dig these tunnels. Wasn’t it hard?” He answered that it was not hard at all. I then asked what was hard and he told me that in Japan receiving the completion approval for the road was the most difficult. He told me that even a one centimeter error in the width of the road is unacceptable.

The roads in Japan are very straight and clean, and I thought, “This is so because of the inspectors.” If a person who builds roads thinks, “This is probably good enough,” he will be in big trouble. Unless he follows the standards, he has to fix all that he has already built. My cousin told me about how extremely difficult that was. The world we see with our eyes can easily be understood this way. We can easily tell whether a road is one centimeter too wide or too narrow by simply inspecting it. However, it is difficult to pinpoint such things in the world of the heart. As a result, many people in spiritual life think, “If I do this much it means I have good faith in God. I am better than Deacon Kim. I diligently gave tithes and attended early morning services amidst difficulties. If I am doing this much it means my spiritual life is going well.”

Why Is He Having Me Suffer Such Hardship?

All of a sudden, a terrible problem arises in Jacob’s life in Genesis chapter 34. His daughter was raped and taken captive by the son of the chief of that area while she was out enjoying herself. They had too many men for Jacob to fight them and he was at a loss of what to do. When we read of this in the Bible we think, “Jacob believes in God. Why is God allowing Jacob to suffer this kind of hardship?” Jacob’s loving daughter being raped by the son of the chief of the Shechem tribe tore Jacob’s heart apart and made him bitter.

But when we read the Bible, we can feel that Jacob’s thoughts were different from God’s. For 20 years Jacob herded his uncle, Laban’s, flock in Padan-adam and was very tired and exhausted. He then left Padan-aram without his uncle’s knowledge to return to the land of Canaan, but Laban later found out and pursued Jacob. However, God appeared to Laban in a dream telling him to not speak good or evil to Jacob, and Laban went away without striking Jacob. Afterwards, Jacob’s older brother, Esau, brought 400 men with him when Jacob was near Canaan. Jacob was greatly afraid, but he was very happy when his brother treated him kindly. Jacob had to go to Canaan after Esau departed from him, but when he arrived at the land of Succoth, Jacob had the heart to remain there because the land was vast and good.

And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, when he came from Padan-aram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for an hundred pieces of money. And he erected there an altar, and called it El-Elohe-Israel. (Genesis 33:18-20)