Category Archives: W.E.B.S.

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

James 1.2-12

Title: Steadfastness In Trials

Text: James 1.2-11

Introduction: James, the brother of Jesus writes to the Jews scattered abroad. His letter is about faith being lived out. I think that really comes through in our study tonight. Let’s begin with a question:

  1. How one should respond to Trials? (1.2)

exp.: read v 2; Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds; Count – means lead or guide; Luke 22.26; the 2nd meaning is consider or regard or think; here, count. Also, esteem might be a good word. use that with lead or guide. Someone who is a leader or guides others is someone who is esteemed, held in high regard, considered or well thought of. That’s the idea behind this word – hold joy in high regard when you meet trials of various kinds.

Transition: the next question would naturally be: why? Why hold it high, why be joyful in trials? What do these trials bring?

  1. Why? What do trials bring to your life? (1.3-4)

exp.: rd v 3; for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. Steadfast bookends; rd v 12; in v 2-3; also trials; so the theme here would be remaining steadfast in trials; and the reason is because of the outcome: maturity; rd v 4; And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. See the words full and perfect; same word in the Greek. It means to finish, like a goal or the end of a race; you’ve run the course and you’re finished; Hence full, I like complete. There isn’t anymore to do. As for the word complete, my lexicon says: “a qualitative term (think quality over quanity), with integrity, whole, complete, undamaged, intact, blameless πίστις undiminished faith…”

app.: trials have benefit – they produce steadfastness in your faith, which in turn brings about a sense of fullness, perfection, completeness in your faith (think quality, not quantity). The word I used, but you don’t see in the text is maturity – a mature faith.

Ill.: Elsie Snyder: we had just finished a rather tough business meeting. I apologized to her for the hard times we were going through and she said: we’ve been through much tougher times than these.

Transition: I know we don’t like trials of various kinds; however, there is a great benefit to enduring them – growth in your faith. Let’s look at this next section in v 5-8; rd v 5: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. It sounds like he’s leaving the issue of steadfastness in trials and moving on to something else. But he isn’t, not really. I believe he’s answering another question:

  1. How do we handle trials when we’re in them? (1.5-9)

exp.: Yes, count it all joy when you’re in them. Understand that they produce a strong, mature faith. This takes wisdom, and, if you’re in a struggle, a trial, and you’re lacking the wisdom to push forward, ask for it. It’s like he’s saying – be steadfast in trials because they’re going to make you more mature in your faith. And if you have trouble seeing it, ask God for the wisdom to show you. The Greek is much more poetic than the English: If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask the giving God who is generous to all without reproach… Now isn’t that beautiful? The Giving God. Do you look at God like that? Like, he wants to give you what you need to be strong in your faith as you endure trials.

I don’t want to move on from this… let’s dialogue for a moment; what does this do for your faith?

  • If you lack wisdom – Ask for wisdom, and then he says…
  • If you ask for wisdom – Ask in faith… let’s continue reading rd v6;

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.

I think we see a comparison here: faith v. doubt. Sometimes we see the word doubt as ἄπιστος; but here, the word is διακρίνω: through, because and to judge.

Doubt is judging your situation. Faith is judging in what you don’t see.

How much doubt would you say someone has to have before he doesn’t have faith? Mark 9.14-29; What does Matt 14.31 mean? Mt 21.21?

Well, that person – the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.… tossed up and down, in and out, to and fro. But the one with faith…he is steadfast. Rd v 7-8:

For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. So this is what we see: A lack of faith reaps nothing. So ask for wisdom believing the giving God for his gift.

Let’s continue with this illustration James gives us; rd v 9-11;

Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, 10 and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. 11 For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

exp.: Let me say, I struggled with these verses. What do they mean? One of my favorite preachers, R. Kent Hughes disagrees with me here. But here are my thoughts: I think James is using what we call a ‘paradox’ here: The rich poor guy and the poor rich guy. Actually, he calls the 1st guy a brother. So, who is he talking about? Really, I don’t think the question is who, but rather what. What is he talking about here?

Well, what is the context? Remaining steadfast in trials. So, within the context here, he’s talking about a person, a Christian whose trial is their severe poverty. A person who is poor should ‘boast’ in their highly exalted position. Really? Sounds crazy! Well it is, unless you understand the paradox. This takes wisdom. And if you don’t have wisdom, then ask in faith for it.

The rich poor person should be proud of his exalted position. The focus isn’t on money, but rather, who we are in Christ.

  • Romans 8.17a;
  • Hebrews 12.22-24a;
  • 1 Peter 2.9-10;
  • 1 John 3.1-2;

The rich person, I’m assuming now the context is about the rich person without Christ, they have all they are ever going to get. When they say, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” They have no idea the truth to that prophecy. For them, it’s all down hill from there. Do you see the analogy here: rd 10b-11; the rich man hasn’t any hope for the future. Everything he is enjoying now will pass.

