January 3, 2021 – Genesis 29:31 – 30:43
Lesson Date: January 3, 2021
Focal Scripture Passage: Genesis 29:31 – 30:43
AIM: To lead students to discover that in spite of man’s sinfulness God still kept His promise to bless Jacob, and to trust Him to accomplish His will even in our sinful world.
Before class: Read the notes on Genesis 29 – 30 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book. Write the word “Polygamy” on the marker board or chalkboard.
INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Direct the students’ attention to the word “Polygamy” written on the board. Ask: “What is polygamy?” (having more than one spouse at the same time).
Tell the class that polygamy is illegal in every state in America, but it has been ignored or tolerated in Utah for many years. Ask: “Do you think polygamy works? What problems might exist in a ‘family’ consisting of one man and several wives?” Allow time for students to name and discuss possible problems.
Ask the students if they have ever heard of a reality TV show called “Sister Wives.” Read the following description from the show’s web site:
Meet the Brown family! There’s husband Kody – along with his four wives: Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn and their combined 18 children. See how they attempt to navigate life as a “normal” family in a society that shuns their lifestyle. From their unconventional family structure and living arrangements to financial challenges, each episode exposes the inner workings of a polygamist household, revealing the unexpectedly tight-knit and loving relationships between Kody and his wives.
Remind the class that at the end of last week’s lesson Jacob had two wives, who were, in fact, sisters. Remind them that Jacob loved one wife (Rachel), but only tolerated the other (Leah). In today’s lesson we will see how God keeps His promises, in spite of man’s sinfulness.
HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):
- Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of Genesis.
- Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (Jacob fled to Haran where he met and married Rachel; Rachel’s father Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah).
- Ask if any volunteer would recite last week’s memory verse (Gen. 29:20).
- Leah Bore Four Sons.
- Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 29:31.
- Ask: “Why did God open Leah’s womb?” (because she was hated).
- Read Genesis 29:32-35
- Tell the class that God gave Leah four sons. Ask them to notice the reasons for the names she gave each one.
- Ask: “Can you sense the hurt and rejection in the heart of this unloved and unattractive wife?”
- Tell the students that Leah desperately wanted her husband to love her, but he loved his other wife, Rachel (who was also her sister).
- Stress the fact that polygamy never works – someone always gets hurt.
- Summarize: The Lord opened Leah’s womb because He saw that she was unloved. He blessed her with four sons: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah.
- Rachel’s Maid Bilhah Bore Two Sons.
- Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 30:1-2.
- Ask: “Does it sound like Jacob had a happy and harmonious family?” (no).
- Read Genesis 30:3-4.
- Tell the class that Rachel resorted to a legally acceptable practice once used by Jacob’s grandparents (see Gen. 16) – she gave her servant Bilhah to Jacob as a concubine. Children born of this union would legally belong to Rachel.
- Read Genesis 30:5-8.
- Tell the class that Bilhah bore Jacob two sons: Dan and Naphtali.
- Ask: “Based on verse 8, do you think there was strife in Jacob’s family?” (yes).
- Summarize: Rachel gave her maid Bilhah to Jacob as a concubine. Bilhah bore Jacob two more sons: Dan and Naphtali.
- Leah’s Maid Zilpah Bore Two Sons.
- Read Genesis 30:9-13.
- Remind the students that in the 20th century the United States and Soviet Union were involved in two great competitions: the nuclear arms race and space race. Whatever one side did, the other side tried to do better.
- Explain the following:
- Rachel and Leah were now involved in a competition to give Jacob sons.
- Leah had given birth to four sons.
- Rachel had obtained two sons through her maidservant, Bilhah.
- Leah did not want to risk being outdone, so she gave her maidservant Zilpah to Jacob as another concubine.
- Zilpah bore Jacob two sons, named Gad and Asher.
- Summarize: Leah gave her maid Zilpah to Jacob as a concubine. Zilpah bore Jacob two more sons: Gad and Asher.
- Leah Bore Two More Sons and a Daughter.
