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.
Genesis 26. Like Father- Like Son
This is the only chapter that is devoted to Isaac. It comes at some time after the sons are grown for we will read of the marriage of Esau in the end of the chapter. Also there is no mention of Esau and Jacob accompanying their parents on their move to Gerar.
In verse 1 we read there is a famine in the land. A famine is one of those providential tests of the Lord. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. Each generation faces their own tests as Isaac does here in this part of his story.
A test always carries with it a temptation. The temptation is to scheme and manipulate to either avoid the test- run away from it or somehow lessen the severity of it. As far as the tests God would have us go through- you can run- but you cannot hide. God will see to it that you learn the lesson He would have you learn from the test He has allowed or shaped for you to face.
God tests us to bring out the best in us; while Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us. In one form or another, each new generation of believers must experience the same tests as previous generations. The enemy does not change his mode of operation, human nature does not improve and God is the same today, as yesterday as He will be forever.
Now we have a promise from God that He will never allow us to be tested above that which you are able to bear,but when tempted He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it. ( I Cor. 10:13). As Matthew Henry writes- He(God) proportions His peoples trials according to their strengths.
Isaac faces a famine- a severe time of need when supplies dwindle and his faith in Jehovah Jireh, his Provider is tested. The place we want run to is not a geographic location where we think a better supply is- no; the place we want to run to is the will of God. The will of God will never lead you to a place where His grace cannot provide for us.
But like his father, Abraham, and like us- Isaacs faith is not perfect. It never is,is it? Our faith is always a mixture of belief and unbelief. Like the father of the boy with violent seizures who when being told by the Lord that all things are possible for him who believes- replied: I believe help my unbelief.
Want to know if unbelief is your problem when you face a trial a time of testing? Here it is: Unbelief asks: how can I get out of this? Belief asks: What can I get out of this?
Isaac went to Gerar to King Abimelech, probably the son of the king Abraham had dealt with.
In verse 2, the Lord appeared to Isaac and told him not to go down to Egypt but live in the land for a while.
In verses 3- 6- God repeats the promises of the covenant He made with Abraham to Isaac. These are Gods promises to Isaac now. Each generation must lay claim to the promises of God for themselves.
What we see in Gods promises to Isaac is how important it is in times of trials, tests and temptations to be occupied with the Word of God and the God of the Word.
In our journey through this world, we will all face times of famine, crisis, tests and temptations- we must learn as every generation of believers must learn- to not take matters into our own hands but to be guided by the Word of God.
In verses 7-11 we see Isaac resort to lies rather than truth. We are all natural born liars- you do not have to teach a child to lie- they will lie as soon as they can talk. It comes naturally to our old nature, the flesh, whose father is the devil, the father of lies. Rather than trusting the Lord with all his heart- Isaac leans to his own understanding and trusts his abilities rather than Gods Word.
We soon learn though, it is almost impossible to tell just one lie, for we soon have to tell another one to support the first one. Soon, Isaac found himself living a lie. His whole life had to be constructed about this lie. Oh what a web we weave, when first we set out others to deceive.. A web that will trap us sooner or later.
Isaac is caught in his deception by the King . It is a humiliating experience for Isaac as the king is rightfully angry . The king also reveals to us the other side of the lie- as the king shows how those lied to and deceived can be potentially harmed if the lie is not revealed and the deception is not uncovered.
Now the next section of scripture at first reading takes us by surprise. If you are like me you were not expecting God to bless Isaac after this charade he had been living was exposed.
But here it is: Verses 12-13 tell us: Isaac planted crops in that land the same year and reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. The sowing of seed and reaping 100 fold reminds us of the parable the Lord told of the sower and the seed. The seed represented the Word of God and the casting or sowing of the seed represented witnessing to the lost. Could it be Isaac was to begin a ministry? Had his experience of being caught in a lie humbled him? Isaac was forced to get honest wasnt he? He had to confess he had been living a lie. The carnal life is always a lie for the believer. Now having confessed his sin and repented God can restore and bless him. Thus we read Isaac became rich and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy.