Transition: And v 12, brings it all back into context: rd v 12; 12 Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. It is a call to remain steadfast in trials, because we know what our future holds.

So, what are our take-a-ways?

  1. Evaluate your attitude in your current struggle. As for counting it pure joy, how are you doing?
  2. Do you see most of your trials as
    1. Burdens placed on you by God?
    2. Satanic attacks?
    3. Opportunities for growth?
  3. Have you ever referred to God as The Giving God? What terms have you been using?
  4. Which statment identifies your walk better?Doubt is judging your situation. Faith is judging in what you don’t see.
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Genesis 37.12-36

Title: You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good!

Text: Genesis 37.12-36

CIT: The author wants the reader to understand that God is at work accomplishing his will in the midst of evil intentions.

CIS: Joseph is a type of Christ in that he will be the one to deliver his people from the famine. He didn’t really die, but rather his blood soaked robe would be used to deceive his father. When Jacob learns that his favorite son is alive and that he is rescuing them from the famine, Jacob receives his son back from the dead, as it were. Christ, by his death and resurrection, saves us.

Introduction – The Setting:

  1. Joseph’s Brothers are pasturing their father’s flocks in Shechem. (12)

The Conflict:

  1. Joseph is sent to his brothers in Shechem (v 13-14)
  2. Joseph searches for his brothers at Shechem (15-17); Show photo;
  3. The Brothers’ Conspiracy against Joseph (18-30)
    1. They see him at a distance (18-20)
    2. Reuben rescues Joseph by throwing him in a pit (21-24)
      1. Judah ‘rescues’ Joseph by selling him into slavery. (25-28)
      2. Rueben is heartbroken over the loss of his brother. (29-30)

The Climax:

  1. The Brothers deceive their father (31-33)

The Resolution:

  1. Jacob’s grief is great (34-35)
    1. His commitment to mourn all his days.

Stasis:

  1. Joseph is sold to Potiphar in Egypt (36)

Some observations: 1st, How do we see the Gospel in this?

  1. Joseph is a type of Christ in that he will be the one to deliver his people from the famine. He didn’t really die, but rather his blood soaked robe would be used to deceive his father. When Jacob learns that his favorite son is alive and that he is rescuing them from the famine, Jacob receives his son back from the dead, as it were. Have you heard the good news? Christ has come to save us, too. That’s right! Christ, by his death and resurrection, saves us.

2nd, things may look bad, but…

  1. Things looked pretty grizzly as Christ was betrayed and given over to death. Evil appeared to be winning, but all along, God was at work – accomplishing his plan. Things might look like evil is winning and it may even appear to have won; however, we must remember that God is at work – working his plan.

3rd,

  1. The text here protects us from Joseph’s torment. Rd 42.21: 21 Then they said to one another, “In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.”

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Genesis 37.1-11

Title: Joseph: God is in Control

Text: Genesis 37.1-11

CIT: The author’s aim was to demonstrate that God already knew the outcome of Joseph’s life.

CIS: God is at work in Joseph’s life, showing him that He is working his plan in his life. It’s really no different for you and me!

Introduction: these are the generations of Jacob (1-2a); an interesting beginning;

Genesis 2.4; 5.1; 6.9; 10.1; 11.10; 11.27; 15.16; 25.12; 25.19; 36.1,9; 37.1-2a (the last one!) So this is important. It’s the last section of Genesis. Basically, it is the story of Israel and how he will become a nation. This is in answer to the promises of God – we’ll see that in a moment.

The next chapter is a section that doesn’t seem to fit in; however, I think it really does.

Transition: This new section will take us from pasturing sheep in the holy land to palaces of Egypt. It will clarify for us just how Gen 15.13-16; For now, we begin with meeting this kid, Joseph. In this passage we’ll get to know a little bit about:

  • Joseph’s Family
  • Joseph’s Father
  • Joseph’s Brothers
  • Joseph’s Dreams

Let’s begin w/…

1.     Joseph’s Family, (2)

  1. Joseph
    1. 17 years old (2b)
    2. Pasturing his father’s flock (2b)
  2. His mothers and brothers (#1 position): (2c) he was a boy with the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah; He’s hanging with Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher – Oldest Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun; rd 2d;
  3. His behavior (#2 practice): He brought a bad report of his brothers to his father; So, he’s isolated – he sticks out, not really fitting in with his siblings – I’m guessing Benjamin is way too young. Then, he adds to his troubles by spying on his siblings! But there’s more: rd 3a;

2.     Joseph’s Father: Jacob (3)

  • Loved him above the others (#3 parent) – he was the son of his old age;