- Read Genesis 30:14-21.
- Lecture on the events described in those verses using the following outline:
- Leah’s oldest son Reuben brought some flowers to his mother.
- These flowers were thought by some to produce fertility.
- Rachel wanted the flowers.
- Leah “sold” the flowers to Rachel in exchange for Jacob’s attention.
- Leah gave birth to two more sons and a daughter.
- Tell the class this is a vivid illustration of the sordid, hurtful, and ridiculous nature of polygamy!
- Summarize: Leah again began bearing children. She bore Jacob two more sons (Issachar and Zebulun) and a daughter (Dinah).
- Rachel Bore Joseph.
- Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 30:22-24.
- Finally, after 7 years of marriage, God gave Rachel a son.
- Ask: “According to verse 23, what did she say God had taken from her?” (reproach; a childless woman in ancient times was an object of reproach).
- Tell the students she named this son Joseph. His life will be the focus of the last section of the book of Genesis.
- Ask: “According to verse 24, what did Rachel say God would do?” (give her another son – see Gen. 35:16-19).
- Summarize: God opened Rachel’s womb and she bore Jacob a son, whom she named Joseph. God told her she would have another son.
- Jacob Finally Earned Wages for His Labor.
- Remind the class that Jacob agreed to work 14 years for Laban’s two daughters. At the end of the 14 years he spoke to Laban.
- Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 30:25-28.
- Ask: “According to verses 25-26, what did Jacob want to do?” (take his wives and children and return to his homeland).
- Ask: “According to verse 27, why did Laban want Jacob to stay?” (he realized God was blessing him because of Jacob).
- Ask: “Wouldn’t that be a wonderful testimony to have with your employer?”
- Tell the students that Laban asked Jacob to remain and work for wages.
- Briefly lecture on verses 29-42, using the following outline:
- Jacob reminded Laban how faithfully he had served him, and how God had increased Laban’s flocks under Jacob’s supervision.
- Jacob proposed that they remove all the speckled and spotted (less desirable) animals from Laban’s flocks and take them to a separate location.
- He said from that time onward any speckled or spotted animals born in Laban’s solid-color flocks would belong to Jacob.
- Laban agreed to this plan, thinking it would benefit him and hurt Jacob.
- Over the course of the next six years God blessed Jacob and multiplied his animals.
- Ask a volunteer to read Genesis 30:43.
- Ask: “What does that verse tell us about Jacob?” (God made him very wealthy).
- Summarize: After working 14 years for Laban’s two daughters, Jacob began earning wages for his work. God blessed him abundantly, making him very wealthy.
PERSONAL APPLICATION: Tell the class that Jacob now has four wives, eleven sons, and at least one daughter. He has a contentious relationship with his deceitful father-in-law. His family is marked by polygamy, jealousy, distrust, and competition. Jacob’s family life seems more like a TV reality show than something we would read in the Bible.
Ask: “Can God possibly work some good out of such a mess?”
Read Genesis 28:13-15. Ask: “What did God promise Jacob?” (to be with him, to give him the land of Canaan, to multiply his family, to bless all the world through His family, to go with Jacob, and to bring him back to Canaan).
Tell the students that God blessed Jacob in spite of Laban’s dishonesty and Jacob’s messed up family life. Jacob had eleven sons and the promise of another to come. Those twelve sons would later become the patriarchs of the twelve tribes of Israel. Through one of those tribes (Judah), King David and the Lord Jesus Christ would one day come. Truly, God blessed all the families of the earth through Jacob.
Ask a volunteer to read Romans 8:28. Ask: “Can God still work out His plans for us, in spite of the sinfulness, jealousy, and envy of men” (yes). Encourage the students to trust God to carry out His will even when we don’t understand it. Encourage those who are married to remain faithfully committed to their marriage, because marital strife, envy, and jealousy produce much hurt and heartache. Voice a closing prayer.
CONCLUSION: Encourage everyone to trust God this week, even when it seems everything is going wrong. He can still accomplish His will.
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