Lesson Developed by
Jill Olds, Victoria Crook and Zachary Ludwig
Complex Families, as seen in Isaac and Rebekah
Tips to Prepare
- If in person, set the room with chairs or around a table for a small group conversation
- If virtually, schedule in your preferred video platform
- Bibles or copies of the focal scripture
- Whiteboard or large piece of paper and markers
- Load the clip Dinner Complications from Cheaper By the Dozen on a device so you can all view it together
Genesis 27: 1-45
When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called his elder son Esau and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2He said, “See, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field, and hunt game for me. 4Then prepare for me savory food, such as I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you before I die.” 5Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it,
6Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father say to your brother Esau, 7‘Bring me game, and prepare for me savory food to eat, that I may bless you before the Lord before I die.’ 8Now therefore, my son, obey my word as I command you. 9Go to the flock, and get me two choice kids, so that I may prepare from them savory food for your father, such as he likes; 10and you shall take it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.” 11But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “Look, my brother Esau is a hairy man, and I am a man of smooth skin. 12Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him, and bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” 13His mother said to him, “Let your curse be on me, my son; only obey my word, and go, get them for me.” 14So he went and got them and brought them to his mother; and his mother prepared savory food, such as his father loved. 15Then Rebekah took the best garments of her elder son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob; 16and she put the skins of the kids on his hands and on the smooth part of his neck. 17Then she handed the savory food, and the bread that she had prepared, to her son Jacob.
18So he went in to his father, and said, “My father”; and he said, “Here I am; who are you, my son?” 19Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may bless me.” 20But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the Lord your God granted me success.” 21Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near, that I may feel you, my son, to know whether you are really my son Esau or not.” 22So Jacob went up to his father Isaac, who felt him and said, “The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23He did not recognize him, because his hands were hairy like his brother Esau’s hands; so he blessed him. 24He said, “Are you really my son Esau?” He answered, “I am.” 25Then he said, “Bring it to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank. 26Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27So he came near and kissed him; and he smelled the smell of his garments, and blessed him, and said, “Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. 28May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. 29Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”
30As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, when Jacob had scarcely gone out from the presence of his father Isaac, his brother Esau came in from his hunting. 31He also prepared savory food, and brought it to his father. And he said to his father, “Let my father sit up and eat of his son’s game, so that you may bless me.” 32His father Isaac said to him, “Who are you?” He answered, “I am your firstborn son, Esau.” 33Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was it then that hunted game and brought it to me, and I ate it all before you came, and I have blessed him? —yes, and blessed he shall be!” 34When Esau heard his father’s words, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, me also, father!” 35But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully, and he has taken away your blessing.” 36Esau said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob? For he has supplanted me these two times. He took away my birthright; and look, now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” 37Isaac answered Esau, “I have already made him your lord, and I have given him all his brothers as servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38Esau said to his father, “Have you only one blessing, father? Bless me, me also, father!” And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. 39Then his father Isaac answered him: “See, away from the fatness of the earth shall your home be, and away from the dew of heaven on high. 40By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you break loose, you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
41Now Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father had blessed him, and Esau said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are approaching; then I will kill my brother Jacob.” 42But the words of her elder son Esau were told to Rebekah; so she sent and called her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is consoling himself by planning to kill you. 43Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, 44and stay with him a while, until your brother’s fury turns away— 45until your brother’s anger against you turns away, and he forgets what you have done to him; then I will send, and bring you back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”
Introduction for Leaders
- Begin with a check in with members
- Read the focal scripture with each person reading a few verses
- Open with prayer
Exercise 1: Famous Families
- Think of some famous families: the Royal family, Harry Potter’s family, Kate plus 8, the Kardashian’s etc.
- Create categories to compare and contrast these families, what do they have in common? What do they do differently? Who do they count in their families? What do these families look like compared to yours?
- Write down these on a white board or large piece of paper so everyone can see.
- Discuss what we really see when we see families featured in media culture.
Watch together the clip Dinner Complications from the movie Cheaper By The Dozen
Reflect Together on the Following Questions:
- What kinds of complexities do we see in this family? Where in culture do we see these today?
- Where is God in the story? If God had been allowed into any of these conversations, what might God have said? What—if you know what ends up happening to Jacob and Esau—does God choose to do with this situation, even though God did not bring it about? [Answer: God provides space for future reconciliation between the brothers, and God uses their physical distance for good, for the future generations.]
- This is not the first time we see a younger sibling be favored over the older one (and this would have been considered counter-cultural in Biblical times). What might God/the writers of Genesis be saying here, in repeating this theme?
Close the lesson in prayer (either the leader or a group member)