Well, Sarah has been buried, and Isaac has married Rebekah. Remember, God renewed Abraham, who although he was 100 + years, has remarried, and will bear more children after 20 years of widowhood.
Abraham marries Keturah (whose name means incense), we will later see that incense in temple worship was the prayers of the saints, a sweet savor to the Lord. Abraham then has Zimran (which means song), Jokshan (snare), Medan (strife), Midian (contention), Ishbak (man will leave), and Shuah (from the pit). This is somewhat of a picture of Revelation 20, where satan and his minions are cast into the Lake of Fire, after the millennium. Then follows the genealogies of his sons, and grandchildren. Yet, in verse 5 “Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac.” One can only imagine the thoughts of those children that were born of Keturah. We see the name Midian (Midianites) and others who will cause grief to Israel. They have to harbor anger at Abraham and Isaac, for they would think that they got cheated out of their inheritance, them and Ishmael.
Verse 6 “But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east.”
Then Abraham dies at the age of 175 years, verse 8 “Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.” At this time Isaac would be 75, and his son Jacob 15.
We have a reunion of the two sons for Abraham’s burial – Isaac and Ishmael bury Abraham in the cave of Machpeleh, next to Sarah. The blessing of Abraham passed on to Isaac, in verse 11 we see “And it came to pass, after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac dwelt at Beer Lahai Roi.”
Remember that God promised Hagar that Ishmael would also be the father of many nations, and he will be. Just like Isaac will have 12 sons, Ishamael will also have 12 sons. I heard a teaching that just like the generations from Adam to Noah, that you can break down the names of the sons of Ishmael and get a history of the Islamic nation. I tried it, but don’t know enough about Islam to make any sense of them. In verse 17, we find that Ishamael died at 137 years old, not as old as Abraham. He died in the presence of all his brethren, in an area that is now called Palestine.
God has called Abraham our forefather, the man of faith, and his friend. What a legacy to leave his children. I only hope that God will consider me his friend when I die.
I have been at funerals where I have seen some rather vitriolic behavior regarding inheritance of property and land. When a person dies, sometimes the evil and greed in a man’s heart comes out. Even to this day the Arabs and the Israelites are still battling over territory. Truth be told, God told everyone who inherited what, but man is fighting over the land, and not obeying God’s instructions.
The problems between Ishmael and Isaac are the roots of our holy war today in this troubled land. Beth Moore says on page 103 of her study the that “According to Dr. Ergun Caner, “The entire Islamic religion is based on making Ishmael the inheritor of the promise. Over 2200 years after the events on Mount Moriah, Mohammad changed the character of the historical scene from Isaac to Ishmael.”
Genesis 16:12 says that Ishmael will live in hostility toward his brothers, and it is repeated in Genesis 25:18. The Islamic religion is hostile toward Christians. They do not believe God can have a son, and that Jesus was never crucified (Sura 4: 157-159) Because of the crusades we are considered violent people. It will take lots of loving Christians to break that stereotype.
After the genealogy of Ishmael, we find ourselves back with Isaac, and Ishmael and his brethren will later be seen at war with Israel, something God also promised, for Ishamael would be a warrior.
Isaac was 40 years old according to verse 20, when he took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac is pleading with God (praying) that Rebekah would have a child, and God allows Rebekah to conceive.
Verse 22 “The children struggle together within her, and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” so she went to inquire of the LORD.”
I think it is awesome that we have a family that prays, and when something concerns them, they turn to the LORD in prayer – it is something I am gradually learning to do. Not to react to a situation, but to pray first. I fail at this far too often though, and sometimes with disastrous results.
Here is the LORD’S prophesy and response to her, verse 23 “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.”
This is an important promise, God explains the current struggle in her womb, and points out that the two children (twins) will struggle. What is most unusual, and it seems to be a pattern these days, is that the older child serves the younger – that the younger one inherits. We saw this with Isaac (Ishmael was born first of Hagar), we will see this with the two who will be born, and later on this will happen many times. Reminds me of Jesus’s words that the first shall be last, and the last first.
So she bears the two children, the first came out red, with a lot of hair like a hairy garment over him, and they named him Esau (which means hairy); From the line of Esau, NIMROD will be born.
But what is interesting is in verse 26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.” (Which means heel snatcher – a name Jacob will carry for many years and is sort of a premonition of his future life). Jacob and Esau are the grandchildren of Abraham.
Isaac was 60 years old when Rebekah gave birth. Seems that some of the same patterns that Abraham had, are copied by Isaac. God gave a direct prophesy about who would inherit, but Isaac was not fond of Jacob, he preferred the rough and ready Esau. And all the scheming in the world will come to nothing, for God’s Will will prevail.
Isaac loved Esau because Isaac ate the game Esau hunted, and Rebekah loved Jacob. It seems that Isaac cared about the comforts of his stomach, his flesh, but Rebekah loved Jacob (he was not a hunter, but was probably a momma’s boy).
The next topic profoundly touches me, for we will see Esau sell his birthright. Each and every time we disobey God, act on our fleshly instincts, we loose a bit of ourselves. God will restore us if we ask His forgiveness, but part of us is gone, and there are always consequences for our disobedient behavior. Esau will give into his flesh, much the same way we do, and then later on when he looks back, he will think Jacob stole from him what Esau gave up as not being worth all that much. Of course, Jacob also acted wrongly because he should not have taken advantage of his brother, knowing the prophesy, he could have trusted that God had things under control. (But hindsight is easy, being there who knows what we would have done. Jacob is a bit of a schemer).
