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God's Plan Continues pt. 2

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Leader Guide ESV, Unit 3, Session 1
© 2018 LifeWay Christian Resources, Permission granted to reproduce and distribute within the license agreement with purchaser. Edited by Rev. Lex DeLong, M.A.
God’s Mercy to a Deceiver
Summary and Goal
In the last session we saw that God worked through unexpected ways, through unworthy people, and according to His faithfulness rather than ours. We saw the escalating family conflict centered on Esau and Jacob. From the very beginning, the twin brothers struggled against one another, and favoritism from Isaac and Rebekah only made matters worse.
In Genesis 27–28, we will see the mess Isaac and his family made and how it affected their relationships with each other and with God. We will see a family that was divided and forsaking God. We will also see that even with all of their failings, God used this family to advance His plan to provide salvation to the world—not by their merit but by His mercy.
Please note: there will be no Wednesday night small group in lieu of Thanksgiving the next day. So, here’s s summary of where this lesson will take us today and if need be, next week.
Session Outline:
1. God’s plan continues through a dysfunctional family (Gen. 27:1-10).
2. ++God’s plan continues through a deceitful son (Gen. 27:18-20,25-29).
3. ++God’s plan continues through His mercy and grace (Gen. 28:10-15).
The Big Idea:
God is merciful and even chooses to use the most unlikely people to build His kingdom, people just like us.
Christ Connection
Jacob’s story is a good example of why humanity needs a Savior. Like Jacob, we seek a blessing that is not ours, but we cannot lie, deceive, or trick to receive it. Instead, Jesus shared His blessing with us when He took the judgment we deserve so that we might receive the blessing He deserved.
Missional Application
Because God has shown mercy to us, an unworthy people, we look for ways God can demonstrate His mercy and grace to others through our struggles, flaws, and dysfunctions.
page 103 in their DDG.
Do you remember the A-Team?
Unlikely group of misfits to get the job done and as unconventional as they were, they got the job done in unconventional ways.
God does not need us to be the A-Team, God just wants us to trust Him as part of His team.
We were created to turn to God for all of our needs and live in dependence and trust in Him, the true source of joy.
Summarize: In this session, we will see the mess Isaac and his family made in their selfish pursuits, which affected their relationships with each other and with God.
This family was a key building block for the people God was forming, but they certainly didn’t look like it. Yet we will see that even with all of their failings,
God used this family to advance His plan to provide salvation to the world
—not by their merit, but by His mercy.

Point 1: God’s plan continues through a dysfunctional family (Gen. 27:1-10).

