Tag Archive: blessing

Standing Tall, Falling Hard (Bible Study)

Chapter 10 Recap

Blessing. This was meant to be the distinguishing mark of the people of God. God’s covenant with Israel required obedience and promised ultimate blessing. Yet, the period of the judges is anything but a time of obedience and blessing in Israel. More fitting descriptions are: Barrenness.  Blindness.  Battles.  Bereavement.  Blessing was hard to come by in those days. God’s people had abandoned God Himself, and “everyone did as he saw fit.” (Judges 21:25)  Few remembered God’s commands. Even fewer obeyed.

But God always has a few. One was a woman named Hannah. She had long endured the grief of childlessness accompanied by the taunts of her husband’s other wife. On one of her visits to worship at God’s house in Shiloh, Eli, the priest, mistook her devotion for drunkenness. She had poured out her heart first in desperate prayer and then to Eli and vowed that she would dedicate her son to the LORD. Eli assured her that her prayer would be heard.  God did give Hannah a son, and she kept her word. She named the boy Samuel and took him to serve in the tabernacle under the High Priest, Eli.

God spoke to Samuel one night when he was still a boy. God told Samuel that Eli and his sons would be judged and his priestly line would soon end.  And as it always does, God’s word came true, this time through the Philistines. Israel lost their first battle with the Philistines at Aphek and blamed their loss on the absence of the ark of covenant. Their own absence of obedience went unnoticed. They faced the Philistine army again, this time with the ark as their good luck charm and lost both the battle and the ark. Eli had grown old and blind, and the devastating news of Israel’s defeat, the death of his sons and the loss of the ark of covenant left Eli dead on the spot.

Samuel took Eli’s place, but Israel was dissatisfied and asked for a king. Samuel knew better and expressed his opposition. God knew He’d been rejected. Israel knew only that they wanted to be like their pagan neighbors, the very people they were not to emulate. God warned that their demand for a king would be costly; that he would exploit them to the point of slavery.  The people ignored God’s warnings and still insisted on having an earthly king to fight their battles. Saul was anointed by Samuel and began well. He was affirmed by miraculous signs from God.  He fought the Ammonites and gave God credit for their victory. Samuel reminded the people that God had not rejected them, even though they had turned away from Him. He encouraged them again to follow God and serve him from the heart, and God affirmed Samuel’s words with unheard of thunder and rain during harvest.

Saul’s honeymoon as king was short-lived.  During another battle with the Philistines, Saul got nervous; Samuel was late. So Saul took his authority too far and took matters—and offerings—into his own hands, violating the role God had reserved for the priests. Samuel confronted Saul; he backpedaled, made excuses, and tried to justify his sin, but wound up losing a dynasty. Saul’s path of half-hearted obedience and fear-based leadership grew longer by the year and more twisted with every step.

God rejected Saul as king. Saul’s reign was Israel’s opportunity to see that monarchy is no better than anarchy when a man after God’s own heart is not on the throne. God had already chosen such a man, an unlikely shepherd boy who would one day become Saul’s successor.  His throne would endure and would point God’s people again to the Shepherd King who was yet to come.

Faithful vs. faithless

Sometimes in Scripture we see people that walk in step with the will of God and others who would rather create their own path. In chapter 10 we see two clear examples of people that are doing just that. We know that rain falls on the just and unjust a like. The faithful can prosper just like the faithless can prosper, but we do know that the faithful prosper spiritually as the faithless hold on to their own ways. Let’s take a look at these examples to see what we can learn.

I. Hannah and Peninnah   

You would think that by now some of the Israelites could look back at their forefathers and figure out that bigamy (two wives in this case) is not a good idea.  Evidently, Elkanah didn’t.  Perhaps Hannah’s barrenness led Elkanah to take Peninnah as a wife, but we don’t know which of the two came first.  What we do know is that Peninnah’s actions reveal what is in her heart, as did Hannah’s.

A.     Faithless, disobedient Peninnah

  1. She arrogantly provoked and irritated Hannah because of Hannah’s empty womb.  It is possible that, based on Deut. 28:4-5, Peninnah accused Hannah of sin that resulted in her barrenness.
  2. Peninnah had a full house, but an empty heart.  Elkanah loved Hannah more than her, and he made that known.
  3. None of Peninnah’s children were notable.
  4. God graciously blessed her with many children.  Instead of responding to God with love toward others, she acted hatefully.  The LORD humbled her by exalting Hannah and Hannah’s son.

