God’s Tricky but He’s Good – Genesis 32:22-32


Jesters by Viktor Vasnetsov, 1885

Questions for Conversation

  1. What has God already promised Jacob according to chapter 28:13-15?
    1. Who else did God make these promises to in prior chapters of Genesis?
    2. How do these promises line up with the way God set up human life at creation (see Genesis 1-2).
  2. Read chapter 32:1-21.
    1. Who is Jacob afraid will attack and kill him? Why would Jacob be afraid of this? (Hint: see Genesis 27)
  1. Read 32:22-24
    1. Who do you think Jacob assumed the man was who attacked him in the night (see v. 24)?
  2. Read 32:25-30
    1. Who does Jacob realize it is in v. 30?
  3. Some people wonder how God, who cannot be seen and is a Spirit, can physically wrestle Jacob. Hosea 12:2-4 explains that an angel wrestled with Jacob. This is common for an angelic emissary of God to be God’s representative
  4. This was tricky of God to lead Jacob (and the hearers of Genesis) to think that it was a man who wrestled with him. But through this tricky attack God accomplished a few things:
    1. God can and does act shrewdly (withholding information) – he can be tricky.
    2. God is committed to his ancestral covenant promises to Jacob and is willing to act tricky to make that known. Do you remember how the putting Jacob’s hip out of joint indicated God’s commitment to keep his promises? (hint: see Genesis 24:1-3).
    3. Jacob’s tricky ways can be employed for the sake of God’s mission too.  Do you remember how God helped Jacob to act shrewdly with Esau? (hint: see Genesis 32:1 and the meaning of “Mahanaim” in the ESV margin note and compare with what Jacob does in 32:7
  1. How was Jesus’ crucifixion the greatest trick that God ever played?
    1. How did that shrewd move by God fulfill his ancestral covenant promises to Abraham?
  2. How is God tricky in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-11?
    1. How is God’s trickiness employed for the sake of the covenant promises he has made to Christ’s people? How is his action performed for the sake of good?
  3. C.S. Lewis wrote of the Christ character in the Narnia series that “God is not safe but he’s good”. What do you think he meant by that? Does that help you understand how God can be tricky but also good?
  4. Why do we need the Bible to constantly expand and re-align our understanding of who God is toward us and others?
    1. Can you tell the group a story from your life when having your horizons expanded regarding Christ or the gospel really made a difference?
  5. God is obviously very serious about keeping his promise to Jacob, even giving him the enduring reminder in his hip joint.
    1. Do you believe that he is as committed to bring about salvation in the life of the church today? Where are you encouraged by what you see happening in the global, national or local church?
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