LESSON 21 – Isaac’s Blessing & Jacob’s Ladder – Genesis 27 & 28

  1. Discussion
    • Read 27:1-17.  At the age of 137 Isaac, blind now, thinks his days are numbered. His brother, Ishmael died at the age of 137 (Gen. 25:17), and perhaps Isaac thinks he will die at that age too. {Actually, Isaac will live to be 180!} In ancient cultures the eldest son received a double portion of the inheritance and the father’s blessing. Isaac thinks the time for the blessing has come. What does Isaac ask Esau to do? (vs. 2 – Go out and hunt some wild game, kill it and prepare a meal for him from the animal and then Isaac would give him the blessing.) Who was listening to this conversation? What plan did she hatch? (vs 5-10 – Rebekah; after Esau left to go hunting she told Jacob to go get 2 goats from the flock and she would prepare the food just the way Isaac liked it; she then suggested that Jacob take this meal to Isaac so he would give Jacob the blessing instead of Esau) Did Jacob say, “No! That’s dishonest! (vs 11 – No, he brought up the fact that Esau was hairy and Jacob wasn’t. He might get found out and Isaac would curse him rather than bless him) What was Rebekah’s response? (vs 13 – Just do it and let the curse fall on me.)  How did Rebekah prepare Jacob to go see his father? (vs 15-17 – She put Esau’s best clothes on Jacob and put the goat hair on his arms and his neck {Esau must have been REALLY hairy!} and then she gave him the special food she had made.
    • Read 27: 18-29 – When Jacob enters and his father asks who is there, what does Jacob say? (vs 19 – that he was Esau, the firstborn; he said he had gotten the game and had fixed it for him; he told him to sit up and eat) When Isaac asks Jacob how he got the game so quickly, what interesting thing does Jacob say? (vs 20 – “The Lord, your [emphasis mine] God gave me success.” Isaac is unsure about who really is there and asks to feel him so Isaac can “see” for sure if it is really Esau.  Isaac ponders that the voice is Jacob’s, but the feel is Esau. What question does Isaac ask again? (vs 24 – “Are you really my son Esau?”) Jacob lies again.  Isaac believes him and after eating the food {FYI – I have it on good authority that goat does taste like venison!}, gives Jacob the blessing. What other clue does Isaac get that convinces him that it is really Esau? (vs 27 – He smells Esau’s clothing on Jacob and that helps convince him at last.) Name the blessings that Isaac gives Jacob. (vs. 27-29 – abundance in food and wine; that many nations would serve him and that people would bow down to him, that he would be lord over his brothers, that those who cursed him would be cursed and those that blessed him would be blessed)
    • Read 27: 20-28:9 – How does Isaac learn of the deception? (vs. 20-35 – Esau comes in with the game that he brought and Isaac, trembling violently, learns that he was deceived and gave the blessing to Jacob instead of Esau) How does Esau respond? (vs36-38 – He is angry and claims that Jacob has deceived him twice. [Note: he is referring to selling the birthright – but was he really deceived that time? Jacob told him right up front what he wanted; Jacob took advantage of Esau’s hunger; but it was plain Esau thought nothing of his birthright at that time] Esau complains that the birthright and the blessing have been stolen from him.) Esau pleads for some kind of blessing. Isaac remarks that he has given Jacob almost everything. As Esau weeps in anger, Isaac gives him a blessing. What is the blessing that Esau gets? (Vs. 39-40 – He would live by the sword and serve his brother; when he was tired of the yoke, he would throw it off.) Esau plans revenge against his brother and plans to kill him after the death of Isaac. (Remember that at this time they all think Isaac is going to die soon.) Rebekah hears of this and tells Jacob to escape to her brother Laban’s home in Haran. When Esau calms down and forgets about the deception, Jacob can come back. What other concern do both Rebekah and Isaac have for Jacob’s future? 26:34,35; 27:46, 28:1,2 (They don’t wish him to marry women from the vicinity of Canaan since they are unbelievers. They think that marrying one of them would affect Jacob’s faith in God.) Who are the Hittite women Rebekah is talking about in 27:46? Hint: see 28:8 (They were Esau’s wives.) Esau learns that his marrying heathen women is displeasing to his parents. Thinking to get in their good graces, he goes to Ishmael and marries one of his daughters, adding to the wives he already had.  Before Jacob leaves, Isaac gives him the blessing (28: 3-5) that was passed on from Abraham to himself – the covenant  – , indicating who would be the son of promise – the one through whom Jesus would be born)
    • Read 28: 10-22. NOTE:  On your map trace the route of Jacob from Beersheba to Haran, Laban’s home. On the way Jacob stops for the night and uses a rock for his pillow. Describe Jacob’s dream that night. (He sees a stairway resting on the earth, its top reaches to heaven. Angels were going up and down on this stairway; the Lord tells him who He is and tells him the covenant is now Jacob’s.) What promise does God make to Jacob in 28:5? (He was with Jacob and would watch over him wherever he was; He would fulfill every promise He made to Jacob.) What does Jacob do when he wakes up? (vs. 16-19 – He sees the place as the gate of heaven; he takes the stone he had used as a pillow and puts it on top of a pillar of stones he makes; he pours oil on the stone and names the place Bethel – “house of God”. NOTE:  you can see why so many churches name themselves Bethel!) What vow does Jacob make as he leaves Bethel? (vs. 20-22 – He says that if the Lord would watch over him and give him food and clothing and return him safely home, then the Lord would be his God and the pillar would be God’s house and Jacob would give God a tenth of everything he owned.)
