Jacob and Esau
- Tell what Jacob did wrong and imagine how God felt about that.
- Remember that we, like Jacob, belong to God.
- Feel sure of God's love, even when we disobey.
- Express gratitude that God loves us even when we do wrong things.
If the last story seemed challenging for children this age, this one may seem even more so. It is filled with the kind of intrigue, danger, and sheer adventure that children this age love. It's important for you as the teacher to be familiar with what leads up to this tale, especially by reading Genesis 25:21-34.
Jacob wants the birthright and Esau is careless about it. While Jacob doesn't know it, God has already secretly informed Rebekah that Jacob will bear the covenant promise. Yet both in their own way use their wiles to get for themselves what God has already given. Jacob and Rebekah want the right thing (the covenant promise) but go about getting it in the wrongway.
What complicates the story is that God's promise is tied in with the parental blessing. It might be best to think of this blessing as a sort of prophetic vision that God is offering through the words of this dying parent. Notice that Isaac spoke to Jacob the words of blessing that God spoke to Abraham (Gen. 12:3). Jacob's words also mirror what God had earlier said to Rebekah (25:23). Theblessing was more than just the father's good wishes for his sons. It embodied the expression of God's promises given to Abraham and now passed on to the next generation.
At its heart this is a tale of trickery and deception. Encouraged by his mother, Jacob steals the birthright that belongs to Esau. What a daring thing to impersonate his own brother's voice and smell and feel! But when Jacob gets scared, Rebekah pushes them on. She's ready to take on herself a curse that comes from Jacob's lips.
If there's a villain in the story, it seems to be Rebekah. She pulls the strings, makes the plans. And Jacob goes along with her plot. Isaac seems weak and gullible. If anyone in the story deserves sympathy, it's Esau, who remains obedient and faithful to his father and becomes a victim of Jacob's deception. It all ends in hatred, disgrace, and revenge. Talk about dysfunctional families!
The Bible is much more realistic about human life than most TV dramas with their clearly delineated good guys and bad guys. The Bible is about a God who accomplishes his will, shaping and bending sinful human beings and bad circumstances to accomplish his purposes.
Nothing human beings can or will do can deflect God from his ultimate loving purposes. Not only does God love us despite our misdeeds, he will even use our misdeeds to accomplish his will. Notice too that the lying and deception does not go unpunished. They permanently fracture a family and set up tensions that will continue for generations.
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