How could God bless a deceiver like Isaac? Because God is faithful to His covenant and keeps His promises even when we are faithless- even when we are not behaving like His children . Arent you glad our Heavenly Father is like that? You see, the Lord made a promise to Isaac. He told Isaac not to go down to Egypt and I will bless you. His only condition was not to go down to Egypt, which Isaac did not- so therefore God kept His word and blessed Isaac. Isaac was also a recipient of Gods blessings because of Abrahams obedience and faith. Sometimes God blesses a child for the sake of the father, just as He blesses us for the sake of His Son, the Lord Jesus.
It is not as if Isaac did not suffer consequences for his sin for as we will see the next period of his life is filled with strife, adversity and outright hatred and jealousy by his neighbors.
The more prosperous Isaac grew, the more jealous,envious and resentful the people around him grew. We are told the Philistines envied him so they filled up his wells. Water in an arid land like they occupied was extremely important. Wells were a matter of life and death and survival. Envy is a destructive emotion. It resents what another has and not only wants what they have, but wants them to have nothing. In this case it resulted in malice which is the desire to cause pain and suffering in another. It causes one to take foolish actions that in this case resulted in the loss of a water supply they all benefitted from. Such foolish, wasteful behavior.
As the story of this chapter in Isaacs life continues we see him reopening his father Abrahams wells; digging new wells; building an altar and pitching his tent.
These are significant spiritual truths as we will examine each of these with the names of the wells helping us understand the significance.
Isaac was the son of a great man, Abraham. He was the father of a son, Jacob, who would become famous as the father of the nation of Israel.
He seemed to be searching for his identity didnt he?
He was looking for the ministry that God would have for him. If the nations were to be blessed through his actions- what would those actions be?
It was right there before him. What could he do that would bless others? Reopen the wells his father had dug and dig new wells. We will see the spiritual significance of this- but do not under estimate the practical value and blessing these wells provided. This was a parched and arid land where water was a precious commodity. To provide fresh cool water in an arid land was a blessing in itself that would bless people for centuries to come. You see Isaac started the ministry the Lord had for him. You might call it the cold water ministry.
Water is the most common substance on the earth. 70% of the earths surface is water. 97% of all water is in the oceans and seas. Availability to water is necessary for life. A person can only survive a 5-7 days without water. Water is one of the greatest needs to sustaining life.
Wells of flowing water, artesian wells, in an arid place like Palestine would be priceless. Water was often the sole reason and purpose for wars, fighting and strife. Those wells would be a source of life and refreshment.
Wells in the Bible are often a type of work of the Holy Spirit in a believers life. Listen to what Jesus said on two occasions in the gospel of John,
The first incident is at the well near a town in Samaria called Sychar. The well was referred to as Jacobs Well. Which tells us this artesian well had been a supply of water and life for centuries. In John 4: 14 (NIV) : Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of living water welling up to eternal life.
And again in John 7, we read: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit whom those who believed in Him would later receive.
Just as wells of water were essential to sustaining physical life in that dry and parched land, the work of the Holy Spirit is essential to sustaining our spiritual life. If one lacks water they will die physically, if you do not experience the work of the Holy Spirit you will die spiritually.
One must drink of Heavens well from the water that Jesus provides. It is for this reason why every generation of believers must experience the work of the Holy Spirit fresh and new in their lives. Like Isaac, we must dig wells for ourselves.
Because of their envy and jealousy of Isaac, the Philistines stopped up his fathers wells. Spiritually the enemy of our Heavenly Father has been trying to stop up the well of living water ever since the Garden of Eden. King Abimelech tells Isaac he must move away for he had become too powerful, too wealthy.
But God used their evil intentions and their harmful actions for good- for in this adversity- Isaac discovered his ministry. (* Take note of this principle for what we see all through the Scriptures is prosperity which we seek brings more temptations- while adversity which we want to avoid is really our friend and teacher sent to strengthen us.) Isaacs ministry may not sound very exciting but it was a great blessing to many for years to come- his ministry he discovered was – well digging. Isaac began to reopen the wells his father, Abraham, had dug that had been stopped up by the Philistines. We will notice the significance of the names of these wells.
