What specifically does God promise Abram here? How do you think it will impact his life and those around him?
If you had been Abram (God asking you to leave your home and family for his amazing purpose) how would you have responded? Why?
Is there any new journey God might be asking you to go on? How might it impact your life?
Would you have offered your nephew first choice of land?
If you were Lot, what would you have chosen (good land with evil people or not so great land)? Why?
Are there any ways in our lives that we choose what looks best at face value in spite of other risks or consequences?
How do we already begin to see God’s promise to Abram (from ch. 11) start to be fulfilled? (being a blessing and receiving blessing)
What is the significance of Melchizedek’s (king of Salem) statements about God?
What do verses 22-24 say about Abram’s reliance on God? Would that have been your response?
How would you have felt if God had promised to give you many descendants but you didn’t have any kids? Would you have believed it?
Are there any things God has promised you that are hard for you to trust will happen?
The odd “ceremony” that happens here was actually a common ancient ritual that God uses to show Abram he will fulfill his promises. Has God ever given you a sign that he will be who he said he is?
What do Sarai and Abram’s actions in this story show about their trust in God’s promise?
What does God’s response to Hagar show us about who he is?
What ways do we “take things into our own hands” when we feel like God isn’t acting how or when we feel like he should?
If you had been Sarah, how would you have reacted to the news that you would have a child? How about a year later?
Has God done anything in your life that seemed impossible? Is there anything that you’re having trouble trusting him for now?
What does God’s care for Hagar show us about who he is?
[Important note: While it’s hard for us to understand, child sacrifice to gods was very common at this time in history.]
Why do you think Abraham willingly does what God asks of him?
Why does God ask Abraham to sacrifice Isaac if he never intends on having him go through with it?
Is there anything in your life that you might hold more dear than God’s purposes for your life?
If you had been Esau, how would you have reacted to being tricked? How about Isaac?
What does this story of family dysfunction show us about how (and through whom) God works?
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like a relationship was too broken for God to work in?
How is God’s promise to Jacob similar to his promise to Abraham (his grandfather)? (see Genesis 15) Any differences?
Jacob seems surprised to have this experience of God. (verses 16,17) Why do you think that is?
Have you ever had God show up in your life in a surprising way (in a place you didn’t expect)? How did you react?
[Important Note: Polygamy (having more than one wife) was another common practice at this time in history.]
If you had been Jacob, how would you have felt about your uncle tricking you? How about if you had been Leah?
How does God continue to “bless” Jacob as he’s promised, in spite of his uncle?
Is there anyone in your life that seems to be working against God’s purposes for you? What does it look like to trust God to work in the middle of that situation?
How does Jacob’s wrestling match reflect his relationship with God throughout the story? Have you ever felt like you were wrestling with God?
In what ways do we see growth in Jacob and Esau from earlier in the story? How has God worked in each of their lives?
When you look back over the past 10 to 20 years of your life, what areas has God grown you?
If you had been Joseph’s brothers, how would you have felt (about your father’s favoritism and Joseph’s dreams)?
Have you ever been jealous of what God was doing in someone else? Why do you think that is?
In the end, God used what the brothers did for his purposes… what does that tell us about our lives?
Have you ever had a hard situation in life that God worked through to bring about good in your life?
What do you think allowed Joseph to maintain his integrity even when Potiphar’s wife was interested in him?
Have you ever done something right and been punished for it? How did you react?
This is the second time Joseph has gone from the bottom to the top… why do you think that is?
What does Joseph’s response to Pharaoh (in verse 16) show about his relationship with God?
Have you ever seen God use you (and the talents he’s given you) to meet a need for someone else?
If you had been Joseph, seeing your brothers for the first time in many years, how would you have felt and responded?
What does Joseph’s words to his brothers (verses 45:5-8) teach us about God, our failures, and even those who have wronged us?
Is there anyone in your life who God might be calling to you forgive for what they’ve done to you?
Why do you think God reiterates his promise (the same one he gave to Abraham & Isaac) to Jacob at this point?
If you had been Jacob (seeing your son again for the first time in many years & being in Egypt where there is food) how would you have felt and reacted?
Has there ever been something in your life that you waited on God for years to happen? (or are still waiting?)
