Blog Logo

How Jacob Became Israel

I’m using the simple S.O.A.P. method for studying God’s word and wanted to share an example here. In short, I read scripture until a particular verse jumps out at me, then I write that verse down. S is for scripture. O is for observation. A is for application. and P is for prayer. This simple method for daily devotions has worked for me for several years now. Here is my devotion from today. 


Genesis 35:5 Reads, “Then they set out and the terror of God fell on the towns all around them so that no one pursued them.”

In the preceding verses, God spoke to Jacob and told him to take his family up to Bethel to build and altar and settle there. Then, in an act of purification and dedication…and good leadership, Jacob commanded everyone to get rid of their idols. Then the text tells us they gave all of their idols and earrings to Jacob and he buried them “under the oak at Shechem.” (vs. 4) These were valuable items (at least in their eyes) that the people gave up. 

Verse five jumped out at me because it shows how God works in powerful and surprising ways when His people obey him. God worked mysteriously to provide safe travel for Jacob’s family. But that wasn’t it. The main event of this passage was still to come. Once Jacob followed through with full obedience and relocated to Bethel and built an altar there (vs. 7), God changed his name to Israel and confirmed the covenant he had made with Jacob’s father and grandfather (Abraham and Isaac) giving Israel (the person and the nation) the title deed to the land and all the other future blessings of the covenant.


• God responded to their act of purity, humility, submission, and dedication.

• Obedience ALWAYS shows up in concrete action.

• Obedience leads to the honor of seeing God move in powerful and unexpected ways.

• Obedience leads to protection from self-desctructive habits, and leads to future blessing.

• Leaders can make a big difference by casting an effective vision and making a bold “ask”.

• A leader’s obedience effects generations to come.


• We need to simply trust and obey. God’s track record is flawless.

• What do we want more — creature comforts and a false sense of man-centered security — or the privilege of being part of God moving in powerful ways?

• Think of what Jacob and his family would have missed if they didn’t obey.

• God is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Think of what we miss if we don’t obey God’s calling.

• Our fears and sense of loss when leaving things behind are merely the enemy’s smoke screen to keep us from God’s best. Whatever we give up is ALWAYS replaced by something much better.

• Fall in love with obedience. It ALWAYS leads to future blessing.

PRAYER (Pray this for yourself and/or insert your own personal prayer)

Lord, help me obey in radical ways. I want to be part of your giant story. I want to see you move powerfully. Help me accomplish the hard task of obedience today — so I can bless you and anchor my heart and soul to future blessings.

Dim the appeal of instant gratification in the blinding light of future blessings which will never fade or disappoint. Amen.

Get free monthly resources to help you learn and teach Bible prophecy and Eschatology!