What we are seeing the life of Isaac is he has discovered his ministry. I believe Isaac found great joy in rediscovering the wells his father had dug, just as we can discover for ourselves the truth concerning the Lord Jesus Christ enjoyed by our parents and grandparents and great grandparents, etc. Many had been stopped up by the enemy, neglect or our own disbelief.
His ministry was two fold- reopening the closed wells of his father and digging new wells. Isaac fought no battles, he built no cities, erected no monuments, but in his own quiet way he dug wells which means Isaac left behind him a legacy of blessings for years to come.
Isaacs three wells are significant because of their names. Their names are significant because they symbolize the response and attitude we can expect from the enemies of our Heavenly Father. For not only did we inherit every spiritual blessing from our Loving Heavenly Father- we also inherited His enemies.
The first well was called Esek.This name, Esek, means contention or strife, arguing, confrontation. One thing we believe we know about Isaac, he did not like confrontation. He was a peace-loving man who hated strife. Yet he endured and dug wells in spite of the strife.
Spiritually what we see is the Holy Spirit who teaches us and guides us in truth is met by the enemy who says the truth is mine. Just as the Philistines wanted to claim the wells as theirs. The truth belongs to us- says the intellectual atheist and agnostic- they want to stop up our wells of truth. Look around you today- the Muslim says we have the truth and you do not and many want to stop us. Other sects and groups claim their way is the truth. But we believe Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no man comes to the Father except by the Son.
The next well Isaac and his servants dug was called Sitnah. A word that is interpreted as contempt or hatred. The name Satan comes from the same root word. The enemy of our Heavenly Father and His Son who holds in contempt every thing that comes from God and whose bitter envy and jealousy leads him to attack us and rage against anything that Christ has to offer the thirsty soul. If we dig wells in the enemies territory we can expect opposition.
Then we see the next well that Isaac digs and no one quarreled over it. Isaac called the well- Rehoboth, saying the Lord has given us room and we will flourish. Rehoboth which mean enlargement is place where we can grow and flourish. But did you notice when this well was found? It was only found after the difficulties, the adversity the conflicts at the previous two wells. It is through difficulties God enlarges us for the larger places. God grows our faith in times of trouble. Perhaps this is the truth James learned when he said count it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trial of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops patience and patience must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete lacking nothing. No pain- no gain.
From Rehoboth, Isaac went up to Beersheba, where the Lord appeared to Isaac. The Lord assures Isaac and encourages him by telling to fear not for He is with him and will bless him and increase him.
Isaacs response is to build an altar to worship the Lord.
He pitches his tent which serves as a reminder he is a pilgrim looking for a city whose builder and architect is God. He also digs another well. Well of Gods Oath.
So like Isaac, we must reopen the old wells of spiritual truths dug by our spiritual forefathers.
They have been closed, stopped up by the enemies of God who arise in each generation to stop up the wells of truth with their false teachings, intellectual poppycock, indifference and sin. Talk to our missionaries, like the Bufords, and they will tell you how common it is to see the false teachings of a religion be what has stopped up the well of Gods truth. Reopening those wells is a labor of love but it always invites the striving of the enemy against those who reopen the wells of Gods truth.
But also like Isaac, the believer today, the church in the 21st century must start by reopening the old wells of spiritual truths that are eternal. We do not need to modernize the gospel, we do not need to try and make the Bible more relative to todays society and thus compromise its integrity.
Digging new wells did not mean discovering new truths- but by using the same truths of our forefathers we stake out new territory for the generations that follow so they can with the same truths of old keep the truth flowing in generations to come.
As I stated earlier- quit drinking water and within seven days you will die. Your body will send signals you are desperately low on fluid and dehydration begins to occur with some obvious signs and symptoms.
Dehydrated souls will also send warning signals- you are low on fluids. Know what they are? Worry, anxiety, fear, tempersall are signs of a dehydrated soul. As you began to look in your own life and then in our society- you see we are living in a spiritual desert.
First drink deep of it yourself. What H2O is to the dehydrated body, Jesus is to the dehydrated soul.
