Oh, the game of playing tricks and favorites! Jacob certainly wasn’t a perfect man, but this second lesson in the “Who Was…?” series will help children understand that God has a divine plan even in the midst of human sin. This lesson covers important events in Jacob’s life such as deceiving his father, Isaac, and having twelve sons who would one day become the twelve tribes of Israel. In addition, there is a fun word search the children will complete to review what they have learned.
TARGET AGES: 9 – 13 Older Elementary. You may need to simplify this lesson when working with younger children.
CURRICULUM UNIT: This lesson is part of the Who was …. ? series on major Bible characters.
OBJECTIVE: To guide the children toward an understanding that Jacob, even though he was a deceitful brother and a father who showed favoritism, was greatly used by God as a part of the great plan to provide salvation to the world through Jesus Christ.
MAIN IDEA: Jacob wasn’t a perfect man, but God still had a very special plan for his life. God also has a special plan for each of our lives!
SCRIPTURE PASSAGES: Genesis 27:30-35, Genesis 28:12-15, Genesis 29:28-30, Genesis 37:3-4, Genesis 41:41, Genesis 46:26-27
MATERIAL(S): “Who Was Jacob?” word search print outs (download here), writing utensils
Introduction (5 minutes)
OPENING PRAYER: “God, thank you for having a special plan for each of us! Help us learn from Jacob and how to trust you even when we make mistakes or face hard circumstances. Amen.”
ICEBREAKER REVIEW: Briefly review last week’s lesson on Abraham by asking, “What do you remember/know about Abraham?” Emphasize the promises God had made to Abraham (e.g his descendents would be as numerous as the stars and he would have an heir), the mistakes he made (lying twice about Sarah being his sister and committing adultery), and his ultimate act of obedience to God (the willingness to sacrifice Isaac). Say, “Through Abraham’s life we learn that God is interested in a continual and growing relationship with us. Through obedience, and repentance of our mistakes, we learn more about God.” Also remind the children that it was through Abraham’s family line that a Savior was born!
Lesson (20 minutes)
- Comment, “Today I’m going to give you hints to see if you can figure out who we will learn about.” Read the following questions to see if the children can correctly answer.
Who had a twin brother named Esau?
Who had two wives and twelve sons?
Who was the father of Joseph, the boy who received the coat of many colors?
Who led his entire family to Egypt after learning his son, Joseph, was there?
Say, “Today we are going to talk about Jacob, the son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham. We have briefly learned some facts about him, but now we are going to look a little deeper into his life to see how God used him.”
- Briefly describe that during biblical times the oldest son in a family would receive the family’s inheritance, but Jacob, being the youngest son, acted deceitfully so that he would get his father’s “blessing.” Read Genesis 27:30-35 to learn about Jacob’s trick. Ask, “What sins did Jacob commit (lying, stealing, scheming, etc)? How did it affect his family (Esau lost his blessing and Isaac most likely felt betrayed)? We’re going to see that even though Jacob’s actions were sinful, God used the situation for his glory.” Briefly mention that God still made similar promises to Jacob that he had made to Abraham and then read Genesis 28:12-15.
- Explain that Jacob later married two women, Rachel and Leah because he was tricked by his uncle. Read Genesis 29:28-30. Explain that through his two wives, and their servants Zilpah and Bilhah, Jacob had twelve sons who would become the twelve tribes of Israel! Say, “Women in Jacob’s time could not protect or provide for themselves, so it was a common occurrence for men to have more than one wife. Also, men were much more prone to die in war, thus leaving many women vulnerable to prostitution or slavery.” Go on to explain that while the bible isn’t clear on this subject, it seems God allowed the practice of marrying more than one woman (polygamy) for a short time during the Old Testament as a way to protect women and families. However, also emphasize that the bible clearly advocates a one-man-one-woman marriage relationship as set forth by God from the beginning in the Garden of Eden.
- Lastly, read Genesis 37:3-4 to briefly outline the story of Jacob’s son, Joseph, and the coat of many colors. Talk about how Jacob’s favoritism toward Joseph caused disruption among his sons and ended in Joseph being sold into slavery. Say, “Even though bad things happened to Joseph, we’re going to see, once again, how God worked out horrible circumstances for his good.” Read Genesis 41:41 and Genesis 46:26-27 to discuss the results of God’s intervention in Jacob’s life (resulting in the protection and continued provision of his family). Comment, “God always had a plan for Jacob even though Jacob certainly made things a little challenging at times! We can trust that God also has a good plan for us. God worked through Jacob’s life to continue the plan for redemption through a Savior who would one day be born.” Present the salvation message to the class and explain how learning about the people in this series will continue to point toward Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Reiterate that our lives should also point others to Jesus. Give the children an opportunity to ask questions about becoming a Christian or how to grow in their faith. Also, take the time to speak one-on-one with any child who appears to be ready to make the decision to follow Christ!
Activity: “Who Was Jacob?” Word Search (15 minutes) *Attachment* (download here)
Print and pass out the word search (see attachment) and writing utensils. Review Jacob’s life with the class as they complete the word search.
Conclusion (5 minutes)
RECAP: God had a special plan for Jacob even though Jacob made mistakes. We learn from Jacob’s life that God will use even bad circumstances in our lives to fulfill his plan.
CLOSING PRAYER: “Lord, we are grateful that you want to use us in spite of our sin. Help us draw nearer to you through prayer and the daily study of your word. Also, please help us remember that our lives should reflect our trust in you. Amen.”
Who was …. A Study on Bible Characters
This lesson is part of a 14 unit curriculum for older children (age 9 – 13) that introduces major characters in the Bible.