Genesis 25: Faith is living without scheming.
If you are not familiar with the story of Jacob and Esau- you will soon see why I entitled this lesson- Faith is living without scheming.
This chapter ends the life of one of the most famous men in the world- Abraham. Revered by Jews, Muslims and Christians, his has been a rich story of the faith walk. Now at 175 it comes to an end and what a peaceful ending it is.
Abraham got married again- we are not told when. It evidently occurred sometime after Sarahs death . Sarah died when Abraham was 137 and then Isaac married Rebekah when Abraham was 140. So sometime after that Abraham married a woman named, Keturah. Her name means incense. Surely she added a fragrance to Abrahams last days.
He would live to age 175 and father six more sons. We now see the prophecy of Gods that Abraham would the father of nations. From Isaac thru Jacob would come the 12 tribes of Israel. Ishmaels offspring would be described as 12 tribal leaders- they would become the Arab nations. Now we see other nations that came as a result of these six sons he fathered via Keturah.
Before he died, Abraham made sure his estate was in order. He left everything to Isaac, his sole heir. However, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines. ( If you are wondering why Keturah is referred to his wife in one place and now we see a reference to concubines ( plural) it is obvious the concubines- refer to Keturah and Hagar. Although why the term concubine is used- I am not sure.
Abraham has been walking with the Lord for 100 years when he died. He has followed the Lord from Mesopotamia to Canaan- as he went out not knowing where he was going. And now the end has come. It is said then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man full of years and he was gathered to his people.
Abraham was called a friend of God and in Hebrews 11, the Faith Hall of Fame- he holds the record with 12 verses recorded regarding his faith. Yet, we see in many ways-Abraham was a man like us- insecure and unsure at times- stumbling- leaning at times on his own understanding rather than the Lords. However he made it to the finish line. He is probably amazed at the things said about him in the scripture. Like many a military man who served bravely during WWII who never looked at himself as brave or anything special. Abraham would tell us he was just a sinner saved by grace who plodded along one step at a time- making his share of mistakes.
Abraham is often discussed in the New Testament- Jesus tells us- Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing Christs day ; he saw it and was glad. ( John 8:56) In Luke 16- a parable the Lord told regarding life after death- we see Abraham in a place referred to both as Paradise and Abrahams bosom. A place that Jesus went to the day He died on the cross- for Our Lord told the thief on the cross- today- you will be with me in Paradise.
After this we have an account of Ishmaels sons who would become the Arab nations- the oil rich nations that follow the religion of Islam or Muslim. Islam is the third oldest religion in the world after Judaism and Christianity.
Islam was a religion started by a descendant of Ishmael named Mohammed. Mohammed was born in 570 AD in Mecca. He claims to have been given the true religion by the angel Gabriel. The Koran is the book of the law of the Muslims. This is their holy book which they believe is the word of Allah. Allah is not the same God as we worship.
Muslims believe Mohammed was the last true prophet. They believe Jesus is not the son of God but a prophet. They do not believe Jesus died on the cross but they do believe Jesus ascended bodily to heaven and will return in the last days to finish his ministry, die and be buried in Medina where they have an empty tomb awaiting him.
I find it interesting that the three major religions of the world are linked to Abraham and are looking for the Messiah to return. The Jews believe for the first time, the Muslims believe Jesus is a prophet returning to finish his ministry then die and the Christians are looking for the return of the Son of God- the resurrected Lord Jesus.
Now the story returns to Isaac as the remarkable story of redemption continues. I want us to take note of something- for we will see it repeated in the life of Isaac. Abraham was told he would be the father of many nations- that his name would be made great; and all the people of the earth would be blessed through his seed. He would also receive the land the Lord would show him for Abraham and his offspring.
Sounds easy, right? God promises- we receive it. Smooth sailing- easy as pie- not on your life. The Lord Jesus warned us- in this world we would have trouble. Peter told us we should not consider it strange to encounter fiery trials.
Lets think back: Abraham is promised a land as an inheritance. However when he arrives he finds the land occupied with by a belligerent people, the Canaanites.If that is not difficult enough- a famine soon comes upon the land. As for ownership, Abraham would spend almost 100 years there but own very little when he dies. In fact- when he dies- he will only own the land he and Sarah are buried on.
He is promised an heir- but his wife Sarah remains barren. Thinking they must help God complete His work, we have the Hagar and Ishmael debacle. Did you notice how easy it seemed for Hagar to get pregnant? Have you ever prayed for a child for your own children who so desire a child and yet they cannot seem to conceive while others easily conceive only to abort, desert or abuse their own children?
