Genesis 28:10-22

10 Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran. 11 When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep.12 He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. 13 There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. 15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord will be my God 22 and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”
(Genesis 28:10-22 NIV)

As we pick up the story from our last time together in Chapter 28, Isaac has called in Jacob, blessed him, ordered him not to marry and Canaanite woman, then sent him off to his wife’s brother in Harran to find a wife.

As we pick up the story in today’s passage, we see Jacob obeying his father and heading toward Harran where his uncle lived.  Jacob stopped for the night, likely sleeping in the town square.  Using a rock as a pillow, he laid down and went to sleep.

We don’t know much about the spiritual climate in the home as Jacob grew up, or what Jacob’s spiritual values were now that he is an adult – but we’re about to find out.

When Jacob fell asleep, the Lord visited him in a dream and repeated the promise He had made to both Abraham and Isaac – to multiply his descendants and give them a permanent place to live, a place to call home.  The Lord also promised to watch over Jacob and his family until all these things came true.

Notice Jacob’s reaction when he awoke – afraid (v. 17).  Before the dream, did Jacob think that maybe God only resided where his father lived, or some other place?  Did Jacob feel that he was on his own, and must do everything on his own power and wit?

Have you ever had a dream where the Lord has visited you to reassure you that He is with you and is continually watching over you?  If so, what was your response when you realized what had happened?  Fear? Peace?  Guilt?

Jacob’s response was worship. He anointed the rock he used as a pillow and named the place “Bethel” (“house of God”, where God lives).  Jacob’s faith walk also took a huge leap forward that day as well, from little or none of his own faith, to baby steps of both recognizing the Lord and beginning his relationship with Him.

Notice that the Lord made an unconditional promise to Jacob, to watch over him and bless him and his descendants, and to bless all the rest of the people on the earth through Jacob’s family.

At this point, Jacob’s faith was not reciprocal – he was still trying to control his life and situation, and for the most part, his relationship with the Lord.  Jacob made his commitment to the Lord conditional = “if…” (v. 20) God will do all these things that He promised, then I will make him my God (paraphrasing Jacob’s words).

Where do we have baby faith and try to make deals with God?  Do we have conditional faith, based on some circumstance or desired outcome?

Thankfully, God’s grace and mercy are far bigger than our doubt or fears or desire to control our lives.

May we learn to trust the Lord and lean on His promises as we spiritually mature in Him.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 28:1-9

28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram,to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.” Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.

Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram.Esau then realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.
(Genesis 28:1-9 NIV)

As we ended Chapter 27, we saw Rebekah act treacherously toward her husband Isaac by playing on his emotions.  She reminds Isaac the heartache that Esau’s two foreign wives have brought them (Genesis 26:34-35).  She tells Isaac that she can’t live with the thought of Jacob marrying a foreigner.

Whether Isaac and Rebekah had further dialog or not about the subject, the text does not say.  Isaac no doubt fondly remembered the joy Rebekah brought him so many years ago, and wants that same joy for his son Jacob.  There was also no mention of consulting the Lord in this decisionmaking process – it appears to be based solely on human wisdom and family tradition.

Isaac then calls Jacob in, tells him not to marry a Canaanite woman, and instead, go to his uncle’s house and find a bride among his daughters.  Isaac then bestows the blessing of Abraham on Jacob, which he had not done before when he gave the birthright blessing to him.

In our modern society, most of us would chafe at the idea of first cousins getting married.  In ancient cultures such as Isaac’s, cross-cousin marriage (a sister’s son marrying a brother’s daughter) was common and accepted as a way of knowing you had similar values, family loyalty, and separateness.  In contrast, many cultures encouraged intermarrying with others outside their family ties as a way of overtaking them and subsuming them into their culture.

After Isaac blessed Jacob, warned him about not marrying a Canaanite woman, and sent him off to his uncle’s territory to obtain a wife, Esau heard about all of this and saw the joy it brought his father when Jacob obeyed and did all that Isaac told him to do.

Esau then went out and married his cousin (his uncle Ishmael’s daughter).  Several questions come to mind when we read about Esau’s response:

  • Did Esau not know that his marriage to the two Hittite women was so offensive and grievous to his parents, or did he not care before this point?
  • Did Isaac and Rebekah not say anything to Esau before he married these two women, or did Esau not listen when they did speak up?
  • Was Esau acting in revenge against his father’s blessing and command to Jacob, or was Esau seeking redemption and blessing from Isaac?

