Community Group Study “Genesis: Fighting for Blessing”
Read Genesis 27:1-45
When we first met Jacob and Esau we saw the seeds of a divided family being sown. Each parent had picked out their favorite kid (Genesis 25:28) and these brothers were not only opposites, but against each other (Genesis 25:22-23). This only grew worse over the course of their lives. Esau showed himself to be strong, but ruled by the moment; so after coming home from an unsuccessful hunt he gave in to his hunger and sold his birthright to his opportunistic and deceitful brother for a bowl of soup. This birthright is tied in to the family blessing that God had given Abraham back in Genesis 12. Esau sold it because despised his birthright and his place in the family; he soon after married outside the family of God and essentially disqualified himself from being the child of the promise. This means that Jacob will be the child to inherit the blessing, but how will he get it? Will he receive it first as a gift from God or will he work for it or try to steal it?
Our current culture thinks of blessing primarily in material and physical things. When we think of a family blessing or inheritance we focus on physical things being passed down from parents to kids after the parents pass away. Often there is an inheritance like a house, money or family possessions. However, in the ancient world, they valued this idea of a family blessing or promise. This blessing was a set a spoken words that declared your hopes for your future heir (the person who’d carry on the family name) and it typically went to the oldest son. Isaac passed on the blessing to Jacob (who deceived his father) and Jacob will pass on the blessing to all of his children. As readers, we know that Esau sold his birthright and therefore his place as the oldest son. God does not approve of the lying and cheating that Jacob uses to claim the blessing, but we will see God use Jacob’s sin to bring forth his plan that Jacob would be blessed and have the family name carry on through him and not Esau.
The plan is simple. Isaac is old and blind and feels like he is near the end of life and wants to pass on the blessing to Esau. Rebekah overheard Isaac telling Esau to go hunt and prepare food that he loves. While Esau is gone, Rebekah dressed up Jacob in Esau’s clothing, prepared a meal using two goats in their flock and sent Jacob into receive the blessing dressed up in goat skin so he can be hairy like his brother Esau. Throughout the conversation with Isaac we get a sense that Isaac knows something is not right. He asked Jacob multiple times “who are you?” This question becomes a marking place in Jacob’s life. He is dressed up like his brother, wearing the skins of a dead goat and claimed his brother’s name. We could normally overlook this as just a detail in the story, but we know that Jacob was not loved by his father and that he lived in the shadow of his brother Esau. Could there be more to this question of “who are you?” Also, God brings this question back around to Jacob near the end of his story in Genesis 32:27. Jacob wrestles the God-man and pins him down… and what does he ask for? He asks for a blessing and in response the God-man asks “what is your name?” Jacob’s wrestling and struggle is for something greater than just physical stuff; he is fighting for a name. The desire of Jacob’s heart is to get that place in the family that would give him value, purpose and blessing.
As the story unfolds we see that Jacob will lie, cheat and steal something that God delights to give (see Genesis 28 and how God passes on the blessing to him). There is a tendency and pressure to make a name for yourself and to carve out purpose and meaning. We think of it as a modern phenomenon, but here it is thousands of years ago in the Bible. Jacob will get what he desired, but at the end of the passage he is left without his family and on the run for his life (Genesis 27:41-45). Often, the thing you think that will complete your life is the thing that leaves you feeling empty and wanting more. God will use these events to put Jacob onto the road to humility and dependence in him… because every success Jacob has comes with also be met by failure and God lovingly uses this failure to humble Jacob and reveal Jacob’s need for the Lord.
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 27:1-4 What is Isaac’s plan? Why is he doing this in secret?
Describe Issac here. Does he seem helpless? Strong? Concerned? Anxious? etc. Read Genesis 27:5-13. How does Rebekah’s character seem in this passage? How does the family seem divided and dysfunctional?
Read Hebrews 12:16-17, how is Esau unfit to receive the blessing of Abraham (how does this help us see why God would pass over Esau and give the blessing to Jacob)? How are these obstacles different than the sin, fear and weakness we saw in Abraham’s life?
Read Genesis 27:18-26. Jacob comes in dressed as Esau and claiming Esau’s name. Are there times when Isaac doubts that it is really Esau? Why does Isaac go through with blessing Jacob and not Esau?
How does Jacob’s ambition and quest for blessing seem similar to our modern day world?
Read Genesis 27:41-45. What can we learn from the way this story ends? Notice that Jacob receives the blessing but experiences the loss of family and safety as he runs for his life. How does that show us God’s feelings about Jacob’s deceit and what God is doing in the heart of Jacob?