By Colleen M. Donahue

Our study continues with the life of Jacob. After deceiving his brother Esau out of his birthright, Jacob, at the advice of his mother, flees Canaan to escape the wrath of his brother. This sudden decision to leave home is misrepresented to Isaac (his father) who thinks his son is leaving to find a wife amongst their own people in Haran!

With a very unhappy and dangerous home situation behind him, Jacob sets off to find his Uncle Laban in Haran. The plan by his mother is for him to stay just long enough for Esau's fury to subside. Then she would send word for him to come home. They in fact would never see each other again.

We saw in the last study that despite Jacob's self-centred and manipulative character, God met with him while he was alone on his journey. This meeting was at Bethel in the form of a dream. God's abundant love for Jacob was poured forth in many promises to him.

Now, we'll continue with the next stage in Jacob's life, his testing through difficult circumstances.

JACOB - Part 2--Testing Through Difficult Circumstances

Day 1- Jacob traveled until he came to "the land of the Eastern peoples" and found himself amidst shepherds watering their sheep. How did he find his relatives?
Genesis 29:1-14

Day 2- During the first month stay with his uncle, Jacob fell in love with Laban's younger daughter Rachel. What commitment did he promise his uncle in return for his daughter's hand?
Genesis 29:14b-19

Day 3- Whenever a service is done from the love in our heart, the serving is sweet and the time is short. So it was for Jacob.
Genesis 29:20

Day 4- When the 7 years were up Jacob came to Laban to marry Rachel in happy anticipation of their life together. But now the deceiver himself--Jacob--was deceived!
Genesis 29:21-25

Day 5- We've seen that from birth Jacob had put himself first. Now, in a painful way, he would start to receive back some of what he had done to his family.
Galatians 6:7-8

Day 6- For the promise of 7 more years of service Rachel becomes his wife now as well. This was a heavy blow to Jacob. 14 years is a long time in anyone's life. You too may be facing pressurized or "long" circumstances in your life right now. Why does God allow them?
Hebrews 12:5-9 / Revelations 3:19

Day 7- God, in loving us as sons and daughters, has a purpose behind all that is allowed to happen in our lives. What are the results for those of us trained and disciplined by our Father in Heaven?
Hebrews 12:10-11

Day 8- Jacob's discipline was not primarily in having to work for Uncle Laban another 7 years. He now lived in a household under considerable stress and tension illustrated by the names of his sons!
Genesis 29:31--30:24

Day 9- Stressful households seem to be the plague of our societies. Here is what causes stress:

A) Hatred - Proverbs 10:12

B) Pride & arrogance - Proverbs 13:10

C) A person who is quarrelsome - Proverbs 26:21

D) A person who is angry and hot-tempered - Proverbs 29:22

Day 10- Jacob's house could best be summed up by...
James 3:16

It is our close relationships with others that God most often uses to show us our true selves. From our perspective, we are always right and the other needs to change. But God may be using the pressure to drive YOU to Himself so that ultimately YOU can be made new in Jesus.

Day 11- Despite 14 years of hard labor, Jacob still did not seem to have changed much.
Genesis 30:25-43

Day 12- The selective breeding practices he engaged in made already bad family relationships worse!
Genesis 31:1-2

Day 13- What does God now command Jacob to do?
Genesis 31:3

Day 14- How did Jacob deceive Laban even while obeying God's command to go back to Canaan?
Genesis 31:17-21

Day 15- As you read the remainder of Genesis 31, it's interesting to note that both Jacob and Laban were master cheaters and deceivers. The only difference is that God (for whatever reason) had chosen Jacob to use in accomplishing His purposes. Who can understand this kind of grace? Genesis 31: 22-55

How does God now protect Jacob from Laban's pursuit of him?
Genesis 31:24,29,42

Day 16- Chapter 32 in Genesis is a crucial time in Jacob's life. He's now on his way home but living in fear of what his brother Esau will do to him. What was Esau's threat to Jacob 20 years earlier?
Genesis 27:41-42

Day 17- Jacob tries to anticipate what might appease Esau and implements "Plan A".
Genesis 32:3-5

Day 18- Because of the great fear and pressure Jacob is under, he turns to God and reminds Him that it was HIS idea in the first place for Jacob to go home!
Genesis 32:9-12

What is the heart of Jacob's prayer?
Genesis 32:11

Day 19- But, instead of casting himself unreservedly upon God, Jacob tries to manage Esau. His first thought was always to have a plan! Now, in great fear and distress, he quickly begins to implement "Plan B".
Genesis 32:6-8; 13-21

Day 20- Praying and planning don't go together. You either lean on your own plan or you lean on God.
Proverbs 3: 5-6

Day 21- When our eyes are filled with our own management of things we are not prepared to see God acting for us .
Proverbs 19:20-21 / 20:24 / James 4: 13-17

Day 22- What must we do to enable God to work in our circumstances?
Exodus 14:13-14 / 2 Chronicles 20:17

Day 23- When Jacob had finally sent all his family on ahead, he was left alone to deal with God.
Genesis 32:22-26

God allowed Himself to be overcome in the wrestling match but not without dislocating Jacob's hip.

Watchman Nee says..."The thigh is the strongest part of the body, a fitting type of our point of greatest natural strength. There must come a day when God dislocates that thigh, totally undermining and undoing our strength of nature. Your strong point and mine may be quite different from Jacob's. Ambition, boasting, emotion, self-love....each of us has his own, but for each of us this dislocating work is a definite crisis of experience."

Day 24- Natural strength is a great hindrance to God's use of our lives for others or Himself.
Romans 7:18 / Romans 8:8 / Galatians 5:17

Day 25- Wrestling illustrates God's method of dealing with us. It is finally to weaken us so that we cannot rise. It is when our thigh has been touched that we can hold God the closest.
Genesis 32:24

Day 26- Even Jesus was not exempt from going through weakness so that God's power could flow through Him.
2 Corinthians 13:4

Day 27- In Jacob's time names were often given to indicate character. You remember Jacob's name meant "he grasps the heel."
Genesis 25:26

This is figurative language for "he deceives". God's gift to Jacob of a new name was significant for a changed character.

Day 28- Many of us, like Jacob, have found ourselves in the terrible dilemma of wanting to live for God and yet being only too aware of our hearts being filled with envy, pride, anger, lust, jealousy, and greed.
Matthew 15:18-20

Day 29- In fact, since Adam and Eve's first choice against God in the Garden of Eden, what has man's heart been like?
Jeremiah 17:9

Day 30- The Bible makes it clear that our hearts (even those that think they're good people doing good things) are so corrupt in His sight that they need to be TOTALLY changed. Man tries to tackle this on his own by self-improvement programs. But God's plan was far more radical. He completely destroyed us in a cosmic miracle and remade our hearts through His Son Jesus.
Romans 5:8 / Romans 6:3-7 / 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

We'll continue in the next study with the final chapter in Jacob's life and continue also discussing our own lives as they parallel his.


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