Max Lucado in his book- Come Thirsty gives us an acronym for the WELL.
Drink deep of these eternal truths:
W = receive Christs Work on the Cross.-the power of the Cross
E = live in the Energy of the Spirit- for apart from Him we can do nothing.
L = recognize His Lordship over your life. Trust and obey.
L = His unending, unfailing, unconditional Love
But do not stop with just yourself Jesus welcomed into His Kingdom those who gave water to the thirsty. For He said when you did it to the least of these brothers of mine, you did it also for me.
The end of chapter 26 tells us Esau was 40 years old when he took to wife Judith a Hittite. We are told this grieved Isaac and Rebekah. It also reveals how little interest Esau really had in the Covenant Promise and blessing and had no interest in Gods Word.
Isaac should have known then- if he had any doubts before- that Esau was disqualified from receiving the blessing. He well remembered how important it was to Abraham that he not take a wife from any of the Canaanite women.
This chapter could serve as the screenplay for a soap opera today. We have so many people doing the wrong thing that Esau looks like the most honorable person.
Isaac should have known better.
Rebekah was trying to do the right thing but the wrong way.
Jacob proved he was well named- as he was a supplanter.
Lets consider the life of Isaac: a miracle child of promise, he had shown great courage and faith when as a young man he had allowed his father, Abraham, to put him on the altar; he was equally obedient to the wishes of his father regarding a bride; and finally, he had found his ministry and left behind a legacy of reopened wells and new wells that blessed many for centuries to come.
As we come to the last half of the book of Genesis we will continue to learn lessons. In Isaac we see one start out well in his walk with the Lord but make some wrong turns. We realize if we are not careful we can make a wrong turn and our walk become unspiritual- even to the point of carnality that no longer discerns the spiritual. A carnal believer is like the unbeliever- in that, the carnal believer comes to rely on his/her senses and live by the flesh rather than the spirit. Surely, the story of Isaac clearly demonstrates this truth. Consider Isaac is physically semi-blind- not completely in the dark but his vision dimmed probably by cataracts. We will see that Isaac is also spiritually semi-blind, his vision of God and Gods word dimmed through his carnality. Thus he lives by his senses- taste, touch, smell and hearing. But eye has not seen nor ear heard , neither has entered into the heart of man, the things God has prepared for them that love him. Isaacs spiritual antennae was not picking up Gods word- his carnality had blocked the signal.
The carnal mind grows stale, stagnant and the stubborn. The carnal mind, like the mind of the natural man, is sensual and controlled by its appetite. Let us learn this lesson from the story of Isaac, we will grow carnal or spiritual as we age, we will not stay on the same plateau. A good beginning does not guarantee a good ending. If ever a man was blessed with a great beginning it was Isaac. Yet here we see he has ended his life under a cloud of carnality. Isaac put his interest his desires above the Lords.
What Paul wrote in Romans 8 is a perfect description of what happened in Isaacs life: For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded in life is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God,neither can it be. (Romans 8:5-8)
Isaac should have been acting as his familys priest seeking a healing in a family that had fallen apart and were at each others throats and life in general was miserable. It was a soap opera of deceit, lying, scheming, eavesdropping, spies, sin, and out-of-control appetites . One parent against the other in a feud over their favored child. A house divided cannot stand- this family was falling apart.
We are warned often about the sins of the father being passed on to become the sins of the children if not dealt with. A child abused becomes a child abuser. The son of an alcoholic becomes the alcoholic himself. Tiger Woods father cheated on his mother, something that Tiger hated about his fathers behavior yet finds himself following the same behavior in an almost uncontrollable manner.
So it should not seem strange, although sad, that Jacob will make the same mistakes in his family- would allow favoritism to bring a wedge into his family and make life miserable.
So let us observe this soap opera in the following scenes.
Isaac has grown older and more carnal. His dimmed physical vision is an indicator of his dimmed spiritual vision. We will either put our eyes on things above or things on this earth. We see Isaac now older, perhaps in declining health, although he will live several more years- his vision has now made him less physically active.