Ill.: personal testimony…

  • Made him a ‘coat of many colors’; Dolly Parton

3.     Joseph’s Brothers

  1. Hated Joseph (4); rd v 4;
    1. Because he was favored; Favoritism would come easy; the older sons had embarrassed Jacob and behaved badly – remember? I wonder if Joseph had some features that he got from his mom; maybe he looked just like his dad; something about him, reminded him of the love of his life; Do you think he’s being like his dad – who favored Jacob? Generational sins;
    2. They could not speak peacefully to him; 4b; Nahum Sarna translates the phrase, “could not speak peacefully to him” lit.: “they could not abide his friendly speech” meaning that they rebuffed his every attempt to be friendly. Why not? He’s told on them, He acted arrogant, he’s worn that stupid coat showing off his father’s love for him. and there’s more; rd v 5
  2. Joseph told of his dream and they ‘hated him even more’;

Transition: I wonder if we are confused at times like this. I wonder if our alienation and isolation from others is a part of God’s plan. We feel like we’re being picked on; however, God is up to something. And he’s about to make matters worse! This is the 4th section: Joseph’s Dreams; Rd v 6-7;

4.     Joseph’s Dreams (#4) (5-11)

  1. The Sheaves: A Harvest Dream
    1. Binding sheaves in the field (7)
    2. My Sheaf arose
    3. Your Sheaves gathered around and bowed down to mine
    4. Q.: Are you to rule or reign over us? (8) I wonder about his mother, how she fits into this dream; Did Bilhah become a surrogate mother?
    5. They hated him all the more!

Application: I wonder how this applies to the Wheat and the famine that will bring these brothers to his doorstep in Egypt?

  1. The Sun, the moon, and eleven stars bowed down to him. A Celestial Dream; rd v 9
    1. His Father’s rebuke (v 10);
    2. His brothers were Jealous of him (11a)
    3. His Father kept this in mind (11b)

Application: Likewise, I wonder how this applies to Royalty – that his brothers would be saved by Joseph and move their family to be with him?

Rd Gen 41.32; the pairing of these dreams means the certainty that God will bring this about; this would be important over the next 13 years;

Here is a valuable lesson: God is at work, even in our struggles. He’s working to glorify himself and accomplish his plans.

All of these situations worked against Joseph, from a worldly standpoint; however, they were the workings of God, to bring about his plan.

Note: Position #1 – His Position in the family (Rachel’s son).

Position #2 – His Practice of informing on his brothers; spying, nark, a little brother!

Position #3 – His Parent then dotes on him, adding to this struggle.

Position #4 – His Pattern of Arrogance as expressed through dreams.

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Genesis 35.1-29

Title: A Time of Renewal

Text: Genesis 35.1-29

Introduction:

There are 4 units marked by moved, set out and came to, entered:

1.     Preparation for Bethel: (1-5)

  1. The Call of God; rd v 1:
  2. The Call of Jacob; rd v 2:
    1. Orders:
      1. Preparation: Put Away; Purify; Change your clothes! V 2 – Theme; Thesis
      2. Preparation: Let’s Go Worship; rd v 3; bld an altar; Acknowledge God’s guidance and protection
    2. Obedience:
      1. Destruction of gods; rd v 4;
      2. Destination Bethel; rd v 5; why would he need to protect them? Maybe, Shechem?

Transition:

2.     Worship at Bethel: (6-15)

  1. Building an Altar of Remembrance; rd v 6-7; I love that he does this to remember;

Q.: What are some major milestones in your life where God ‘revealed’ himself to you?

  1. Death of Deborah; Oak of weeping; Gen 24.59; this lady met Abraham! Close of the past? Her 180 years bridged Abraham to Isaac to Jacob;
  2. God Appears, again; rd v 9; 4 Parallels:
    1. Name change: Abram to Abraham; Deceiver to Fights with God;
    2. El Shaddai – 17.1; God Almighty
    3. The Blessings and Promises: fruitfulness; Nations & Kings, Land; in 1,000 years David would be King; in 2000, Jesus;
    4. God went up from him;rd v 13
  3. A Pillar is placed: rd v 13-15; Bethel: the house of God.

Ill.: Jacob’s experience of expanded understanding is common to all of us. As new, inexperienced Christians we learned some new truth, and it did us much good. Then years later, after the ups and downs of spiritual life, we reflect on the same truth—but with a far deeper level of application and understanding.

3.     Transition: Life and Death (16-20)

  1. Rachel Delivers Benjamin in sorrow (pain); rd v 16; For all that Jacob possessed, Rachel had been the unchallenged love of his life. From the very beginning, when he single-handedly moved the stone away to water her sheep, he had been wild about her. Volunteering to work seven years for her hand—and then laboring seven more years, he demonstrated how much he loved her! He had shared the pain of watching the others conceive and her remain barren, year after year.

Now, he she was pregnant again! This child would be the only child actually born in the Promised Land!

