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4. Rebekah - where did it all go wrong?

My notes on teaching the Old Testament, by Mama Brenda.

Leader’s notes: lesson 4 - Rebekah

Genesis 24:1-66, 25:19-34, 27:1-28:9

Do not give out notes at the beginning. Ask the ladies with books to keep them closed.

Share the story of Genesis 24:1-49 working through it as a group.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 4 Rebekah - where did it all go wrong?

Genesis 24:1-66, 25:19-34, 27:1-28:9

Abraham’s wife, Sarah, died at the end of Genesis 23. Abraham was without his helpmeet of many years - he thought about the future - the future of these people God had given him.

He made his chief steward, his administrator and trusted servant, promise to get a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s own people, not a local Canaanite girl.

Choosing a life partner for ourselves or for our children is a solemn responsibility - as it was for Abraham’s servant - we need to be asking what God is looking for in that person. This may mean going against our usual traditions.

The servant said ‘what if........?’ He wanted to be very sure of his master’s wishes if there was a problem. Abraham said that Jacob is not to go back to the family’s original home - God had given them a new land - a land of promise. Isaac must stay in the land of promise.

Having made the promise to his master, the servant packed up all kinds of presents on ten of Abraham’s camels, and left with some men. See Genesis 24:10 and 32.

When he reached Nahor’s town – Haran - in the land of the two rivers (look at the map on page two in the Introduction) he rested the camels by a well, expecting that a woman would soon arrive to draw water.

Then he prayed, conscious that he was there doing a job for Abraham. He prayed ‘Oh Lord, God of my master Abraham’. We do not know whether the servant acknowledged Abraham’s God for himself, but he asked God to show him the right girl - as a kindness to Abraham - and so he could do his own job well.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ we can have direct access to God for ourselves. It is always very wise to ask God to guide us in our lives - in decisions big and small, in our attitudes and our actions.

Rebekah said the right words and did the right things - she got water for the camels. The servant gave her a nose ring and 2 bracelets - see Genesis 24:22 and 30.

Having made himself known to Rebekah and her brother, Laban, and having washed his feet, the servant was offered food. He refused until he had explained why he had come. He told the whole story - verses 34-49. Thank you, God.

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Leader's notes: Lesson 4 - Rebekah, where did it all go wrong?

Give out the reference Genesis 24:50-61. What do you learn about the faith of the family, the servant ambassador and Rebekah, her nurse and her maids?

Genesis 24: 62-67. How was Rebekah wise?

Give out notes and then work through the two remaining sections.

Use question and answer to involve the whole group in finding the information, and in seeing and understanding the applications.

Work through the last paragraph reading the references, or better, having them read by others.

Student's worksheet: Lesson 4 - Rebekah, where did it all go wrong?

Rebekah was:

Willing to follow God Genesis 24:50-61

The family acknowledged the sovereignty of God

The servant ambassador acknowledged the sovereignty of God

Rebekah, her nurse and her maids willingly followed God

A wise woman Look at Genesis 24:62-67

Rebekah observed the local custom, perhaps her own family's as well, and publicly indicated she was not married.

Isaac and Rebekah married, and she helped him cope with the death of his mother. Even though she was in a new land and situation, she ministered to his needs.

Unsure of what God was doing Genesis 25:19-26, Genesis 25:27-34

Rebekah did not get pregnant as soon as she and Isaac hoped.

Isaac took the priestly role in praying for his wife.

Rebekah became pregnant with twins and God told her that she was carrying two different nations in her womb and that, contrary to custom, the older would serve the younger.

Esau, the elder, was a hunter by skill and by choice.

Jacob, the younger, preferred to stay around the campsite and liked cooking.

Esau was Jacob’s favourite, but Jacob was Rebekah’s favourite. Seeds of disaster!

In human terms this was where it started to go wrong.

A very hungry Esau arrived home to the smell of Jacob’s red lentil stew - and sold his birthright - a verbal oath was a legal transaction.

Unwise (very unwise) in family matters Genesis 27:1-28:9

Isaac became frail and nearly blind. He called Esau to go and kill some wild game and bring him the stew he liked. Then Jacob would bless Esau before he died.

Rebekah overheard the conversation, told Jacob to fetch some game and said she would make the stew the way Jacob liked. She suggested to Jacob that he should take the food to Isaac, and wearing some of Esau’s hunting clothes, with his hands and neck covered in goatskin, he would receive the blessing. Isaac was wary, but the hunting smell persuaded him and he blessed Jacob. Jacob would be lord of his brothers! Esau arrived, made the food, took it to his father.

The deception was now in the open. The birthright Esau gave for a plate of stew, has now gone to his brother, Jacob. What God had told Rebekah in chapter 25:23 has happened!

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Leader's notes: Lesson 4 - Rebekah, where did it all go wrong?

Student's worksheet: Lesson 4 - Rebekah, where did it all go wrong?

Genesis 27:41-46. Rebekah was frightened for her favourite son. She made up an excuse to explain to Isaac why Jacob should go away. Isaac believed the story and sent Jacob to Rebekah’s family to get a wife. Esau heard what had happened and realised how much Isaac did not want Canaanite women in the family, so he went and married one, the daughter of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar.

It is a sad story of deception, favouritism, scheming - things that should be no part of our lives as Christians. But God had told Rebekah that her younger child would rule the older. We need to be very careful and honest in our family relationships.

Please read Genesis 28:1-4, 28:10-33:20, 35:1-29 for next time.

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