The text we’re studying for Sunday, November 18 is Genesis 28, the story of “Jacob’s ladder.” Here are a few questions we might want to consider in class:
In v10, Jacob is leaving Beer-sheba for Haran – that is, in a way, “undoing” what his grandfather Abraham did. Do we have any reactions to this action? What are they? (E.g., do we see this as a set-back, or something unfortunate, or … ?) Does Haran represent anything in the larger story, do we think? What is that? How might that affect the way we read this story?
In v11, it seems that Jacob is forced to stop for the night at this “certain place.” Do we see this as accidental, or “on purpose”? Why? Does how we answer this question make a difference in what we think happens in the rest of the story? [More personal:] Have we ever been forced to do something that seemed, upon reflection, to have been “meant to happen”? When was that, and how has it affected us?
Verses 12-15 seem to describe Jacob’s dream. What does the dream seem to mean, in Jacob’s situation? Is it related to the earlier events in the story? How? Does this seem like a divine “seal of approval” on Jacob’s behavior up to now? Or is it an “in spite of”? Or something else? Why do we say this? Does this tell us anything about God, that would relate to us? What is that?
In verse 17, why is Jacob afraid, do we think? Would our response in this situation be the same, do we think, or would it be different? Why do we think that? What does that tell us about ourselves? How do we feel about that? Why?
In verses 20-22, Jacob makes a vow, including several conditions. What is our impression of that vow? (E.g., does it seem reasonable or unreasonable, legitimate or illegitimate, sincere or cynical, … ?) What gives us that impression? What difference does it make how we hear this vow?
Overall, we might want to reflect on what this story tells us about the way God operates in human lives, in particular given what we think we know about Jacob’s character up to this point in the story, how we feel about that, and whether we have anything to learn from our reactions to this story.