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This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
This past Sunday we tackled an issue that, based on the numbers, is killing us - deception! We have all read about scandalous “white collar” crime that has padded the pockets of the rich and left the middle-class with, in some cases, a lot less. Yet deception doesn’t just happen in the boardroom but wherever you have people. I imagine we all have a tale to tell about dealing with deception. If you are in a group, take a moment to share some stories about dealing with deception.
The Text: Genesis.
Jacob is probably best known for his mastery of the art of deception. Read Genesis 25:19-26. Jacob’s life demonstrates that he was where many of us are, living a life that accommodates deception. Let’s look at some of the dark truths surrounding deception in his life.
• Deception can creep around in our family genes Chapter 27:1-17 (Gene Creeper)
Not only is life sexually transmitted but so are some of the toughest issues we may deal with. Read this chapter and discuss what you see happening in terms of deception.
- Who is guilty of deception?
- Who is the instigator?
Deception is the easiest path for Jacob to take. It is in his genes: Isaac, his father, is attempting to deceive his wife Rebekah in giving the blessing to Esau. Rebekah wants to deceive her husband Isaac after overhearing a conversation (v.6) She is convincing her son Jacob that this is the way to go. Jacob demonstrates some guilt but is quickly convinced that the way of deception is the way to go.
What is deception robbing Jacob and Rebekah of? (My answer- faith and walking in obedience, integrity)
Notice how deception allows them to control the situation as opposed to trust God with the situation.
On Sunday I talked about a premarital exercise I have couples do. They have to identify those things they want to embrace from their parents. For example: generosity, a loving home, clearly-defined roles. They also have to identify patterns, habits and values that they do not want to inherit. For someone like Jacob, what they need not to inherit is the practice of deception. Some people have grown up in homes where the art of lying to one another, and to others outside the home, was common practice.
Did you grow up in a home where deception was part of the context?
If deception was not in your genes, what are other issues you have had to intentionally not inherit in order to build a godly home?
Side note: God’s sovereignty is demonstrated in this story. You have wrong methods being embraced as well as a very dysfunctional family but God’s purposes are accomplished. You come to the end of this chapter and God’s will is accomplished, not necessarily in God’s way, but it is accomplished. Are you not glad God is sovereign?
• Deception will flip our relationships upside down.
Deception will always bleed destructive emotions into our relationships and they will wreak havoc on our friendships, families and workplace partnerships.
Check out two examples in Jacobs’s life:
• His relationship with Esau- 27:41
Later on when Jacob has to face his crime by meeting up with Esau, he is wrestling with fear 32:1-8. Note the prayer he prays in 32:10 which indicates that his sense of conscience seen years earlier in 27:11,12 still has some kind of pulse. He is clearly aware of his unworthiness.
• His relationship with Laban (better known as Uncle Laban)
Jacob had fled to Laban’s place after he “kinda” upset Esau. Rebekah his mother encouraged him to get out of town while he was still alive. However Jacob’s relationship with Laban is complex. Read Genesis 29:14b-27. Twenty years later the relationship is still complex. Read 31:38-41.
After having read these texts regarding Esau and Laban, as a group list the complex emotions that describe these relationships that come about because of deception.
Now let’s just do a reality check… is this story far from reality? Does stuff like this go on today? Do relationships, families, friendships get sideswiped and compromised because of deception that produces this kind of reality for some?
Is there any particular emotion listed that you can identify with and is directly tied to deception? For example you may wrestle with anger because of how a colleague deceptively engaged with you this week. Or, you may have seen an example of deep grief because of deception in a relationship.
Side Note: In all this mess God is hanging on to Jacob. God is not justifying what he is doing. Jacob is getting beaten up time and time again by his mistakes but God has a grip on him. We know that by the outcome of Jacob’s life but also by his prayer in 32:9-12. Jacob realizes that it is because of the greatness of God, not the greatness of Jacob that any good thing can come from his life.
Comment on the following....
“God doesn’t love Jacob because of who he is but because of who He is. ‘It’s on the house’ is one way of saying it and ‘its by grace’ another.” Peculiar Treasures, Buechner, pg. 58
Deception can be found in some of our most treasured relationships.
For me, a really sad part of this story is to see siblings lying to parents.
It all started in the garden - Genesis 3:8,9,10 – with the” kids” lying to their Heavenly Father. Note they used a bush to attempt to deceive.
It resurfaced again in Genesis 27- but this time the technology had improved and the costume was more elaborate- from bushes to a complex wardrobe. But the issue was the same- deception.
Then in Genesis 37:31-35 Jacob is older and his boys lie to him about what happened to Joseph. Again a creative wardrobe idea, a blood-soaked robe. And again the issue is deception. Note the emotions that goes along with the deception.
Deception knows no boundaries. It can enter into the most sacred, trusted, and valued relationships.
You might want to take some time to pray for some situations where deception has compromised the relationship. Healing and restoration are always greatly needed in such situations.
Side note: Remember Jesus saying - ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’ You might think “Man, couldn’t he come up with a better character than Jacob? How about Enoch, he walked with God?” If you read Abraham’s story and Isaac’s story you see they have their issues. Jesus saying what he does reminds us that God works with us in our brokenness. He pursues us in our rebellion, comes alongside us in our weakness, and speaks into our lives in our despair. He is the God of the broken! Not justifying our ways but meeting us where we are at.
Wherever you are someone’s been there – Jacob - and his life testifies to the grace of God, the patience of God and the presence of God in our weakest moments.
2 Corinthians 4:1,2
Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.
Perhaps Jacob was where you are.
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