Ill.: Listen to Hughes: Though she was well along in her pregnancy, neither she nor Jacob expected any trouble when they pulled up stakes to travel south to Hebron where Jacob’s father Isaac lived. But somewhere, just a few miles north of Jerusalem, tragedy fell. Rd v 16-18; She’s dying and her midwife attempts to console her, comfort her with the news that the baby is indeed a boy! Rd 30.1; irony?

  1. Rachel Dies and is Buried; Rd v 19-21; She dies and is buried. Being the Romantic and Sentimental person I am, I wondered if Jacob lived with this pain. Rd 48.1-7;

4.     A Closing to this section: The Ripple Affects of Sin (21-29)

Exp.: Rd 21-22;

  1. The Sin of Rueben; inexplicable; the practice of taking your father’s place; you’re now the authority! David and Absalom;
  2. The Sons of Jacob: Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun; Joseph & Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher
  3. The Death of Isaac; rd v 27-29;

Observations: Per Shawn: Repentance is valued over a good life. Jacob wasn’t necessarily a good man and he doesn’t come off as even being better than Esau. And yet, his repentant attitude goes so much further. We see this with so many men who were not necessarily good, and yet they were repentant (i.e.: David)

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Genesis 33.1-20

Title: To Nearly Obey is Not Enough

Text: Genesis 33.1-20

Introduction: Tell me about Jacob to this point. Chapter 32 seems to have been a life-changing experience.

1.     Jacob goes out to meet his brother, bowing himself to the ground (rd 1-3)

  1. 401 men! How many chairs in here?
  2. The one who stole the birthright declaring his brothers would bow down to him is now the one bowing.

2.     An emotional meeting as Jacob introduces his family (4-7); rd v 4;

  1. His brother’s response! Very emotional. When’s the last time you saw your siblings? June of ’76 for one of mine. Spring of ’80 for another; Talked to Fred tonight, it was three years ago
  2. Jacob explains his prosperity
    1. Starting with the lowest:
    2. Ending w/ Joseph & Rachel

3.     Jacob explains his gift to Esau and makes restitution (8-11) rd v8;

  1. I have enough – 9a
    1. Favor – 10a
      1. Accept my present – 10b
        1. Seen your face – 10c
        2. Seeing the face of God – 10d
      2. Accept my blessing – 11a
    2. Grace – 11b
  2. 11c – I have enough

4.     Esau desires to travel with Jacob, but Jacob makes a clean break from his brother; however, he isn’t quite honest about it all. (12-16)

  • Let us be on our way, I’ll go ahead of you; 12; Question: Jacob’s response? Totally honest?
  • Let me leave some of my people with yours; rd v 15; v 16

5.     Jacob journeys to Shechem (18-20)

    1. He lies to his brother about following
    2. He doesn’t go to Bethel, but rather to Shechem and buys land there.

Professor Ian Duguid via R. Kent Hughes: Why was that? What was Jacob doing settling down at Shechem and raising an altar when he should have been continuing on to Bethel to raise the altar there, where he had first had the dream? Did Jacob think that Shechem was a better site for trade and for his flocks? Perhaps he thought it didn’t matter. After all, Bethel was now a mere twenty miles or so away; he could go there whenever it suited him, once he got settled. Why be so precise in these things? Shechem or Bethel—it’s really all the same, isn’t it? Indeed, it is not. Whatever his motivation, Jacob’s compromise and his failure to follow through with complete obedience to what he had vowed would cost him and his family dearly, as we shall see in the following chapter. Almost obedience is never enough. Being in the right ballpark may be sufficient when watching a baseball game, but is not nearly enough when it comes to obeying God. Nothing short of full obedience is required.

Conclusion: New Testament Appropriation (NICOT) – John 4.5-12 tells of the woman at the well who asks if Jesus is greater than their ‘father’ Jacob. Indeed, our New Testament Appropriation would be that Jacob has supplanted Esau and Jesus has supplanted Jacob.

Observations:

  1. God is working out his plan to his perfection.
  2. We think of this moment as so great, but really, there is a greater plan at work through the Messiah.
  3. It’s amazing to think of God’s work in Jacob’s life and the changed man we see.
  4. Almost obeying isn’t really enough.
  5. To obey is better than sacrifice – he erected an altar.