      At the top stood the Lord.
  2. Application – We’ve all heard of dysfunctional families, but not everyone knows that we have an account of one in the Bible!  It seems that nearly everyone in this story makes major mistakes and commits sins against each other.  What do you think is the source of the problem in Isaac’s family? How did each person contribute to the problem? (Possible answers: Not trusting in God; selfishness. Isaac – not trusting God– preferring one son over the other and trying to bypass the prophecy given to Rebekah that the blessing would go to the younger son; Rebekah – not trusting God; even though she knew Jacob would be God’s chosen son, she thought she had to make it happen on her own, she was manipulative and deceitful to her husband; Jacob – not trusting God to work out things so that the prophecy would be fulfilled – she also was manipulative and a liar; Esau – careless of his status as the older son, apathetic about his birthright – God said Esau despised his birthright – he cared about the blessing because of its benefits, but he was unwilling to take on the responsibility of the birthright, when crossed he became angry and filled with hate, he plotted to kill his brother, he married heathen women, etc.) This family of Isaac did not really believe that God was in control.  Their lack of trust, selfishness and dishonesty blew the family apart.  Never again would the four of them live together.  When Jacob runs away, he has his first encounter with God. He is lonely, scared and alone – the perfect time for the Lord to reveal Himself to him.  Up to this point Jacob has been operating on his own and in a sinful way. But God is gracious and merciful – our sin cannot keep Him from His plan. We should find this incredibly encouraging! God promises Jacob the same things He promised to Abraham.  Yet we see that Jacob’s response is skeptical. At the end of chapter 28 we see him trying to make a deal with God. If God would do as He said, if God would bring him home, then Jacob would make Him his God.  Did Jacob need to make a deal with God? Did Jacob need to trick Isaac in order to get the blessing? Were any of Jacob’s actions up to this point getting him the things that God had promised to Rebekah? (NO.) What promises of God are you trying to take into your own hands? In what areas do you need to trust and not manipulate? How do you cause tensions at home? (possible answers: attitudes, friendships, fearfulness over various things in their lives, having freedoms that they think they have a right to, being wise in their own eyes and not trusting parental decisions, etc.) What might have happened in this family, if Rebekah and Jacob would have left well enough alone? What if Isaac had not tried to bypass Jacob? The same thing that did happen:  Jacob would have received the blessing – because God had promised it to him.  However, the personal relationships would have been preserved and not destroyed.  We can, in our fear and in our selfishness, cause deep rifts between family members.  Pray together today that you all would be obedient to God, trust Him fully and know that God can use ALL things for our good!  Ask each child what they could do this week to encourage peace, love and trust in your home this week.
  3. Digging Deeper
    1. Where is your level of trust in God? What areas in your life are you trying to “fix” or manipulate like Rebekah or Jacob? What promise of God do you need to remember when fear or selfishness takes hold? (quote verses)  What circumstances are you allowing to take your eyes off of God’s way and on to your own? What can you apply from this story to increase your trust in God?
    2. Are you like Esau, struggling with disappointment? What is causing that feeling? What things are keeping you from peace and joy? What “rights” are you demanding that are the root cause of this disappointment? The right to have things go your way? The right to a happy, peaceful life? The right to your free time? The right to say and act the way you want? The right to not have to submit? How is Christ our example in giving up these “rights”? (cite references) How can that help you? Look closely at what is causing disappointment and then give this over to God. End by writing down a verse that will help you focus on having your identity in Christ rather than in what you think you have to have to be happy.