Study Guide

In Genesis 33, we read of the reconciliation between Jacob and Esau as they finally meet again. While we expect Jacob to have mastered dependence on God at this point, we watch him instead choose to rely on himself again. Jacob and Esau’s stories make it clear that we can’t make either of them the “good guy” or the “bad guy”; rather, they remind us that we can only look to God as the hero.
  1. After years of speculating about Esau’s response, Jacob finally meets him. In what ways does Jacob exhibit faith? Self-reliance? How does this mixture of faith and self-reliance show up in your life? What are some long-term consequences from the times you have reverted into self-reliance?

  2. Rather than fully trust God’s promises, Jacob’s old patterns of deception, fear, and need for control show up again in Genesis 33 where we see Jacob sow seeds of destruction in his own family. What are ultimately the roots of our fears, deceptions, or trying to manage the consequences of sin? What are we believing about God when we act out of fear? How do we fight against these patterns?

  3. The story of Jacob and Esau’s reunion makes it hard to see either one of them as the hero of the story. Seen correctly, God is the hero of this unfolding story because only God can come through for us every time. Other than God, who can you find yourself looking to to be the hero of your story, and what have some of the results been in those situations? What or who are you looking to to complete you or fill you up?

  4. What qualities of God make him uniquely qualified to be the hero of our stories? What needs to change in our thinking, practical decisions, and regular routine to ensure God is the primary hero of our story?

Key Points
  • Only God has the power to perform and the character that can always be trusted.

  • Fear that someone you expect to perform for you will disappoint or fail you prevents you from loving them well.

  • Preoccupation with trying to get what you need from someone for whom you have unmet expectations will prevent you from being able to serve them. We are free to love and serve others with reckless abandon when we recognize God as the only one who can satisfy all that we need.

  • By always scheming and even using his family as human shields for his favorite wife and son, Jacob inflicts wounds that will be destructive. Instead of using this opportunity to trust God and have confidence that he will do what he says he is going to do, Jacob mixes self-reliance in with his faith and brings long-term consequences for his family.

Scripture References

Scripture: Genesis 33:1-20

Topics: Faith, Fear, Freedom, Generational Sin, Humility, Local Church, Passivity, Self Reliance