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BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15

Summary of Genesis 31:

Laban’s sons were jealous of Jacob’s wealth. The Lord told Jacob it was time to return to his homeland. Jacob called Rachel and Leah to him and told them how he has worked for Laban despite the wages being constantly changed but God has been with him and has blessed him with their father’s livestock.

Jacob recounts a dream where God acknowledged Laban’s treachery and told Jacob to leave for home at once.  Rachel and Leah agree and say all Jacob has gained from their father should be theirs anyways as an inheritance.  Jacob and his family left Paddan Aram along with all of his livestock and goods for Canaan.  Rachel stole all of her father’s household gods and Jacob left without telling Laban.  They crossed the Euphrates.

Laban found out after three days that Jacob had fled.  He pursued him and caught up with him in Gilead.  God came to Laban in a dream, warning him not to speak to Jacob. Laban, in his infinite wisdom, speaks to Jacob anyways, and asks him why he had fled without saying good bye and why he has stolen the idols.

Jacob replies that he was afraid Laban would take his daughters from him (can’t blame him here) and that if someone has stolen the idols, may they die.

Laban searched and found nothing for Rachel was sitting on them and said she was having her period so she couldn’t stand to greet him.  Laban found nothing.

Jacob is mad at Laban for accusing him of stealing.  He points out how he has worked 20 years for him, 14 for his daughters and 6 for his flocks even though Laban has changed his wages on him 10 times, and God Himself even rebuked Laban for his behavior.

So Laban and Jacob made a covenant, asking Jacob not to mistreat his daughters or take any more wives and neither will cross the other’s “side” to harm each other.  They offered a sacrifice, spent the night, and the next day Laban bid his daughters farewell and left.

Summary of Hebrews 12:3-15:

The Lord disciplines those He loves and punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline for God is treating you as a son.  For if you are not disciplines then you are not sons of God.  Everyone is disciplined.  God disciplines us for our good so we may share in His holiness.

Discipline is never pleasant, but it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. Make every effort to live in peace and be holy; without holiness, no one sees the Lord. Do not be bitter.

BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15

11) Jacob had noticed that Laban’s sons believed he had stolen Laban’s wealth, and Laban’s attitude towards Jacob had changed, too. But it was God who told Jacob to return.

12a) ) Verse 7 “God has not allowed him (Laban) to harm me.” verse 9 “God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.” Verse 11-13 “I am the God of Bethel” and God made the animals born spotted. verse 42 “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you (Laban) would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.” They made a covenant together that resolved the bitterness.

b) Pray and thank God.

13) Verse 3 “And I will be with you.” Verse 42: But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you. It encourages me that all my work is worth it, and God is with me.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15

Unsure whey we read Hebrews here since we weren’t asked about it. Rachel is most definitely smart in hiding the idols. However, taking them? Not so smart. She has God. She needs nothing else.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15

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Just as Rachel is jealous of Leah, Laban’s sons are jealous of Jacob’s wealth. Love does not envy  (1 Corinthians 13:4). Envy is bad; it killed Jesus. (Matthew 27:18).

God is nudging Jacob back home (Genesis 30:25) and encouraging him, too.

God reminds Jacob of his Bethel (Genesis 28:10), where God has spurred him on to find Rachel. It’s good for all of us to remember times and places where God has shown up. This strengthens us and encourages us in times we feel God is far away.

It was important for Jacob to have the support of his wives. After all, they would be leaving their family for the first time ever, taking their kids with them, to an unknown land. Both women agreed for once and were ready to help in any way they could.

One cool detail you might have missed is that Jacob’s entire family road camels. This is like saying everyone drove their own car here in the US. It’s a sign of Jacob’s immense wealth.

Jacob snuck away when he did not need to. God had already told him to go. It’s evident he would be protected. Perhaps Jacob is so mad at Laban at this point he just wanted to leave.

Rachel Steals her Father’s Idols

We are not told why Rachel stole the idols. Obviously, you should not steal, especially from your mother and father (she broke two of God’s ten commandments here yet to be given to Moses). Scholars debate the reasons:

  • She herself secretly worshipped these idols
  • She didn’t want her father to worship these idols
  • She didn’t want her father to catch them through divination
  • Idols were traditionally used as deeds to property
  • She didn’t like her father, so she took something of his to anger him
  • She wanted protection on the long journey

The reason didn’t matter. She stole; this is wrong.

They left Paddan Aram and Haran for Gilead, which is about 300 miles away and close to the sea of Galilee. Since it took 3 days for Laban to notice, the families must have lived a considerable distance away from one another. Note that God cautions Laban to deal fairly with Jacob. Laban was probably angry and did intend to harm him. God’s warning meant “you touch him and you will pay.”

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Jacob and Home

Jacob is close to home when Laban catches up. It took Laban 7 days to catch up to Jacob who is now near the Jordan River and very close to home. Laban tried to shame him with a celebration and a chance to say good bye to his family. He threatens harm as well. Jacob fervently denies he stole the idols, not knowing Rachel had.

