Small Group Study Guide, Week Two

Day 22
Gen
30-31
Day 23
Gen
32-34
Day 24
Gen
35-37
Day 25
Gen
38-40
Day 26
Gen
41-42
Day 27
Gen
43-45
Day 28
Gen
46-47

Summary

Note to leader, especially if you are using this in Sunday School: Be sensitive to group members who may not have read or are not participating in the reading plan. Make sure you use the summary to help them get their bearings, and use the Scripture references in the parentheses so everyone can look up the passage.

This week was all about Job. If your Bible has headings that describe each chapter or section, you can use those to get a good overview of the chapter. For example, in the ESV, here are the chapter headings for Days 8-9 (Job 17-23)

  • Chapter 17: Job Continues: Where Then Is My Hope?
  • Chapter 18: Bildad Speaks: God Punishes the Wicked
  • Chapter 19: Job Replies: My Redeemer Lives
  • Chapter 20: Zophar Speaks: The Wicked Will Suffer
  • Chapter 21: Job Replies: The Wicked Do Prosper
  • Eliphaz Speaks: Job’s Wickedness Is Great
  • Chapter 23: Job Replies: Where Is God?

Bear in mind that the chapter headings were not in the original text. So they reflect men’s opinion on what the main idea of the chapter is. That’s why not all translations have the same headings, and some don’t have any at all.

While we’re on this subject, not only were subject headings not in the text, neither were chapters. Or verses. Or even vowels. Take a moment to thank God for guys like Stephen Langton, an Archbishop of Canterbury, who divided the Bible into chapters in 1227. Over 200 years later in 1448, Rabbi Nathan divided the Old Testament chapters into verses. A hundred years after that, Stephanus did the same thing with the New Testament. Thanks, guys!

You’ve probably noticed the structure of Job. After the Prologue (1-2), Job makes and opening statement (3). Then we get into the meat of the book: three cycles of speeches (4-27) in which one of the three friends speak, and Job replies. This is all of Days 8-9, and most of Day 10. But chapter 28 breaks the pattern. The CSB heading for this chapter is “A Hymn to Wisdom.” For a few minutes, Job takes his mind off his suffering and meditates on the value and perfection of God’s wisdom. It’s a beautiful hymn, and it’s easy to miss it, because by this time, we’ve all had so much gloom, despair, and agony that we don’t realize this is something different.

On Day 11, we get Job’s closing argument. For three chapters, he makes his final defense of his innocence. At the end of chapter 31, we read:

Oh, that I had one to hear me!
    (Here is my signature! Let the Almighty answer me!)
    Oh, that I had the indictment written by my adversary!

After that, we come to verse 40: The words of Job are ended. And for some of you, that may be your favorite verse in Job!

On Day 12, a new character comes on the scene: Elihu, whose name means “My God is He.” There are a few things that differentiate Elihu from the other three friends.

  • He is younger than they are (32:6)
  • He’s the only one whose father and family are named. He’s descended from Buz, the firstborn son of Abraham’s brother Nahor (see Genesis 22:21). His father is Barachel, which means “God has blessed.”
  • Later, God rebukes the three friends (42:7-9) because they “have not spoken the truth about me, as my servant Job has.” However, God doesn’t rebuke Elihu.

Elihu’s speech is longer than any of the friends three speeches combined. All of Day 12 and 13 are Elihu talking. I guess he’s been saving it up for most of the book now. Then, at the beginning of Day 14 (Job 38) God speaks, and takes Job on a detailed tour of creation, essentially saying “Where were you when I made the world?”

Discussion Questions:

Note to leader, especially if you are using this in Sunday School: Be sensitive to group members who may not have read or are not participating in the reading plan. Make sure you use the summary to help them get their bearings, and use the Scripture references in the parentheses so everyone can look up the passage.

As you went through the reading this week, what stood out to you? Is there anything you noticed that you had not seen before ? What questions did the readings raise?

