The text for this lesson is Genesis 31:3; 32-33.
- Jacob struggled against man and God for his birthright. On the cross, Jesus struggled against sin and death to win our heavenly birthright.
- Law: Sin separates me from God and from those I love.
- Gospel: In Christ, nothing can separate me from the love of God.
- Law: Broken families and failed friendships are the result of sin.
- Gospel: Jesus’ forgiveness restores my broken relationship with God and can heal my broken earthly relationships as well.
- Law: Sin causes me to doubt God and His promises.
- Gospel: All of God’s plans for me are good and perfect.
- Law: Sin causes fear and shame.
- Gospel: On the cross, Christ paid for my sin and destroyed my shame and fear.
- When your prayers to God seem to go unanswered, do you think He may be ignoring you? Can you trust a God who seems to ignore you?
- How do you respond when you pray for something, but God seems to answer your prayers in the exact opposite way from what you asked?
- How do you wrestle with God in your life—with understanding His message in Holy Scripture, with trusting His purpose and will for you, and so on?
- Jacob had fled from his uncle Laban, and Laban caught up with him and confronted him (see Genesis 31). Next Jacob had to prepare to meet his brother, Esau, who was greatly angered when Jacob stole his blessing (see Genesis 27:18–30). Why was Jacob so fearful of his brother? See Genesis 27:41–45. How did Jacob turn to God for comfort at this time of fear and anxiety (see Genesis 32:9–12)?
- In Genesis 32:13–21, how did Jacob try to appease his brother, Esau? That is, how did he try to earn his brother’s favor?
- Hosea 12:4 summarizes this story by saying, “[Jacob] strove with the angel and prevailed; he wept and sought His favor.” With whom did Jacob wrestle, with an angel or with God Himself? What clues can you find in the text (Genesis 32:22–32) to answer this question?
- Even as Jacob wrestled God and prevailed, his hip was dislocated. However, Jacob did not let go and give up. What did he do after his hip was dislocated (see Genesis 32:25–26)? Why is this important?
- When Jacob asked for a blessing, the “Divine Wrestler”—the LORD—changed his name from Jacob to Israel. What does the name Israel mean? What was the significance of this name for Jacob? For his descendents? For his ultimate descendant and heir, Jesus Christ?
- In the morning, after the wrestling match, what did Jacob call the place and why (see Genesis 32:30)? How is this like the experience that Moses had in Exodus 33:17–23?
- In Genesis 33:1–20, how did Jacob try to win the favor of his brother, Esau? Why was this unnecessary (33:9)? In this blessed reunion of two long-estranged brothers, how did Jacob turn from trying to appease his brother to living the holy life of faith (33:10–11)?
- When Jacob feared the reunion with his brother, Esau, he tried to appease Esau, or earn his favor. When we realize that our sin separates us from God, how do we try to appease God—that is, earn His favor? Why does this create only fear and anxiety for us?
- Remember a time when you had a serious disagreement with a family member or a friend. What frightens you about being reconciled to that family member or friend? How does that fear get in the way of being reconciled?
- How does our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ wrestle with us? See, for example, Matthew 15:21–28. What benefit or blessing does our Lord Jesus bring out of such wrestling matches?
- Just as Jacob wrestled with God and was blessed by seeing God, we also get to see God with the eyes of faith, even as we wrestle with trusting His saving promises. How do we see God in the Christian Church? How are we delivered and blessed?