Choices of the HeartChoices of the Heart:

Daughters of the King Bible Study Series

by Kathy Collard Miller

A women’s Bible study with ten lessons

contrasting two biblical women in each lesson

and the choices they made,

one godly and one ungodly.

 

Welcome Kathy! Tell us about why you wrote this study.

Women love the women of the Bible and God loves assuring us He created and values each of us. The biblical women included in this study teach us godly reactions about choices dealing with trusting God, praying powerfully, forgiving, obedience, and other topics.

Who do you think will enjoy this?

Young moms, women, seekers. Suitable for individual or group study.

~~Sample~~

Contents

  1. Rebekah and Rahab: Believing God’s Sovereignty
  2. Job’s Wife and the Woman of Shunem: Trusting God’s Goodness
  3. Jezebel and Deborah: Using God’s Power and Influence
  4. Naomi and the Syrophoenician Woman: Praying Powerfully
  5. Gomer and the Forgiven Woman: Taking Hold of Forgiveness
  6. Sarah and Lydia: Obeying God’s Plan
  7. Sapphira and the Samaritan Woman: Choosing Honesty
  8. Bathsheba and Hannah: Dealing with Temptation
  9. Miriam and Leah: Struggling with Jealousy and Discontent
  10. Martha and Mary: Practicing God’s Presence

Lesson 1

Rebekah and Rahab

Believing Gods Sovereignty

Sometimes we wonder about God and the way he works. We begin to think we know better than he does, especially when he doesn’t work in other people’s lives the way we think he should. After all, change will be better for everyone!

Pastor and author Charles Swindoll defines God’s sovereignty as “our all-wise, all-knowing God reigning in realms beyond our comprehension to bring about a plan beyond our ability to alter, hinder, or stop.” Thinking of Pastor Swindoll’s definition makes us wonder why God doesn’t just make the world a place where nothing bad happens. And, of course, the real question is, why do bad things happen to me?

But think for a moment what would happen if nothing challenging or bad occurred in your life. Would you need God? Would you grow emotionally or spiritually? Ask yourself, when have I been closer to God and become a better person? Usually, we come by such closeness while we are in the midst of difficult circumstances. Of course, not always, but usually, if we seek God, we sense his love and care. Because of God’s sovereignty, he allows difficult circumstances and situations in our lives. If we can see all things as being allowed by him, we will cooperate with his plan.

 

  • How do you define good choices and bad choices?

 

  • What influences your choices?

 

  • How do you feel when someone doesn’t make the choice you think they should?

 

Our reaction to what happens around us can give us a clue as to whether we’re trusting God. If we’re feeling tense or angry or reacting with control and manipulation, we might want to ask, Do I really trust Gods sovereignty? Do I truly believe God is loving and good?

Rebekah and Rahab faced challenges and responded in different ways. The examples of their choices can help us recognize more of God’s sovereignty—his ability to make his plan happen so he’ll reveal his love and power. As a result, we’ll increase our trust in him.

Rebekah

Rebekah is the wife of Isaac and the mother of twin sons, Esau and Jacob. She doesn’t seem to have a sense at all of God’s sovereignty and power. She takes matters into her own hands. Unfortunately, such control doesn’t bring her the results she wants.

 

  • Scan through Genesis 25:23, 27-34; 27:1-28:5. As the older son, Esau should receive the inheritance according to custom. What had God determined would happen between the twins (25:23)?
  • From Genesis 25:27-34, summarize what you observe about this family’s relationships and dynamics.
  • Can you identify any of those same dynamics occurring in your family or relationships?

 

Sometimes God seems contradictory. After all, didn’t he set up the rule stating the older son should receive the inheritance and the younger one be subservient? Yet, here he is commanding something different.

That’s because God has a bigger plan. As he predicted, Esau and Jacob become the beginning of two nations still at odds today: the Israelites and the Arabs (originally the Edomites). When Esau and Jacob were born, no one could envision the future, yet God knew the result.

The amazing thing about God’s sovereignty is how he fulfills his plans and predictions, and yet people have a free will to make their own choices. And somehow, those choices are incorporated into God’s plan—a paradox stumping theologians even today.

Yes, God seems contradictory at times, but he knows the plans he has for our good and his glory (Jeremiah 29:11 and Romans 8:28). Let’s see how Rebekah responds to God’s “contradiction.”

 

  • What does Rebekah overhear (Genesis 27:1-5)?
  • What wrong method(s) does she use to try to fulfill God’s plan herself (vv. 6-10)?
  • Instead of her deceit, what godly reaction(s) could she have taken?