Jacob let Laban have it, citing all he had done for him in 20 years and showing him how ungrateful he was being. He was angry over it all, maybe even remembering the trickery of Leah. He helped Laban. Jacob replaced any lost animal of Laban’s with his own and tells him that God sent him away.

Note that Jacob does not claim God as his own, only Abraham and Isaac’s.

Mizpah meant God is watching and He will repay you if you sin. Laban still claims everything is his, but says he’ll let Jacob have it. The pillar was a sign of their separation. It appears they still left with much animosity between them. From here on out, Jacob’s family will be separated from everyone else.

Laban will never see his daughters or grandchildren again. He now disappears from Bible history, presumably returning home and living out his life as he always had. The separation between Laban and Jacob had to happen. Like this example shows us, it is not always pretty.

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Friday Digest: BSF’s Study of Genesis Lesson 10

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IN GENESIS CHAPTER 15-16:

  • God judges sin but with grace
  • God’s timing is not our own
  • Nothing is impossible with God
  • God is our shield
  • God is our light
  • God seeks us even when we flee from Him

Take Away: God’s graciousness is unfathomable.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 10, Day 5: Romans 4:13-25; Galatians 3:6-9, 16, 29; Hebrews 11:8-19

Summary of passages:  Romans 4:13-25:  Abraham received God’s promise by faith, not by works or by following the law (which didn’t exist or hadn’t been given in Abram’s time).  For if you follow the law, then why would you need faith?

God’s promises are by faith in Him and by His grace to all who believe not just to those who follow the law.  Through hope and faith Abraham believed God when God said he would be a father of nations even though he and Sarah were almost 100 years old and were close to death.

Abraham was strengthened in his faith and gave God the glory when he had a son.  It was through his faith Abraham was righteous and it is the same for all believers who believe Jesus died for our sins and was raised from the dead for our justification.

We must remember Paul is writing explaining the Christian faith and just got done in Romans 3, saying we are righteous only because of faith in Jesus and nothing else.

Galatians 3:6-9, 16, 29:  Abraham believed God and was thus righteous.  Therefore, those who believe are children of Abraham and are blessed along with him.  The Scriptures say that God justifies the Gentiles though faith as evidenced when God said he would bless all nations through Abraham.

God’s promises apply to all if you belong to Christ.

Hebrews 11:8-19:  Abraham when called obeyed by faith to go to the promised land and make his home there for he was looking forward to the city with foundations (heaven).  Abraham became a father by faith and had descendants as numerous as the stars.

All of these people when they died were living by faith for they did not receive the promises in their lifetime on earth.  They were strangers in this land for their home was in heaven.

Abraham offered his only son Isaac as a sacrifice to God for he had faith that God could and would bring him back from the dead.

Questions:

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  It all comes down to faith in God, who He is, what He says, and what He does. We have nothing to worry about if we have God.

10)  Genesis 12:3:  God says “…all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”  Galatians tells us that all who believe are children of Abraham and are thus righteous and blessed as God blessed all through Abraham.

11a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He had unquestioning faith.  He never questioned.  God spoke; Abraham obeyed.  Even when it was scary, uncertain, or painful (like called to sacrifice your only son).  He believed in God’s promises.

b)  Genesis 21:12:  God says, “…it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”  The ultimate blessing is our forgiveness of our sins and salvation through Jesus Christ, a descendant of Isaac and Abraham.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God’s promises have been the same since the Fall.  That He would provide us an eternal home with him.  He would cleanse us of our sins and redeem us.  He would provide the way.  And not only for God’s chosen people, the Israelites, but also for the Gentiles.  All through faith.

Conclusions:  Definitely dreaded this lesson after yesterday’s, especially when I noted nothing from Genesis (or the Old Testament) in the reading AND Hebrews 11 AGAIN!

Interesting how often the Bible does repeat itself or the same idea (like in these passages about Abraham’s faith) just in different ways.  Guess we have to drill it into our heads to get it!

This lesson brought to mind the study of Isaiah where the importance of Israel and the Gentiles was prominent.  Here, I first learned the significance of both and the difference.

Summary of today:  God’s promises are for ALL.  Which includes salvation.

 

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 10, Day 4: Genesis 11:26-32; Acts 7:2-8

Summary of passages:  Genesis 11:26-32:  The account of Terah from the line of Shem who was Abram’s (later Abraham’s) father.  Lot was Abram’s nephew.  Abram married Sarai (later Sarah) and she was barren (had no children).

Terah, Abram, Sarai, and Lot left Ur for Canaan but settled in Haran where Terah died.

Acts 7:2-8:  Stephen tells us the back story:  God appeared the Abram/Abraham while he was still in Ur in Mesopotamia before he left for Haran and told Abram to leave Ur and to go to Canaan.  So he went to Haran.  Then after Terah, his father, died God sent Abram to Canaan.

God gave him no inheritance in Canaan but He promised him his descendants would possess the land.  God told Abram his children would be strangers in the land and would be enslaved for 400 years.  But God would punish that nation and afterward they will come back to Canaan to worship Him.  Here, God instituted the covenant of circumcision as a sign of this covenant.