One note of interest is that Isaac never mentions the treachery and deceit from before when Jacob stole Esau’s birthright blessing.  Had they dealt with this already, or was the incident swept under the rug (so to speak), never to be talked about?  In any case, Isaac seemed to sense the inevitability of the past and bestowed the blessing of his father Abraham onto Jacob before he left for his uncle’s house.

The text also does not mention any response from Isaac and Rebekah when Esau married Ishmael’s daughter.  Did Esau do this on his own, or did he seek the approval of his parents before he married for the third time?

If we do the math, we know that Isaac and Rebekah were not young anymore, and neither were Esau and Jacob. These were not impetuous teenagers – they were grown men leading adult lives at this point.

May we stop and seek the Lord before leaning on human wisdom and tradition in all matters of faith and life.

May we speak the truth in love, especially in our families.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 27:30-46

30 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, “My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”

32 His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?”

“I am your son,” he answered, “your firstborn, Esau.”

33 Isaac trembled violently and said, “Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him—and indeed he will be blessed!”

34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, “Bless me—me too, my father!”

35 But he said, “Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.”

36 Esau said, “Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: He took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!” Then he asked, “Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?”

37 Isaac answered Esau, “I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?”

38 Esau said to his father, “Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!” Then Esau wept aloud.

39 His father Isaac answered him,

“Your dwelling will be
away from the earth’s richness,
away from the dew of heaven above.
40 You will live by the sword
and you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless,
you will throw his yoke
from off your neck.”

41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”

42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.”
(Genesis 27:30-46 NIV)

From our last time together, we saw Rebekah and Jacob plot to deceitfully take the eldest son’s blessing from Esau.  In today’s text, we see the aftermath of that treachery.

Jacob had just barely finished receiving his father Isaac’s blessing when Esau shows up with his meal for his father, looking forward to receiving his father’s blessing.  While Esau had not always pleased his parents (remember the two Canaanite wives he married that caused grief to both Isaac and Rebekah?), this time he had dutifully obeyed his father and looked forward to the promised reward, his father’s blessing.

When Isaac realizes what has happened, he shook with anger, knowing that he had been deceived.  Isaac essentially tells Esau that he can’t take back his blessing on Jacob – what he has said, he has said.

Esau expresses his grief and asks Isaac to bless him as well.  Isaac finally offers Esau some words, basically the opposite of what he had said to Jacob.  While the words were likely meant to counteract the blessing given to Jacob, they ended up being more of a curse than a blessing.

Rather than forgiving his father and brother and mother, Esau holds unforgiveness in his heart and vows to get even with his brother after his father dies.  Sounds something like the sibling rivalry of Cain and Abel, doesn’t it?

The drama escalates as someone tells Rebekah what they heard Esau saying about getting his revenge on Jacob.  Rebekah sends for Jacob and tells him to flee to he brother’s house until Esau’s rage subsides.

Notice that Rebekah sheds any ownership of the plot and the aftermath of what happened.  In verse 45, she puts the responsibility and guilt of the deceit back on Jacob:
When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him…”

Rebekah then crafts another story to cover up the first treachery.  She goes to Isaac and complains bitterly about Esau’s foreign wives, and the possibility of Jacob marrying a Canaanite woman and bringing even more grief to the family.

Little did Rebekah know what she was asking for when she sent Jacob away, and that it would be 20-plus years before she would see him again.

May we speak the truth in love in all our relationships.

May we not think that we need to intervene and play “God” to bring about what He has promised – may we learn to walk in step with Him and receive His blessings in His time and in His way.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 27:1-29

27 When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.”

“Here I am,” he answered.

Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”

Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.’ Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: Go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so I can prepare some tasty food for your father,  just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.”

11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.”

13 His mother said to him, “My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.”

14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of Esau her older son, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.

18 He went to his father and said, “My father.”

“Yes, my son,” he answered. “Who is it?”

19 Jacob said to his father, “I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.”

20 Isaac asked his son, “How did you find it so quickly, my son?”

“The Lord your God gave me success,” he replied.

21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, “Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.”

22 Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, “The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.” 23 He did not recognize him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. 24 “Are you really my son Esau?” he asked.

“I am,” he replied.

25 Then he said, “My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.”

Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, “Come here, my son, and kiss me.”