Jacob cooks a stew and Esau comes in from the field weary and hungry. He ask Jacob to feed him some red stew (probably lentil porridge), and in verse 30 we see that after asking for the red stew, “Therefore his name was called Edom.” (Does the name Edomite ring a bell? – they will be a thorn in Israel’s (the nation) flesh, and they are descendants of Esau). I think it is important to realize that how we treat others in our lives will impact us in the future, and in future generations.
Jacob does not just give his brother some stew, he says in verse 31-34 “But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.” (according to Beth Moore the intent of the quick eating and drinking is to gulp it down without hardly a taste)
Hebrews 12:16 says that Esau was a profane person, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.
God will not think highly of Esau for despising his birthright, and will say in the future, “Jacob I have loved, Esau I hate.” If we are given a precious gift, such as a birthright, we do not want to despise it, sell it short, cheapen it. As we will see, later when he is not ruled by his stomach, Esau will regret selling his birthright. The birthright would have allowed him to inherit twice as much as any other son. At that time, the rejection of the birthright implies that he didn’t think his father had anything that he wanted. Can you imagine forfeiting a godly heritage for instant gratification? The trade that Esau made wasn’t worth eternal loss.
Beth says on page 113 “Value who you are in Christ. I don’t believe Scripture teaches that we can trade in our salvation. But, Beloved, we can certainly trade in a personal sense of who we are in Christ for the lusts of this world. Let no one take your crown and never let it be said of us that we despised our birthright.”
Beth Moore cracks me up at times when she tells it like it is. On page 106 she gives a written description of a map of a journey of faith. “1. Depart the place where we receive the promise, 2. Travel through the land where the fulfillment of the promise is divinely tested and either humanly or demonically threatened. 3. Tenaciously press through the obstacles to the place of fulfillment.”
(Heather’s note) Doesn’t that sound familiar to us, at least it does to me. I don’t think God likes to take a direct route, I think he likes the scenic tour. Meanwhile, I am busy waiting and waiting, looking at my watch, tapping my feet, checking the road map, and God throws a curve ball taking me by surprise. Sometimes I wish my faith walk were simpler.
Beth goes on to say, “The journey of faith most often involves God’s revealed desire to birth something from us in the area of fruitfulness and purpose.” In the study Beth had us draw an imaginary map with a very curvy trail from where God gives the promise to the fulfillment of it, and then we have to mark an “X” at you are here. My very, very long trail started with the promise that God would restore that which was broken, then I went through a period of trying to do it my own way, wandering in the wilderness, much doubt, in fact a desert of doubt with challenges, comments, and barren dry places, where God seemed to stop answering, and my “X” you are here is coming out of that barren desert, and seeing some progress, but not full fulfillment.
Beth talks about on page 107 the age that the twins were born, “Isaac was 40 years old when he married. Surely as time and togetherness failed to bring forth an heir, he had his own share of self doubts. “Should I have married earlier?” “Have I proved too weak of character?” “Too small of faith?” God’s timing suggests a greater issue. I believe God intended to make crystal clear His participation in fulfilling the promise of heirs. God physically enabled the human race to procreate whether or not a couple knows or acknowledges Him. God wasn’t about to let such an important promise seem naturally fulfilled. Had Isaac and Rebekah conceived the first year, they would have been tremendously less attentive to spiritual purpose and divine participation. In other words, they might have missed the God-gift.”
I find the above passage provocative. On one hand, I can see that if things had happened as Annie Oakley said in Annie Get your Gun, “Doin’ what comes naturally.” that they may not have seen the children as children of promise. And I can also see that the barrenness caused them to seek God, but sometimes I wish God would answer more quickly.
Beth asks personal questions in her lessons, and one of them was, “What has God given you in a way that you have no doubt who was the Giver”” My answer was peace in my spirit after years of seeking in the occult, in therapy, in other areas, God gave me a sense of peace with my past.
Beth then focuses on Rebekah’s question of if this is so, why am I thus. and gives us a few blanks to fill in. “We might personalize the essence of her confusion as, “If the end result of this is supposed to be ____________, why am I _____________?” I filled that in with If the end result of this is supposed to be trust in you, why am I still struggling?
Then Beth said another sentence that tore my heartstrings on page 107 “God is not going to exempt His children from life’s difficulty. Rather He highlights those very challenges to prove our faith is genuine.”
I SAY: Enough of the testing. I know that God never promised us that there wouldn’t be tribulation, but honestly, sometimes I think my whole life is a test. I would like a VACATION from testing. But there is a promise that Beth shares that helps somewhat, pp 107-108 “We have an infinite advantage over unbelievers, however, even in the here-and-now of our earthly experience. Our difficulties are filled with meaning and far-reaching effects, leaving warm blessing on our earthly journey. Our lives are God’s “I am here” tag on the map of humanity.”
Beth points out that Rebekah’s pregnancy was POLITICAL, not PERSONAL. And that sometimes we might want to not take our trials so personally. sigh
Here is something I didn’t notice – Esau was named for his appearance, Jacob for his actions.
With Esau and Jacob, the parents played favorites. Esau was Isaac’s type, Jacob was Rebekah’s type, and she spent her life plotting with Jacob to try and bring God’s promise to fruition – sound familiar?
Beth says on page 111, “What she didn’t understand is that we don’t have to steal, cheat, and lie to get what God promises us. God is the move maker. The same One who makes the promises fulfills the promises – without our manipulation.
I really have to listen to that above. I cracked up when Beth said, “Esau brought home the bacon and Jacob fried it in the pan.”
Have a blessed Saturday.
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