While Esau was the oldest son and would normally have received the birthright and family blessing, God instead chose Jacob to receive the promises given to Abraham (see Gen. 25:23; Rom. 9:10-13).
Jacob convinced Esau to receive the birthright, but Isaac intended to bestow the patriarchal blessing upon Esau, not Jacob.
Read Genesis 27:1-10 (DDG p. 104)
1 When Isaac was old and his eyes were dim so that he could not see, he called Esau his older son and said to him, “My son”; and he answered, “Here I am.” 2 He said, “Behold, I am old; I do not know the day of my death. 3 Now then, take your weapons, your quiver and your bow, and go out to the field and hunt game for me, 4 and prepare for me delicious food, such as I love, and bring it to me so that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die.”
5 Now Rebekah was listening when Isaac spoke to his son Esau. So when Esau went to the field to hunt for game and bring it, 6 Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “I heard your father speak to your brother Esau, 7 ‘Bring me game and prepare for me delicious food, that I may eat it and bless you before the Lord before I die.’ 8 Now therefore, my son, obey my voice as I command you. 9 Go to the flock and bring me two good young goats, so that I may prepare from them delicious food for your father, such as he loves. 10 And you shall bring it to your father to eat, so that he may bless you before he dies.”
Explain that we cannot know for sure what was going on in Isaac’s mind here because Scripture doesn’t record it for us. We can, however, determine from Scripture that Isaac was a man who lived by his senses. He allowed his physical desires to inform his spiritual decisions.
· “Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game”
Gen. 25:28 “Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.”
· Isaac acted impulsively when he lied about Rebekah being his sister to protect his life (Gen. 26:7-11).
Though it might be easy to blame Isaac for the calamity that followed (he does bear part of the responsibility), the dysfunction in this family ran much deeper. (Refer to the first paragraph on DDG p. 104.)
Isaac’s family was dysfunctional because of sin.
As a family unit, they struggled with favoritism, deceit, self-control, and sensuality.
Commentary: In Genesis 27, Isaac once again gave in to his impulsiveness and physical appetites as he attempted to play favorites with his sons, which will lead to disastrous consequences.
It began with Isaac calling for Esau and inviting him to make his favorite meal so he could bless his oldest son.
Inviting only one son to a family blessing instead of the entire family went against custom.
More importantly, Isaac was intentionally acting against the oracle God had given years earlier
Gen. 25:23
Genesis 25:23 NASB95
The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people shall be stronger than the other; And the older shall serve the younger.”
The blessing conferred the right to rule over the family after the patriarch’s death. 1
But God had chosen Jacob for this honor, not Esau, though neither of them were worthy of it.
Esau too was driven by his fleshly desires and despised spiritual things. Rebekah joined her husband in playing favorites with their sons. And Jacob, at this point, became a deceiver and swindler who was willing to take advantage of his brother and his father.
It is never right to do the wrong thing for the right reason.
It was still wrong of Rebekah and Jacob, even if they were being sincerely concerned about Esau’s spite for his birthright and spiritual things.
I don’t even think that we have to rehearse the sins and struggles that plague many families today?
(favoritism; divorce; adultery; physical and emotional abuse; financial stresses; conflicting values and priorities; lack of communication; busyness and distraction)
God is only referenced twice in the forty-six verses of this chapter, but this does not mean He was absent from this account.
The sin and dysfunction of Isaac’s family did not hinder God’s plan.
· In verse 20, Jacob compounded his lie to Isaac by claiming the Lord helped him find wild game quickly, and then God is mentioned again in Isaac’s blessing of Jacob (vv. 27-29).
· God’s choice of Jacob was coming to fruition, even if it was coming about through the sins and dysfunction of this family.
Do you think that God does this in the sins and dysfunctions of people today? (give an example)
· God is not the author of sin (1 John 1:5) and never tempts people to sin (Jas. 1:13), but He is sovereign over sin. God can use sin and dysfunction to bring about His will, as we see here, but we see this most clearly in Jesus dying on the cross for our sin—the greatest evil of all time producing the greatest good.
DDG (p. 104).
Many of us lament over the negative things we have experienced in our families and lives—whether because of our sin, someone else’s sin, or because of life’s circumstances.
We wonder what our family might be like today if only we could go back and change or fix something.
As humans, we tend to focus on the negative rather than rejoice over the positive.
Yet we need to stop to consider that no matter what we’ve experienced or what errors we’ve made in our own family life, God is still merciful to us.
He still blesses us with goodness and works through us, even when we fail to recognize His blessings.
So, God’s plan continues through a dysfunctional family. However, it is also true that...

Point 2: God’s plan continues through a deceitful son (Gen. 27:18-20,25-29).

