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From the series: Genesis PREVIOUS PAGE

14. Jacob Returns Home (Genesis 30:25-35:29)

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Main Point: God’s blessings are greater than anything else we could want.


Key Verse: Jacob replied, “I won’t let You go unless you bless me.” - Genesis 32:26b

Props: 2 big bowls, bag of popcorn, bag of M&Ms


Ask: Who can tell me how Esau felt about his brother, Jacob, stealing his father’s blessing? Esau was furious. What did Esau say he would do to Jacob? He threatened to kill Jacob. So what did Jacob do? He ran to live with his Uncle Laban. Say: So, remember that Jacob fell in love with Laban’s youngest daughter, Rachael. But Laban tricked Jacob into marrying his oldest daughter, Leah, before Laban let Jacob marry Rachael. Even though there was a whole lot of tricking going on, God still kept His promises. He still showed that He was good and kind and faithful. Jacob was the father of 11 sons and one daughter.

Jacob Returns Home (Genesis 31:1 - 32:21)

Say: Jacob stayed and worked for Laban for several more years. Laban was not fair to Jacob. He cheated him out of his pay many times. But God blessed the work of Jacob’s hands, so Jacob became a rich man (Genesis 31:7-9,12). Laban’s sons became very jealous of Jacob. All together, Jacob worked for Laban for 20 years.


Then one day God spoke to Jacob and told him to leave Paddan Aram and return to the land of his father. Using the map, point to Paddan Aram, and show the general direction (southwest) toward Canaan. God promised Jacob, “I will be with you.” (Genesis 31:3) Ask: Can anyone guess why God promised Jacob that He would be with him? Can anyone remember why Jacob left the land of his father? Esau wanted to kill him. Say: Surely, God wanted Jacob to know that He would be with him so that he would not be afraid to return home and face Esau.

Jacob packed up his wives, his children, and all their belongings, and headed south toward his homeland. Jacob sent messengers to Esau who lived in the land of Seir to tell him he was coming. Refer to map. When the messengers came back, they told Jacob that Esau was coming to meet Jacob, and that Esau had 400 men with him.

Jacob was very afraid! He thought Esau was bringing an army to fight him. He was so afraid, that he split up his family and servants into two groups. Sort of like this. Let’s say each M&M is one of Jacob’s wives or kids or servants. Dump M&Ms into the big bowl. He had a bunch. Then, each piece of popcorn is one of Jacob’s animals. He had tons of cows, camels, donkeys, sheep and goats. Dump popcorn into the same bowl. So they were all traveling together. But then when Jacob heard about Esau coming with his 400 men, Jacob thought, “We better split up.” Pour half of the contents into second bowl, show the two bowls splitting up and “traveling” separately. “That way, if Esau comes and attacks one group, at least half of my family and cattle will escape.”

Then Jacob prayed, “You are the God of my grandfather Abraham. You are the God of my father Isaac.

“Lord, you are the one who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives. Then I will give you success.’ You have been very kind and faithful to me. But I’m not worthy of any of this. When I crossed this Jordan River, all I had was my walking stick. But now I’ve become two groups.

“Please save me from the hand of my brother Esau. I’m afraid he’ll come and attack me and the mothers with their children. But You have said, ‘I will certainly give you success. I will make your children as many as the grains of sand on the seashore. People will not be able to count them.’ “- Genesis 32:9-12

Jacob picked out some fine animals and had some of his servants take them ahead to give as gifts to Esau. Wouldn’t you love for someone to send you 30 camels as an apology gift?

Jacob Wrestles With God (Genesis 32:22 - 32:32)

Say: That night, after Jacob had sent everyone on ahead, he was all alone. Or was he? Who told Jacob that He would be with him? God!

This brings us to a very interesting story. Bible scholars have “wrestled” with the meaning of this story for years and years. Let’s begin reading in Genesis 32:24.

