Small Group Study Guide, Week Three

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.

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?

After Day 15’s wrap up of Job, we are back in Genesis. For a lot of us, that means we are back on some familiar ground, as we cover the lives of Abram/Abraham, Isaac, and the first half of the life of Jacob.

  • Day 16 (Gen 12-15): God calls Abram and promises to bless him. Abram completes the journey his father Terah began by going all the way to Canaan. He and his nephew Lot separate when there is quarreling among their herdsmen. Abram gives Lot first pick, and lot “set up his tent near Sodom.” [insert ominous music here] Almost immediately, there is a conflict between the regional kings of Canaan, Lot is taken captive, and Abram leads a rescue mission to get him back. Worth noting is that between Genesis 14 and Genesis 15, Lot have moved from being near Sodom (13:12) to living in Sodom (14:12). [cue ominous music again] Then there is this mysterious figure Melchizedek, who blesses Abraham. In chapter 15, God renews his covenant with Abram. If you want a deeper dive into this, check out Day 016: When God Makes a Covenant (Genesis 15:17-18)
  • Day 17: (Gen. 16-18) Ten years later (16:3). Sarai and Abram get impatient waiting on God’s promise, and decide to help God out. Sarai gives Abram her servant Hagar so he can produce a child with her. When Hagar becomes pregnant, she begins to treat Sarai with contempt. Sarai mistreats her, and Hagar runs away. The angel of the Lord (usually a way of saying God Himself) tells her to go back to Sarai, and promises that Ishmael will have many offspring, and that his descendants will perpetually be at odds with the people around him. (Spoiler alert: Arabs trace their lineage back to Abraham through Ishmael, and many Muslims consider Ishmael, not Isaac, to be the child of promise). In Chapter 17, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham (17:5) and institutes the covenant of circumcision–not just for all future sons, but for Abraham (99 years old), Ishmael (13 years old) and all the men of his household. For more on this, see Day 017: Guys, We Need to Talk About Genesis 17:23. Chapter 18 includes the story of the promised birth of Isaac, God’s plans for the destruction of Sodom, and Abraham’s pleas for the people of Sodom.
  • Day 18: (Gen 19-21). Sodom is destroyed. Lot, who by now has risen to a position of prominence in the city, flees the city for the mountain (see Day 018: A Lot Like Lot (Genesis 19:1). Lot’s wife looks back and gets a-salt-ed. We find out that two of Israel’s oldest enemies–the Moabites and the Ammonites–were born of incest between Lot and his daughters. Ew. In Chapter 20, Abraham repeated the deception he had used 25 years before, telling Abimelech that Sarah was his sister so he wouldn’t kill Abraham to get to her. Considering that she was in her mid nineties by this point, Sarah must have been quite the looker. Finally, more than two decades after God promised to make Abram a great nation, Isaac is born. Hagar is sent away for good this time, this time with her teenage son Ishmael.
  • Day 19: (Genesis 22-24) God tests Abraham by telling him to sacrifice Isaac. So many of the details of this story point to Jesus. James will also get into this in the sermon. For those who just read Job, there is a tiny but important detail that confirms Job was really an actual person. Abraham’s brother Nahor and his wife have their first son, whom they name Uz (Genesis 22:21). Job 1:1 begins with “In the land of Uz lived a man named Job.” In Chapter 23, Sarah dies at the age of 127. The rest of the chapter is Abraham and Ephron negotiating for the price of a burial cave for Sarah. It feels like pretty boring stuff, until you realize that this is a record of Abraham’s (and by extension, the Jews’) legal ownership of the land. Eventually, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebekah, and Leah will all be buried here. Ishmael and Esau will not. Finally, Genesis 24 is the long and wonderful story of Abraham’s servant finding a wife for Isaac.
  • Day 20: (Genesis 25-26): Abraham dies, and together Isaac and Ishmael bury him. This will be the last time the Bible records any cooperation between the Jews and the Ishmaelites. Rebekah gives birth to Jacob and Esau, Esau gives up his birthright as the firstborn son, and God renews the covenant he had first made to Abraham by appearing to Isaac.
  • Day 21 (Genesis 27-29): This is the famous story of Jacob tricking his father Isaac into blessing him instead of Esau. There are two posts on the 66in52 blog that go into more detail: Where’s Dr. Phil When You Need Him? (Genesis 27-29), and The Error of Esau (Genesis 27:38). Esau is furious, Jacob flees, Jacob begins to work for his father in law Laban and falls in love with Laban’s daughter Rachel. Laban promises to give Rachel to Jacob in exchange for seven years of work, then substitutes Leah for Rachel on the wedding night. When Jacob discovers the deception (which when you think about it, is VERY similar to Jacob’s own deception of his father Isaac), he agrees to work seven MORE years for Rachel. The hustler gets hustled.
  • There are two more details we don’t want to overlook. First, the covenant God first made with Abraham, then affirmed to Isaac, is now reaffirmed with Jacob (see Gen. 28:10-15). Second, notice that the fourth child of the unloved wife (Leah) is Judah. Eventually, King David will come from the tribe of Judah, and ultimately so will Jesus. But start paying attention to how each of Judah’s three older brothers (Reuben, Simeon, and Levi) do things to displease Jacob and cause him to give his biggest blessing to Judah.

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?

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.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: