1. Jacob fulfills his vow at Bethel, vss. 1-15
A. Jacob goes to Bethel at God’s command
1. Jacob’s Sinful Negligence:
a. Where does Bethel enter the picture earlier in Jacob’s life?
1. What had taken place there?
2. What was the significance of Bethel at this time?
3. What did it imply to go to Bethel?
4. Does the Lord appear to Jacob (after Peniel) before he goes to Bethel?
b. What had Jacob vowed at Bethel earlier?
1. What were the circumstances of that vow?
2. What form had his vow assumed?
3. Regardless of whether that vow was properly made and whether it assumed the proper form, was it binding?
4. Had Jacob kept any of the elements of that vow?
c. What were the reasons for Jacob’s neglect?
1. Had the Lord revealed His faithfulness to Jacob? Proof?
2. Had Jacob merely forgotten?
a. Is it conceivable that such a tremendous event would be forgotten by Jacob?
b. Would Jacob’s forgetting also explain the fact that he never went to see his aged father?
3. Was one of the reasons that Jacob was afraid of the inhabitants of the land? Cf. 34:30 and 35:5.
4. Was one of the reasons also that Jacob was spiritually not prepared to go to Bethel?
a. What was the situation in Jacob’s family at this time? Vss. 2 & 4
b. Was it spiritually possible for Jacob to go to Bethel and appear before the Lord as long as this situation prevailed?
c. Was Jacob responsible for this situation?
d. Can any practical lesson be learned from the above?
1. Figuratively speaking, are we also called to “go to Bethel?”
2. Do the same two reasons also prevent us from obeying?
a. Spiritual unpreparedness?
b. Unwillingness to face the enemies in the road?
2. The Lord’s Evident Displeasure:
a. What command did the Lord give Jacob? Vs. 1
1. Is mention made of an appearance of the Lord to Jacob in this connection? Does the Lord ever appear to him at the altar built at Shechem?
2. Is there rebuke in the command of the Lord?
a. Does the Lord merely tell him to go to Bethel?
b. Or does the Lord bring Jacob’s sin to his attention?
1. Why does the Lord say, “…make there an altar”?
2. Why is mention made of the fact that the Lord appeared to Jacob at Bethel?
3. Why is mention made of Jacob’s fleeing from Esau?
4. Why is Jacob’s old name used here?
b. Is the Lord’s displeasure as expressed in this command also confirmed by the Lord’s dealings with Jacob?
1. Can Jacob experience the Lord’s favor in the way of disobedience?
2. Is this demonstrated in the Lord’s dealings with him?
a. How does the Lord bring Jacob into straits in the events that take place at Shechem? (Cf. your previous lesson.)
b. With what alternatives was Jacob faced through this chain of events? Could we say that his choice was as follows:
1. Either leave the land because he is not safe there and because his carnal efforts have failed and involved him in trouble;
2. Or go to Bethel and entrust himself to the protection of the Lord?
B. God’s Blessing of Jacob in This Way.
1. Jacob’s Obedience:
a. What does Jacob admonish his family to do?
1. Whence were these strange gods? Who was found at an earlier date to be in possession of these idols?
2. What is the change of garments and the handing over of their earrings a sign of in this connection?
b. Under what adverse circumstances does Jacob begin his journey?
2. How is the favor of the Lord manifested toward Jacob while he is journeying?
a. What is meant here by the “terror of God?” What was the effect of that terror of God?
b. Does God always protect His people in the same way?
c. When we walk in His way do we ever have to fear?
3. Arrival at Bethel:
a. What did Jacob name the altar which he built at Bethel?
1. Was this a fitting name? Why?
2. What is the significance of this name?
3. Compare the altars at Bethel and at Shechem.
b. Parenthetical notice of Deborah’s death.
1. Who was Deborah? Why and how was she in Jacob’s company?
2. What is the meaning of the name of the oak beneath which Deborah was buried?
3. Does Judges 4:4 and 5 refer to this site?
4. God’s Blessing at Bethel:
a. What elements of the covenant promise are specifically mentioned in the blessing which God pronounces here on Jacob?
b. Compare this blessing with other announcements of the promise, especially those at Bethel and at Peniel.
c. What is the meaning of Hosea 12:4 in this connection?
d. What is the significance of Jacob’s setting up a pillar here and of his drink offering?
II. From Bethel to Hebron, vss. 16-29
A. The Birth of Benjamin and Death of Rachel, vss. 16-20.
1. The event:
a. Who was Rachel? What was Jacob’s attitude toward her? What was her interest in having children? (Look up previous references.)
b. The naming of Benjamin.
1. What did Rachel name this son? What is the meaning of the name?
2. What did Jacob name him instead? What does this name signify?
3. Is there anything particularly spiritual manifested in either name? Is this naming done in the hope of the promise?
c. What was the significance of Rachel’s death for Jacob?
2. Rachel’s grave:
a. Where was her grave?
b. What does it mean, vs. 20, that “that is the pillar of Rachel’s grave unto this day?”
c. Does this site occur in later history? Cf. I Samuel 10:2.
B. Reuben’s Incest:
1. What was Reuben’s sin? Under which of the commandments does it come? What does this reveal of Jacob’s family? Was there an element of chastisement in this for Jacob?
2. What was Jacob’s reaction?
a. Did Jacob do anything about this at the time?
b. Did Jacob take the right attitude in this situation?
c. Did Jacob ignore this sin of Reuben altogether? Cf. Gen. 49:4.
C. Jacob’s Arrival at Hebron:
1. Why are Jacob’s twelve sons mentioned in this connection?
a. How had Jacob left Hebron years before this?
b. Of what is his possession of twelve sons at the time of his return a token?
2. The death of Isaac:
a. How old was Isaac when he died?
b. Did Isaac’s death take place at the time when Jacob returned to Hebron and entered upon the inheritance? Figure out the chronology here. Approximately how long after Jacob’s arrival at Hebron did Isaac die?
c. If Isaac’s death occurred some years later, why is it recorded at this point in the sacred narrative?
d. How do you explain Esau’s part here?
The Young People’s Spring Banquet will be held May 11.
We are SORRY…
that no copy for “From the Pastor’s Study” was received from Rev. Van Baren. Next month’s issue D.V. will contain an article by Rev. Lubbers.