God's Creative Call

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Jacob's Compromise & Commitment: The Cost of Discipleship

Genesis 34-36

In our Christian life both compromise and commitment can be costly. When we falter, the consequences take their toll on us personally and often on our family and friends. Nevertheless, God graciously calles us to repentance and renewed commitment.

GROUP DISCUSSION. Share a situation in which your compromise of a principle produced unfortunate results for others as well as yourself.

PERSONAL REFLECTION. Trace a way that God has enabled you to cope with the consequences of a compromise and continue on the right path.

Read Genesis 34.

1. What is Shechem's attitude toward Dinah, and how does his father try to compensate for the wrong done to her (34:1-12)?

Shechem raped Dinah which is impulsive and evil. It is lust not love. His father tries to convince Jacob to let Shechem marry Dinah. Hamor thought he was being generous by stating that their families can intermarry. He also offered land to Jacob's family members.

2. How do you respond to the reaction of Jacob's sons and the measures they take for revenge (34:8-29)?

Because the sons believed that their family was 'set apart by God', they didn't want to intermarry with the pagans there. Taking matters into their own hands led to sin and bloodshed.

3. What does Jacob's response to this tragedy show about the public consequences of a private action?

Private sexual sin can lead to devastating consequences. Pain deceit and murder followed as a result. The desire for justice should have been left up to God. We are not to return evil for evil as these men did.

4. Read Genesis 35:1-15. What were God's instructions to Jacob, and what was the cost of carrying them out (35:1-7)?

He was to build an altar to God and destroy the idol gods that the Israelites still clung to in their homes.

5. What "foreign god" in your life might be taking the place of God?

When I see some of my friends gorgeous houses where everything is new and perfect and, I find myself wanting the same for my family.

6. What specific step of obedience do you need to take along the path of discipleship?

Not focus on material things!

7. What specific promises does God affirm to Jacob and his descendants (35:8-15)?

a. Fruitful and increase in number. b. Nation and community of nations come from him. c. The land of Abraham and Isaac given to him. d. Land for descendants, too.

8. Read Genesis 35:16-29. Describe the new griefs that now come into Jacob's life.

Rachel had trouble in childbirth and she died. Rueben slept with his father's concubine Bilhah. Isaac died.

9. What does changing his child's name from "son of my trouble" to Benjamin, "son of my right hand," tell us about Jacob's attitude toward his youngest son?

He wanted to raise him right and named him according to better expectations for his character.

10. How can we, like Jacob, transform the pain of losing someone we love into courage for the future?

We are to stay close to God despite the pain, suffering and losses we experience here on earth. Our hope is not of this world anyway, it is in our Father's Kingdom. We do all we can despite the problems and difficulties and see them as opportunities for growth.

11. What final picture do we have of Isaac and his sons in 35:27-29?

Esau and Jacob were the ones who came back when he was dying and then buried him.

12. What is the most significant lesson you have learned from the lives of these two brothers, Jacob and Esau?

Even if a brother relationship was bitter and angry at one time, reconciliation can happen in later years.

Now or Later
Looking back over the life of Jacob, trace the ways in which the consequences of his actions and God's gracious intervention shaped his character to make him a man of faith.


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