Jacob Runs from Laban: Genesis 31 Sunday School Lesson

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Jacob Runs from Laban Genesis 31 (Sunday School Lesson)
Title: Jacob Runs from Laban
Scripture: Genesis 31
Target Age Group: 3rd-5th grade
Main Point: God’s (point upward) blessings (both hands up with palms toward you, and bring hands down) are unstoppable (hand on hip and other arm straight out with palm facing kids)!
Supplies: Paper, markers/crayons, and pencils

Lesson Opening: Our Unstoppable God!

Ask the kids to think of some things that are unstoppable. You can simply discuss them aloud or write their ideas on the board as they think of things. Ask what makes something unstoppable? (Ex: a runaway train has lots of momentum or power to keep it going. It’s too strong for any person to stop it on their own.)
Take out your Bible and read Isaiah 46:11 which says, “What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.” Say: God has told us in His word how powerful his he and that nothing will ever get in the way of his promises being fulfilled.
Explain that in our story we’re going to be learning how God’s blessings are unstoppable. That means no one can change God’s plans or hinder them in any way. What God has promised, that he will bring about!
 Pray that God would open their hearts to his word today and thank Him for his power and might that makes his blessings in our lives unstoppable!

Tell the Story

Ask: Have you ever been really scared of something and wanted to run away? (Accept a few answers/stories.)
Ask: Have you ever needed protection from something? (Accept a few answers.)
Say: Our story today is about someone who was afraid and wanted to run away, but God protected him. In our story we’ll learn that…
Main Point: God’s blessings are unstoppable!
Say: Our story today comes from Genesis 31. We’ve been learning a lot from Genesis, which is the very first book in the Bible!
Tell the Story: Last week we learned how Jacob married Rachel and Leah, and his family was growing. Before too long he had 13 children (12 boys and 1 girl)! Not only was his family growing, but so were his flocks of sheep. You see Jacob was a shepherd, a person who takes care of sheep. (Have the kids practice making a sheep sound!)
God blessed Jacob and gave him lots of sheep. In fact, Jacob was so good at his job that he asked his father-in-law Laban if he could be paid in sheep. Laban agreed, but then kept changing the rules. First Laban said Jacob could keep all the speckled sheep, but when there were lots of speckled sheep Laban said he could only have the striped sheep. Over and over he kept changing the rules on Jacob.
Ask: Do you think Laban was a very honest man? (No way!)
Say: One night when Jacob laid down to sleep he had a dream. Now, sometimes God speaks to people through dreams and this is exactly what happened! God told Jacob to return to his homeland. Do you remember the promise God made to Abraham that he would be the father of a great nation? Well, Jacob was part of that promise too, so it was important that Jacob obey what God told him to do.
Tell the Story: Laban hadn’t been honest with Jacob in the past, and again he had kept changing his wages so Jacob was ready to part ways. But he was afraid of Laban. He was afraid that Laban wouldn’t let him leave with his family or his livestock, so instead of telling Laban that they were leaving, Jacob snuck away with his family while Laban was away.
When they had already been gone for 3 days Laban returned home to find them gone. He was angry and went after them! Oh no!
Ask: What do you think Laban will do when he reaches Jacob? (Accept answers)
Tell the story: No wonder Jacob was afraid of him. But remember, God’s blessings are unstoppable. Not even a big angry man like Laban could keep God from accomplishing his plan. Did Jacob have anything to be afraid of? (No, because God was on his side.)
Tell the Story: While Laban was on the way God spoke to him in a special way, in a dream. God said to him, “Be careful not to say anything to Jacob, either good or bad.” That means Laban was not allowed to harm Jacob, no matter how angry with him he was. God was protecting Jacob, because God’s blessings are unstoppable!
After 7 days Laban finally caught up with Jacob. He told him that he was upset for leaving without saying goodbye to his daughters and grandchildren. He also said he was upset that his household gods were missing. Household gods were fake gods that people used to worship. We also call them idols. Laban went on a frantic search looking for those silly idols among all of Jacob’s possessions, but he never was able to find his idols.
Ask: Does anyone know who took the idols? (Rachel!)
Tell the Story: Even though Laban and Jacob were still not happy with each other they decided to make a peace agreement. They did this by making a promise not to harm each other and by piling up rocks to remind them of that promise. Let’s read from God’s Word and hear what their promise was…
Read from your Bible: “Laban said to Jacob, ‘Here is this heap, and here is this pillar I have set up between you and me. This heap is a witness, and this pillar is a witness, that I will not go past this heap to your side to harm you and that you will not go past this heap and pillar to my side to harm me. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.’”
Say: Even though for awhile it looked like Jacob was going to be in serious trouble, God reminded him that…
Main Point: God’s blessings are unstoppable!
Ask: How did God protect Jacob in the story? (He told Laban not to harm him.)
Ask: Does God protect us today? How? (Accept 1-2 answers.)
Say: The most important way that God protects us isn’t necessarily physical like keeping us from getting hurt (though sometimes God does that too.) The most important way he protects us is by saving us from our own sins. You see, sometimes we’re a lot like Laban, who worshipped fake gods. We probably don’t bow down to small statues, but anytime we love something more than God, it is an idol in our hearts. We’re all guilty of that. It’s called sin. But God is able to save us from our sins!
Ask: How does God save us? (His son Jesus died on the cross to take the punishment that our sins deserve.)
Say: We can praise God and thank him for loving us enough to die for us on the cross. We can thank him for giving us new life when we put our trust in Jesus! We will pray in just a minute but before we do let’s practice our main point one more time.
Main Point: God’s blessings are unstoppable!
Pray …. Dear God please forgive us for loving our idols more than you. Please give us clean hearts that love you more than anything else in the whole world. Thank you for loving us so much that you would send your only Son to die in our place. Amen.