Here is the young man who once allowed his father to tie him to an altar, who meditated in the fields, prayed for his wife to conceive and dug wells to bring life- giving, life sustaining water to many around him- now only interested in the things that appeal to his flesh. Isaac has put his desires ahead of Gods will and Gods desires. He has known since it was revealed to Rebekah she was pregnant with twins, the younger would be the one chosen by God to receive the covenant promise.
We will note how he depends on his senses- smell, taste, touch and hearing.
May our prayer be that we end our lives well- having fought the good fight having finished the race. May we look in the mirror of Gods word and realize we can start out strong- but we must endure to the end. The enemy will not let up in his attack on us or our family.
Notice the division in the family: Isaac does not share his plans for this all important blessing with his wife. Why was he trying to sneak this blessing by her? Because Isaac knew she would not stand for it and because Isaac knew as Rebekah did this was not the will of God.
Isaac had reached a stage in his carnality where he lived by the natural rather than the supernatural and trusted his senses rather than trusting the Word of God.
The repeated phrases in the KJV speak Isaacs carnality: we read of the savoury meat-the reference and dependence on smell, taste and touch tell us this is about the decline of faith and the rise of self. In the KJV, savoury meat is mentioned six times, venison seven times and eating eight times. Here was a carnal man controlled by his carnal appetite.
The first scene closes with an excited and expectant Esau leaving his father with bow and arrow in hand to go kill and prepare a deer and then receive his blessing.
The drama comes next in the scheme of deception engineered by Rebekah. Rebekah was a remarkable woman. I believe she loved Isaac from the moment she saw him. Was at times proud of his accomplishments- but as he grew more carnal and more placid and mild- she grew more assertive and controlling. She was truly a strong woman- but instead of using her strength to encourage her husband and minister strength to him- she took matters into her own hands and set about to fulfill Gods will in her own way- the worlds way. As we watch and observe the next scenes as the world turns..
We will see Rebekah eavesdropping on the conversation between Isaac and Esau. A habit she formed because she and Isaac did not communicate openly. And later being told of Esaus plan to murder his son, once his father died, reveals she also had her spies in the household. Eavesdropping, spies, schemes- a favorite past time in todays soap operas.
What happened to the husband and wife who used to share their concerns and pray together? Truly the family that prays together stays together.
Where is the altar that Isaac had built where he called upon the name of the Lord? What were they thinking?
What would have happened if upon hearing Isaacs plan and seeing Esau go out with his bow, if she had entered the tent and said Isaac- we have to talk to one another and to the Lord before you make this decision? We need to look to the Word of God to lead us in His will. But we know Rebekah did not do this— she had not learned that living by faith is living without scheming.
It seems she almost had this plan already prepared so quickly did she come up with it. If we looked in Rebekahs kitchen she might have a plaque or sign or saying on her refrigerator that said: If you want something done right- you have to do it yourself.! For as we will see this recipe for deceit is literally cooked up in her kitchen.
In the next scene, Rebekah brings Jacob into the plot to play his role of the deceiver.. She tells him what they will do. Jacob immediately sees a potentially fatal flaw in her plan. His father, though near-blind, would be able to tell he was not Esau when he reached out and touched his smooth skin rather than Esaus hairy arms or neck. Jacob whose great interest is the covenant promise of his grandfather, Abraham, is fearful he will be detected then cursed rather than blessed.
His mother said to him, my son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say. Truer words were never spoken a prophetic statement by Rebekah. For when Jacob leaves soon after this affair- she will never see her beloved son again; never lay eyes upon any of his children her grandchildren.
The next scene is the one played out with perfect timing by a couple of conniving con artists. Jacob brings a young goat, a kid for his mother to prepare. Rebekah dresses Jacob in Esaus clothes so Jacob will smell like his brother- then cleverly covers his hands and the smooth part of his neck with goat hair. At the same time we see Esau, perhaps, drawing back an arrow in his bow to kill the deer he will prepare for this all important meal for his father.