Then Abraham had Isaac whom he circumcised.  Isaac had Jacob who became the father of the twelve patriarchs.

Questions:

7a)  Ur, a city in Mesopotamia where the Chaldeans or Babylonians ruled at that time (approximately 2091 BC).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That God told Abram beforehand that they would suffer and be enslaved before they would have their inheritance of the land.  Also, the covenant of circumcision was a sign of this promise.

8a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I learned that Lot was Abram’s nephew and was one of those chosen along with Abram to share in God’s inheritance of Canaan.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This one is pulling teeth.  Not sure how the facts of Abram’s calling encourage my family.

Conclusions:  My favorite part of this lesson was writing the summary.  The rest I could have done without.

I gave up on 8b after 20 minutes.  Couldn’t think of one thing.

This one was definitely a filler lesson in my opinion.

Map of Abram’s Journey out of Ur to Canaan:  http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/old-testament-map.html#Peninsula.

Recommendation:  If you are interested in map work, I would purchase a good Bible Atlas.  The one I own is Zondervan’s Atlas of the Bible by Carl S. Rasmussen.  This has a much, MUCH better map of Abraham’s possible route than I could find on the Internet as well as detailed background information, dates, and what’s going on in the known world in the same time period.

I’m sure there are many more wonderful ones out there but the detail given in a book is invaluable to me as I need to picture Abram trekking through the desert in order to understand a world more than 4 millenia before mine.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 10, Day 3: Skim Genesis 6-9

Summary of passages:  Please see previous posts.

Questions:

6a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The judgment was final.  There was no going back once it began.  Once God closed the door to the ark God’s judgment had been complete. So it will be in the End Times for Jesus’s Second Coming.  No one will know when it will happen.  It will just happen.

b)  Believers are spared God’s punishment in terms of punishment.  We are judged for rewards for God has forgiven our sins.  Unbelievers are judged for punishments for their sins have not been forgiven.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I am a Christian through faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit indwells my body to guide me in this life.

Conclusion:  Honestly, again, dreading the repetition.  But part b did give me a chance to clarify in my mind the Final Judgment and research the passages for this, which is important in explaining to others why they need to accept Christ.

Great, succinct answer to who is judged and when HERE

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 10, Day 2: Skim Genesis 1-5

Summary of passages:  Please see previous posts.

Questions:

3a)  Physical Needs:  God clothed them.  Food:  now man must sow the ground for his food.  The garden had provided shelter for man.

Spiritual Needs:  A Father (God) to lead man.

Man thought he needed the knowledge of good and evil (or of God and what God knows) but in all actuality man doesn’t.

b)  3:15  “…and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”  Matthew and Luke recounts how God provided Mary a child through the Holy Spirit.

4)  Faith is believing in what we cannot see and being sure of it despite this.  The writer uses the example that we believe God made the universe even though no one saw this happen and believing God made all we see from what we do not see.

5a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Abel knew God demanded the best from him so he brought the best.  Just like God demands the best from us so we must give Him our best.  Whatever that looks like for each of us.

b)  Faith.  Hebrews 11:5:  “By faith Enoch was taken from this life…”

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I must keep the faith.  Hebrews 11:13:  “…They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them…”  Hebrews 11:39-40:  “…yet none of them received what had been promised.  God had planned something better for us…”

Even though I cannot see it, it is there.  God’s promises for me.  In Him.  And when I feel like this life sucks I must keep moving towards Him.  Through faith.  For He has a better plan.

Conclusion:  Interesting how 2 obscure men in the Bible (Enoch and Abel) who maybe have a dozen verses between them (that’s being generous) made such an impact on others who remembered their faith.  For we are not told much about what they did.  Only Enoch walked with God and Abel brought the fat.  That’s about it.  Then they die.

This gives me hope.  Currently, I am struggling with my life and its meaning.  I feel like God has so much more for me and here I am languishing.

For who am I?  Who was Abel?  Just a guy who had faith and got killed for it.  Who was Enoch?  Just a guy who walked with God and because of it was spared a physical death. Who will remember me?  No one will read about me when I die.  Yet there is something out there for me that will make an impact.  I just feel I’m not there yet.

End Note:  Admittedly, I skimmed this Lesson (a review lesson) and was dreading it.  I skimmed today’s passages and thought Not again!  I mean, how many times do I have to read Hebrews.  Seriously?

So I thought God must have something here for me.  So I read all of Hebrews 11.  And sure enough I came up with the answer to question 5c and the conclusion.

That even though I am only one person out of 7 billion people or however many people are on the planet now I can make a difference and an impact.  If I have the faith in God and trust Him to do it.  Not me.  But Him.  Just like all the people mentioned in Hebrews 11.  All had one thing in common:  faith in God.  And all accomplished His mission in their lives.

This is my prayer for me and you:  keep the faith and accomplish His purpose in our lives.

Fun Fact:  Check out this website with cool charts on the world population throughout history:

http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/