Note to leader: This will be your first question every week. Allow group to share their highlights, but resist the temptation to comment, answer questions, or open it up for discussion. You want the group to get comfortable sharing their thoughts, without looking to you to be the expert on everything.

The following questions span the whole week’s reading. You probably will not have time to deal with all of them. Highlight the ones that are most interesting to you. As you listen to the group’s highlights, put a star next to any of the questions that address what stood out to someone in the group. Make sure you always ask Questions 9 and 10.

  1. When you look at all the dysfunction in Abraham’s family, what do you think God wants us to learn from these stories?
  2. Some stories in the Bible are prescriptive–they tell us what happened as an example to follow. Others, like Genesis 34, are descriptive–they tell us what happened without the expectation that we do the same thing. How do you discern the difference?
  3. Even after God gave Jacob the new name Israel, he is still primarily referred to as Jacob. Why do you think that is? Allow for responses, but suggest that it may simply be a way to differentiate Israel the man from Israel the nation.
  4. In the story of Jacob wrestling the man (Genesis 34), why does verse 25 say “the man” (God) “could not defeat Jacob”? Doesn’t God always win?
  5. Similarly, in verse 28, God says to Jacob, “you have struggled with God… and have prevailed.” What do you make of this?
  6. Jacob seems to demand a blessing from God in exchange for Jacob letting him go (v. 26). Is it right to “demand” anything from God? How do we make sense of this?
  7. Genesis 34:29 says that God blessed Jacob. But it doesn’t say how. Or does it?
  8. Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 12:3 (“all nations will be blessed by you”). Ask, did you see anything in the story of Joseph that was a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham? If no one says it, ask a volunteer to read Genesis 41:52.
  9. As we wrap up, are there any questions you had about anything you read that we haven’t addressed? (Don’t stress if you don’t know the answer. For some questions, there may not be an answer! You can toss the question to the whole group, give your opinion, or promise to research before next week. And always encourage them to post questions in our Facebook group. Pastor James or someone else may have an insight or an answer).
  10. What action steps or changes do you sense the Lord is leading you to do next week as a result of this study?

As you went through the reading this week, what stood out to you? Is there anything you noticed that you had not seen before ?

Note to leader: This will be your first question every week. Allow group to share their highlights, but resist the temptation to comment, answer questions, or open it up for discussion. You want the group to get comfortable sharing their thoughts, without looking to you to be the expert on everything.

The following questions span the whole week’s reading. You probably will not have time to deal with all of them. Highlight the ones that are most interesting to you. As you listen to the group’s highlights, put a star next to any of the questions that address what stood out to someone in the group. Make sure you always ask Questions 9 and 10.

  1. Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 12:6-7. What does the fact that there are still Canaanites in the land God is promising to Abraham say to you? Is obeying God always going to be easy?
  2. Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-20) has always been a mysterious figure. He is described as a priest who worships the Lord Most High, but he lives long before the Levitical priesthood was established. He is also described as a king of Salem, which means “peace.” Hebrews 7 argues that Melchizedek is a forerunner of Christ. What connections do you see?
  3. After all of Abraham’s bargaining over Sodom (see Genesis 18:16-33) does anything ultimately change? What does this tell you about God’s sovereignty, His patience, and human limitations?
  4. When God told Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, he was old enough to talk, to carry wood for the offering, and to notice that there wasn’t a ram for the sacrifice. Which means he was probably old enough and strong enough to resist his father, who was by now well over 100. What does it say to you that he didn’t? How does this point to Christ?
  5. In Mark 12, Jesus is arguing with the Sadducees about the reality of the resurrection. He references God’s words to Moses at the burning bush (Exodus 3) which is itself an expansion of His opening words to Jacob: “I am the God of Abraham and Isaac” (Genesis 28:13). How did Jesus use this to prove that there is a resurrection (for help, see Mark 12:27).
  6. We’ve seen a pattern emerging in our readings that God doesn’t always (or often) favor the firstborn son. Adam and Eve’s firstborn was Cain, and we know what happened to him. Japheth was Noah’s oldest son, but the line of Abraham goes through Shem (see Gen. 10:21). Isaac is younger than Ishmael; Jacob is younger than Esau (by at least a few minutes); and Judah is the fourth son of Jacob. This pattern will continue with Joseph, twelfth son of Jacob, Joseph’s sons Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 48:17-20); and with David, eighth son of Jesse. What’s up with this?
  7. It is natural for a husband and wife to each have a favorite child (or at least their kids think they do!). But Genesis 25:28, followed by the sad story of Jacob and Esau’s rivalry illustrates the consequences of parents playing favorites. As parents, how do you keep that from happening?
  8. Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 29:31. What does this verse reveal to you about God’s character?
  9. As we wrap up, are there any questions you had about anything you read that we haven’t addressed? (Don’t stress if you don’t know the answer. For some questions, there may not be an answer! You can toss the question to the whole group, give your opinion, or promise to research before next week. And always encourage them to post questions in our Facebook group. Pastor James or someone else may have an insight or an answer).
  10. What action steps or changes do you sense the Lord is leading you to do next week as a result of this study?