B.     Faithful, obedient Hannah

  1. Innocent Hannah never retaliated against her rival, though she anguished about her condition and her situation.
  2. Hannah poured her heart out in prayer to the LORD, trusting in His mercy alone.
  3. Hannah vowed she would give her son to serve the LORD if only He would give her a son.
  4. God answered her prayer and gave her five more children after Samuel.
  5. Hannah is exalted as the mother of Samuel, rich in children, rich in faith, and praised God for delivering her from her enemy Peninnah.
  6. God graciously answered Hannah’s humble prayer.  Hannah responded to God with faith and obedience, making good on her vow, and praising Him for His mercy.  She enjoyed the blessings of fertility.

II. Eli’s line and Samuel  

Eli was the high priest of Israel which meant that he should be serving as the spokesman of God to the nation.  He should be the man who turned Israel away from apostasy (remember, we’re in the dark ages of the judges), and back to the LORD.  Eli’s physical blindness was indicative of his spiritual blindness.  He would fall from a place of honor to disgrace, while innocent Samuel would rise from humble beginnings to a place of honor.

A.    Faithless Eli and his sons

  1. We learn that Eli was going blind.  Blindness indicates covenant disobedience for Israel.  This is not a physical ailment alone.  It is a barometer of the condition of Israel who was blind to their own depravity and it was a symptom of Eli’s blindness to his own sons’ terrible abuses.
  2. The word of God was rare in those days.  This was another indication that Eli and his priestly-but-evil sons were not in the place of obedience.
  3. Eli’s arrogant line was judged by God because of the sin that Eli knew about but failed to restrain.  The sons were abusing their priestly role by take the best sacrifices for themselves, and fornicating with women in the tabernacle!  (1 Sam. 2:17, 22)  These two sons were, as the author of Judges wrote, “doing what was right in his own eyes.”
  4. Eli’s sons wrongfully thought that the Ark would bring them victory against the Philistines.  Rather than look to and inquire of God, they misused the Ark as more of a good-luck charm than the holy presence of God.  Consequently, they were killed in the battle and Israel lost the Ark to the Philistines.  Their attitude toward the Ark was really their attitude toward God.  They failed to honor God as holy.
  5. God graciously allowed Eli and his sons to serve as priests.  But they failed respond by faith and obedience to the covenant.  Instead they arrogantly sinned or dismissed the sins of the people.  God made low the high priest and his sons.  They died.

B.     Faithful Samuel

  1. Samuel was a child conceived by grace through the faithful prayer of his mother.
  2. Hannah made good on her vow to give little Sammy to serve the LORD all the days of his life.  She honored the priestly role he would someday have by making him a little ephod (priestly garment) every year.
  3. The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up in the presence of the LORD, and He did not let any of Samuel’s words fail.  He revealed Himself through His word to Samuel while His word was rare to Eli.
  4. Samuel worked to turn the people back to the LORD, and he defeated the Philistines.  This was another sign of his covenant obedience.
  5. God graciously revealed Himself to little Samuel.  He responded by faith and obedience.  God exalted him to the spiritual leader of Israel.

IV. The New Testament believer. 

We can see from these two conflicts, as well as other conflicts throughout this historical period, that we could predict the destiny of a character or the nation based upon their character and faithfulness. Does God still exalt the humble and bring low the arrogant? What does the NT have to say?

A. Matt. 18:4  “Whoever humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

B. Matt. 23:12 “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.”

C. Phil. 2:3 “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard one another as more important than himself.”

D. James 4:10 Humble yourself in the presence of the LORD, and He will exalt you.

E. 1 Pet. 5:5-6 “…clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time.”

F. The promises and exaltations to the New Covenant believer are not earthly like those to Israel.  They are spiritual.  Ephesians 1 tells the Church that in Christ we are:

  1. Blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (1:3)
  2. Chosen before the foundation of the world (1:4)
  3. Predestined to adoption as sons (1:5)
  4. Redeemed and forgiven (1:7)
  5. Rich in grace (1:7)
  6. Promised an inheritance that the Holy Spirit is the down payment for (1:13-14)

V.    Applications and Implications

A. God answered Hannah’s humble prayer.  I can pour out my anguish to God knowing that He can answer my deepest needs.

B. My actions toward other people reveal my attitude toward God.

C. God is opposed to the proud who disregard Him.  I will humbly seek to obey Him by faith.

D. The place of blessing is smack dab in the will of God.

E. God can, has and will use young people to serve Him.  I should not disregard or dismiss the faith and service of a child.