This left Jacob all alone in the camp, and a man came and wrestled with him until the dawn began to break. When the man saw that he would not win the match, he touched Jacob’s hip and wrenched it out of its socket. Then the man said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking!”

But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

“What is your name?” the man asked.

He replied, “Jacob.”

“Your name will no longer be Jacob,” the man told him. “From now on you will be called Israel, because you have fought with God and with men and have won.”

“Please tell me your name,” Jacob said.

“Why do you want to know my name?” the man replied. Then he blessed Jacob there.

Jacob named the place Peniel (which means “face of God”), for he said, “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared.” The sun was rising as Jacob left Peniel, and he was limping because of the injury to his hip. - Genesis 32:24-31

Somehow God appeared to Jacob in a form that looked like a man. (For older kids: How do we know it was God? Jacob says so in verse 30. God merely touched Jacob’s hip and it was out of it’s socket, and God is the one who renames His children.)

The two began to wrestle. This was NOT a wrestling match to see who was the strongest! This wrestling was allowed by God, probably so He could see how persistent Jacob would be. It was allowed for Jacob’s sake.

“Why does God say ‘let me go’ in vs 26? Because daybreak would have revealed His face to Jacob and Jacob would have died. But Jacob wouldn’t let go. He says, “I won’t let you go unless you bless me.” Jacob has finally come to the point where he would rather die than live without God’s blessing.” (Hampton Keathly IV,, Jacob)

Hearing Jacob’s desperate plea to be blessed, God gave His blessing to Jacob. God also changed Jacob’s name. Does anyone remember what Jacob means? “Heel-holder,” or “one who takes the place of another.” His new name would be Israel, which means, “God prevails.” In other words, God always is, and God always wins. This was a great reminder that God’s purpose and promises would be fulfilled through Jacob.

Facing Esau (Genesis 33)

The next day, Jacob saw Esau coming toward him. Jacob bowed down to his brother. But Esau ran to meet Jacob with a big hug! Jacob introduced Esau to all of his wives and children. The two men were so nice to each other, they seemed much more like best friends than angry enemies. God certainly hears the pleas of His people! God answered Jacob’s prayer and kept His promise to be with him!

Application: God always hears our prayers and always keeps His promises!

Moving On (Genesis 35)

Then Jacob settled in the city of Shechem, but God did not allow him to stay there (Genesis 34). God told Jacob to go to Bethel, the place where God first appeared to him more than 20 years before. God told Jacob to build an altar there. God appeared to him again. Again, God blessed him.

God said to him, “I am the Mighty God. Have children and increase your numbers. A nation and a community of nations will come from you. Kings will come from your body. I am giving you the land I gave to Abraham and Isaac. I will also give it to your children after you. - Genesis 35:11-12

Jacob continued to travel toward his father’s home in Hebron. Along the way, Rachael had another son and Jacob named Benjamin. Sadly, Rachael died just after she gave birth, and Jacob buried her. Jacob finally arrived at his father’s home. Isaac lived to be 180 years old. Then Jacob and Esau buried him.


So Jacob had 12 sons which became the 12 tribes of Israel. Through these tribes, the nation of Israel was formed. The nation of Israel was key in God’s rescue mission for mankind. It was to the nation of Israel that God gave the Law, to show us that we do not meet up to God’s perfect standard. The Law shows us that we need a Savior. And it was to the nation of Israel (into Jacob’s direct family line) that the Messiah, the Savior, Jesus Christ, would be born. By sending the Savior through the line of Jacob, God would keep His long-standing promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “Through you all nations will be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8)

Application: When we look back at the saga of Jacob’s life, we see lots of messy situations. Lots of people do the wrong things; lots of people make bad decisions. Still, God is faithful to keep His promises. His blessings (especially the blessing of Jesus) are greater than anything else we could ever hope to have.


Main Point: God’s blessings are greater than anything else we could want.

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Unless otherwise noted the Scriptures taken from: Holy Bible, New International Reader’s Version, (NIrV®)

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Special thanks to John R. Cross, The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus, GoodSeed International.