Jacob consented to the sacking of Shechem by his silence, and allowed his sons to bring home the women, children, livestock and treasures of the city. To his credit, however, when God confronted him, he took measures to remove the foreign influence from his camp.
Genesis 35:4 So they gave to Jacob all the foreign gods that they had, and the rings that were in their ears. Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree that was near Shechem.
Not only did Jacob remove the foreign gods and their influence from the camp, but he hid them in the ground … he buried them. He could have “removed” the idols by selling them. He could have sought to make a profit off of those things they should not have had in the first place. But he didn’t. The Apostle Paul talked about eating meat that was sacrificed to idols, saying if it could cause another to stumble, don’t do it (1 Corinthians 8). In Matthew 18, Jesus warned about stumbling others in very severe terms (a millstone necklace does not make for pleasant swimming).
If you are getting rid of leaven, my counsel is not to sell it or give it to someone else. Just get rid of it … because you don’t want to stumble others. What about computers or Ipods or things that can be used to view things or listen to things that might stumble someone? Well, they don’t have to be used for that. They can be used for good things. A pornographic magazine, on the other hand, should be destroyed to render it unavailable to the desires of others. Get rid of it … I mean really get rid of it. Don’t think that if you box it up, tape it up and wrap it in locks and chains you will be able to keep it without sinning because the day will come when you will open the box. Get rid of it.
The Terebinth tree, also referred to as Oak in some translations (or Pistacia) is an imposing tree, often around 35 feet tall, with large, spread out branches and a deep root system. It is a strong and sturdy tree and may remain for countless years. The Terebinth is not typically found in groves, but usually stands solitary has been used for thousands of years as locational markers and also as grave markers. So, Jacob, by discarding these items under the Terebinth tree, is declaring them dead and leaving them behind. That’s where idols belong, because that’s what they are. They are dead … lifeless and those who worship them become like them.
Psalm 135:15–18 The idols of the nations are silver and gold, The work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak; Eyes they have, but they do not see; They have ears, but they do not hear; Nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them are like them; So is everyone who trusts in them.
In 2009, the average North American viewed 151 hours of television a month, up from 140 hours in 2008. I’ve known people who worship television. They are always in front of one. They eat, sleep, speak, read and breathe television. Have they become like their idol? Well, consider that most televisions just sit in place and never really accomplish much of anything. Yeah, they are like them. This morning God might be saying to you, “Remove the foreign gods from your camp.” What do you need to declare dead? What do you need to remove from your house?