Athlete, Let's Talk About Fresh Starts

*This series was written by the AIA staff team at the University of Virginia

Read Genesis 35-36

The account of Esau/Edom speeds forward several generations, while the account of Jacob/Israel's family is really just beginning. The only narrative in the account of Esau describes his move out of the land of Canaan, out of the land of God's covenant blessing (36:6-8). Israel, on the other hand, receives a fresh start in the promised land after the horror of his family's experience in Shechem (34).

Two words about Israel's fresh start. First, fresh starts begin with remembering. Building the altar at Bethel, Jacob remembers how God had graciously worked in his life (35:6-9). Then God reminds Jacob of the promises of grace to his fathers and assures him that he stands in those promises (35:10-13). It is a worshipful remembrance (35:14). Second, fresh starts entail throwing off the sin that entangles us and putting on a new identity. We see this  in 35:2-5 as Jacob commands his family to throw away their gods and put on new clothing. This new clothing is symbolic of the new identity that believers, including Jacob, have in Christ. We are clothed in his righteousness and are no longer defined by sin and death but by the righteousness and love of Christ.

Questions for Reflection & Prayer

1. Remember how God has worked in your life. Have you ever written out a detailed account of the significant markers in your journey, before and after you came to faith?  This is an extremely helpful exercise for your own relationship with God and for your ability to speak to others about your relationship with God.  

2. What do you need to "throw away" in your life?  Ask God to help you.  

3. Do you know and remember today that Christ is your life, purely by God's grace and not as a result of anything you have earned?  Do you know that, through your union with Christ by faith, you are not defined by past sins from earlier today or ten years ago, but by Jesus' perfect life and love?

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