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Greg Brothers is an Adventist pastor in Oregon.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Jacob his family (part one)

Children are a blessing from the Lord . . .

Except, of course, when they’re not.

And right there, you have the “elephant in the living room” of this week’s lesson – the big, big problem that nobody wants to talk about.

Most of the people in your class, after all, are pretty much done with raising kids. That doesn’t mean they don’t worry about them – they do. But when it comes to making an actual difference in the choices their children make . . . well, that pretty much came to an end somewhere around adolescence.

Now the good news is that most children turn out fine – and if you can spend some time reassuring your class of that fact, then you’re halfway home.

But just about every child puts their parents through some anxious moments – and it can be years before some children finally “straighten up and fly right.” In fact, some parents will go to their graves never knowing if and when their children finally pulled it together . . .

Which brings us to the subject of this week’s lesson: Jacob and Esau.

Genesis 25:19-28
How would you describe Jacob and Esau? How did they get along with their parents . . . and what does this suggest about their parent’s relationship with each other? How should Isaac and Rebekah have dealt with this situation?

Genesis 25:29-24
As the eldest son, Esau had the “birthright,” i.e. he was to inherit twice as much as Jacob. But Isaac would not die for years . . . and Esau was hungry right now! What does his choice tell you about Esau? Whom do you blame most for this incident: Esau or Jacob? How should Isaac and Rebekah have dealt with this situation?

Genesis 26:34
Esau gets married – twice! – and his choice of wives is “a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekkah.” Why do you think they were grieved? What are some of the ways that a child’s marriage can help (or hurt) that child’s relationship with their parents?

Genesis 27:1-13
Isaac is willing to bless Esau (without his wife’s consent); Rebekah is willing to trick Isaac (and risk her husband’s curse). What has brought their marriage to this point?

Genesis 27:14-29
Notice what Rebekah does to trick her husband; how much is she to blame for what happens, and how much is the fault of Jacob? What does Isaac’s blessings tell you about his feelings toward Jacob? How much is he to blame for what happened?

Genesis 27:30-40
What is Esau’s response to Jacob’s trick? What is Isaac’s response? Does Isaac’s blessing promise peace between the two brothers, or continued strife?

Genesis 27:41-28:9
Notice how everybody tries to “patch up everything” in these verses. What does Esau plan for his brother – and what is Rebekah’s response? How honest is she with Isaac? What blessing does Isaac give Jacob – and how does his blessing differ from the blessing that had been tricked out of him? How does Esau respond to all this . . . and how successful do you think he was in making things right with his parents viz. his wives?

General reflection
How would you sum up the character of each individual in this story – of Esau, Jacob, Rebekah, and Isaac? Whom do you blame the most for what happened? NOTE: Rebekah never saw Jacob again; she died before he returned from the house of Laban. Why is that especially sad . . . and what does this suggest about the way we treat our families today?

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