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Genesis 32.1-32

Title: A Wresting Match or Two

Text: Genesis 32.1-32

Introduction: Review of how we got here;

1.     The Wrestling Within

  1. Jacob’s Fear at the Reminder of His Brother (32.3-8)
  2. Jacob’s Elation at the Reminder of God’s Promises (31.55-32.2)
    1. At Laban’s departure and
    2. The sighting of the Angels
  3. Jacob’s request through prayer (32.9-12)
    • Praise
    • Humility/Contrition
    • Supplication
    • Based on Promise
  4. Jacob’s Return to Former Practices
  • Jacob Sends gifts to Esau fit for a king (32.13-20)
  • Jacob Sends his two camps away (22-23)

2.     The Wrestling Without (32.24-32)

  1. Jacob Wrestles with God
  2. Jacob Pleads with God to be Blessed
    1. His name is changed to Israel
    2. He is blessed
  • He now limps
  1. A tradition is born

Hughes Records: Jacob’s life is the story of relentless grace—tenacious grace, contending grace, intrusive grace, renovating grace. Tenacious in that it would not let him go. Contending as it was always battling for his soul. Intrusive, because it would not be shut out. Renovating because it gave him a new limp and a new name.

Observations & Implications:

  1. Too often, our situation and circumstance dictate our response and we forget the promises of God.
  2. I also find it interesting that we can go through a ‘high’ time with God, where he blesses us and leads us through a dark time and yet, forget about it so quickly. Case in point: Elijah;
  3. I wonder if any here are wrestling with God today? You’ve committed your life to him, but continued to manipulate your surroundings to your own advantage. I think the key here is to hold on to God.
  4. There comes a time in our lives when each of us must choose to make the God of our fathers (or mother or grandmother) our God. We wrestle with issues, problems, theology, doctrine, worship, ecclesiology, creation and the list goes on; however, in the end, we must decide for ourselves. We must make God our God.
  5. By his own admission, Jacob had obtained the rights of birth by thievery and deception. Now, he had obtained the blessing of God in the realization that only God could grant it.
  6. I love the tenacious, audacious act of Jacob. It reminds me of Jesus giving us the example of the woman who would not stop pestering the judge until he should grant her request.

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Genesis 31.1-55

Title: Jacob Flees from Laban

Text: Genesis 31

Introduction:

The Blessing was three-fold: Blessing, Land, an Heritage. He has the Heritage – 4 wives; 12 kids; He has the blessing – wealth; Labans’ rd v 1; God has given him great wealth; now – he must return to his home to be given this last of the promise: rd v 2-3;

1.     Jacob’s Plan to Leave (4-14)

exp.:

  • He lays his case before his wives
    • The Situation (5-9)
      • Your father has no regard or favor for me; 5a, 8,
      • But God has protected me. 5b, 9,
    • The Vision (10-13)
      • The animals
      • The call to go (13)
    • Their Response (14-16)
      • Hughes: Particularly grievous to Laban’s daughters was the ugly fact that their father had sold them and devoured the proceeds. The price of the bride (Jacob’s fourteen years of wages) was supposed to be held in trust in the event that they were abandoned or widowed. But Jacob’s long labor had benefited their father alone.
  1. Jacob’s Flight From Laban (17-21)

exp.:

  • He packs up his family and property; (17-18)
  • Laban’s business with work; rd 19a
    • Rachel’s theft; rd 19b
    • Jacob’s trickery; rd 20
      • : Play on words: They both ‘stole the heart’ of (injured or wounded in the side); an English comparative might be – and the stole away in the night or Robbie Dupree from the 80’s: Why don’t we steal away into the night.
    • rd v 21; I love this verse! So, picturesque; commercial break!
  • Laban’s Pursuit of Jacob (22-)

exp.: rd v 22f; 3 days; 7 days; explain;

  • Laban’s Dream: Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad. Rd v 24; So, Laban overtakes Jacob; rd v 25-29;
  • Laban’s Accusation: Why did you steal my gods? We would think this would be something that she couldn’t hide; in 1 Samuel 19, Michal puts an image in the bed to make the soldiers think that David was asleep; these gods were pretty small – small enough to put in a saddlebag.
  • Laban’s Search: rd v 31f; Wow! He just signed her death warrant, without even knowing it! rd v 33; explained: rd v 34f; the teraphim were probably small; see pictures on internet;

2.     Jacob’s Declaration (36-42)

exp.:

  • I am innocent! Rd 36-37;
  • I have been honest! Rd 38-39
  • I have been Faithful! Rd 40
  • You have been all the opposite: guilty, dishonest and unfaithful! Rd v 41-42

3.     A Pact is Made (36-42)

exp.:

  • Two memorials: one a pillar and one a heap
  • Two names: Jegar-sahadutha & Galeed; Mizpah – Hughes: The heap of stones was formed to bear witness to their mutual covenant. Laban gave the pile an Aramaic name, Jegar-sahadutha, and Jacob a Hebrew name, Galeed, both of which mean “the heap of witness.” Mizpah means “watchpost.” Interestingly, the careless reading of God’s Word as it is represented in the King James Version (“The Lord watch between me and thee, when we are absent one from another,” v. 49) has given rise to the popular so-called “Mizpah benediction” that has been used on Christmas cards, inscribed inside wedding bands, and even used as a title for an organization! The Mizpah benediction was ignorantly interpreted to invoke union, fellowship, and trust. But this was the declaration of two men who neither trusted nor liked each other—“Because I don’t trust you out of my sight, may God watch your every move.”
  • Laban swears by many gods – the gods of their fathers; Jacob swears by his God – the Fear of Isaac and offers:
    • A Sacrifice and
    • A Meal
    • A boundary is set