Read Genesis 27:18-20,25-29 (DDG p. 105).
18 So he went in to his father and said, “My father.” And he said, “Here I am. Who are you, my son?” 19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me; now sit up and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me.” 20 But 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.”
25 Then he said, “Bring it near to me, that I may eat of my son’s game and bless you.” So he brought it near to him, and he ate; and he brought him wine, and he drank.
26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come near and kiss me, my son.” 27 So he came near and kissed him. And Isaac smelled the smell of his garments and blessed him and said,
“See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed!
28 May God give you of the dew of heaven
and of the fatness of the earth and plenty of grain and wine.
29 Let 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!”
· Jacob brought to his mother two goats from the flock, and she prepared the meal Isaac requested from Esau. She then gave Jacob Esau’s best clothes to wear, put the goats’ skins on his hands and neck, gave him the meal, and sent him in to see his father.
Although Isaac was very old and could not see, he was immediately suspicious. The timing felt off. The voice of his son was off. So twice Isaac directly asked Jacob if he were Esau, and twice Jacob outright lied to his father. Moments later, Jacob also gave Isaac a bitter kiss of betrayal.
More troubling than those blatant lies was Jacob’s blasphemous claim that the Lord had provided the game for him. Notice he said to Isaac, “The Lord, your God,” rather than the Lord my God. I am not sure that was an accident.
Jacob’s heart was so hardened by his sinful desires that he seemed to ignore any feeling of guilt over what he was doing, if he even felt any guilt.
DDG (p. 105).
Deceived by his younger son, Isaac ate, drank, and then blessed his son Jacob.
The aging father bestowed a four-part blessing on him, including an abundance of grain and wine, dominion over other nations and his family, and curses for those who cursed him and blessings for those who blessed him, echoing God’s covenant with Abraham.
Even the idea that the sons of his mother would bow down to him (thinking it was Esau) is a slap in the face of God who said the opposite would be true in Ch. 25.
Jacob’s ruse worked, but with disastrous consequences
Although God’s prophecy was fulfilled through Jacob’s actions, we must remember that there are always repercussions to ungodly behavior. Look at Gen. 27:30-41 with me.
Genesis 27:30–41 NASB95
Now it came about, as soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob, and Jacob had hardly gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. Then he also made savory food, and brought it to his father; and he said to his father, “Let my father arise and eat of his son’s game, that you may bless me.” Isaac his father said to him, “Who are you?” And he said, “I am your son, your firstborn, Esau.” Then Isaac trembled violently, and said, “Who was he then that hunted game and brought it to me, so that I ate of all of it before you came, and blessed him? Yes, and he shall be blessed.” When Esau heard the words of his father, he cried out with an exceedingly great and bitter cry, and said to his father, “Bless me, even me also, O my father!” And he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and has taken away your blessing.” Then he said, “Is he not rightly named Jacob, for he has supplanted me these two times? He took away my birthright, and behold, now he has taken away my blessing.” And he said, “Have you not reserved a blessing for me?” But Isaac replied to Esau, “Behold, I have made him your master, and all his relatives I have given to him as servants; and with grain and new wine I have sustained him. Now as for you then, what can I do, my son?” Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me, even me also, O my father.” So Esau lifted his voice and wept. Then Isaac his father answered and said to him, “Behold, away from the fertility of the earth shall be your dwelling, And away from the dew of heaven from above. “By your sword you shall live, And your brother you shall serve; But it shall come about when you become restless, That you will break his yoke from your neck.” So Esau bore a grudge against 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 near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”
Once the blessing was given, Jacob left Isaac. Then Esau arrived, missing the blessing ceremony by mere minutes. When Isaac and Esau learned of Jacob’s deceit, Isaac reacted visibly, trembling uncontrollably in his distress. Esau cried out bitterly for a blessing that his father could not give, and he determined in his heart that he would kill his brother after their father died (v. 41).
Jacob’s elaborate deception reminds us he was unworthy of the promises God was giving him, but God is still gracious and merciful to His people.
DDG (p. 105).
God delights in using the ordinary—the weak and flawed—for His redemptive purposes
He does this so that all of the credit and glory goes to Him
1 Cor. 1:26-31 “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.””
When we look at the patriarchs, we can only shake our heads and marvel at how God could bring about such good through those who acted so sinfully.
We do not celebrate sin, but we celebrate a God whose mercy and grace bring beauty even from the ashes of our lives and from sin.
We are all unworthy to receive God’s blessings and be used by Him, but God kindly pours out His blessings upon us without measure in Christ Jesus.
With Thanksgiving coming Thurs...
How have you experienced God’s mercy and grace in your life?
(answers might include: receiving light to recognize my sinfulness and God’s answer in Jesus; receiving forgiveness from God and others; being welcomed into a local church community; seeing change in sinful habits; observing dramatic responses to prayer)
God’s plan continues through dysfunctional families, through deceitful people, because God’s plan does not depend upon his people, but rather it depends upon His nature…it is based on God rather than men.

Point 3: God’s plan continues through His mercy and grace (Gen. 28:10-15).