F. A parent’s faith does not guarantee the outcome of a child.  But it is an influence.  Therefore, I will seek to encourage and grow the faith of my children.

G. I treasure the spiritual blessings that are mine because I have the Holy Spirit.

A Woman of Faith: Hannah

Hannah’s story is one of the most well-known and beloved accounts in the Bible.  Chapter 10 of The Story introduces us to the first king of Israel, and to Samuel, who holds him accountable to God.  But long before Samuel did his great, godly work, Hannah, Samuel’s mother, did a equally great and godly work—she learned to delight in the Lord.

I.  Hannah’s Plight. 1 Samuel 1:1-8.

Bearing children was very important for the woman of the Bible.  It was a woman’s desire, as well as her duty, to provide her husband with children, preferably sons.  An Israelite woman also dreamed of birthing the Messiah.  Hannah’s plight prevented her from any of these pleasures.

1.  Describe Hannah’s family life.(v. 2-7)

2.  How did Elkanah demonstrate his faithfulness to God? (v. 3)

3.  How did Elkanah demonstrate his love for Hannah? (v. 5,8)

4.  Why had Hannah remained childless? (v. 5)

5.  How did it this affect her? (v. 7)

The emotional pain of  barreness, combined with the provocation of Peninnah had become unbearable for Hannah.  One year, during the annual feast in Shiloh, Hannah took advantage of her proximity to the Lord’s temple.  Her choice was to take her plight to the Lord.  This choice alone makes Hannah a worthy example for anyone who carries a burden of pain.  Our pain should point us to the One who will provide perfect healing, if we will let Him.

II.  Hannah’s Petition. 1 Samuel 1:9-18.

1.  At what point in the festivities did Hannah decide to take her sorrow to the Lord? (v. 9)

2.  What was Hannah’s emotional state as she prayed? (v. 10)

3.  Besides prayer, what else did she do before God? (v. 11)

4. As Hannah prayed, what did Eli observe and what did he think she was doing? (12, 13)

5. Fill in the blanks and note three things about Hannah’s prayer:

            Hannah was praying in her ___________________ and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.  1:13

….I was __________________________________________to the Lord. 1:15b

I have been praying here out of my great_________________and ____________. 1:16b

6.  What was Eli’s answer to Hannah? (v. 17)

7.  How was Hannah changed after the time of prayer? (v. 18)

Eli saw Hannah’s lips; God saw her heart.  The result of this outpouring in prayer was a change of her very being.  Before Eli pronounced his blessing upon her, God had already worked in Hannah’s heart.  When she took her pain and anguish to the Lord, He helped her realize what her true need was.  She needed to be content with God Himself.  Her vow to God revealed that she was no longer seeking her own selfish desire; instead she was offering an unselfish sacrifice.  The son, whether a desire in her heart, or a flesh and blood reality, would belong to God.

“A woman was not so unimportant in Israel as to be considered incapable of communicating with God.  Significantly, Yahweh was also portrayed as a deity who listened to a woman and answered her prayer” (Bergen).

III.  Hannah’s Praise. 1 Samuel 1:19—2:11.

Soon Hannah gave birth to a son they named Samuel.  Elkanah and Hannah, with great delight, fulfilled the vow Hannah had made.  The generous offering and the joyous prayer of praise gives testimony to the condition of Hannah’s heart.

Hannah’s prayer expressed her complete delight in the Lord.  The prayer is one of the longest in the Old Testament and lifts up God’s name, Yahweh, 18 times.  Although Hannah was not an ancestor of Jesus, the prayer, or praise song, contains the first reference to the Messiah:

He will give strength to his King and exalt the horn of his anointed. 1 Samuel 2:10b

In The Remarkable Women of the Bible, Elizabeth George outlines the content of Hannah’s praise song.

1.  From 1 Samuel 2:1-10, note the attributes of God that Hannah extols:

2:1 I rejoice in Your ____________________________.


2:2 No one is __________________ like the Lord.


2:2 There (is no) ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_______________________ like our God.


2:3 The Lord is the God of ______________________________.


2:4  Only the Lord has the ____________________ to make the mighty weak….and the humble exalted.


2:9-10  The adversaries of the Lord shall be _________________________ in pieces.


2.  How old was Samuel when Hannah took him to Eli? (1:24)

Hannah had gone “before the Lord” with her request.  Samuel was presented to the Lord (1:24) and he remained “before the Lord” always (2:11,18,21).