Conclusion: Implications

  1. What a change we see in Jacob. God changes people – He’s in that business. Are you the same person you were 20 years ago?
    1. Character
    2. Honesty
    3. Work ethic
    4. His obedience to God
  2. God is faithfully fulfilling his promises to Jacob. He can be trusted with your life, too – even in the midst of turmoil and struggle.
  3. What passages come to mind as you think of God’s faithfulness? Phil 1.6; Rom 8.28ff; Eph 2.13-21;

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Genesis 29.31-30.24

Title: 12 Sons

Text: Genesis 29.31-30.24

Introduction: Marriage – Gen 2.24; 4.23ff; 16.2ff; Esau took two wives, and then a 3rd; Jacob’s polygamy also results in disaster; not only were they two wives, but they were sisters to boot! You’ve got to kind of feel for Jacob; it wasn’t his fault, per se; Abraham kind of, too; 1 Cor 7 has a great emphasis on singular husband and singular wife. Ephesians 5 gives us the best Christian view;

This is ugly no doubt: tell me, what challenges were there? What relational difficulties. What good came out of this? The basis for the 12 tribes:

Leah would have 4: Rueben, Simeon, Levi, Judah

The Concubines would have 4: Dan, Naphtali, Asher, Gad

The Sisters would each have 2: Issachar & Zebulun; Dinah; Joseph & Benjamin (35.18)

Transition: Rd 29.30-35; what do you see?

1.     Rachel’s tension with Leah (29.31-35)

exp.: the focus isn’t Leah or Rachel; its on the Lord; Leah gets it right; rd 30.1; 29.31 – hated; Semitic comparison; 29.30 clarifies; Deut. 21.15-17; Now, Leah’s focus wasn’t right at first: look at their names and why she named them that:

Rueben – See, a son, now my husband will love me.

Simeon – heard; heard that I’m hated

Levi – attached; now my husband will be attached to me

Judah – praise; this time I will praise the Lord

This is good. It doesn’t seem so at 1st; What did the 1st three sons do to bring shame? However, Levi would be the priestly tribe and Judah would be the kingly tribe. That is, the Priestly line would pass down through the ages from Levi (think: Moses, Aaron, Mary) and The Kingly Line would pass through Judah (think: David, Joseph, who fathered Jesus)

Transition: We see from her 1st four statements and names that she desperately wants to be loved. Her problem isn’t so much that Rachel despise her, but more that her husband doesn’t love her.

2.     Rachel’s tension with Jacob’s (30.1-8)

exp.: rd v 1; If Leah was desperate for her husband’s love, Rachel was desperate for children. She had no greater desire. Middle Eastern society didn’t really pity barren women, but rather disdained or scorned them. People wouldn’t feel sorry for her, but rather would look down on her. Look at what this does to her relationship with her husband; rd v 2; It’s not my fault – only God gives children; So, she takes matters into her own hands (cf.: Sarah); rd 3-5; I wonder, do you think her focus is corrected? Her competition with her sister has forced her to do the foolish; Rd v6-8;

Dan – Judged; he has judged, he has heard, he has given

Naphtali – Wrestled; I’ve wrestled with my sister and won! Really?

Transition: Has she really won? Well, not to be outdone, which of course she isn’t, Leah, seeing she has ceased to get pregnant, gives her maidservant to Jacob. Poor Jacob.

3.     More Tension between Sisters (30.9-13)

exp.: rd v 9-11; is this all good for Jacob? Do you think he’s losing his mind between these sisters?

Gad – good fortune; rd v 12-13;

Asher – happy;

More tension between sisters and Jacob is suffering for it. We don’t see it in Scripture, but I wonder if there is tension between the maidservants, too? Your thoughts?

Transition: Well, 4 boys by Leah, 4 boys by the maid servants, but Rachel’s humiliation isn’t through!

4.     The Battle is not over (30.14-21)

exp.: rd v 14-15; What Reuben found was what was thought to be an aphrodisiac/fertility drug; The ancients thought that mandrakes helped with the whole process; Song of Solomon 7.13; In ancient times, people referred to mandrakes as ‘love apples’; Now, the Bible isn’t endorsing mandrakes as either an aphrodisiac or a fertility drug; however, these two ladies bought into the thought and used it against each other.