Note to leader: This will be your first question every week. Allow group to share their highlights, but resist the temptation to comment, answer questions, or open it up for discussion. You want the group to get comfortable sharing their thoughts, without looking to you to be the expert on everything.

The following questions span the whole week’s reading. You probably will not have time to deal with all of them. Highlight the ones that are most interesting to you. As you listen to the group’s highlights, put a star next to any of the questions that address what stood out to someone in the group. Make sure you always ask Questions 9 and 10.

  1. Both Eliphaz (4:12-16) and Zophar (20:3) claim their counsel comes from “a spirit.” Is it safe to assume all our promptings and guidance come from God? How do you judge whether a leading is coming from God?
  2. Most of what we hear from the three friends is that all suffering is the result of sin. Do we tend to assume the same thing today? If not, what are some of the other reasons for people suffering? (Note to leader: The next two questions are intended to follow up this question. So give time for all three questions.)
  3. Ask a volunteer to read Job 33:29-30. Elihu suggests that God will allow suffering in someone’s life to bring them to repentance. Describe a time when you or someone you know has been in that situation.
  4. Ask a volunteer to read John 9:1-3. The disciples seem to have the same assumption as Job’s friends– that suffering is the result of sin. What was Jesus’ response? Have you ever seen someone who “displayed the works of God” through suffering?
  5. Which do you struggle with more– “Why do bad things happen to good people?” or “Why do good things happen to bad people?”
  6. Say, The reality of evil can cause us to question two fundamental attributes of God’s nature– His omnipotence and His goodness. The argument goes like this: If God desires to prevent suffering but He can’t, then He’s not all powerful. If God is able to prevent suffering but He doesn’t, then He is not all good. How would you respond to this?
  7. How does the suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus help you understand the reason and purpose for suffering?
  8. When God finally speaks to Job, He doesn’t answer any of Job’s questions. He simply reminds Job that He is God. Do you think Job saw that as a comfort or a rebuke? Why?
  9. As we wrap up, are there any questions you had about anything you read that we haven’t addressed? (Don’t stress if you don’t know the answer. For some questions, there may not be an answer! You can toss the question to the whole group, give your opinion, or promise to research before next week. And always encourage them to post questions in our Facebook group. Pastor James or someone else may have an insight or an answer).
  10. What action steps or changes do you sense the Lord is leading you to do next week as a result of this study?

Author: James

I pastor Glynwood Baptist Church in Prattville, Alabama. I read a lot, write a little, and drink lots of coffee. I have three callings in life: surrender to Christ, be a husband to Trish, and be the best father/grandfather I can be. Everything else is an assignment, because everything else can be done by someone else.

One thought on “Small Group Study Guide, Week Two”

  1. For me the growing clarity of Job is breathtaking. Like Job’s three friends many of us ‘assume’ suffering I’d the result of sin. We ignore or fail to see the many other possibilities for sin; to teach us, to correct us, to glorify God, to redeem others, or simply the result of a sinful, fallen world.

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