1. REPENTANCE AND RESTORATION
a. Despite Jacob’s intention to follow God, what situation had long existed in his home for many years—and why? Proverbs 26:21; 27:15.
“The sin of Jacob, and the train of events to which it led, had not failed to exert an influence for evil—an influence that revealed its bitter fruit in the character and life of his sons. As these sons arrived at manhood they developed serious faults. The results of polygamy were manifest in the household. This terrible evil tends to dry up the very springs of love, and its influence weakens the most sacred ties. The jealousy of the several mothers had embittered the family relation, the children had grown up contentious and impatient of control, and the father’s life was darkened with anxiety and grief.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 208, 209.
b. Why can the way the Lord honored Jacob’s firm reformation in the family inspire us today? Genesis 35:9–15; John 12:26.
“Put away sin and then cling to the Mighty One who is able to wash away every stain of sin. Now this is a work of humility at this time, and we must confess our sins and get nearer to God so He can write ‘Pardon’ against our names.”—Manuscript Releases, vol. 9, p. 252.
2. JOURNEYING ONWARD
a. How did the timing of Rachel’s death show God’s power to have made her an overcomer? Genesis 35:16–20 (compare Genesis 31:30, 32, 34; 35:4).
b. What warning should we today observe from a serious spiritual setback—how the sin of Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, caused him to lose the blessed privileges of the birthright? Genesis 35:21, 22; Proverbs 6:32, 33.
“On the way to Ephrath another dark crime stained the family of Jacob, causing Reuben, the firstborn son, to be denied the privileges and honors of the birthright.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 206.
“I have no real ground of hope for those who have stood as shepherds to the flock, and have for years been borne with by the merciful God, following them with reproof, with warnings, with entreaties, but who have hid their evil ways, and continued in them, thus defying the laws of the God of heaven by practicing fornication. We may leave them to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, after all has been done to reform them; but in no case entrust to them the guardianship of souls. False shepherds!”—Testimonies to Ministers, p. 428.
c. In contrast, as Jacob cherished God’s will as his greatest priority, how was he blessed with both peace and prosperity? Genesis 35:27–29; 36:6, 7.
“Jacob and Esau met at the deathbed of their father. Once the elder brother had looked forward to this event as an opportunity for revenge, but his feelings had since greatly changed. And Jacob, well content with the spiritual blessings of the birthright, resigned to the elder brother the inheritance of their father’s wealth—the only inheritance that Esau sought or valued. They were no longer estranged by jealousy or hatred, yet they parted, Esau removing to Mount Seir. God, who is rich in blessing, had granted to Jacob worldly wealth, in addition to the higher good that he had sought. . . . This separation was in accordance with the divine purpose concerning Jacob. Since the brothers differed so greatly in regard to religious faith, it was better for them to dwell apart.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 207.
3. THE CHOICE IS OURS
a. What admonitions should we re-emphasize in considering Esau’s rejection of God’s election of grace? Romans 9:13.
“Esau and Jacob had alike been instructed in the knowledge of God, and both were free to walk in His commandments and to receive His favor; but they had not both chosen to do this. . . .
“There was no arbitrary choice on the part of God by which Esau was shut out from the blessings of salvation. The gifts of His grace through Christ are free to all. There is no election but one’s own by which any may perish. God has set forth in His word the conditions upon which every soul will be elected to eternal life—obedience to His commandments, through faith in Christ. God has elected a character in harmony with His law, and anyone who shall reach the standard of His requirement will have an entrance into the kingdom of glory. . . [John 3:36; Matthew 7:21 quoted.] And in the Revelation He declares, ‘Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.’ Revelation 22:14. As regards man’s final salvation, this is the only election brought to view in the word of God.
“Every soul is elected who will work out his own salvation with fear and trembling. He is elected who will put on the armor and fight the good fight of faith. He is elected who will watch unto prayer, who will search the Scriptures, and flee from temptation. He is elected who will have faith continually, and who will be obedient to every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. The provisions of redemption are free to all; the results of redemption will be enjoyed by those who have complied with the conditions.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 207, 208. [Emphasis in the original text.]
b. What should we, like Jacob, ever keep in mind? 2 Corinthians 4:18.
“Esau had despised the blessings of the covenant. He had valued temporal above spiritual good, and he had received that which he desired. It was by his own deliberate choice that he was separated from the people of God. Jacob had chosen the inheritance of faith.”—Ibid., p. 208.
4. AVOIDING PARENTAL PARTIALITY
a. How did Jacob behave unwisely toward his son Joseph? Genesis 37:3, 4.
“There was one [of Jacob’s sons] . . . of a widely different character—the elder son of Rachel, Joseph, whose rare personal beauty seemed but to reflect an inward beauty of mind and heart. Pure, active, and joyous, the lad gave evidence also of moral earnestness and firmness. He listened to his father’s instructions, and loved to obey God. . . . Jacob’s heart was bound up in this child of his old age. He ‘loved Joseph more than all his children.’
“But even this affection was to become a cause of trouble and sorrow. Jacob unwisely manifested his preference for Joseph, and this excited the jealousy of his other sons.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 209.
b. How can our own attitude facilitate the quality of kindness of character in our growing children? 1 Timothy 5:21; James 3:17.
“There is no favoritism with God, and no partiality, no hypocrisy should be introduced or maintained in our households, churches, or institutions.”—The Ellen G. White 1888 Materials, p. 1821.
c. Joseph was faithful and obedient and also grew much through suffering. But what general words of caution are we all given against pampering or favoring some children over others? Isaiah 3:4, 5.
“In your blind and foolish fondness you have both surrendered to your child. You have allowed her to hold the reins in her tiny fists, and she ruled you both before she was able to walk. What can be expected of the future in view of the past? . . . Your child will never see the kingdom of God with her present habits and disposition. And you, her parents, will be the ones who have closed the gates of heaven before her. How, then, will it stand in regard to your own salvation?”—Testimonies, vol. 4, p. 383.
5. THE RANCOR OF JEALOUSY
a. How deeply did Jacob’s sons fall into the snare of bitter jealousy against their younger brother Joseph? Genesis 37:13–18, 24, 28, 31, 32.
“[Joseph’s] brothers saw him approaching; but no thought of the long journey he had made to meet them, of his weariness and hunger, of his claims upon their hospitality and brotherly love, softened the bitterness of their hatred. The sight of the coat, the token of their father’s love, filled them with frenzy. ‘Behold, this dreamer cometh,’ they cried in mockery. Envy and revenge, long secretly cherished, now controlled them.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 210, 211.
b. What does jealousy cause—and what is history’s bitterest illustration of it? Proverbs 6:34, 35; Matthew 27:17–23.
“The whole life and teachings of Christ were continual lessons of humility, benevolence, virtue, and self-denial. This was a continual reproof to the self-righteous, exacting spirit manifested by the Jews. Satan led them on until they seemed to possess a frenzy at the mere mention of the wonderful works of Christ, which were drawing the attention of the people from them. . . . His very goodness made Him a subject of their jealousy and hate, and in their blind rage they cried out, Crucify Him! crucify Him!”—Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4A, p. 117.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. How does the life of Jacob provide hope for every struggling family?
2. What impossible areas of my life can be changed by surrender to God?
3. Despite Jacob’s faults, why should I emulate him rather than Esau?
4. Why do I need to be careful to avoid partiality, favoritism, and envy?
5. Why is it crucial to ask God to uproot from me every trace of jealousy?