Meanwhile, we see Rebecca preparing the young goat carefully, seasoned to taste like venison. Jacob then went to his father in his disguise carrying the prepared meal. Lets listen to this exchange and note the ease with which Jacob lies. Remember how we watched Isaac live a lie in Gerar and noted it is difficult for one to tell just one lie- but must continue to tell other lies to support the first lie? Let us count the lies that come from the mouth of Jacob:
Jacob enters into his fathers presence with the meal.
Isaac asks who is it?
I am Esau. ( Lie #1)
Your first born. ( Lie #2.)
I have done as you told me. ( Lie#3)
Please sit up and eat some of my game.( Lie#4)
Isaac then asks how he had found and prepared the game so quickly?
Jacob then replies with his most audacious lie- The Lord your God gave me success. (Lie#5)
Isaac suspects something is wrong- he wants to touch his son and verify this is really Esau. The goat skin convinces him it is Esau, although he remarks the voice sounds like Jacob. Isaac asks one more time- are you really my son, Esau? And again with his sixth lie in less than 60 seconds- Jacob says I AM.
Then Isaac blesses Jacob.
You can imagine a nervous Rebekah scanning the horizon for the appearance of Esau, biting her nails and thinking what is taking Jacob so long? Finally Jacob comes out of the tent- and none too soon.
No sooner had Jacob left his fathers presence when Esau comes in with his prepared venison. Jacob had narrowly escaped being caught as it were- red-handed in his deceit.
When Esau enters into his fathers tent the two of them would quickly figure out what had just happened. Isaac responded to the discovery with great trembling. Why did he tremble so? I am not sure- but perhaps for Isaac it was a moment of spiritual awakening. For Isaac would not revoke the blessing in spite of Esaus pleading.
Esaus response reflects the response of the unbeliever. There will be great remorse at the great white throne judgment- there will be the arguments they have prepared to present to defend their actions and place the blame on others- but not themselves.The unbelievers will be judged from the books of their works, what they did in the flesh. They, themselves will have their mouths stopped. We are told they will be without excuse. God has revealed Himself to man. The truth is all of mankind has had some light revealed to them. There are two witnesses that witness to the truth of Gods existence. Creation and the Conscience. ( Romans 1&2)
When the light that is revealed is refused, rejected- darkness increases. These will suppress the truth in wickedness. Light obeyed increases light. And as you live up to the light you have received, you will be given more light. God will judge us by the light we have REJECTED. Romans 2:5 states: But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of Gods wrath, when His righteous judgment will be revealed. Also we read in Romans 2:11.12: For God does not show favoritism. All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law.
No one is righteous- no one can keep the law. For this reason, God has made a righteousness apart from the Law that comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. It was available to Esau- it is available to all for God sent His son in the world not to condemn the world, but that through Him the world might be saved.
There will be sorrow at the Great White Throne- but it will not be godly sorrow that would have led to repentance- it will be selfish sorrow that having exchanged the truth for a lie- they now would suffer the consequences of their decisions. You see there is really a pay day- someday. And Esaus pay- day had come. He as will the unbelievers at the Great White Throne discover that their sins took them further than they wanted to go and kept them longer than they wanted to stay and cost them more than they wanted to pay. It had cost them eternally.
Be not deceived- God is not mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction, the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. ( Galatians 6)
Esau pleads and begs and weeps for his father to bless him. But remorse alone cannot obtain the spiritual blessing- it takes repentance and we see in Esaus reaction there is none of that.
Had Esau learned anything regarding Gods sovereignty? No. As matter of fact, he still believes there is a way to take control and because of his hatred, he vows he will murder Jacob as soon as his father dies.
One of Rebekahs household spies tells her of Esaus plans to murder his brother. So Rebekah, in best Scarlet OHara fashion goes to Isaac and says she will just die if Jacob marries a Hittite woman, knowing Isaac will agree to send him to the land of her family and her brother Laban to obtain a wife.
As we will see as the story continues- God will deal with Jacob and Rebekah. They will both reap what they have sown. Jacob himself will be cheated by his father in-law and be deceived by a goat. He will bring the same family dissension through his favoritism for Joseph that his father, Isaac, had with Esau. Rebekah who believes she has cleverly worked everything out- will go to her death never seeing her beloved son, Jacob again.