3.  What shows Hannah’s steadfast love and care for her son, even from a distance? (2:18-19)

4.  How did God further bless Elkanah and Hannah? (2:21)

Everything about Hannah’s life provides inspiration and example for us today.  The fact that she had deep, unmet longings was not wrong.  Her story has shown us a way  to handle our deepest unmet desires.

IV.  Our Path from Petition to Praise.

1.  Read Psalm 17:1-3.

What do you think are the deeper longings of mankind that only God can see?

Think about your own deepest longings.  Have you asked God about them?

2.  Read James 4:2b-3 and Matthew 6:18-21.

Why doesn’t God give us what we ask for sometimes?

3.  Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6:25-34 not to worry about earthly things because the Father knows what we need to sustain earthly life.  Is it wrong to ask God about earthly things? Why or why not?

(cf. Matthew 6:11)

4.  Read Matthew 7:7-11.

What kind of gifts does God give? Are the things we ask good for us?

In this scripture Jesus says to “ask”.  What requests would God be delighted to answer?

God answered Hannah’s heartfelt prayer by providing for her deepest need, the need to delight in the Lord. If God were to personally ask you to trade in your deepest longings for a deeper relationship with Him, would you accept?

5.  Hannah’s story ends with a song of praise.  Create your own expression of praise, or write down words from a praise song that are meaningful to you.

Key Question:  What area of worry and want in your life will you exchange for delight in the Lord?


God Builds a Nation: Bible Study

God is all-powerful, all-knowing, present everywhere at once, and yet God still decides to use the flawed human creation for his masterful plan. He didn’t have to or need to use humans, but wanted to use them. As the story continues we find God choosing a man who isn’t special or dignified in the land at the time; his name is Abram.

What does it say about God’s character that he choose to use humans?

Read Genesis 11:27-32

Abram, later Abraham, was probably not a nomadic wanderer, as some have reported, when God called him. He lived in the land of Ur, a city far from the Promised Land, when God called him to leave and go to a place he would show him later.

What was this place Abraham lived in before God called him? The city of Ur around 2000 B.C.  (established around 3800 B.C.)

  • 800 years before Abraham was born Ur had become one of the most prosperous of the city-states, controlling access to the sea via the Euphrates River, near which Ur was located.
  • Being the wealthiest city in Mesopotamia also made it a political power of the area.
  • In Ur were
    • many commercial buildings
    • two-story homes with up to 13 or 14 rooms, courtyards, fountains, fireplaces, plastered walls, and sanitary systems.
    • school buildings with clay books showing assignments in math, writing, reading, grammar, and history.
    • Temples which records show were supported by the tithes of the people and by the city’s great commerce.
    • One estimate says that Ur was the largest city in the known world with around 65,000 residents about the time that Abraham was born.

The city also shows obvious remnants of a huge flood, as do most areas of the world, go figure based on our last Bible study. However the flooding of Ur, according to archaeologists, was way beyond a typical rise in the nearby Euphrates.

It was a center of false religion marked by the 70 ft high ziggurat. The ziggurat was supposed to the tallest building, sitting on the uppermost part of the city. This was done so that at any point in time you could look to the place where the gods resided. Here is an artist’s rendition of what the early ziggurats looked like.

In short Abraham was:

  • Probably very familiar with urban living, political power of one’s country, and knew the wealth of having the national capital a center of world-wide trade traveling on the Euphrates.
  • Called by an unknown God
  • Obeyed that call from an unknown God
  • Left the known to travel to the unknown at the command of an unknown God.

What do you think his family thought when Abraham came to them with this plan to leave the city and go somewhere? Would this same plan work for your family today?

How difficult do you think the decision was to leave their home?Would you make the same decision?

Shortly after Abraham’s departure, along with his father, Terah, and the whole entire family, he settled in Harran, a sort of merchant outpost on a trade route to and from the Mediterranean.  There his father died and Abraham became the head of the family.

Through archeological record, we also learn at this time, the power and wealth of Ur began to diminish as it was attacked by its enemies seeking to take its empire and wealth. Ancient dating being what it is, it’s hard to tell if God was rescuing Abraham’s family from war, but with it being around the same time frame…I don’t believe in coincidences.

Read Genesis 12:1-6

God called Abraham to leave Harran and continue his journey. The entire family also went along with him as they traveled to Shechem.

Have you had to move from one place to another? What did it feel like to pick up and move? How hard was it to get used to a new place?