Rachel thought it would help her conceive; Leah thought to use it to her advantage

Transition:

5.     After all, Rachel still doesn’t get it (30.22-24)

exp.: rd v 14-15; What Reuben found was what was thought to be an aphrodisiac/fertility drug; The ancients thought that mandrakes helped with the whole process; Song of Solomon 7.13; In ancient times, people referred to mandrakes as ‘love apples’; Now, the Bible isn’t endorsing mandrakes as either an aphrodisiac or a fertility drug; however, these two ladies bought into the thought and used it against each other.

Rachel thought it would help her conceive; Leah thought to use it to her advantage;

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Genesis 29.1-30

Title: The Deceiver is Deceived.

Text: Genesis 29.1-30

Introduction:

Where we left off: Jacob had deceived his brother; stealing his birthright and his blessing. So Jacob was left with some decisions to make. Last week he looked at his Dilemma – stay and risk his life; His Departure and His Dream – God’s activity there in that place with Angels coming down from heaven and going up to heaven on this later, this flight of stairs (an escalator); and His Declaration – kind of conditional if I recall. In this chapter we hear God’s unconditional promise: rd 28.13-15; When he woke up, he made a vow to always serve the Lord, if the Lord would do as he promised.

Transition: This evening we’ll look at Chapter 29 through verse 30. I’ve divided this passage up into 4 parts:

  • Jacob’s Arrival
  • His Extended Family
  • A Deal is Struck
  • Laban’s Deception

Let’s begin with his arrival in v 1;

1.     Jacob’s Arrival (29.1-8)

exp.: rd v 1; lit.: He lifted up his feet; Set up the scene: rd v 2-3; So, he strolls into Haran and meets these Shepherds waiting with their flocks; rd v 4-6; So, Jacob has come to the right place after such a long journey. Maybe he’s had this conversation before, at other towns getting to this one. Dunno. Now, however, he’s at the right place. But these guys seem to be uncomfortable with this fellow from the West. What a great opportunity to dump him on Rachel, who just happens to be coming up the way to water her sheep.

Transition: Now, he asks them a good question: rd v 7; the implication is that it’s still early. You should have watered your sheep by now and be out there pasturing them, so that they can eat. Lazy bums! Rd v 8; Now, let me preface this next part with a statement about men: Guys, don’t we just get goofy around our girls? I mean in the beginning, when we first meet them.

So, we read of Jacob’s arrival. Now we’ll meet his family – beginning with Rachel.

2.     Jacob’s Extended Family (29.9-14)

exp.: Rd v 9-10; So, what usually takes a bunch of shepherds to take care of – rolling away the stone – Jacob, does on his own. There is an interesting wordplay in this passage; Rachel means ewe lamb; So it’s basically saying here comes a lamb with her lambs; Rd v 11; One commentary I have said that it was love at 1st sight. That may have been true, but I don’t think you can take that from this verse, because kissing was the customary greeting (cf. v 13).

There is something interesting to note here – I can find no other instance in the Bible where a man kisses a woman who is not his wife or his mother. Can you think of any?

Rd v 12;

  • So he meets his cousin – his mother’s, brother’s daughter.
  • Now, he meets his Uncle. Rd v 13; Jacob basically fills Laban in on what has brought him here; I guess he left out the part about the deceiving and all! Rd v 14; whatever it was that Jacob told Laban, it convinced him that Jacob was truly apart of his family; And, so he stays a whole month;

Transition: I wonder what this month was like? Is Laban thinking that Jacob is here to stay? Will he leave soon? Laban then takes matters into his own hands and strikes a deal with his Nephew…

3.     A Deal is Struck (29.15-20)

exp.: rd v 15; it’s a good question; Jacob needs to start earning his keep; I wonder if Laban is disappointed by this time, because the last time this happened with Abraham’s servant, the servant shelled out some coinage. That hasn’t happened here! Rd 24.53;

The biblical narrative breaks away to inform us of some very important details; rd v 16-18a; a comparison is made; soft vs beautiful; most commentators (as opposed to uncommon tators) think this means that there was no fire in her eyes; the opposite of Rachel; rd v 18b; 7 years wages; That’s a lot of money! Take your yearly salary and multiply it by 7! One commentary (NIV Application) says that the going rate was 3-4 years wages. The Law teaches that all debts were canceled after 7 years, but this is before the Law. So, maybe Laban thinks about it for a moment and realizes he’s getting the better end of the deal; rd v 19; I’m not so sure this is a compliment! Rd v 20; awe! That’s deep! Listen to Hughes:

Truly, Rachel became the love of Jacob’s life, despite the fact that he would father children by Leah and the two wives’ concubines when they used their maids as pawns in a birth war. Years later as Jacob lay dying he said to his sons, “As for me, when I came from Paddan, to my sorrow Rachel died in the land of Canaan on the way, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath, and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem)” (48:7).

