Genesis Week 11 – Death and Blessing

This week we come to the end of Genesis! Next week is an opportunity for you to catch up on anything you missed, or maybe re-watch the Bible Project videos on Genesis now that the content is more familiar. Our next 12 week reading plan is the Gospel of Mark and it starts March 29th.

Readings this week:
Genesis 48 – 50
□ 48:1-9 Joseph’s Sons
□ 48: 10-22 Blessing Joseph’s Sons
□ 49:1-28 Blessing Jacob’s Sons
□ 49:29 – 50:14 Death of Jacob
□ 50:15-26 Death of Joseph

Main Topic – Death and Blessing
The book of Genesis begins with God’s blessing on Adam and the command to “Be fruitful and multiply” (Gen 1:28). This command and the covenant promise of offspring, land, and being a blessing to the nations (Gen 15, 17) are passed from Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob, and are fulfilled in many ways at the end of Genesis. In this final section, Jacob blesses his children before his death, thus preparing the reader for the story of the growth of the family into the nation of Israel as they sojourn in Egypt.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion
1.    Joseph’s Sons (Gen 48) – How is the blessing of “make you fruitful and multiply you…” passed on from Jacob to Ephraim and Manasseh? How is the blessing of land passed on?

2.    Blessing of Jacob’s Sons (Gen 49) – Jacob gathers his sons and speaks prophetically over them. What consequences do Reuben, Simeon, and Levi bear for their offenses?

3.    Blessing of Judah (Gen 49) – Although Judah was recently shown in an unfavorable light during the episode with Tamar (Gen 38), how has his character and way of life changed? (Gen 43, 46:28) Jacob gives an unexpected blessing to Judah (Gen 49:8-12). What is it? How does this show the grace of God?

4.    Burial of Jacob (Gen 49-50) – Amid the mourning for Jacob, where is the primary focus for his burial? How does this relate back to the promise of the land and the prophecy of Gen 15:12-16? How does it foreshadow what is to come?

5.    Death of Joseph (Gen 50) – How does an understanding of God’s providence help Joseph deal with his brothers? What lessons can we draw from Joseph’s life for dealing with seasons of challenges and blessings?

Genesis Week 8 – From Jacob to Israel

Thank you for reading Genesis with us! Here are the readings for this week:

Genesis 32 – 35
□ 32:1-21 – Jacob prepares to meet Esau
□ 32:22-32 – Jacob wrestles with God
□ 33 – Jacob meets Esau
□ 34 – The tragedy of Dinah
□ 35 – Jacob returns to Bethel

Main Topic – From Jacob to Israel
In the previous section of Genesis we saw that Jacob went into exile in the land of Laban and experienced the pain and drama of being deceived. During these twenty years of exile, God has been working in Jacob’s heart. In this section of Genesis, Jacob faces his greatest fears in reconciling with his brother Esau. Jacob wrestles with God, is given a new name, and finds a remarkable picture of the grace and forgiveness of God in his reconciliation with Esau.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion
1. Jacob prepares to meet Esau (Gen 32) – Jacob is obedient to God’s call to return home (Gen 31:3) but he is gripped with fear. He brings this fear before God in prayer. What characteristics and promises of God strengthen Jacob and enable him to cast his fear upon God?

2. Presents for Esau (Gen 32) – Jacob sends a lavish present to Esau. What is it? Why does he send it? The language of “appease him with a present so he will accept me” is often used of sacrifices made before God. How do these gifts reflect the reality of repentance in Jacob’s life?

3. Wrestling with God (Gen 32) – We see a dramatic event in Jacob’s life here. Arguably the turning point for Jacob is the confession of his weakness, his acknowledgement that he is a cheater. Why is this significant? What new name is he given? What message for Jacob is there in this new name?

4. Jacob meets Esau (Gen 33) – Though Esau had been deeply wronged and formerly wanted to kill Jacob, we see a remarkable change in him. How does Esau react to Jacob? How is this story similar to the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15)? Why is this story of grace and reconciliation so important for Jacob, and for us?

5. The tragedy of Dinah (Gen 34) – Nothing good happens in this terrible story from Shechem. Jacob is failing as a father. Consider his response to the events in 34:5-7, 30-31. How would you describe his response and parenting? Where is his focus? Consider 34:13, 25-30. What do the sons of Jacob do? What are the consequences of this, especially as seen in Gen 49:5-7?

Genesis Week 7 – Lessons From Deception

Thank you for reading Genesis with us! Here are the readings for this week:

Readings this week:
Genesis 26:34-31:55
□ 26:34-27:40 – Jacob and the blessing
□ 27:41-28:22 – Jacob flees and his dream
□ 29:1-30 – Jacob at Laban’s
□ 29:31-30:43 – Jacob’s household
□ 31 – Jacob leaves Laban

Main Topic – Lessons from Deception
In the previous section of Genesis, we saw God’s promises passed from Abraham to Isaac. Now the story follows Isaac’s son Jacob. Jacob’s name means “the deceiver” and the Bible does not downplay his manipulative, con-man like character. Isaac the elderly father is tricked, and he passes on the covenant blessings to Jacob not Esau. Jacob – willing to lie, cheat, and steal – would flunk anyone’s morality test. Watch in this section as he pays dearly for his trickery and is himself deceived and cheated by his uncle Laban. Jacob will spend 20 years in personal exile – during which time he builds a family and learns many lessons. His character is changed through this hardship and repentance, and he returns from exile ready for a remarkable reconciliation with his brother and God himself.

Questions for Reflection and Discussion
1. The Stolen Blessing (Gen 27) – Consider the story of Jacob and Rebekah’s deception. While the deception is successful, by the end of the chapter it is clear that everybody loses. Note the consequences for each family member: Isaac, Esau, Jacob, and Rebekah.

2. Jacob’s Dream and Vow (Gen 28) – Jacob is exiled as a consequence of his sin. Where does he go? What is his dream about? What does God tell him? How is this a continuation of the covenant promises? What vow does he make?

3. Jacob’s Marriage and Children (Gen 29-30) – In an ironic twist, Jacob is now deceived by Laban and manipulated by his wives. How does the story of his wives unfold? Describe how Jacob is now suffering through the deception and manipulation of others. What might God be teaching Jacob?

4. Jacob’s Flocks (Gen 30) – An odd story about striped and spotted lambs and mating techniques… What do we learn about Jacob in this story? What do we learn about God? How does Jacob experience God’s grace in spite of Laban’s manipulations here?

5. Jacob Flees from Laban (Gen 31) – How are Jacob’s old habits evident as he flees Laban? How do we see Jacob’s growing faith? Does Jacob recognize that God has been blessing him? Note the reconciliation between Jacob and Laban. What broken relationship still needs to be reconciled for Jacob?