Let’s turn our discussion to Abraham’s nephew, Lot. Everyone has someone in their family that is the difficult one, always getting themselves into a mess. If you can’t think of the one in your family…it might be you. Just kidding!

Abraham and Lot traveled together for much of the journey. But, in Genesis 13 Abraham offered Lot the choice of where he would like to take his flocks because the combined herds could not be supported by the land on which they were living.

Though much is made of Lot’s unwilling escape from Sodom and some remember his rescue by Abraham’s men when taken captive, there is something more important to see in Lot. His decision to take the best, or what he thought was the best, when his uncle (the head of the family and primary ruler of the group) offered  him the choice shows that Lot was selfish and unconcerned with the hierarchy of the family.

Gracious and generous, as was his God, Abraham let it go without saying anything, knowing that God was his provider. Lot, on the other hand, seems to have thought that he had everything under control…all by himself.

God showed Abraham what faith he had been given by announcing that Sodom would be obliterated (a good translation of the word used). Upon hearing that this ungodly city would be destroyed, Abraham went through a pleading session with God to spare the city. God finally (as He planned) told Abraham that if there were only 10 righteous men in Sodom, it would be spared.

Lot was spared in the destruction of the city, but his wife “looked back” and was turned into a pillar of salt. Why? Probably not because she looked back physically, but because she could not help but yearn for the life that her husband had chosen for her. Lot’s next actions prove that he also had been badly influenced by the culture of Sodom and he lacked a real connection with God.

Lot failed to understand that we are to be in this world, but not of this world!

What happened to Lot as he assimilated himself in the land of Sodom? Do you think he longed for Sodom even though he knew it would be destroyed? Why did he have such a connection with a wicked place? Do you ever feel like you have been assimilated into our culture to the point that you would not want to leave it?

Genesis 15 Abraham has another conversation with God about having a name that means “father of many” while not having any children. People are starting to laugh… two of them are Abram and Sarai as they laugh at God.

This is when the whole issue of multiple “wives” enters the picture.

The promise of a son at such a great age was just plain impossible to fulfill, or that is what Abraham and Sarah decided. Though the Story proclaims that Abraham “did not waiver…regarding the promise of God”, he did.  That paragraph is taken from the New Testament.  We can try to let Abraham off the hook here, but the Bible doesn’t say that. Sarah (Sarai) offered her slave as Abraham’s concubine, and he agreed.

Much is made of Sarah’s laughter at the thought of motherhood; that her laughter was out of doubt, but Abraham’s out of joy. However, God’s words to Abraham indicate that he too laughed out of doubt

“…he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?’ And Abraham said to God, ‘If only Ishmael might live under your blessing!” Gen 17

After all, Abraham wasn’t perfect–and God’s promise seemed pretty crazy.

The birth of Ishmael would have been “on the knees” of Sarah. In other words, legally the child would belong to Sarah. Abraham, of course, was the father. IF Abraham’s faith was not weakened; IF he had no doubt, then he would have not taken Hagar. Abraham had the same doubts as did Sarah.

The decision was a disaster, as were all multiple wives marriages in the Old Testament. Also, if you notice, God did not command any of them!  People often make the mistake of thinking that if it is in the Bible, then it was God-approved. Not so.  In the whole mess,  Abraham was consistent in one thing–he always ducked the decision-making.

There is a beautiful part to Hagar’s misery. When she runs away and decides to die with her son, Ishmael, God comes to her and makes her a huge promise concerning her offspring. God cares about the women in His family–all of them. Too many people today deny His fatherly love for women because they believe the Bible is full of male dominated language. They do not bother to learn about what God really believes about women.

Ishmael was the first-born of Abraham. Legally, he was also the son of Abraham’s wife. But, he would not inherit his father’s covenant with God, nor the usual double share of estate inheritance, because God’s chosen was Isaac. This makes sense because it had already been planned that way by God. Abraham and Sarah messed it up with their decision to hurry along the promise of God with the taking of Hagar and the birth of Ishmael. The “put-down” of Ishmael was not God’s fault, it was the fault of his father.

Many of God’s promises can seem pretty crazy to us. How have you struggled with a plan that you believed that God had for your life? Did you ignore it or pursue it? 

Even after the promise of a child comes to Abram and Sarai, they still have to wait for it to come true. Those times of waiting can often be trying on people.

Have you had to wait for a promise to come true? What did it feel like to wait? Were there times of doubt? Did you attempt to find another way out like Abram and Sarai? 

