There are many lessons we can learn from studying the life of Jacob in the book of Genesis.
One of the most compelling aspects of the Bible is how God is constantly working through imperfect people to do unbelievable things. Being flawed ourselves, allows us to make a personal connection to the scriptures as we are in constant need of mercy and inspiration.
This Bible study on the story of Jacob will help you begin to understand how God created you with a special purpose in mind. As you read through these scriptures, consider how your personality, life situation, and weaknesses may be a part of a bigger plan to do something great in the world.
- How has God created me to be unique?
- How does God shape me through my challenges?
- How will God use my life to give others purpose?
God has a vision for me
“Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out; you formed me in my mother’s womb. I thank you, High God — you’re breathtaking! Body and soul, I am marvelously made! I worship in adoration — what a creation!
You know me inside and out, you know every bone in my body; You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit, how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth; all the stages of my life were spread out before you, The days of my life all prepared before I’d even lived one day”Psalm 139:13-16 MSG
God has designed each of us from a special blueprint. He thought about every aspect of who we were to become – our appearance, personality, interest, etc.
Every stage of our life was planned, every day prepared before we were even born.
God created me
“Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins. 22 But the two children struggled with each other in her womb.
So she went to ask the Lord about it. “Why is this happening to me?” she asked. 23 And the Lord told her, “The sons in your womb will become two nations. From the very beginning, the two nations will be rivals. One nation will be stronger than the other; and your older son will serve your younger son.”Genesis 25:21-23 NLT
God started to orchestrate Jacob’s life when his parents prayed for him. Are you open to God’s purpose for your life? For your children’s lives? How much do you pray for your children and for God to fulfill his purpose for their lives?
“As the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter. He was an outdoorsman, but Jacob had a quiet temperament, preferring to stay at home. 28 Isaac loved Esau because he enjoyed eating the wild game Esau brought home, but Rebekah loved Jacob.Genesis 25:27-28 NLT
Jacob was different from his twin brother. This was God’s plan.
“Everything has already been decided. It was known long ago what each person would be. So there’s no use arguing with God about your destiny.”Ecclesiastes 6:10 NLT
God has a great plan and purpose for us all.
Your hands created me and made me what I am. Help me understand so that I may learn your commandments. Those who fear you will see me and rejoice, because my hope is based on your word.Psalm 119:73-74 GW
God can use your strengths, your weaknesses, your quirks, your insecurities, your experience, and your past for a purpose.
Do you accept your weaknesses and pray for how God wants you to give faith to others with the same challenge? Or do you hide and resent your weaknesses?
Use all your skill to put me together; I wait to see your finished product.Psalm 25:21 MSG
Do you trust God to make you who you are meant to be? This can be difficult for some. We can doubt and resist God putting us together.
Typically we want God to use our STRENGTHS and VICTORIES not our WEAKNESSES and our PAIN. He wants to use it ALL! But we have to accept how God created us and who he is shaping us to become
God shapes me
“Then Jacob woke up from his sleep and exclaimed, “Certainly, the Lord is in this place, and I didn’t know it!” 17 Filled with awe, he said, “How awe-inspiring this place is! Certainly, this is the house of God and the gateway to heaven!”
“Then Jacob made a vow: “If God will be with me and will watch over me on my trip and give me food to eat and clothes to wear, 21 and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the Lord will be my God.”Genesis 28:16-17, 20-21 GW
Jacob didn’t know God or who he was meant to be. His vow signifies his willingness to find God and his plan for him. This is when it becomes evident that God shaping his life like a potter with clay:
“But Lord, you are our father. We are like clay, and you are the potter; your hands made us all.
“But, my friend, I ask, “Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did?”Isaiah 64:8 NCV
When God is shaping you, do you question God’s “why?” Or do you approach him with “wonder” knowing he has a great plan for you?
We can be sure that there were many times Jacob in the Bible didn’t understand God’s way of helping him become who he was meant to be.
“Do not be shaped by this world; instead be changed within by a new way of thinking. Then you will be able to decide what God wants for you; you will know what is good and pleasing to him and what is perfect.”Romans 12:2 NCV
God shapes us, but the world also desires to add his design. Are you aware of when you are being shaped by God or the world?
“So Jacob was left alone. Then a man wrestled with him until dawn. 25 When the man saw that he could not win against Jacob, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that it was dislocated as they wrestled. 26 Then the man said, “Let me go; it’s almost dawn.” But Jacob answered, “I won’t let you go until you bless me.” 27 So the man asked him, “What’s your name?” “Jacob,” he answered. 28 The man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob but Israel [He Struggles With God], because you have struggled with God and with men — and you have won.”Genesis 32:24-28 GW
Jacob went from “I didn’t know” to “I won’t let you go.” Have the things in your life that God is using to shape you, leading you to a spot where you can’t let go of God?
God uses me
“Then God appeared once more to Jacob after he came back from Paddan Aram, and he blessed him. 10 God said to him, “Your name is Jacob. You will no longer be called Jacob, but your name will be Israel.” So he named him Israel. 11 God also said to him, “I am God Almighty. Be fertile, and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from you.Genesis 35:9-11 GW
Like Jacob, when God wants to use us, he gives us a vision for our lives! He helps us see how we can have an amazing impact!
“…for you have been chosen by God himself — you are priests of the King, you are holy and pure, you are God’s very own — all this so that you may show to others how God called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.”1 Peter 2:9 TLB
We are uniquely chosen to show others how to go from darkness to light.
Keep a close watch on all you do and think. Stay true to what is right and God will bless you and use you to help others.1 Timothy 4:16 TLB
4 things to watch:
- Watch excuses because they make us not rely on God!
- Watch fear because it makes us unwilling to live by faith!
- Watch unbelief because it makes us unwilling to dream!
- Watch pride because it makes us unwilling to follow God’s lead!
What mindset do we need to have about our weaknesses, struggles, and sins to become who we were meant to be and change as many as we can along the way?
“We’re Christ’s representatives. God uses us to persuade men and women to drop their differences and enter into God’s work of making things right between them. We’re speaking for Christ himself now: Become friends with God; he’s already a friend with you.”2 Corinthians 5:20 MSG
Who does God want you to share your story with to inspire them to make things right with him? Hopefully, this Bible study will deepen your friendship with God so can see God’s vision for you and the lives you are meant to change!
Further study on the life of Jacob
God shaped Jacob’s life in many ways and the areas he grew:
- Career/Job – Delayed gratification (Genesis 29)
- Marriage – Love (Genesis 29)
- Family – Leadership (Genesis 29-30)
- Setbacks – Perseverance (Genesis 29)
- Success – Integrity (Genesis 30-31)
- Relationships – Righteousness (Genesis 31)
- Sin – Need for God (Genesis 32)