Suggested Reading: Genesis 24-36
Isaac and Rebekah marry
Birth of Jacob and Esau
Jacob's life and children
Day 1: Genesis 24
Last week we looked at a few names of God, one being El Elyon, God Most High. We learned that God is the “sovereign ruler of the universe.” And as we read the story of Isaac, Rebekah and their sons, we will see this characteristic of God displayed mightily. As you read thru Genesis 24 watch how God's mighty hand orchestrates the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah. Read Genesis 24, and then reflect on how knowing God as El Elyon and seeing His power at work in this story, can bring you hope in your life.
What are you holding on to that you need to trust God to take care of in the way He best sees fit?
What truths can you cling to when you are tempted to take this situation back under your control?
What Scripture can you memorize or put in front of you to bring you hope when you feel hopeless about this situation?
Day 2: Genesis 25-27:40
These chapters are full of deceit, lies, betrayal and DRAMA! It is in these chapters that we meet Isaac's twin boys Esau and Jacob. Read Genesis 25:1-26 and answer the following questions.
What were the two boys names? Why were those names chosen for them? And what do their names mean?
Who was the older of the two boys? And who should have received the birthright and the blessing as an adult?
What does God tell Rebekah about her two sons before they are born? (v25)
Continue reading Genesis 25:27-27:40
Make a list of the events that happen in this passage.
As you are listing the events, write down what you learn about the characters of Esau and Jacob. Also note how each of them lives up to the name he has been given.
Describe the relationship between the two brothers at the end of the passage.
Does knowing what God told Rebekah before the boys were born change your perspective as you read this passage?
How do you see God living out this name as God Most High?
Day 3: Genesis 27:41-29:14a
As I finish reading Genesis 27:40 and transition into today's passage I have a million thoughts that run thru my mind. Read the passage (and refresh yourself on yesterdays happenings to set the scene), and then join me for a few discussion questions.
Jacob has just deceitfully taken Esau's birthright and blessing. He should be on top of the world. He got everything his heart desired, right? So how does he celebrate? By running away. As I read this story I couldn't help reflect on my own life. How often have I had a desire or goal in mind and I've pursued with every ability I have, but not according to God's will, and then when I achieve the goal, I'm left empty? It didn't satisfy like I thought it would.
My husband and I had a garage sale this weekend, and after we had been open for and hour or so, he told me how much he was learning personally thru this process. He told me that watching his “stuff” be bartered over and sold on the driveway was changing the way he felt about his “stuff.” He shared with me how this process will make him stop and think when he's shopping in the future. He said it would help him discern more between what he needs and what he wants, and to realize that in the end whatever it is that we want so badly right now will someday end up in a garage sale or on craigslist for a fraction of what it's original value was. It was a rare moment of learning that what we want in this life rarely satisfies because we are designed to long for heaven. This is an example of something material that we invest our money in, but there are so many examples of things or people that I have invest my time and my heart into that have left me feeling empty. I've tried to achieve status on my own, and been left feeling robbed in the end. I think this is probably how Jacob felt as he fled to Laban's home.
What have you striven for in this life that when you achieved it or purchased it, it wasn't as fulfilling as you imagined?
How can you use this story and your own experience to influence your mindset from this day forward?
Is there anything you are striving for today that you need to reprioritize? Is there anything that you need to lay down at the feet of God Most High?
Day 4: Genesis 29:14b-30:24
Now we get to the real drama of this story! We have a romance, Jacob works seven years for Rachel. Then we have deceit, Laban gives Jacob Leah. And then we have more romance, Jacob also marries Rachel. And finally, Bride Wars has nothing on this family when it comes to the Baby War at the end of this passage.
As you read this passage notice the four main characters and answer the following questions.
Who are the four main characters? What do you learn about these four as individuals (physically, emotionally, spiritually, socially)?
What is ironic about Jacob's first marriage? (Think of his past and the meaning of his name.)
Now, let's look at the birth of Jacob's first 11 sons. Read thru the passage and make a note of each of Jacob's son's.
1. Who is the mom?
2. What is the son's name?
3. Why does the mom choose that name?
4. What does the name mean or sound like? (if you have footnotes)
After you make this list, what do you realize about these women from the names that they named their sons?
