Scripture: Genesis 31: 1-3, 17- 18, Genesis 32: 3 – 21, Genesis 33: 1 – 4
Target Age Group: 1st through 6th grade
Welcome the children to the classroom and chat with them about their week as they gather around the table.
Pray and ask God to teach the children not just head knowledge, but also heart knowledge.
Have the children open their Bibles to Genesis 31
Remind the children that Jacob had gone to live with his Uncle Laban. Along the way he had had a dream of a ladder up to heaven. When we meet God, He changes us, and we began to see God bring about changes in Jacob.
His Uncle Laban tricked him into marrying his oldest daughter Leah before he could marry Rachel, who he loved. Through that experience, Jacob began to understand how much it must have hurt his brother when he tricked him.
Let’s see what happens to Jacob next…
(Read the story to the children because at this age some of the children do not read smoothly, which hinders comprehension for the whole class.)
Jacob Flees From Laban
1 Jacob heard that Laban’s sons were saying, “Jacob has taken everything our father owned and has gained all this wealth from what belonged to our father.” 2 And Jacob noticed that Laban’s attitude toward him was not what it had been.
3 Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Go back to the land of your fathers and to your relatives, and I will be with you.”
17 Then Jacob put his children and his wives on camels, 18 and he drove all his livestock ahead of him, along with all the goods he had accumulated in Paddan Aram, to go to his father Isaac in the land of Canaan.
Jacob Prepares to Meet Esau
3 Jacob sent messengers ahead of him to his brother Esau in the land of Seir, the country of Edom. 4 He instructed them: “This is what you are to say to my lord Esau: ‘Your servant Jacob says, I have been staying with Laban and have remained there till now. 5 I have cattle and donkeys, sheep and goats, male and female servants. Now I am sending this message to my lord, that I may find favor in your eyes.’”
6 When the messengers returned to Jacob, they said, “We went to your brother Esau, and now he is coming to meet you, and four hundred men are with him.”
7 In great fear and distress Jacob divided the people who were with him into two groups, and the flocks and herds and camels as well. 8 He thought, “If Esau comes and attacks one group, the group that is left may escape.”
9 Then Jacob prayed, “O God of my father Abraham, God of my father Isaac, LORD, you who said to me, ‘Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’ 10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two camps. 11 Save me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am afraid he will come and attack me, and also the mothers with their children. 12 But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’”
13 He spent the night there, and from what he had with him he selected a gift for his brother Esau: 14 two hundred female goats and twenty male goats, two hundred ewes and twenty rams, 15 thirty female camels with their young, forty cows and ten bulls, and twenty female donkeys and ten male donkeys. 16 He put them in the care of his servants, each herd by itself, and said to his servants, “Go ahead of me, and keep some space between the herds.”
17 He instructed the one in the lead: “When my brother Esau meets you and asks, ‘Who do you belong to, and where are you going, and who owns all these animals in front of you?’ 18 then you are to say, ‘They belong to your servant Jacob. They are a gift sent to my lord Esau, and he is coming behind us.’”
19 He also instructed the second, the third and all the others who followed the herds: “You are to say the same thing to Esau when you meet him. 20 And be sure to say, ‘Your servant Jacob is coming behind us.’” For he thought, “I will pacify him with these gifts I am sending on ahead; later, when I see him, perhaps he will receive me.” 21 So Jacob’s gifts went on ahead of him, but he himself spent the night in the camp.
Jacob Meets Esau
1 Jacob looked up and there was Esau, coming with his four hundred men; so he divided the children among Leah, Rachel and the two female servants. 2 He put the female servants and their children in front, Leah and her children next, and Rachel and Joseph in the rear. 3 He himself went on ahead and bowed down to the ground seven times as he approached his brother.
4 But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept.
- What does God instruct Jacob to do? To go back to the land of his father and relatives.
- What else does God promise him? He will be with him.
- What does Jacob do before he moves his family? He sends a messenger ahead to meet with Esau.
- What is the messenger to say to Esau? Jacob has been staying with Laban and now he has cows and donkeys and sheep and goats. He hopes this will please you.
- Why do you think he sent this message? He is afraid that Esau is still angry and ready to kill him. He’s hoping to make peace with him. He knows that he has wronged his brother, and that he deserves his wrath.
- When the messengers returned, what news did they have for Jacob? Esau is coming with 400 men.
- What did Jacob assume? That Esau was coming to attack them.
- What did Jacob do then? He prayed and asked God for protection.
- How is this different than what Jacob used to do? He used to scheme and trick people to get his way.
- What did he remind God of? God told him to go back, and He had promised that his children would be numbered like the sand on the sea shore.
- What else did he acknowledge? It was God who had blessed him.
- He then gathers a gift for Esau and sends it ahead with his servants. What is the gift? A lot of animals. 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes and 20 rams, 30 female camels with their young, 40 cows and 10 bulls, and 20 female donkeys and 10 male donkeys.
- Who does he tell his servants to say sent the gift? your servant, Jacob
- What does this tell you about Jacob after he had tricked him out of the birthright? He realized that what he had done was unfair to his brother. God had changed his attitude.
- What did Jacob do as Esau approached? He bowed down to him.
- What did Esau do that surprised Jacob? He threw his arms around him, kissed him and wept.
- What had happened to Esau? God had changed him, too. Instead of wanting to kill his brother he was ready for forgive him.
- What do you think that you should do when you and your brother or sister, or you and your mom and dad have an argument? Apologize and ask for forgiveness. Forgive him or her. Change my attitude.
- We deserve punishment from God for the bad things we have done just like Jacob, don’t we. And sometimes our sin makes us feel like running away from God, just like Jacob ran away from Esau. But, God did something as surprising as what Esau did. He offered us the gift of forgiveness. All we have to do is come to Him and He’ll throw his arms around us.
- Let’s pray and ask God to forgive us for all the wrong things that we have done and thank Him for his gift of forgiveness…
During the remaining class time do activities that help to reinforce what the children have learned. Here are some suggestions…
Read the story A Happy Reunion by Linda Sue Pochodzay Edwards.
Memorize the verse.
Luke 6:37b “Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”
If the weather is good, go outside and play scripture jump-rope with this verse. Whoever skips through it the most times wins!
Have them color a color page related to the story. An excellent color page book is “Through-the-Bible Coloring Pages For Ages 4-8” by Janet Skiles. The pages are reproducible.
Have the children think of someone that they have wronged. Have them make an “I’m Sorry” card with card stock. Give them markers, sequins, stickers, etc. to decorate the card.
Share the Tootsie Roll Pop object lesson.
Find the hidden message in this puzzle from BibleWise.
Have the kids play the Who Gets the Marble Game. (grades 3 – 6)
Evaluate what the children have learned. While they are coloring or crafting ask each one what they learned today.
Send each child’s parent an e-mail (or a hard copy) of the Parents’ Page.