God's Creative Call

Monday, February 06, 2006

Jacob in Exile: God's Mercy & Justice

Lesson 16
Jacob in Exile: God's Mercy & Justice
Genesis 27:41 - 30:24

GROUP DISCUSSION. Describe a family you know with stress and division dividing parents and children.

A friend whose husband has had multiple marriages. He has children with his wives and then leaves them for other women.

PERSONAL REFLECTION. How could you help a friend caught in a difficult family situation?

Listen to them. Help them when I can. Spend time together and support her efforts to reconcile or her choice to leave the marriage.

1. When Rebekah hears of Esau's plan to kill Jacob, what strategy does she come up with, and how does she persuade Jacob and Isaac to carry it out (27:41-46)?

Rebekah told Jacob to flee to her brother Laban in Haran. She told Isaac that the reason she sent Jacob there was to find a wife.

2. In what specific ways would Isaac's instructions encourage Jacob as he leaves home and sets out on his long journey (28:1-5)?

Isaac encouraged Jacob to find a wife from Laban's family. He also asked God's blessing upon him to make him fruitful and that God would give him and his decendants the blessing given to Abrahm to take possession of the land.

3. In 28:6-9 what effect does Isaac's action have on Esau?

Esau learned that he had displeased his father by marrying Canaanite women, so he hoped that also marrying two women from Ishmael's family would please Isaac.

4. Read Genesis 28:10-22. Describe what happens to Jacob on his first night away from home (28:16-22)?

He had a dream that reiterated his father Isaac's blessing upon him. After having a dream, Jacob surmised that the LORD was in this place.

5. From Jacob's response to the dream, what clue do we get about his relationship to God at this point (28:16-22)?

His words indicated that he treated God more like a servant who would perform for him rather than genuine worship and respect for the LORD. He appeared to be bargaining with God with the attitude that, "Because you have blessed me, I will follow you." It isn't clear whether or not he was bargaining or pledging his future to God.

6. A past sin or disobedience to God can leave us with a burden of guilt and aq sense of failure. How can Jacob's experience renew our confidence in God's grace?

Jacob was going have some difficult lessons to learn throughout his journey in life. We learn that sometimes past sin can haunt us later in life, but God's mercy shines through despite our past sin.

7. Read Genesis 29. What impresses you about Jacob's initial actions and reception in the account of his arrival in Paddan Aram (29:1-14)?

He asked if Laban was well. Jacob saw Rachel and rolled the stone away so that she could water the sheep. This story was similar to when Isaac first spotted Rebekah. Each time, the first woman they saw was the one they were (or wanted to) marry.

8. In what way does Laban's trickery repay Jacob for deceiving his father (29:15-24)?

After working for 7 years, Laban told Jacob that he first needed to marry Leah before he could have Rachel. He then had to work an additional 7 years. Deception has its consequences, and Jacob learned that what goes around often comes around!

9. How is this situation resolved (29:29-30)?

Jacob had to have a bridal week with Leah, then Rachel was given to him in marriage although he had to continue to work for Laban for another 7 years.

10. What do we learn about Leah from the names she gives her sons (29:31-35)?

Rueben sounds like the Hebrew for he has seen my misery, the name means see, as son. Simeon probably means one who hears. Levi sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for attached. Judah sounds like and may be derived from the Hebrew for praise. Dan here means he has vindicated. Naphtali means my struggle. Or "A troop is coming!" Gad can mean good fortune or a troop.

In OT times, parents often gave names that reflected the situation at the time of birth.

11. Read Genesis 30:1-24. How would you describe the relationship between the two sisters?

Rachel was jealous that Leah was bearing all of these children and Rachel was barren. She told Jacob that she will die if she doesn't have children. The sisters were in rivalry all along.

12. How does this traumatic triangle work its hardship on each person involved?

Both wives gave their maidservants to Jacob as concubines. Even though this custom was acceptable during this day, it wasn't right or wise in God's eyes. People could be spared much heartbreak if they only looked ahead at the potential consequences of their actions. This happens all the time in this day and age. Some people do not even give it a second thought. They marry, commit adultery with others and then divorce like it doesn't matter that they had previously made a commitment to the spouse.

13. Spiritual maturity often comes through suffering. IN what difficult situations fo you see God now working to strengthen your faith and character?

I realize that people I love often have to go through a time of suffering and I have to rely on God to work it out in their lives. This strengthens my faith because it is not through my own effort that those who I'm praying for reach their own individual spiritual maturity. I can only help them along by recalling to their minds God's good and perfect will in the midst of the consequences they are facing due to a current or past sin. I can comfort them by letting them know that God works through our suffering for our good.

Looking back over your life, in what ways have you experienced growth and deepening of your relationship with God?

It is easy to know that God is there when things are going well, but having faith and trust in Him to work out the times of suffering and consequences that I had experienced through past sins can be difficult to do. However, looking back on these experiences shows me that I would not have gained the spiritual maturity level that I currently have. I now know that one never "arrives" when it comes to spiritual maturity. It is a lifelong process of sanctification that increases it, but knowing how much more there is to learn by studying God's Word shows me that I cannot be prideful in all that I have learned. There is always so much more to learn! Even after 15 years of study, God isn't finished with teaching me yet...or ever!


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