Challenge 2 God’s family

CONTENTS:

 The story shown in bold is explored in full in the Big Bible Challenge book  www.scriptureunion.org.uk/shop

Stories in this challenge

Time to leave             Genesis 12:1–9

God’s promise to Abram      Genesis 15:1–7

Keeping the promise            Genesis 21:1–8

Not alone                              Genesis 28:10–16

Becoming friends                  Genesis 33:1–11

 

COMMON tips for this and every challenge

  • Always have a Bible in a child-friendly translation available, as you take the Big Bible Challenge. Even when the Bible verses are printed in the Big Bible Challenge book, find them in a Bible as well. This will help the child gain confidence in handling the Bible and become familiar with its size and number of pages.
  • Finding your way around the Bible can be a challenge in itself! Each reading from the Bible is shown in a certain way, like this:

Genesis 2:15–22.

  • Use the Index or Contents page of the Bible to help you find the book (or books) in the Bible for the readings in this challenge. In this example, the book title is ‘Genesis’.
  • Each book of the Bible is in chapters. In this example, the reading is in chapter 2.
  • Each chapter is split into verses. In this example, the verses are 15–22. In most Bibles, the verse numbers are printed very small.
  • Many of the challenges have five readings from the same part of the Bible, so use a bookmark to keep your place and it will be easier to find the Bible reading next time.
  • The Bible consists of many ‘books’ collected together and presented as one. See if you can work out what sort of ‘book’ you are exploring: is it history or is it a letter? Are you reading words spoken by a prophet or written as a song?
  • Spend time looking at and chatting about the artwork in the Big Bible Challenge. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’
  • When you have finished this challenge, use the simple evaluation sheet. Find out more online in ‘How does the Big Bible Challenge work?’

COMMENCE: your introduction to this part of the Bible

The promise to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 is a pivotal point in Scripture. His conviction, against all that made sense, that God would fulfil that promise makes him the model of those who live in relationship with God by faith. As the subsequent story of Abraham and his immediate descendants shows us, that faith was not consistent, but God was always faithful, renewing his covenant promise and preserving those in the line of promise.

The promise was threatened by Abraham’s lack of faith before Pharaoh (Genesis 12:10-20) and Abimelech (Genesis 20:1-18), by the decision to have a child with Hagar (Genesis 16:1-16) and by the subsequent behaviour of both Isaac and Jacob.

Through it all, God remains true to his promise and ensures that it stands despite human failure. God’s promise to bless all the nations through Abraham’s descendants is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus.

 

CONNECT: the five stories in this challenge

This is a story of great adventure! The key theme running through this challenge is that God calls people in unexpected ways – and they respond (maybe not perfectly, but they still decide to trust a God who is largely unknown to them). It’s a story of promises on God’s part and trust on the part of his people.

For the child, the key story in the Big Bible Challenge book (‘Not alone’) focuses on a time of extreme ‘aloneness’ – when suddenly God appears to Jacob in a dream and his life changes because he chooses God. Throughout the challenge, try to help the child to imagine what it might have been like to be in the shoes of Abram or Jacob. What would the long journeys have been like? Where would they have found food? What wild animals might they have encountered? Who would they have met on the way?

 

CONSIDER: what this challenge means today

Abraham and Jacob set out on adventures without knowing the route they would take or the people they would meet on the way. There must have been times when God felt very close – and other times when he felt very far away.

Although God doesn’t (usually) ask children to take a journey to an unknown place, he does invite us all to the adventure of living with him. While he makes us promises that he will be with us, he does not usually let us know what is in store for us. Share some of your experiences of your own adventure of living with God. Be honest about the excitement and the uncertainty. (You might like to draw a ‘map’ of your life as you chat. Encourage the child you are coaching to talk about their own adventures with God and the emotions that go with it.)

The key to this challenge is to trust that God is with us – even when he doesn’t seem to be – and that he is acting on our behalf and for our good.


CLARIFY: issues that may arise from this challenge

Angels

You might like to talk about whether the child thinks God still uses angels as his messengers today. Read Psalm 34:7. Are angels present with them now? How does that make them feel?

Abraham, Isaac and the sacrifice

The picture on Big Bible Challenge pages 15 and 16 includes a scene from Genesis 22:1–9. Because the story is difficult for children, it is not one of the featured stories in the Big Bible Challenge book. However, it is visualised in the fold-out picture, so it will raise issues that you can talk with the child about.

The story of Isaac being taken to Mount Moriah to be sacrificed to God is a pivotal story in the history of Abraham’s family. Abraham does what God asks but, at the last moment, God rescues Isaac (and Abraham) and, instead, provides a ram for the sacrifice. It is a story that – for adults – gives a powerful image of redemption in Christ, when the Lamb of God takes our place of punishment.

Be aware that some children will be confused or even outraged about this story.

  •        Isn’t God cruel?
  •        Isn’t Abraham a bad parent for being prepared to offer his son?
  •        What did it feel like for Isaac when he realised that God had instructed his father to kill him?

Acknowledge all these concerns and the fact that there are things in the Bible that we find hard to understand. Point out that God had another plan (the ram) in place from the beginning.Reassure them that all that we know of God, throughout the Bible, is that he is not cruel and he has the best interests of his people at heart. He never failed to bless Abraham and Isaac.

(One explanation is that this incident was a very dramatic way of God proving to his special family that he was completely unlike other gods that were worshipped by the people around them who did practise child sacrifice.)

 

COMMUNICATE: talk with God

God made a promise to Abram, a promise which he kept through the following generations. Help your child to draw a simple family tree, including grandparents, parents and siblings (and aunts, uncles and cousins, if they wish). Include people whom your child considers as ‘family’ – this may be friends, pets and even toys.

Read again God’s promise to Jacob in Genesis 28:15. Recall how Jesus made a similar promise to his disciples before he went up to heaven (Matthew 28:20).

Encourage your child to pray for each person on the family tree, asking God to bless them and to be with them wherever they go. Finish by thanking God for keeping his promises.

Suggest your child keeps the family tree by their bed so they can remember to pray for a different family member every day.

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