What we saw in Abrahams life- his journey is similar to our own walk of faith isnt it? We met the true and living God and like Abraham when He called us to follow Him to a place and we started out- even though we did not know where we were going..
So look back and you can draw your own map tracing the walk of faith. I believe because God saw our last days before the first ever came to be- He can see the finished trip. So we can look with God at the map and He can show usyou are here.
His Word is our road map- it shows the way we are to go It is a lamp upon our path and light unto our feet. The Lord delights to order our steps. . In fact, the Lord Jesus is Our Way. Did you ever look in the back of your Bible at the maps that shows the Apostles early travels, Abrahams journey complete with stops in Haran or the circuitous route of the children of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land? In the same way- the maps of our lives are being plotted as we journey toward the same thing Abraham and all other believers have journeyed toward a city whose architect and builder are God.
How close are we to reaching our destination may not be as important as what will we encounter between here and there. For certainly- there have been times when we wondered just as Abraham wonderedare we headed in the right direction? Am I doing what I am supposed to be doing?
But one thing we must know and learn- God does not exempt us from lifes difficulties. In fact they are very much an all important part of the journey that challenge us and prove our faith to be genuine and God to be trustworthy. You cannot enter the Promised Land until you have first been through the wilderness.
So we should not be taken by surprise that twenty years after marrying we find Rebekah and Isaac have no children. Rebekah was for all practical purposes barren. But they are an all important link in the promise of God, a promise Isaac and Rebekah know.
What is missing? What is wrong?Is there unconfessed sin? Unbelief? Or simply leaning to their own understanding? Perhaps Isaac thought since this is promised of God- we dont have to pray about it. Not sure-although when we think of barren we think of a fruit bearing plant unable to bear fruit. Let us not forget- Isaac is a type of Christ. Isaac then intercedes for Rebekah the way the Lord intercedes for us.
The Lord Jesus told us the branch cannot bear fruit of itself. However- Jesus told us herein is my Father glorified that you bear much fruit. ( John 15). The Lord goes on later to tells us- you did not choose me, I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit.
Even though God the Father knows what we have need of before we ask Him- He still wants us to ask Him. To ask Him shows our dependence upon Him. God sometimes has to bring some barren times in our lives to remind us without Him we can do nothing. That apart from Him we cannot produce any fruit. We can easily fall into a day to day existence where our needs are met and we dont expect them to stop or be interrupted- then comes a day or night we awaken and realize we have been leaning to our own understanding or depending on the company we work for, the government or others for our daily bread.
*True prayer is not about getting our will done in heaven- it is about getting heavens will done on earth. (Think of the Lords Prayer)
So Isaac prays- intercedes for his wife and Lord answers his prayer and Rebekah gets pregnant. She is carrying twins- but the children struggled within her.
Rebekah asks the question- we have all wondered about- Lord if this is you will- if it be so, why am I thus? In other words- if this is your will for my life- for our life- then why is this wonderful thing making me so miserable? Rebekah was only being honest with the Lord- she knew of the prophecy the God of Abraham had declared- she believed it and now she was a part of it- so why was this pregnancy so difficult?
Rebekah has asked the right question to the right person- the Lord.
The Lords answer reveals a spiritual truth for all believers. The Lord answers Rebekahs inquiry by telling her: Two nations are in your womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from your bowels; and the one shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. This statement reveals a spiritual truth and a prophecy from God to Rebekah as to which son will be the heir of the covenant promises.
Herein lies the spiritual truth for our personal application. Rebekahs physical condition of having two separate, opposing natures in her is the same experience of every born-again believer. We now possess within us- two opposing natures. The old nature and the new nature. (Thats what Paul talked about in Romans 7- the battle of the two natures within.)
It is interesting to note that line of Jacob will bring Christ into the world while Esaus descendants, the Edomites, will bring one ruler named Herod into the world.
We note the difference in these two natures for they reflect the human nature that is controlled by the flesh and the nature controlled by the spirit.
Esau was the first born of the twins- described as red and hairy , he would be named Esau which means hairy. He was probably a rugged, strong- willed child.
Jacob was born second, thus the younger of the two. He was born holding onto his brothers heel, thus he was named Jacob- meaning the supplanter or heel catcher.
