January 17, 2021 – Genesis 35

Lesson Date: January 17, 2021

Focal Scripture Passage: Genesis 35:1-29

AIM: To lead students to discover steps Jacob took toward revival and renewal, and to encourage them to apply those same steps to their lives in hopes that they can experience personal revival.


Before class: Read the notes on Genesis 35 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Pray that God will bring class members to the awareness that they need personal revival. Pray that those who need revival will attend.


INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Read the following to the class.

Robert Robinson had been saved out of a tempestuous life of sin through George Whitefield’s ministry in England. Shortly after that, at the age of twenty-three, Robinson wrote the hymn “Come, Thou Fount.”

Come, Thou Fount of ev’ry blessing,

Streams of mercy, never ceasing,

Call for songs of loudest praise.

Sadly, Robinson wandered far from those streams and, like the Prodigal Son, journeyed into the distant country of carnality. Until one day – he was traveling by stagecoach and sitting beside a young woman engrossed in her book. She ran across a verse she thought was beautiful and asked him what he thought of it.

Prone to wander – Lord, I feel it –

Prone to leave the God I love.

Bursting into tears, Robinson said, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”[1]

Tell the class in today’s lesson they will discover the steps Jacob took toward spiritual revival and renewal. They will also have an opportunity to apply those same steps to their lives.



  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of Genesis.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Jacob obeyed God, leaving Haran to return to Canaan; he humbled himself before his brother, Esau).
    • Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Gen. 32:28).
  2. God Told Jacob to Return to Bethel.
    • Tell the class that at the end of last week’s lesson Jacob pitched his tent near Shechem where he built an altar to the Lord (point out Shechem on the Map of Canaan).
    • Chapter 34 tells us that a man named Shechem raped Jacob’s daughter Dinah. Dinah’s brothers Simeon and Levi killed Shechem and all the men of his city.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 35:1.
    • Ask: “Where did God tell Jacob to go?” (Bethel – point out Bethel on the Map of Canaan).
    • Ask: “What did God tell him to do at Bethel?” (build an altar and worship God).
    • Ask: “What important event did God remind Jacob of?” (when He appeared to Jacob at that very place 20 years earlier – Gen. 28:12-15).
    • The first step toward revival is to go back to where you used to be with the Lord.
    • Write this on the marker board or chalkboard.
    • Summarize: Jacob was in need of personal revival. God told him to go back to Bethel, the place where he first met and trusted the Lord as his God.
  3. Jacob and His Family Prepared for Revival.
    • Ask the students to listen for the specific actions Jacob led his family to take to prepare themselves for revival, as you read Genesis 35:2-5.
    • Ask them to identify those actions. They should name the following steps toward revival.
      • Put away (get rid of) any strange gods (idols) you might have (verse 2). Write this on the board. Explain that some members of Jacob’s family possessed false gods (we know that Rachel stole her father’s idols, and the foreign concubines probably had some, as well). They had to get rid of all their false gods if they wanted to get right with the true God.
      • Clean yourself and change your garments (verse 2). Write this on the board. Tell the class Jacob’s family had to stop doing unclean things and stop wearing the clothing of the world.
      • Recall God’s blessings in the past (verse 3b). Write this on the board. Remind the students that God met Jacob at Bethel 20 years earlier when he was alone, afraid, and running for his life. Jacob recalled the blessings God bestowed upon him there.
    • Ask: “How did Jacob’s family respond to these instructions?” (they obeyed).
    • Explain the following:
      • In ancient times earrings often represented devotion to false gods.
      • Jacob took all the idols and earrings and buried them in the ground.
      • These items were very valuable, but Jacob did not sell them, melt them down, or even give them away – he got rid of them.
    • Summarize: Jacob prepared his family for revival by getting rid of all their false gods, cleaning themselves and changing their garments, and recalling God’s past blessings.
  4. Jacob Built an Altar at Bethel.
    • Read Genesis 35:6-8.
    • Tell the students when Jacob and his family arrived at Bethel (also known as Luz), Jacob built an altar with which to worship God.
    • Ask: “What was necessary for ancient people to worship God?” (a blood sacrifice, offered upon an altar).
    • Explain the following:
      • Jacob previously set up some stones as a pillar commemorating God’s appearance and promises to him (Gen. 28:18-22).
      • This time, however, he actually built an altar for offering sacrifices to God.
      • Jacob did what was necessary to worship God.
    • Another step toward revival is to do what’s necessary to worship God.
    • Write this on the board.
    • Tell the class that Jacob called the place El-beth-el, which means “The God of the House of God.”
    • Concerning verse 8, see the notes on page 46 of the Sunday School Teacher Book.
    • Summarize: Jacob and his family arrived at Bethel, where Jacob built an altar.
  5. God Appeared to Jacob at Bethel.
    • Read Genesis 35:9-10.
    • Ask: “What did God say about Jacob’s name?” (he would now be known as Israel). This is the same thing the angel that wrestled with Jacob told him (Gen. 32:28).
    • Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 35:11-12.
    • Ask: “How did God identify Himself?” (God AlmightyEl Shaddai).
    • Tell the students our God is not just one of many Gods from which we can choose – He is the one and only Almighty God.
    • Ask: “What else did God tell Jacob?” (be fruitful and multiply, your descendants will be numerous, kings will come from you, the land that I previously gave to Abraham and Isaac I give to you and your descendants).
    • Jacob listened when God spoke to him.
    • Another step toward revival is to listen when God speaks.
    • Write this on the board.
    • Ask the class to listen for the things Jacob did after God appeared to him, as you read Genesis 35:13-15 (he set up a pillar of stone, poured a drink offering on it, poured oil upon it, and called the place Bethel – “house of God”).
    • Remind the students that Jacob did these same things 20 years earlier when God appeared to him at Bethel (Gen. 28:18-19).
    • After experiencing revival, Jacob did something to remember his experience of revival.
    • Write this on the board.
    • Summarize: God appeared to Jacob at Bethel. Jacob listened to what God said and he did something to remember this time of personal revival.
  6. Events After Jacob’s Renewal.
    • Ask: “When we experience revival and renewal in our spiritual life, does that mean we will not have any more personal problems?” (no).
    • Read Genesis 35:16-19.
    • Tell the students that Rachel gave birth to Jacob’s 12th son, Benjamin, but she died in childbirth. Jacob lost his beloved Rachel. He buried her at Bethlehem.
    • Tell the class that later there was incest in Jacob’s family (verse 22). Later still, Jacob’s father Isaac died (verses 28-29).
    • Stress the fact that experiencing personal revival (getting right with God) does not guarantee we will never experience heartache or trouble, but it does enable us to go through those hard times.
    • Summarize: Jacob’s beloved wife Rachel gave birth to his 12th son, Benjamin, but she died in childbirth. Jacob experienced other heartaches in the years that followed.


PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the class in this lesson we have discovered some steps that Jacob took toward revival, as well as something he did after revival came. Using the list on the board, review those steps:

  • Go back to where you used to be with the Lord (v. 1, 3). For Jacob, that meant going back to Bethel. For us, it may mean returning to regular church attendance and daily Bible reading.
  • Put away your strange gods (v. 2). Anything that takes God’s rightful place of love and devotion in our life is an idol. We must get rid of idols to get right with God.
  • Be clean and change your garments (v. 2). Stop doing unclean things and don’t wear worldly garments spotted by sin. We can’t expect to get right with God if we are still wearing clothes that look like a lost person.
  • Recall God’s blessings in the past (v. 3). Thinking back upon God’s blessings in the past causes us to want to get back to where God can bless us once again.
  • Do what’s necessary to worship God (v. 7). Jacob had to build an altar. We need to come to the Lord through the blood of His Son, Jesus Christ.
  • Listen when God speaks to you (v. 9-13). God spoke audibly to Jacob, but today God speaks primarily through His written Word, the Bible. We must read the Bible and listen for God to speak to our heart.
  • Do something to remember this experience of renewal (v. 14-15). What “pillar of remembrance” do you need to erect? What tangible thing can you do to remember?

Tell the students this is an interesting lesson, but it is no more than an academic exercise if we do not apply it to our personal lives. Ask: “Do you need revival in your spiritual life?”

Tell the class these steps are written on page 29 of their Sunday School Member Quarterly. Encourage them to examine themselves to see if they need revival.   Say: “If you sincerely want to be right with God, you should follow these steps and ask God to renew your spiritual life.” Encourage them to start right away. Lead a closing prayer.


CONCLUSION: Ask everyone to memorize Genesis 35:2-3. Remind them to spend time in God’s Word and in prayer every day.

[1] Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories, p. 52. Quoted in Bible Illustrator for Windows, Version 2.0b, © 1990-1997 by Parsons Technology, Inc.

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