27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,

“Ah, the smell of my son
is like the smell of a field
that the Lord has blessed.
28 May God give you heaven’s dew
and earth’s richness—
an abundance of grain and new wine.
29 May nations serve you
and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed
and those who bless you be blessed.”

(Genesis 27:1-29 NIV)

As we remember several sessions ago to Chapter 25, we saw the struggle between Jacob and Esau begin before they were born, while still in their mother’s womb.  The struggle continued after they were born, with their parents Isaac and Rebekah picking favorites.

Fast forward many years, and Isaac is now old and blind.  Isaac calls for his oldest son Esau in order to give him the birthright (first-born son) blessing.  When the father passed away, the first-born son had the responsibility of caring for all the people in the extended family.

While the blessing of the first-born son was certainly understandable given the added responsibilities that son would soon inherit, I wonder why Isaac did not call all his children together to bless them.  We have a hint that there were other children beyond Esau and Jacob, based on Isaac’s prayer (in particular, verse 29).

Isaac sends Esau out to hunt wild game and bring him a savory meal of the resultant hunt.  There was no spiritual or historical prerequisite of eating a meal before the giving of a blessing, so why did Isaac instruct Esau to go hunting and prepare a wild game dinner for him?

One thought is that Isaac was looking for a something to renew his love for Isaac.  At the end of Chapter 26, Moses noted that Esau brought much grief to both Isaac and Rebekah by marrying two foreign women.  The only connection that Isaac seemed to have with Esau was their shared love for the taste of wild game.

So the dysfunction of the family continues.  When Isaac called Esau in and told him of his intention to bless Esau, note that Esau did not disclose the fact that he had sold his birthright to his brother Jacob.

We see the picking of favorites and divided loyalties still in effect after all these years (v. 5 – his son Esau; v. 6 – her son Jacob).  Rebekah likely remembered what the Lord had told her when she inquired about the struggle going on inside her before the boys were born.  Instead of inquiring of the Lord again on how he might keep His promise of the younger son being blessed over the older son, Rebekah decided to take matters into her own hands and concocted a scheme to trick her husband into blessing Jacob rather than Esau.

When Rebekah reveals her plan to Jacob, notice that there was no hesitancy to participate in the plot because it was wrong.  Jacob’s only concern was the negative consequences if he got caught.

So the plot was hatched and the repeated lies and deception began.  Notice that Jacob’s faith was not his own.  When Isaac questioned how Esau was able to obtain the wild game so fast, Jacob responded that “the Lord your God” (v. 20) helped him.

Note that Isaac had his doubts about whether he was talking to Esau or Jacob.  Isaac did not depend on the Lord, nor did he inquire of his wife Rebekah as to the authenticity of the son to whom he was speaking.  Instead, Isaac leaned on his own empirical evidence (touch and smell) to determine whom he was about to bless.

Isaac then gave his blessing to Jacob who was disguised as Esau.  While Issac’s blessing had a mention of the Lord in it, the blessing was primarily material in nature and substance.  God’s blessing on Abraham and Isaac was primarily spiritual in nature, leaving a family legacy that would bless the world for generations to come.

This story has many negative lessons to be learned, especially the doing of evil (sin) to try to bring about good.  The ends never justify the means.  While God can redeem any sin for His glory, that does not give us the license to do what we want.  There will be consequences, as we will find out in the second half of Chapter 27.

We’ll see the rest of the story unfold in our next time together.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 26

26 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” So Isaac stayed in Gerar.

When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”

When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”

Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”

10 Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”

11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.

16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”

17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.

19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”

25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.

26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”

28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.”

30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.

32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.

34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
(Genesis 16:1-35 NIV)

As we walked through Chapter 25, we saw the death of Abraham and the birth of Isaac and Rebekah’s twin boys, Esau and Jacob.  Even on their mother’s womb, there was a struggle going on that would last a lifetime.

As we begin Chapter 26, we see some familiar patterns repeat themselves in Isaac.  Isaac learned a lot from his father, but not all patterns were positive.  When a famine came upon the land, Isaac instinctively headed for Egypt, just like his father.  When Isaac got to Gerar, on the border with Egypt, in the land of the Philistines, he stopped for a rest.

We can reasonably assume that Issac fully intended to go on to Egypt because the Lord intervened and told Isaac to stay in the land, that He would provide and bless him there.  Isaac obeyed the Lord, and indeed, the Lord blessed him mightily (vv .12-14).

