Start the challenge by finding and reading a Bible verse from Genesis 33:11b.
Think of someone whom you haven’t seen for a long time. If you were going to see them tomorrow, would you be excited, happy, unsure, worried – or what?
What if, the last time you saw them, you had had a quarrel? Would you be looking forward to meeting them? Would you wonder how they were going to react?
Have you ever tried to be friends again with someone after you’ve broken friends? Was it easy or hard? What happened?
The story so far…
Jacob went to stay with his uncle Laban and met his daughter Rachel. They fell in love and wanted to marry. But Laban made things difficult for them. He tricked Jacob into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah. Jacob was eventually allowed to marry Rachel too (in those times men could have more than one wife).
After years of hard work for Laban, Jacob became a wealthy man with many children. He decided to return to Canaan. He was afraid of meeting Esau, the brother he had tricked in his youth. But now, Jacob knew that God was with him.
Now read Genesis 33:1–11 together.
What happened next…
God gave Jacob a new name, Israel – and promised him, as he had promised his grandfather, that he would have many descendants. Jacob had 12 sons. His father, Isaac, died and his brother, Esau, moved away. Jacob and his family settled down in Canaan, the land that God had promised to Abram many years before.
Explore the Bible
Answer the questions from Big Bible Challenge page 18 together.
Did you know…?
Birthright Esau and Jacob had fallen out because Esau blamed Jacob for taking his “birthright”. The oldest son in a family was expected to take a chief portion of the inheritance from his father, when the father died. The family name and titles were also passed to the eldest son. This was his “birthright” or “inheritance”. Esau, Isaac’s older son, was not bothered about his birthright and gave it away to his younger brother, in exchange for a bowl of soup.
Names Often names in the Bible have a meaning. Israel means “he wrestles with God” and was the name given to Jacob as he went to meet his brother, Esau, again after many years. God is confirming his promises of blessing to Jacob and marking him out for special service.
Wives At this time, it was important for people to have many children, especially boys, to work and look after them when they were old. Men often married several women and treated their wives’ servants as wives too. Having many wives or “polygamy”’ had stopped by the time of Jesus.
Wealth Jacob had become a rich man by breeding flocks of sheep. This gave him meat, and wool for clothing. Sheep could eat the poor, short desert grass and survive well when food was scarce.
Try it out
Be a Jacob.
Because of Jacob’s behaviour in the past, he and Esau had a very bad relationship and, in fact, lived apart for many years. But Jacob knew that God was with him even when things were really difficult.
With your Bible Coach, chat together about your own difficult times: it may be an argument with a friend; perhaps someone at school has been unkind; it may be squabbles with your brothers and sisters or your parents. Remember that God has promised to be with us to help us through the difficult times, just as he was with Jacob.
From your chat, you may have thought of someone to whom you probably need to say “sorry”: perhaps a brother or sister? Make a “sorry card” to the person you are thinking of. Think carefully about the message that you write inside it.
Thank God that he is with us in whatever difficult situations we face – and then be brave and give or send the card.
Be an Esau.
Esau could easily have harmed Jacob, but he welcomed and forgave him instead. Imagine you have been given a “sorry card” by someone who has upset you. Think about how you would behave and what you might think or say. Talk with your Bible Coach about it.
Talk to God
Say “thank you” to God for your brothers and sisters (if you have them) and for your friends. Ask God to help you to be kind and friendly to one another.