Transition: Jacob must feel blessed to work so hard and it seem like nothing, because of what he’s getting! This brings us to our final section and brings us to our last point…

4.     Laban’s Deception (29.21-30)

exp.: rd v 21; He sounds impatient! I wonder if the emphasis isn’t so much on the impatience of Jacob (after all, he has waited and worked for 7 years!), but rather on the impudence of Laban? Has Laban been holding out on Jacob, maybe making him go a little longer and getting more out of him? There must be something to this because rd v 22-23; The deceiver has been deceived! Tell me how this is possible? Wait for responses:

  • The Feast – my guess is wine would be involved
  • The Veil – my guess is the garments and the veil hid who she really was
  • The Night – my guess is it was late and all was done in darkness
  • The Bride – she had to be a willing accomplice; I wonder if she secretly loved Jacob, maybe despised her sister’s beauty?
  • Rachel – how did Laban get her to be silent? Was she party to the deception? Did Laban restrain her?

I wonder what Jacob’s 1st reaction was when he awoke to the morning light and there was this unwelcomed guest in his bed! I wonder, too, if he felt for Esau any? Rd v 26-30;

Transition: Where was God in all of this? 14 years – two wives and two concubines!

Observations & Implications:

  1. God is at work, even when we don’t see it. Remember the ladder?
  2. It seems to me that God allows great slots of time to pass between his personal encounters. Do you think we expect God to give us supernatural experiences to close together?

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Genesis 27.41-28.22

Title: An Amazing Perspective Changes Everything

Text: Genesis 27.41-28.22

CIT: Jacob fled for his life and found God in a power way.

CIS: What does the evide

Introduction:

The Death of Abraham; Esau and Jacob’s journey (25-27)

Transition: So Jacob deceived his brother and stole his blessing. Tonight’s passage is divided into 4 parts:

Jacob’s Departure, Dream, and Declaration

1.     Jacob’s Dilemma (27.41-46)

exp.: Esau’s hatred and threats; his life is in danger; rd v 41

  • Esau’s hatred of his little brother (v 41)
  • Rebekah’s Deceptive plan to save her son (v42-46)
    • To Isaac
    • To Jacob

Transition: Jacob’s dilemma was that his life was in danger. If he stayed, his days were numbered.

2.     Jacob’s Departure (28.1-9)

exp.:

  • Isaac’s Instructions to Jacob to find a wife from their family; rd v 1-2;
  • Isaac’s identification of Jacob as the heir to the Abrahamic Covenant; rd v3-5; Gen 17.1; El Shaddai;
  • Esau’s desire to please his father; rd v 6-9;

Transition: Our sins have a way of finding us out. What I mean by that is Rebekah got her way, she got what she wanted; however, she would never see

3.     Jacob’s Dream (28.10-15)

exp.: rd v 10-11; who is with him? he’s alone; imagine with me, if you will, what it must have been like for him; rd v 12; What do we see;

  • The ladder; an escalator? A flight of stairs?
  • The Angels; ascending and descending; John 1.51
  • The Lord
    • A Visual communication to Jacob that God is at work here, ushering angels about to do his work;
    • A Verbal communication to Jacob that God is at work here!
      • I am
      • I will
      • Your offspring will
      • You will
      • I am
      • I will

Transition: Jacob’s dilemma is that his brother will kill him as soon as Isaac is dead; So Rebekah hatches a plan to save her son by sending him to her homeland to find a wife through her husband; Esau is fooled into getting a wife that’s not a Canaanite! Jacob stops for the night, all alone and uses a rock for a pillow. He dreams a magnificent dream and wakes up and says… which brings us to our Act 1, scene 4:

4.     Jacob’s Declaration (28.16-28.22)

exp.:

  • He was Amazed and declared: – rd v 16; Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place
  • He was Afraid and declared – rd v 17;
  • He was Awestruck and moved in two ways:
  • His worship – rd v 18-19; his pillow turned pillar! A demonstration of his love and commitment to God; He renamed the place; that’s big, too
  • His commitment – rd v 20-22; still, very selfish thought, huh? Isn’t he placing conditions on his commitment? If you will…Then I will… sort of condition?

Transition: Have you ever placed conditions on your commitment to God? Be honest!

Observations & Implications:

  1. Do we really think our decisions through to their outcome? I mean, not just the immediate pleasure, but the devastation we’re headed toward? A loan brings a car quickly. A loan means a long term payment!
  2. As I mentioned earlier, our sins have a way of finding us out!
    1. It will cost us more than we ever wanted to pay
    2. It will take us further than we ever wanted go
    3. And It will keep us longer than we ever wanted to stay
  3. Do you realize that God is at work where you are? You might not see him, but he’s there!
  4. Does your understanding and realization of God in your life move you to worship? Is it conditional?

What will you take home with you?

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