How does God continue to fulfill his promise (to Abraham’s descendants) even in this foreign land in violent opposition?
How has God grown/provided for you even in times when it seems like everything is against you?
Moses takes things into his own hands, what is the result? Have you ever tried to bring about justice in your own power?
These verses repeatedly say God heard the people’s cries… do you feel like God hears you? Why or why not?
If you had been Moses, asked to go defy one of the most powerful leaders in the world, how would you have reacted?
What proof would you have asked for to trust that God was actually going to be with you?
Have you ever done what you believed God wanted you to and it seemed to make things worse?
If you had been one of the Israelite foremen, what would you have said to Moses?
What does God say to reassure Moses? Would this reassure you?
Why do you think Pharaoh continues to refuse Moses (and God) no matter how many plagues come?
A lot of scholars point out that these plagues relate to many of the Egyptian “gods” (ie. Ra is the sun god and God causes the sun not to shine). What significance might this have in why God uses this method to force Pharaoh’s hand?
Have you ever been up against an obstacle that it didn’t seem like God could move?
If you had been Pharaoh, what would you have thought about the Israelites’ God at this point? What would you have thought of Pharaoh and your own gods?
What would God sparing the lives of the Israelites have shown them about who he is? What is the significance of the sacrifice?
Has following/being obedient to God ever saved you from some kind of pain or hardship?
If you had been one of the Israelites escaping from Egypt, what would you have been feeling? (fear, awe, joy, other?) How about after crossing the sea?
How does God “display his glory” through Pharaoh and the army here (verse 4)? Why do you think he does this?
Is there any situation in your life now that seems impossible to escape?
How would you have felt out in the desert as the food started to run out? How about after God provided the manna?
Would you have been able to collect only a days worth, or would you have wanted to store it?
What would it look like for you to trust God more daily for your needs?
What does God invite the people to become (see verses 19:3-6)? How does this relate to his promise to Abraham generations earlier?
Why does God give his people these instructions (10 Commandments) here? What’s the goal?
How do God’s expectations/instructions impact your life? (inspire?, guilt?, guide?, pressure?, none of the above?)
Why do you think the people are so quick to forget that God brought them out of Egypt and want another leader?
When we see God’s judgment here, how does that make you feel? Does God still act that way today, toward us?
In what ways do lose faith in God and turn to other things to protect and provide?
How do the people respond after their failure? Have you ever felt like you were in this position with God?
What does Moses’ interaction with God (in verses 34: 5-11) show us about who God is and how he handles our failure?
Has God ever experienced God renew his promises/purposes for your life? What did it look like?
How does this response of God’s people differ from how they’ve acted the rest of the time in the wilderness?
How would you have felt experiencing God’s presence tangibly through cloud and fire, in the middle of the camp?
When is the last time it felt like God was leading you moment by moment? Why do you think that is?
If you had been listening to Moses give these instructions, knowing they were his last, what would you have been thinking?
What does Moses say leads to life and success (verses 30:15-20)? Does that ring true in your life?
Why, if God knows the people are going to fail (verses 21:16-18), does he continue leading them into the land?
If you had been Joshua, taking over for Moses on the edge of this new land, what would your concerns have been?
Why do you think Rahab helps the spies? Has God ever used someone way outside your normal circles to help you? or used you for the sake of someone outside your circles?
How does Rahab “know the Lord has given the Israelites the land”? (verse 2:9)
Why do you think God leads the people through water on dry ground again? Why does the Ark of the Covenant go first?
What is the long-term goal of setting up these marker stones for God’s people?
What are the defining moments of God’s work in your life (that he would tell you to pile some stones to remember)?
Why do you think this commander of the Lord shows up to Joshua just before they have the battle with Jericho?
If you had been one of the people marching around Jericho for days, what would you have been thinking? How about once the walls fell?
When it comes to obstacles in your life, do you tend to trust your own strength or God’s first?
(NOTE: For more insight on how to understan violence in the Old Testament, click here or search youtube for “Lawson Stone violence in the Old Testament”)
Why does it seem like God is so concerned with his people not taking on the customs of the people around them?
Why does Joshua repeat the point that “the Lord your God has fought for you”? What would the be in forgetting that truth?
When you read Joshua saying that God has not failed in one of his promises, how do you feel? Has that been your experience?