Isaac also repeated his father Abraham’s self-protective ways when he lied and told the men of Gerar that Rebekah was his sister rather than his wife.  Even if Isaac was not protecting Rebekah, God was, and he used King Abimelech to call Isaac out.  Verse 8 says the Isaac had lived in Gerar a long time – he had forced Rebekah to keep up the ruse, the story, the lie for years.

But the king happened to see Isaac caressing Rebekah, and he knew that something was not what it seemed to be.  When King Abimelech confronted Isaac, he admitted his fear and the lies.  The king intervened and protected both Isaac and Rebekah.  This years-long lie probably affected their marriage, their family relationships, and their lives in general.

Despite all this, the Lord kept His promise to bless Isaac, even giving him a bumper crop of a hundred-fold harvest.  The Philistines noticed and were jealous.

As the Philistines saw the Lord bless Isaac, their jealousy tuned to fear, and the king asked Isaac to leave the area.  The previous king had invited Abraham to stay; this king un=invited Isaac and told him to move on.

Rather than demanding his rights or fighting to stay, Isaac moved on.  He moved twice and tried to settle down, but the local herdsmen quarreled with Isaac’s servants and claimed the land and water as their own, even though Abraham had dug the wells they were using.  The third time, no one argued with Isaac, so he settled there, near Beersheba.

Isaac took the sign of peace as from the Lord.  And that very night, the Lord confirmed His blessing on Isaac by appearing to him and reaffirming His love for Isaac and His blessing upon him and his descendants.

The Lord further confirmed His blessing on Isaac by prompting King Abimelech to visit Isaac and seek a peace treaty with him.  Abimelech had asked Isaac to leave out of fear of takeover, and now wanted to ask for a peace accord out of fear of retribution.  Isaac showed his godly character and chose to forgive and live in peace with his neighbors.

Moses ends this chapter with a note about Esau and his bad choices, and the deep pain that it brought to Isaac and Rebekah.  This insight sets the stage for Chapter 27.

While Isaac was not the swashbuckling adventurer like his father Abraham, he was a faithful man who sought to live at peace with those around him.  Two Scripture passages come to mind as I think about Isaac’s interaction with others:

When the Lord takes pleasure in anyone’s way,
    he causes their enemies to make peace with them.
(Proverbs 16:7 NIV)

“And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
(Mark 6:11 NIV, Jesus speaking to His disciples)

May we be people, like Isaac, that exhibit the spirit and peace of Christ, standing firm in our beliefs and character, but trusting that the Lord will use even the “un-invites” in our lives for His glory and our good.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 25

25 Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.

Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.

Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.

12 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham.

13 These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam,14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah.16 These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. 17 Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. 18 His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go toward Ashur. And they lived in hostility toward all the tribes related to them.

19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac.

Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.

21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, “Why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 The Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you will be separated;
one people will be stronger than the other,
and the older will serve the younger.”

24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.

27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents.28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom.)

31 Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright.”

32 “Look, I am about to die,” Esau said. “What good is the birthright to me?”

33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first.” So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.

34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.

So Esau despised his birthright.
(Genesis 25:1-34 NIV)

In the previous two posts, we walked through Chapter 24 with Abraham’s servant as Abraham charged him with finding a wife for his son Isaac.  Abraham’s faith in the Lord inspired great faith in his servant as he made the journey back to Abraham’s homeland.  God answered the servant’s prayer; the Lord led the servant to Rebekah and her family.

In Chapter 25, there are a variety of topics covered:

  • Abraham’s second marriage and his family from that marriage
  • Abraham’s death and burial
  • God blessing Isaac
  • Ishmael’s lineage
  • Isaac’s prayer for his wife to have children
  • Rebekah’s pregnancy and the birth of the twins
  • The family’s dysfunction and division
  • Jacob’s treachery and Esau’s selling of his birthright

While the stories recorded in Chapter 25 are pretty straightforward, there are a few items that catch our attention.

One is that Abraham married again after Sarah died.  With God giving Isaac to Abraham and Sarah and clearly noting that he would be the chosen son that God would bless and through whom God’s promise to provide many descendants through, why would Abraham want to have more children?  And the text hints at there being concubines and children of concubines as well as his second wife Keturah.

Another interesting thing is that Isaac and Ishmael still kept in contact, as they worked together to bury Abraham.  It would be easy to think that after Hagar and Ishmael were sent away from Abraham and Sarah that they would be estranged and have no more contact.  That was clearly not the case, although we don’t know the nature of Isaac’s and Ishmael’s relationship over the years.