Finally they have a son and they call him Isaac. But, God is not done testing. He says to Abram, that he wants him to sacrifice his son.

Read Genesis 22:1-12

Perhaps Abraham needed some testing after his not-always-good decisions, (not only did he take Hagar, but TWICE he passed Sarah off as his sister to avoid possibly being killed by a ruler who could want her), or perhaps God asked him to sacrifice Isaac in order to prove to the old man that he was more faithful than he believed. It is often in testing that we discover what great faith God can give to us when needed.

There is also the faith of Isaac to be mentioned here. Isaac was probably about 14 at this time. His father was closer to 120. Could not Isaac have overpowered the old man and run like a deer? But, he did not. He remained obedient to his father even when what was about to happen became obvious.

But God is never going to ask you to do something that only he can do. God tells Abram to stop before he plunges the knife into Isaac. This is a foreshadowing of what God will do with his one and only son…the difference is, no one will stop him. It is a sacrifice that only God can make.

The nation building continues… Read Genesis 25:19-34

Isaac is grown and has some children of his own. Twin boys were growing in Rebekah’s womb (Isaac’s wife). Esau is the first-born and Jacob the second. The two resemble Cain and Abel in the jobs, but the story goes a little bit differently.

Rebekah has a favorite child, and its Jacob. she wants him to get the inheritance over her older child, Esau. So actually, Jacob wasn’t the “master manipulator” when it came to fooling his father into giving him the inheritance that the old man planned for Esau. That would be his mother.

There were two inheritances to be had by the sons in those days. One was financial. This was what Esau gave up for a bowl of soup. That incident shows us that Esau’s attention, or loyalty, was not to the family. Unfortunately, it also shows us that his brother, Jacob, was not above using his brother for gain instead of helping him get something to eat.  The second inheritance for the sons of God’s patriarchs was the promise of the covenant; the blessings from God passed on to the son. Again, and this will continue, the second son ends up receiving the blessing from his father and his God.  However, Jacob was about to learn a lesson concerning what it felt like to be used and abused.

Fleeing from his brother, Jacob met Laban–perhaps the sneakiest guy to come along in centuries.  Marrying Leah was not part of the original “deal”.  He thought that he married Rachel, but having had too much wine at the reception, Jacob didn’t realize that good ol’ Laban sneaked Rachel’s sister, Leah, into the wedding tent. The relationship was consummated and Jacob was forced to marry Leah. Then he had to work seven more years (a total of 14) to finally get Rachel.  Again the multi-wife setup was not only a disaster in the making, but again was not God-approved.

Battles between the wives ensued, even to the point of Rachel “renting” Jacob from her sister, Leah. When finally leaving Laban behind, Rachel stole her father’s household idols. She had been learning from her husband, I guess. But, Why? According to the notes in the Archaeological bible,

 “If the inheritance were disputed in court, possession of the family idols could be accepted as proof that the deceased had intended the possessor to be his heir.”  This is really telling—1. Laban, Rebecca’s brother, was a pagan, living by pagan society’s rules.  2. Rachel either wanted the idols for inheritance guarantee, or was she still attached to them?

It is interesting that Jacob was God’s choice. When approaching Esau for the first time in many, many years, Jacob was terrified, convinced that Esau would kill him.  He sent many gifts ahead to pacify Esau, and planned how to divide his men so that as many as possible could survive what he was sure would be Esau’s attack. All of this he did on his own, without God’s advice. He prayed like we do–we pray for deliverance and then go do things our own way.

Where was his faith? Where is ours?

Read Genesis 32:22-32

That very night God came to him and taught him what it meant to belong to the one and only true God. He wrestled with a character that Jacob believed was God. Some commentators say that he was actually wrestling the per-incarnate Christ.

Have you ever wrestled with God? What was the battle over? Did you escape victorious or was God the ultimate victor?

When Jacob finally sees Esau there is no animosity and Esau welcomes his brother home.

Why did Esau, hold no animosity toward Jacob? Did God change his mind?

The many faults of the great patriarchs we have studied so far show us something very important–it isn’t our goodness that makes God choose us. It isn’t that he believes that we are going to act perfectly every time. So why does he choose us?

Why He does choose us may be beyond our comprehension. I do know one thing for sure…it feels great to be chosen.

What one or two things stood out to you the most in this lesson? What will you do to incorporate it into your life?

Please feel free to comment and ask questions as we interact with God’s Word.

Be blessed and be a blessing today!

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