Community Group Study “Genesis: You’re a Mess, How The Jacob Story Shows us God’s Grace”
Read Genesis 25:1-34
The baton passes from Abraham to Isaac. God’s promise and blessing to make a people for himself, give them a place and to use them as a blessing to the world will shift now to Isaac and then to Jacob. Our scripture text opens up with Abraham’s passing, at a good old age, full of days. The promise of God will move now to Isaac and his family and as it does we are immediately confronted with a conflict entering the story. Isaac and Rebekah experience infertility and they get more than the bargained for when God answers their prayer. They get twins! More than that, they get twins who can’t stand each other. They fight in her womb causing her to cry out to God in pain and distress. The twins fight at their birth as the younger comes out clutching on the heel of the older brother. And, they experience conflict and rivalry later on in the story as Jacob tricks his older brother out of his place as first born in the family. God reveals to them that these two brothers will be come two nations and will be divided. Thus begins a story of sibling rivalry and conflict.
These events are also influenced by Jacob and Esau’s family life. Isaac and Rebekah show great faith as they turn to God in prayer, but they make some big mistakes in how they treat their kids. Isaac shows conditional love to his son Esau, loving him for what he can gain from him. Rebekah and Isaac each pick out a favorite child. Finally, the personality of the kids were complete opposites of each other creating rivalry and tension. Esau is shown to be impulsive and a man ruled by his passions. Jacob, growing up in the shadow of his older brother, strives to achieve and gain and is willing to deceive to get it. Jacob seems to have been plotting how he could steal his brother’s birthright and one day he comes home hungry from an unsuccessful hunt and Jacob strikes with his plan. Esau doesn’t appreciate the gift he has been given by God as the first born and Jacob takes advantage of Esau’s impulsivity and tricks his brother out of his inheritance and blessing.
When we look at Jacob’s life we see it is defined by trying to achieve his identity and get ahead with whatever it takes. We wonder, how could God choose this guy? How could God show his love and grace to a guy who’d cheat you out of your house if he could? We learn the nature of God’s grace and how the Christian life is not one achieving our identity but receiving our identity as sons and daughters of God through faith in Jesus. This is the first of a series of messages that will focus on Jacob and how God takes him through an intense spiritual journey, reveals to him the fruitlessness of his selfish striving and humbles him to a place of dependence and trust. God can take you on a similar journey, in fact if you see you need for him it means that at some point you saw that you were a mess and needed his help.
At your community group:
Take 15-20 minutes to share about how God has been at work in your life, prayer concerns and pray for one another.
How did God speak to you through the scripture and the sermon this week?
Read Genesis 25:19-34. How does this passage pass on the focus to Isaac? What struggles do Isaac and Rebekah face early on in the story and how do they respond?
What mistakes do Rebekah and Isaac make in their parenting? How could this contribute to the conflict and rivalry Jacob and Esau experience.
Summarize the personalities of Esau and Jacob. What are the big flaws in their lives and how does that play out in the story?
Read Genesis 25:29-32. We saw Esau trade his birthright for temporary relief from hunger. We see that he did not treasure the gift that God had given him and in a moment of discomfort trades it away. How does discomfort and living in the moment tempt us to sin?
Read John 1:12-13 and 1 Corinthians 1:26-31. How do these passages relate to the Jacob story and speak to who we are in Christ?
How do we strive to achieve a sense of self and worth in our world today? Why is God’s grace a “received identity” and not one we can “achieve”?