In Genesis 28, Jacob is sent away to live for a time in exile on account of his brother’s wrath and the desire of his parents that he not marry a Canaanite woman but someone from within their extended family in Haran.
Read Genesis 28:10-15 (DDG p. 106).
10 Jacob left Beersheba and went toward Haran. 11 And he came to a certain place and stayed there that night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place to sleep. 12 And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13 And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. 14 Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. 15 Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
God extended mercy to Jacob through a vision in his time of uncertainty.
Contrast the tower of Babel which was man reaching up to the domain of God, with the ladder of God which is God reaching down to the domain of man.
The former was man trying to climb up the tower, the latter is God sending His messengers and protectors to minister to man.
The former was according to the will of man, the latter is according to the will of God.
The former was futile, the latter is unstoppable
The former was based on rebellion, the latter is based on mercy and grace.
The ladder revealed His mercy and grace in reaching down to humanity. God made Himself known to Jacob through His promises that would ultimately lead to blessing for all the families of the earth.
DDG p. 106
These verses record the first time God spoke to Jacob.
Here we might expect to see God’s thundering wrath given Jacob’s past, but instead, we see God’s gentle mercy.
He gave Jacob exactly what he needed to know in this moment of uncertainty.
God does not always come to mankind as straightforward as He did with Jacob, but...
God will always give to His people whatever they need, especially in times of uncertainty.
The ladder with its top in the heavens reminds us of the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:4).
But this ladder is not made by human effort; it is a revelation of God. Rather than humanity working their way up to God, “Jacob’s ladder” reminds us that God reaches down to us to make Himself known.
Furthermore, the people who were building the tower of Babel did so to keep themselves from being spread out over the face of the earth. But God’s revelation to Jacob reaffirmed with him the threefold promise of the covenant first made to Abraham—land, descendants, and blessing—and God promised that Jacob’s descendants would be like the dust of the earth and spread out all over the world.
Isn’t it interesting that God knew Jacob did not consider God his God, but rather his father’s God. There comes a point in every child’s life that the child has to meet with God on God’s terms, rather than their parents’.
Jacob needed most for God to become his God and God knew that. God will always give to His people what they need most.
Maybe, knowing Jacob’s character, God knew that He would have to be this direct in order to get his attention.
In John 1.
· When Jesus first encountered Nathanael, He described him as an Israelite in whom there was no deceit (John 1:47). This is notable because Israel is another, later name for Jacob, who was marked by deceit in both his actions and his name.
When pressed about how Jesus knew Nathanael enough to describe him so, He told Nathanael that He saw him under the fig tree, revealing His supernatural knowledge, and Nathanael responded with faith (vv. 48-49).
Jesus concluded their conversation by telling him that he would see “heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (v. 51).
God reaches down to humanity to bring about His redemptive purposes, and just like sending the angels to man to minister to them, He also sent His Son, Jesus Christ to the domain of man, to minister to the needs of mankind in a way that no one else could.
God now extends mercy to us through Christ in our time of need.
DDG (p. 106)
God came into the world through Jesus Christ, providing blessing for all—salvation as a means of restored relationship with God.
He did that for us: While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8).
It is true that God extended mercy to Jacob in abundance, yet through Christ, He has showered us with mercy even more.
Jacob’s story should elicit in our hearts a humble gratitude, knowing that we are just as undeserving and have received unmatched mercy and grace in Christ.
Voices from Church History
“What is the atonement of Christ? It is himself: it is the inherent and everlasting mercy of God made apparent to human eyes and ears. The everlasting love was disclosed by our Lord’s life and death. It showed that God forgives, because he loves to forgive.” 2 –David Livingstone (1813-1873)
Fill in the Blanks: Provide group members with the answers for the call-out in their DDG (p. 106).
God Is Merciful: Mercy refers to God’s compassion. Both mercy and grace are undeserved, meaning humanity can do nothing to earn God’s mercy and grace. If one could, then it would no longer be the free gift of mercy or grace.
Essential Doctrine “God Is Merciful”: Mercy refers to God’s compassionate withholding of something, such as punishment for sin (Eph. 2:4-5; Titus 3:5).
Both mercy and grace are undeserved, meaning humanity can do nothing to earn God’s mercy and grace. If one could, then it would no longer be the free gift of mercy or grace.
Throughout the story of Jacob and Esau, we encounter a dysfunctional family full of deceptive, self-serving, sensually driven men and women. This is hardly a family we would expect God to use to bring about His redemptive plan.
Yet, that is exactly what He does. And in doing so, God reminds us of the vital role mercy and grace plays in blessing all the families of the world.
The same mercy and grace that God was governed by in the life of Jacob is the same mercy and grace that He is governed by with us. For if it were not true, He would no longer be God. God cannot deny himself 2 Tim. 2:13
DDG (p. 107), and encourage group members to choose at least one of the options below as a way to respond to the truth of God’s Word.
What are some of your flaws and weaknesses that cause you to think God couldn’t save you or work through you?
How does this narrative about Jacob free you from those thoughts?
1. Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible (Nashville: B&H, 2017), 49, n. 27:1-4.
2. David Livingstone, in The Last Journals of David Livingstone, in Central Africa, from Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-Five to His Death, by Horace Waller (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1875), 31.
3. Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible (Nashville: B&H, 2017), 49-50, n. 27:5-17.
4. T. Desmond Alexander, “Genesis,” in ESV Study Bible (Wheaton: Crossway, 2008), 96, n. 27:4.
5. Barnabe Assohoto and Samuel Ngewa, “Genesis,” in Africa Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2006), 51.
6. Candi Finch, ed., “Genesis,” in The Study Bible for Women, gen. ed. Dorothy Kelley Patterson (Nashville: B&H, 2014), 35, n. 27:18-25.
7. Robert D. Bergen, “Genesis,” in CSB Study Bible, 51-52, n. 28:10-15.
8. A. Boyd Luter Jr., “Genesis,” in The Apologetics Study Bible (Nashville: B&H, 2007), 47, n. 28:10-22.
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