(Draw a stick figure on the board and write the word “alone” beside it.”
1. What are some situations or experiences that may make a person feel alone?
2. Does a person have to be alone physically to feel alone?
3. If you were to make a video about loneliness, what setting would you use?
4. When have you felt alone?
In our study last week we dealt with Jacob’s deception of his father, Isaac, to secure the blessing reserved for the firstborn, Esau. As a result Esau decided to murder Jacob as soon as their father died. Therefore, Rebecca tells Jacob that she was sick of the Canaanite women and wanted to send Jacob off to her brother to get a wife there, among their relatives. Isaac agrees and so they send Jacob off on this long journey, some 600 miles. Jacob had learned about Esau’s plan to murder him so he left in fear of his life by the hand of Esau! On the run, Jacob’s life took an unexpected turn before reaching Haran—he met God!
God has the unique ability to use even our bad choices to bring about His will—Rom. 8:28.
Purpose Revealed! Read Genesis 28:10-15
In this solitary place, sleep overtook Jacob and he started dreaming, not in the usual way, but divinely.
God used dreams many times to convey His message to individuals: Abimelech, Jacob here, Laban, Joseph, Pharaoh’s cupbearer, his baker and on and on.
God can use any means He decides to communicate His message to His people, or even those who are not His people.
1. What was the significance of the dream Jacob had on his journey? (First, Jacob realizes God is with him, even in this desolate place where he felt all alone. Then God outlined His plan to Jacob and renewed His covenant promise to Jacob’s descendants. He realized God could speak to him anywhere.)
2. What was so important about God’s promises to Jacob in verse 15? (God promised that He would be with Jacob and fulfill the plans God had for him.)
When God calls us to follow Him, He promises to be with us through whatever plans He may have for us. We do not step out in faith and obedience alone. God is with us every step of the way. He also promises that He will fulfill His purposes through us!
3. What is the connection between God’s presence and His promises?
4. How does His promised presence give hope and strength?
God’s approaching Jacob was symbolic of God’s coming to be with His people as seen in the Messiah, Jesus.
Here at Christmas time we hear many songs pleading for the coming of Messiah or giving glory that He has come. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” translated to English from Latin by John Mason Neale, is one such song. Can you name others?
In a place that was no longer lonely, Jacob was about to do some big things as a result of his encounter with God.
Presence Realized! Read Genesis 28:16-19
This event was at least the start of Jacob’s total conversion. He dedicated this place to God, realizing that it was holy because God was there.
1. How did Jacob know God had spoken to Him? (His dream was so clear and vivid in detail that He felt confident the Lord had spoken to Him.)
Note: God can and does speak to His people in many ways but the primary ways are through His Word—the Bible, and His Holy Spirit. You will never receive a message from God that is in conflict with His Word!
2. What was Jacob’s response to the realization that He had been in the presence of God? (Jacob responded with awe and worship. He created a marker to remember His encounter with God.) Recognition of God’s presence should call believers to awe and worship.
3. Why is it important to commemorate God’s past blessings?
4. What happens when believers fail to remember His blessings?
5. What are some appropriate ways we might celebrate God’s working in our lives? (Creating spiritual markers can provide a tangible commemoration of God’s working in our lives.)
When Jacob stole the blessing from Esau, the consequences were that he had to be on the run because his brother wanted to kill him. God freely gave Jacob this blessing, and the result was that Jacob did not have to live in fear this time. Instead, Jacob could worship the Lord freely in faith.
Like “selfies” people take today, Jacob pictured the spot he met God, as should we when we experience God’s work in our lives.
Commitment Made! Read Genesis 28:20-22
1. What was your initial reaction when reading these verses?
My initial reaction was that Jacob was trying to bargain with God. Jacob was not bargaining with God, as if buying His favor; rather he offered God his vow as confidence in God’s promise. Jacob’s vow was an expression of faith, not in deceptive plans, but in God alone.
This encounter with God is at least the beginning of Jacob’s total transformation, which may have happened 20 years later in chapter 32.
2. What do our spiritual commitments reveal about our understanding of God?
3. What is the relationship between being and doing in reference to our spiritual lives?
4. Why did Jacob declare that he would give God a tenth of all that had been given to Him? (He placed his faith in God to provide for him. It is also an act showing gratitude for what God has done.)
5. How does what we do demonstrate who we are and what we believe?
Like Jacob, we are to take steps of faith in response to God’s speaking to us. Does anyone have a testimony you’d like to share with the class concerning tithing and God’s providing faithfully?
Our choices to follow God today will affect future generations who come after us!
Summarize and Challenge!
1. What spiritual markers are important to your journey?
2. Would anyone like to share about a time when you encountered the Lord that became a turning point in your life?
3. How can we encourage each other to take steps of faith? (Pray together. Pray specific prayers as we know about each other’s struggles. Share our testimonies with each other.)
Make a list of important spiritual markers in your life. Spend some time this week in praising and giving thanks for all that the Lord has done in your life.