Review Questions

  • What was the main point of our story today? (God’s blessings are unstoppable!)
  • How did God bless Jacob? (He blessed him by increasing his number of sheep.)
  • From this story what did Jacob learn about God? (God is real and Jacob could trust him. God also speaks to us and directs us where we should go.)
  • Why did Jacob want to return to his homeland? (God had told him to in a dream.)
  • How did God protect Jacob from Laban? (God told Laban in a dream not to harm Jacob.)
  • How does God protect us today? (God protects us by the Holy Spirit. Because of Jesus, we know that nothing can harm us spiritually, and nothing can separate us from God.)

Learning Activity 1: God’s Protection

Supplies: Paper and markers/crayons

  • Explain that just like Jacob in the story, God protects our lives as well. Sometimes that means physical protection from harm (like Jacob and Laban) and sometimes it’s spiritual protection from Satan. Either way, we can thank God for his blessing of protection!
  • Have the kids think of some ways that God has protected them. They will draw a picture or write a few sentences about God blessing of protection in their lives. If there is time, let them share with the class.
  • Explain that our ultimate protection comes from Jesus. When he died on the cross he took the punishment for our sin, which was God’s wrath. When we put our trust in Jesus we are protected from having to suffer that same punishment!

Learning Activity 2: Hidden Idols

Supplies: Paper and pencils

  • Ask: What is an idol? (Anything that we cherish in our hearts more than God.) Ask: What was the idol that Rachel stole in the story? (The statue of Laban’s household god.) Explain that today people don’t often bow down to statues but we still have idols in our hearts.
  • Have the kids work with a partner for this activity. They will make a list of things that can become idols for kids their age. Have them share their lists aloud. Then ask a child to read Ezekiel 14:6. Ask: What does God say to do with our idols? (Turn away from idols and repent.)
  • Explain that we can confess our sins of idolatry to God and ask for his forgiveness, because Jesus died so our sins could be forgiven. God is gracious to show us mercy even though we often fail to obey what he asks of us.

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