 

Rebekah decides to correct the situation herself instead of trusting in God’s sovereignty and power. God had promised the elder son’s blessing would go to Jacob, but she had no confidence in God’s power to override Isaac’s poor choice.

Can you think of a time when you saw someone making a poor choice and felt compelled to step in to steer the situation in a seemingly “better” way, yet you didn’t seek God’s will? Or you didn’t take action, but your emotional response lacked grace and goodness? Now looking back, were you really trusting in God’s sovereignty?

Think of other incidents where you are successful. A friend treats you with contempt, and you respond with grace. A child is disobedient, and you see how God disciplines yourself with patience. A family member disappoints you, and you offer the forgiveness God has given you. Someone gossips about you, and you remind yourself your value isn’t in their opinion but in God’s view of you.

In those times of failed or successful responses, think through what was going on within you. Did you reject or depend upon any Scripture? Did you recall any previous experience(s) contributing to your typical responses? What qualities of God did you cast away or rehearse?

These kinds of questions help us get in touch with our motives. They also help us be honest with our failures and successes rather than excusing ourselves or becoming proud.

 

  • What are Jacob’s misgivings about his mother’s plan (Genesis 27:11-12)?
  • How does Rebekah respond to his fears (v. 13)?

 

So often, when we do something to try to make life better, like Rebekah, we are actually making things worse. Rebekah thinks she is loving her beloved son, Jacob, “well.” She thinks she is doing something to make his life better. She thinks she is protecting him from being abused and from injustice. And certainly, at times, God will call us to protect and provide for people. But Rebekah isn’t responding in God’s power or in obedience to him. She never gives God a chance to correct the situation. She takes control herself.

Notice Jacob’s fear. What is Rebekah teaching him about God and the way to deal with tension and injustice? Certainly not to trust God. She doesn’t pray or instruct Jacob on “how to deal with disobedient people in a godly way.” She doesn’t model the way to communicate because she never tries to talk to her husband (as far as we know). Instead, she gives her son the example of deception and distrust.

Yet if someone had asked her whether she loved Jacob and wanted the best for him, she most likely would have answered, Well, of course. Why else would I be doing this?

We also are not loving someone “well” when we rescue them from experiencing God’s discipline through the consequences of their poor behavior. We’re also not loving them in a godly way when we don’t trust God. We’re encouraging them to distrust him also.

 

  • Rebekah goes to a lot of trouble in her deception. What is the plan, and how does her plan turn out (Genesis 27:14-40)?
  • How would you describe Rebekah’s character at this point? What kind of woman is she?
  • What is one of the results of her plan (v. 41)?
  • What is another of the consequences (Genesis 27:42-28:5)?
  • From Genesis 26:34-35 and 28:6-9, what aggravation filled her life?

 

If we could talk to Rebekah today, I’m sure she would defend her actions and sound convincing. She might say, Im only helping God fulfill his own plan. God promised Jacob would be the recipient of the inheritance, and Im only helping to fulfill the promise. If I need to use a little deception to make sure my son gets what he deserves, then, well, the end justifies the means.

Criticizing Rebekah in hindsight is easy. But don’t you and I also rationalize at times with the “end justifies the means” excuse? We can convince ourselves we’re merely claiming God’s promise and assisting the fulfillment of his promise.

How can we protect ourselves from falling into this self-deceptive trap? We must seek the godly wisdom and guidance of others to get an objective perspective. Rebekah could have taken into account her son’s reaction of fear to give her a clue as to what was happening. And she could have talked the situation over with her husband and trusted in the shield her submission would have been for her.

We can also pay attention to our inner compulsions. If we feel tense thinking of doing something, maybe we’re forcing our way. Depending upon God and walking in righteousness produces peace (Isaiah 26:3). If we are not experiencing peace, we may be taking matters into our own hands rather than waiting upon God’s timing and incorporating his methods.

Rebekah paid dearly for her distrust of God’s sovereignty. She didn’t realize Jacob’s escape wouldn’t be for just “a few days.” Instead, she never saw her favorite son again and died before Jacob returned many years later. And in the meantime, she found life almost intolerable because of her pagan daughters-in-law.

The consequences of distrusting God’s sovereignty were serious and significant in Rebekah’s life. God gives us her example as a warning.

Kathy C MillerAbout the Author

Kathy Collard Miller is a wife, mom of two and grandmother of two. She lives in Southern California with her husband, Larry, and they have been married since 1970. Kathy has over 55 books published and has traveled the world speaking in over 35 US states and 9 foreign countries. Her books include Christian living topics, women’s Bible studies, compiled books and commentaries.

 

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