My Responsibility to My Family: Loving My Brothers and Sisters (Martin Wiles’ Lessons for Youth and Children)


Scripture Reference: Genesis 25:19-34

Memory Verse: I John 4:20

Today, we will read a story about two brothers: Jacob and Esau. Esau was the oldest, but Jacob was his mother’s favorite. Jacob was deceptive and tricked his brother out of something important. As a result, Esau hated him and made plans to kill him.

Let’s say our memory verse together. If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a fellow believer, that person is a liar. 1 John 4:20 NLT

Bible Story Time:

Icebreaker Questions:

Why do you think it’s difficult sometimes for brothers and sisters to love each other?

Do you think most brothers and sisters fight occasionally?

What are some ways brothers and sisters can show they love each other?

A long time ago, there were two brothers named Jacob and Esau. They were the grandsons of Abraham and Sarah. Their parents were named Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob and Esau were twins. Before they were born, God told their mother two nations of people would come from her sons but that the oldest son’s descendants would serve the younger’s.

Esau was the first to be born. He had a reddish color and was covered with hair. They named him Esau because the name sounded like a Hebrew word that meant hair. His brother was born next, and they named him Jacob, which means “he that grasps the heel.” The reason they named him this is because he was holding the heel of his brother when he was born.

When the boys got older, Esau became a hunter. He loved anything that had to do with the outdoors. Jacob, on the other hand, was a momma’s boy. He loved to stay inside. As you might imagine, Esau was his father’s favorite while Jacob was his mother’s favorite.

One day Jacob was cooking some stew. His brother had been out in the fields hunting and was starving when he came home. Jacob’s stew smelled wonderful, so he asked his brother to share. Jacob said, “Okay, I will. But you have to trade me your birthright for it.”

The birthright was a special honor given to the oldest son. It entitled the person to a double part of the family inheritance—which included material possessions, along with the honor of one day being the family leader. The oldest son could sell it or give it away if he wanted, but doing so meant losing a leadership position and wealth.

Esau was so hungry he didn’t care about his birthright. So he sold it to his brother. The Bible says Esau didn’t think much of his birthright to begin with.

Reflection: Have you ever thought one of your parents loved your brother or sister more than they did you? If so, how did it make you feel? How did you act?

Later, when Jacob and Esau’s father Isaac got old and could hardly see, he asked Esau to go hunt some wild game and prepare it the way he liked it. After eating, he would give him the blessing that belonged to the firstborn son. Esau’s mother overheard what Isaac said. She wanted her favorite son, Jacob, to receive the blessing. She quickly found Jacob and told him to get two young goats from their herd. She would prepare the meat the way Isaac loved it, Jacob could take it to his father, and then he’d get the blessing instead of Esau.

Reflection: Do you think it was right for Jacob’s mother to lie to her husband? What should you do if your parents tell you to do something wrong?

Jacob was afraid to do what his mother told him to do. He thought his father would be able to tell he wasn’t Esau. Then his father might curse him instead of blessing him. But his mother had it all figured out. She’d dress Jacob in Esau’s clothes, make him a pair of gloves from the hairy skin of the goats, and make a hairy strip of goat’s skin to put around his neck. After she cooked the food and dressed Jacob up, she sent him to his father. Sure enough, the trick worked. Isaac thought Jacob was Esau and gave the firstborn’s blessing to him.

Before long, Esau came in with the game he had killed and prepared for his father. Esau told his father to sit up and eat so he could give him the blessing. His father began to shake. He knew he had been tricked, but by whom. Esau knew, and when his father thought about it, he knew too. Esau was furious at his brother. He hated him so much he wanted to kill him. And he made plans to. He knew his father would die soon. After that, he said, “I’ll kill Jacob.”

When Jacob’s mother heard about Esau’s plans, she was afraid for her son’s life. She sent him away to live in the land of her ancestors with her brother, Jacob’s Uncle Laban.

Reflection: Even though Jacob had tricked him, was it right for Esau to hate his brother?

Many years later, God told Jacob to return to his homeland. He was afraid because he hadn’t forgotten his brother’s plan to kill him. He obeyed and discovered that his brother had forgiven him. Esau welcomed Jacob with open arms.

Reflection: Our brothers and sisters might do things that make us mad, but should we forgive them as Esau did Jacob?

Who showed love in this story, Jacob or Esau?


Martin Wiles
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