So what do you think of Jacob, having read most of his life story? Please don't be pious or "spiritual" in your evaluation of him. Would you let this kind of husband or father be a member in your church?
As you read through Genesis, try to place yourself in the shoes (or sandals) of Israel - they are just settling into the Promised Land having spent 40 years in the wilderness. They are trying to remember their roots, trying to get a sense of who they are, how they got to where they are at now, and who they are to become. As you read Jacob's story, you find out where the nation Israel got its name...what does that story tell you about what the nation will become like? This is the man through whom a nation will be born that will bless the whole world...this is the nation that Jesus will come from...what does this tell you about whom God will use to bless the world? What does this tell you about Jesus?
What did you think of the stories about the women in Jacob's life? Very honest stories, did you catch any of the emotional depth rooted in the accounts? What must it have been like for Leah to be unloved? What was it like for Rachel to be loved, yet barren (a sign of cursedness - very undesirable)? What was it like for Dinah to be raped and then loved and then avenged? Why do you think that story is in there? What do the preceeding chapters and following chapters gain by having the story of Dinah included? (Hint, the story has alot to do with Simeon and Levi...this event will come up again near the end of the book).
Did you catch any of the humor? Rachel can't stand up off the camel saddle because it's "that time of the month" - what a deceiver, just like her hubby. Or the story of Jacob turning unblemished goats into spotted and striped ones. Or the story of Jacob convincing a whole town of men to get circumcised so the Prince can have Dinah. Or the story of Esau giving Jacob a big bear hug (who would have expected that?!?).
Did you also catch the "bartering" between Jacob and Laban and between Jacob and Esau?
Don't read the Scriptures as solemn words you have to read...these are ancient stories that have endured the ages because they contain profound truth - profound truth that is startling, disturbing, enlightening, encouraging, probing, memorable.
The story of Jacob is more then just about Jacob - it is the story of the foundations of Israel and Jesus; it is also the story of God. God identifies himself as the God of Jacob...so what kind of God do we serve? Do you remember the promise that God made to Jacob? It is a stunning promise that Paul rearticulates in Romans 8..."nothing can seperate us from the love of God"...Paul got most of his stuff from the OT - he didn't present much new material...he just understood Jesus as the fulfillment of everything in the OT.
Are you enjoying Genesis? What are you learning? Post a comment for others to read...