(Draw a large outline of a house on the board, or obtain a picture of a house that looks warm and loving. Tell the class we are going to play a form of the game “Family Feud.” Have the class raise their hand when they have a word or phrase that completes the following sentence: Home is where ___________. Call on several members for response. [Possible responses: “the heart is.” “I’m loved and accepted.” “I live.” “ever my loved ones are.” Etc] Then go on with the following questions.)
1. What makes a place feel like home?
2. What makes the longing for home such a strong emotion?
Jacob longed for home after working twenty years for his father-in-law, Laban, and fulfillment of God’s promise to give him a bright and secure future in Canaan. (Read Gen. 28:13-15 to remind the class of God’s promise.)
Before Jacob could put his plan into motion, he needed the support of his family. Today’s text describes how Jacob gathered his family together and poured out his heart by sharing God’s vision for their lives.
Obedience Required! Read Genesis 31:2-3
When hostility developed between Jacob and Laban, the Lord demonstrated His faithfulness by instructing Jacob to return to the land of his father.
1. What was the source of jealousy and hostility between Jacob and Laban? (God had blessed Jacob in such a dramatic way that almost all of Laban’s flocks of sheep now belonged to Jacob. Whatever wages Laban promised Jacob in terms of the color and pattern of the newborn lambs, God made sure virtually all of the lambs were that color and/or pattern. See Gen. 30:43.)
Following God’s command wasn’t as simple as it might sound. Jacob left many broken bridges when he left home. Read Gen. 27:33 and Gen 27:41.
2. How was Jacob’s decision to leave different from other decisions he had made? (Jacob’s decision to leave Haran was based on God’s direction rather than scheming or trying to manipulate his own course. God told Jacob to leave and go back home.)
Whenever God calls, staying put may seem like the safe choice, but answering God’s call is the right decision. Even when faced with uncertainties, the best place to live is in the center of God’s will!
3. What hindrances might keep believers from knowing and following God’s will for their lives?
4. What reactions are common after making a life-altering decision, even when we know the decision is what God has asked us to do? (We can be fearful of other people’s reaction. We are uncertain what the future holds, even though we know God is leading.)
5. How has God demonstrated His faithfulness in your life?
Obedience Declared! Read Genesis 31:4-13
1. In what ways did Jacob give God credit for all that He had provided? (Jacob led his family to recognize God’s provision in their lives. He outlined for Leah and Rachel how God had taken care of them.)
When we face difficult decisions, reminding ourselves of how God has taken care of us in the past will build confidence for God’s future provision.
2. Why was God’s identification of Himself in Jacob’s dream significant? (God reminded Jacob of that defining moment at Bethel in which Jacob vowed to follow the Lord.)
Taking time to remember those significant moments in our spiritual journey can help increase our faith when new challenges arise!
Like He had done before, God divinely let Jacob know that He would bless him regardless of what deceitful actions Laban took. Notice again how God remembered Jacob’s commitment.
3. How do the ways Jacob honored God in these verses compare to how a person might honor God today?
4. When has “but God” been true of your life’s circumstances?
What Laban did to Jacob was wrong, just like what Jacob did to Isaac and Esau was wrong. But God is always at work to accomplish His plans. The ultimate example of this biblical principle is the resurrection of Jesus from the grave on the third day!
The key to God’s blessings was Jacob’s response: he immediately answered when God called. The presence and power of God falls on believers when they declare their complete obedience to Him and Him alone!
Notice how Leah and Rachel described their relationship with their father.
Obedience Affirmed! Read Genesis 31:14-16
Unlike all their previous disagreements, this time Rachel and Leah reached the same decision. Together, they made four conclusions: First, they had no inheritance; Second, No longer part of that family; Third, Recognized God’s divine plan; and Fourth, Committed to Jacob’s God.
1. How do you think God’s past faithfulness influenced the decision made by Rachel and Leah? (They could easily see how God had blessed Jacob. He came to Haran with virtually nothing and now has a greater flock and more wealth than their father in just 6 short years! (The first fourteen years his wages was his two wives, the last 6 years was part of Laban’s flock.)How did Leah and Rachel express faith in God? (They accepted Jacob’s leadership to follow God by encouraging Jacob to do whatever God told him to do.)
Leah and Rachel were not raised in a home that worshiped Yahweh, the one true God. However, they saw evidence of God’s hand at work in Jacob’s life. They chose to place their faith in God to direct their paths.
God will lead us, but we have to accept His plan and be willing to follow in obedience.
Summarize and Challenge!
· We can be thankful for God’s promises when facing jealousy and hostility.
· We know God has our best interest in mind, so we can honor God and His directions.
· Based on God’s past faithfulness, we can take steps of faith!
How can you trust God to direct you in your home, workplace, and virtually every area of your life this week?
There is one area of my life that I am certain God wants me to improve on and perhaps the same is true for you.
I’m accepting God’s challenge to set aside more time to meet with Him through the Scripture and prayer!
Prayer: Father help me to meet with you on a more regular basis and read more of your Word every day! Amen.