As they grew their differences were obvious. Esau was described as a cunning hunter, a man of the field. An avid hunter and outdoorsmen Esau was a rugged man- in the John Wayne mold- perhaps a naturally talented athletic individual. As far as providing venison- which his father, Isaac, enjoyed- his hunting was not to provide meat for the family it was for Esaus own pleasure and enjoyment. After all they had herds and flocks and Rebekah was able to prepare goat so that Isaac could not tell the difference. No, Esau did not hunt deer because the family needed meatEsau loved going to deer camp. Here is your description of Esau, when all is said and done. Hebrews 12: 16 tells us Esau was a fornicator, profane who for a morsel of meat sold his birthright. The birthright we are referring to is the spiritual inheritance. For Esau cared only for the pleasing of his flesh and disdained the spiritual.
Jacob is described as plain man dwelling in the tents. A quiet man, a more serious nature. The Hebrew word from which plain is interpreted is tam. This word carries a more complete description of Jacob which means- one who is complete or mature. It is similar in meaning to the word God used to describe Job when God referred to Job as a perfect and upright man, one that feared God and eschewed evil. ( Job 1:8)
Jacob knew of the promise of God from his father and mother and grandfather. The twins, Esau and Jacob would have their grandfather Abraham in their lives until they were 15 years old. Only Jacob took these spiritual truths more seriously while his brother Esau cared only for the here and now the thrill of hunting- the pleasures of the flesh. I believe the skill that Jacob would exhibit as a successful herdsman would be partially because he spent a lot of time with his grandfather Abraham who taught him of such things and more.
Herein- as we see these two boys grow into manhood, we see another principle of life- what we cultivate controls us. If we cultivate a taste for things of the world that satisfy our flesh- we will be controlled by those appetites. If we cultivate a taste for spiritual things we will be controlled by spiritual things. No one ever enjoyed smoking tobacco the first time- we had to cultivate a taste for it. We will see how these appetites affected the decisions made later on.
These two very different brothers remind me of two earlier brothers in Genesis- Cain and Abel.
In addition, Rebekah, having been told by God the older would serve the younger, knew Jacob was the heir apparent. She would have told Isaac also.
But Rebekah and Isaac were not perfect parents were they? In fact- I do not know of any perfect parents. We see this in the next verse which sums up the problems of the Isaac household. Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob. A dysfunctional family due to parental partiality. When it says Jacob dwelled in the tents and we see him cooking- I believe Rebekah kept Jacob by her side. Rebekah did not understand one does not have to lie, cheat and steal and scheme to get what God has promised. FAITH IS LIVING WITHOUT SCHEMING.
We will see later on- that Jacob, although a mamasboy, was not cowardly or afraid to take action. But he would have to learn one does not have to connive- manipulate or lie in order to get what God promises us. We must trust and obey for there is no other way. The problem is Jacob had an authority figure, his mother, who did not understand this and by example taught him the wrong way to do the right thing. As far as deceitful manipulators, I will put Rebekah right up there with Scarlett OHara.
No one is doing the right thing in this story. Isaac, who knew better, is not. Rebekah, who could not trust God to do it His way in His time is not and as a result we will see a mess. What is sad- is we will see Jacob leave home and his mother who loved him so much- will never see him again or ever lay eyes on Jacobs grandchildren.
But let us finish the rest of the story as Esau will reveal what God knew all along- he cared nothing for the promises of God or his spiritual heritage. He cared nothing for the eternal- but then the old nature never does.
Remember the verses from Hebrews 12 tell us Esau was profane. Profane is defined as to treat with irreverence; not concerned with religion; serving to debase what is holy.In other words- godless and sacrireligious.
This story tells us how little Esau valued the birthright which included the spiritual blessing and the promises of God through Abrahams offspring. The heart of the birthright were the covenant promises of God. Esau thought nothing of it- Jacob thought of little else.
The fateful scene opens with Esau coming in from one of his hunting trips and is famished. He said to Jacob who was preparing a red stew- give me some of that red stew- I am famished.
Jacob replied- first sell me your birthright.
Esau answers he is about to die what good is his birthright?
Jacob may have said this in jest- or in disgust with his brothers behavior and lack of interest in the things of God- especially the covenant promises of the birthright. But with Esaus reply- Jacob saw an opportunity and took it.
Jacob said to Esau to swear to him to take an oath which would mean this transaction was a legal binding contract. Then he gave Esau his payment in exchange for his birthright- a bowl of stew and a piece of bread.
No wonder, the chapter concludes with this obvious statement regarding Esau:
Esau despised his birthright.
Waiting on the Lord is difficult sometimes- but we must remember that blessed are those who wait upon the Lord. We will see in the coming chapters- not waiting on the Lord will have its consequences. Because faith is living without scheming.
Even weak faith in the right object is greater than strong faith in the wrong object.