Discipleship Lessons from the
Life of Jacob


James J. Tissot, "Jacob" (c. 1896-1902), gouache on board, 24.4 x 12.3 cm, Jewish Museum, New York.

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Jacob is a troubling character in the Old Testament. He is conniving and he is spiritual too. He has moments of strong faith as well as of fear. His family is sometimes in disarray, and yet at the end he is the one who sets it straight.

Jacob, whose very name suggests "deceiver," is renamed by God as "Israel" -- "one who has struggled with God." And an entire nation is named after this patriarch -- the nation of Israel.

Jacob is a bit too much like us -- with very human strengths and weaknesses, but a man with a striving for spiritual things. From this imperfect man we learn important lessons of faith. Especially, we learn about God's grace.

The events described in Jacob's story comprise most of Genesis chapters 25-49. If you haven't read the Old Testament much, you'll be pleased to find that God can speak to you here -- loud and clear. The culture is vastly different, but you'll quickly learn that the people and their problems haven't changed much. The story of Jacob is a great opportunity to learn important lessons about ourselves and our God.

This is not the kind of Bible study for the faint of heart. We'll be looking at some issues that don't have nice, neat answers. But life is like that. My prayer is that you'll grow through this process. That you'll become closer to, more sensitive to, more obedient to God. And that you'll learn to study your Bible in a new way.

I invite you to join me in an e-mail Bible study of Jacob's life. Here's the outline:

  1. Jacob the Deceiver (Genesis 25:19-34; 27:1-41)
  2. Jacob Meets God (Genesis 27:41-28:22)
  3. Jacob and Laban, Rachel and Leah (Genesis 29-31)
  4. Jacob Wrestles with God and Man (Genesis 32-33)
  5. Jacob Returns to Bethel (Genesis 33:17-35:29)
  6. Jacob's Depression, Fear, and Hope (Genesis 37-47)
  7. Jacob Offers Blessings (Genesis 46:28-49:33)

 Here's how we'll study together.

  • Dr. Ralph F. Wilson
    This is our 32nd online Bible study since 1996. If you've participated in one before, you know how God can use them in your life. If not, then you have a treat in store for you. This is an cross-denominational study designed to help you grow as a disciple of Christ. -- Dr. Ralph F. Wilson. About the leader.
    Each Saturday I'll e-mail you the lesson for the week
    . Then you'll read the Bible passage and use my notes to help you understand it better.
  • On Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday you'll receive a question from that week's lesson to think about and answer. This is designed as a "total immersion" approach to Bible study, since I believe God wants to use these lessons to work real and permanent change in your life. (You can opt out of the daily questions if you like, however, and just receive the weekly lessons.) You'll be thinking about these passages constantly over these weeks -- long enough for God to work his Word into your life and lifestyle.
  • You can respond to the questions and exercises using the Joyful Heart Bible Study Forum -- and read others' answers to reinforce your own understanding.
  • Discipleship Lessons from the Life of Jacob, by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson (JesusWalk, 2010)
    These lessons are also available as in e-book and paperback formats, 133 pages.

    With each lesson you'll receive a link to a 20- to 30-minute audio teaching that sums up the passage you've been studying that week. Some who learn better from hearing than from reading really appreciate this.
  • Then on Saturday, I'll send you the next week's lesson.

Sign up now!

To sign up, start by clicking on your e-mail frequency preference:

You'll receive your first lesson the Friday after you sign up. There is no cost to participate in the study, though donations are encouraged so we can create more studies and reach more people.

We respect your privacy and never sell, rent, or loan our lists. Please don't subscribe your friends; let them decide for themselves.

Please don't sign up for more than one of my Bible studies at one time. There's no penalty, but each of them is pretty intensive. If you try to do too many studies at the same time without adequate reflection, you'll miss out on God speaking to you.

Copyright © 1985-2014, Ralph F. Wilson. <pastor@joyfulheart.com> All rights reserved. A single copy of this article is free. Do not put this on a website. See legal, copyright, and reprint information.

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