As I was making this list I found it interesting that only one of the sons was named “I will praise the Lord.” I also noticed that even though some of the sons names mentioned God in them, the theology or motivation behind the name was off base. As I looked over the list of names what I saw was desperation. Each woman was using whatever means she had to gain the love of a man. And they were never satisfied. These children were a means to an end. Each woman was so insecure in her marriage that she felt she had to secure Jacob's love. Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever been desperate to win the love of a man, woman, a child, a friend or even a dream? Have you ever felt like you always had to do a little more and if you could give a little more THEN that person would love you? It is an unending battle that we just can't win. We often become like Rachel and Leah and become so preoccupied with what we can do to win someone's heart or attention, that we neglect the ones who already love us. And often we lose sight of the ONE who loves us more than anyone ever could. I am reminded today to keep the main thing the main thing. As I become secure in my identity in Jesus Christ, I can have the freedom to love others in a way that honors them and doesn't require their love in return. I'm not suggesting that we become doormats or allow others to take advantage of us, but finding you identity in Jesus gives you the ability to love freely knowing you are always loved. It takes pressure off of others to meet a need in you that they weren't created to meet. It will allow you to enjoy your relationships more focusing on what you have rather than what you are lacking. Today take time to refocus. Evaluate where you are seeking love and affection and success. Where does Jesus fit in to all of this? If the dream that you are striving to achieve comes true, will your life be more meaningful? Will you have a bigger impact on the Kingdom? Or will you have a dream come true that leaves you wanting more? I pray you will align your desires with the desires of your Savior! His love will fulfill and sustain like nothing else! Praise the Lord for sending Jesus to die for us demonstrating the greatest love we can ever know!
Day 5: Genesis 29:14b-36:43
Although we are reading more today, we are going to focus in on a few specifics. In Day 2 we met Jacob and Esau and we spent some time looking at their characters as young adults. Today we are going to look at who they are 20 years later. We have followed Jacob's story over the past couple days readings, but we haven't heard anything about Esau since Jacob left. So here we are twenty years later. Read today's passage and as you read write down everything you learn about who Esau and Jacob have become over the past twenty years.
As you read did you notice the spritiual growth that happened in Jacob's heart? When he was sitting with Isaac deceiving him to get Esau's blessing, he refers to God and “the Lord your God” (Gen. 27:20) And even lies to Isaac saying God blessed him to earn his father's blessing. At this point in Jacob's life he has not encountered God as God Most High, the one who gives and takes away. He thinks he has to earn everything thru deceit and lies. Now 20 years later we see how much God has taught Jacob about who is really the One who provides more than we could ever need. Read Genesis 32:1-21 & 33:1-20 again and write down specific phases that reveal the new understanding Jacob has toward God.
Jacob's understanding of who God is:
As you think about what Jacob has encountered over the past 20 years, what events do you think shaped this attitude in his heart?
As you look over Genesis 33 what does Esau have to say about who God is?
That's right, nothing! We see the stark contrast between Jacob and Esau in chapter 33. Jacob realizes all that he has God has given him, and Esau never even mentions God. Esau has continued on the trail of seeking personal gain on his own, and Jacob has humbled himself and been obedient, and God has blessed him.
What thoughts or questions come to mind as you compare these two men to each other and to who they were as young men?
Who do you most relate to in your attitude about who provides in your life? Esau or Jacob?
As I wrap up today, I have to take time to reflect on the condition of my own heart. I am inspired by the growth that takes place in Jacob's heart over these twenty years. And I ask myself, “what growth have I seen in my heart over the past 10 years? Five years? One year? One month? Am I continually looking more like Jesus?” When was the last time you asked yourself these very real questions?
I also have to ask how much I believe with Jacob, that God is the giver of all of our needs (and beyond). If I truly believe this I will act accordingly. I will trust His provision. I will trust Him to provide for all of my needs even when I don't know how He is going to do it. I can give Him the praise and the glory for all that I have knowing it all came from Him. I can also relax in life, and only be obedient to His calling knowing that I work for Him. How much stress does it relieve to know that He is the one who will allow me to be promoted or not. Knowing that I am responsible for being obedient and God is responsible for the consequences is a great freedom I have found in my own life. I pray today that you take time to be honest with yourself and with God as to who really is God Most High and the Lord who Provides in your life. Do you truly believe that it is God? Spend sometime talking to God about this today. And I'll see you back here next week as we look at the life of Joseph!