We have a glimpse of the faith of both Isaac and Rebekah, when Isaac prayed to the Lord for Rebekah to have children, and when Rebekah inquired of the Lord as to the meaning of the churn of the babies inside her.  It’s hard to imagine what she must have been feeling physically, emotionally, and spiritually as the two boys did flip-flops and somersaults in her belly!  Even more, what would her soul experience when the Lord answered her inquiry?

Unfortunately, we see the turmoil and family dysfunction come out as Rebekah and Isaac choose favorite sons.  This creates tension between the two boys as well, and Jacob ends up manipulating his brother for selfish gain by negotiating the trade of a bowl of soup and a piece of bread for his brother’s birthright.

May we love family well, and seek to love our children equally and seek to redeem family relationships even when they are hard.

May we seek the Lord in all things, as we remember the examples of Isaac and Rebekah’s inquiries when they did not understand life going on around and within them.

Blessings,
~kevin

Genesis 24:34-67

34 So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. 35 The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, 38 but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’

39 “Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’

40 “He replied, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked faithfully, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. 41 You will be released from my oath if, when you go to my clan, they refuse to give her to you—then you will be released from my oath.’

42 “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. 43 See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” 44 and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’

45 “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’

46 “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also.

47 “I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’

“She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.’

“Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, 48 and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. 49 Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”

50 Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. 51 Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.”

52 When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. 53 Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. 54 Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there.

When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.”

55 But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.”

56 But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.”

57 Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.”58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?”

“I will go,” she said.

59 So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 And they blessed Rebekah and said to her,

“Our sister, may you increase
to thousands upon thousands;
may your offspring possess
the cities of their enemies.”

61 Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.

62 Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. 63 He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. 64 Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel 65 and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?”

“He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself.

66 Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. 67 Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.
(Genesis 24:34-67 NIV)

In the first half of Chapter 24, Abraham tasked his primary servant to go back to his family of origin in Canaan and find a wife for his son Isaac.  Abraham was too old to make the trip, and knew that the Lord would provide wisdom and guidance for his servant to find the right woman for Isaac.

The servant made the journey and put his faith in the Lord to find the right woman for Issac.  The servant prayed specifically for God’s guidance, and the Lord answered his prayer with Rebekah.  When we stopped at verse 33, the servant and his helpers had been invited in by Rebekah’s brother Laban.  Before the servant and his men would accept the family’s hospitality, the servant had to tell them why he was there.  The servant’s integrity meant that he had to tell them his intentions so they had the opportunity to change their minds about the hospitality they were about to offer.

As we pick up in verse 34 today, the servant repeats the story we heard in the first half of Chapter 24.  The response from Rebekah’s father and brother was clear – “This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other.”  They gave their blessing and gave Rebekah to be married to Isaac.

The family asked for Rebekah to stay for 10 days to say their goodbyes, but the servant wanted to get started back home.  The family put the question to Rebekah, and she agreed to leave that day as the servant requested.

The servant returned home, and Isaac and Rebekah were married.  Moses tells us that Rebekah brought great comfort to Isaac in the aftermath of his mother’s death.  Moses also tells us that Isaac loved Rebekah – this was far more than another arranged marriage destined for mere survival and domestic duties.

As we look into the life of Isaac, scripture does not tell us a lot about him.  He does not seem to be the swashbuckling adventurer like his father Abraham, nor does seem to be the self-protecting and fearful man like his father Abraham (at least at the point in the story).

If anything, Isaac appears at first glance to be a bit of a “mama’s boy”, sticking close to home, happy to be involved in family life.  It’s easy to see how this could be, with the Lord telling Abraham and Sarah that His promise to provide descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore would be fulfilled through Isaac.  If we were told that about one of our children, we would probably be very overprotective as well!

But we also see Isaac out for a walk meditating on the Lord when the servant and Rebekah arrive home.  Here we get a glimpse of Isaac as a faithful man, a man seeking after the Lord and desiring to walk with God throughout his life.  If Isaac were alive today, we would likely describe him as walking closely with and guided by God’s Spirit,

Many times in both the Old and New Testaments, the Lord refers to Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  There was something about Isaac’s life that is worth studying and emulating, as his life reflects God’s attributes and character.

May we choose to walk with the Lord as Isaac did, carving out time to meditate and invite God’s Holy Spirit to guide and lead us in our daily walk.

Blessings,
~kevin