SMALL GROUP CURRICULUM (Download PDF)
Spend the week studying Genesis 25:19-34; 32:1-21; 33:1-9. Consult the commentary provided and any additional study tools to enhance your preparation.
Determine which discussion points and questions will work best with your group.
Pray for our pastors and this week’s message, the upcoming group time, your group members, and their receptivity to God’s Word.
Focus on the Main Point. Though we may have people in our past who have hurt and deceived us, we can always trust God with our hurt and with our future.
What is your favorite part of the Thanksgiving holiday?
Who is one friend or an extended family member you are looking forward to seeing this holiday season? Why are you so excited to see him or her?
Without naming names, do you have any family members who are EGR (extra grace required)? If you will see them, what do you anticipate that time being like?
Coming up on the holidays means spending time with loved ones, as well as friends or family members who require an extra dose of grace. If there are black sheep in your family, you are in good company—Jesus’ family line was full of them. In Matthew 1:1-17, Matthew records Jesus’ heritage and it is one that includes sinners, adulterers, liars, murderers, idol worshipers, and prostitutes, hardly the type of heritage we would expect to see from the righteous and good Savior of the world. Over the next series we are going to take a look at Jesus’ family tree and let His ancestors guide our time together. First is the original slim shady: Jacob.
Select 3-5 questions to discuss as a group.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ GENESIS 25:19-34.
Who were Jacob and Esau? What prophecy was made about them?
Jacob infamously cheated Esau out of his birthright. When has someone taken something important from you, whether it be an opportunity or something more substantial? How do we maintain our trust in God in these moments?
Esau was his father’s favorite, and Jacob was his mother’s favorite. Why does favoritism strain and complicate relationships? Why are childhood hurts so painful? How do they impact the present?
Esau and Jacob were twins, but what was unusual was that God had said the family line would continue through the second born, Jacob. Even though Jacob had a sure promise from God, he still felt the need to gain what God promised him through sin and deception. From the beginning these brothers had a difficult relationship. We all have family members who have hurt us, but instead of embracing and perpetuating the hurt, we must trust God’s judgment and trust Him with our hurt feelings. He is more than able to heal us.
HAVE A VOLUNTEER READ GENESIS 32:1-21 AND GENESIS 33:1-9.
Based on what we read on the previous section, how tense do you imagine Esau and Jacob’s meeting was? Practically, what does it look like to trust God in a situation like this?
How did Jacob exercise humility and actively look for God’s help when dealing with his brother? Could you approach your difficult family the same way? How might God support you?
How did Esau respond when he saw Jacob after years apart? When has God been gracious to you and mended a broken relationship?
Reading Genesis 32, the anxiety that Jacob must have felt seeing his brother is palpable. Jacob knew what he had done and how angry his brother must have been with him. Whether it is your fault or not, hurt feelings in a relationship are one of the most difficult things to deal with—particularly over the holidays. Yet from this account, we see God is big enough to restore these relationships and acknowledge that some hurts do not get the restoration we see with Esau and Jacob. Wherever you find yourself in this story, take your hurt to God and trust Him to heal your wounds and support you.
Select one question from this section to answer.
When you go through trials, are you ever tempted to believe God has forgotten you or somehow isn’t paying attention? How do the promises in these verses change your perspective?
Why is having shady family members like Jacob no reason to treat them with bitterness and anger, no matter how justified you feel in doing so?
Do you have any Jacob-like tendencies? What have you learned from Chip’s sermon and our discussion to help you seek change in that area?
Select one question from this section to ask your group.
Jacob wronged Esau, yet Esau chose to show Jacob grace and mercy. How could you extend grace and mercy to someone who has wronged you and trust God to balance the scales?
Is there anyone who you have wronged with whom you need to seek restoration? Why is this so difficult? How does seeking restoration show a heart focused toward God?
Thank God for covering all your hurt with His forgiveness. Go to Him with all your hurts and sorrows in this season. Pray for group members who will be traveling to see family with whom they have strained relationships. Ask for God to give them patience and grace in these encounters, with love that continually points back to Christ.
Midway through this week, send a follow-up email to your group with some or all of the following:
Where do you see yourself in Jacob’s story? How can you seek God and trust Him instead of seeking your own interests?
Memorize Genesis 33:4.
25:19. The family records of Isaac son of Abraham, the eighth of the eleven (Hb) toledoth sections in Genesis, extend from 25:19 through 35:29.
25:27-28. The differences between Esau and Jacob, already apparent at birth, became more pronounced as the boys grew up. Esau was a rough-and-tumble hunter and outdoorsman (lit “man of rural regions”); Jacob was quiet and stayed at home (lit “dweller in tents”). The differences between the boys highlighted a division between the parents: Isaac, something of an outdoorsman himself (24:63), loved his rugged son Esau, while Rebekah loved her more domestic son Jacob, even teaching him how to cook.
25:29-34. Esau’s impatient, appetite-driven life contrasted sharply with Jacob’s shrewd, calculating character. Esau willingly traded his birthright—the right of the firstborn son to a double portion (or perhaps two-thirds) of the inheritance (Dt 21:17)—for the chance to eat some... red stuff. Because of his fateful decision, Esau picked up the alternate name Edom (“Red”), which would be carried by the people group stemming from him (32:3). And because Jacob had made him swear to sell his birthright, the decision could not be undone.
32:1-2. For the second time while on a journey, Jacob saw God’s angels (cp. 28:12). As before, he named the place where he encountered them. In this case he called it Mahanaim, “Two Camps,” probably in recognition of the fact that both people and angels were at the same location.
32:3-12. Remembering Esau’s death threats from 20 years earlier (27:41-42), Jacob now made a special effort to gain Esau’s favor with the assistance of messengers. The first prong of his strategy was verbal: Jacob had the messengers call Esau lord and himself your servant, thus honoring Esau’s position as firstborn—even though he had previously taken Esau’s birthright and blessing. Jacob also made sure he was the first to initiate contact between the brothers, in order to seek Esau’s favor.
To prepare for the coming confrontation with his brother Jacob did two things: first, he divided his group in two so at least some of his people could escape if necessary; second, he offered a prayer with three elements: an admission that he was unworthy of the many blessings God had given him, a prayer for rescue, and a reminder of God’s promises to prosper and multiply Jacob.
32:13-21. Jacob, who had been so adept at taking from others in the past, now arranged to give a generous gift to his brother Esau. Only after Esau had received all the gifts would Jacob meet him.
33:1-3. Following his transforming encounter with God, Jacob went from hiding behind his wives and children (32:22-23) to boldly taking the lead in protecting his family. In his encounter with Esau and his 400 men, Jacob went on ahead of the group, arranging his family behind him according to their status. In a display of respect unparalleled in the Bible, Jacob bowed down to Esau seven times as he approached.
33:4-9. Even as Jacob had been changed the previous night, it seems that Esau had changed too. Perhaps he had been warned by God not to harm Jacob, even as other adversaries of the patriarchs had been before (20:3-7; 31:24). The once-estranged brothers hugged... kissed, and wept together in gracious reunion—a scene that anticipated a reunion between estranged brothers in the next generation (45:14-15). Esau, who had three wives and five sons (36:2-5), inquired about Jacob’s family. Each of the mothers approached Esau with their children and respectfully bowed down. The fact that Joseph was the only named son in the group and was mentioned ahead of his mother foreshadows his leading role in later narratives.