Genesis 39-41: He who will give us the bread of life

I seem to be able to get internet every so often.  Please pray continually for the trip!  Meanwhile, back to Genesis.

  1. Joseph rejecting the whore of Babylon (Genesis 39)
  2. Pierced for our transgressions (Genesis 40)
  3. Restored to true glory (Genesis 41)

1.  Joseph rejecting the whore of Babylon (Genesis 39)

Joseph, compared to Judah, was a good witness. Even though Judah remained in Canaan, Joseph, who was born in Canaan/Israel and brought to Egypt, was a far better witness. The LORD was with Joseph (v.2), and Joseph’s evangelism clearly enabled Potiphar to see the LORD with him, and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands (v.3). Nothing is explicitly spoken of Potiphar’s faith in Jesus, but Potiphar had a peripheral trust in the work of the LORD as to enable Joseph to be the overseer of his house.

As Joseph grew in form and appearance as a handsome and attractive man (v.6), a sign of both growing in stature with God from the previous verses and with man in this verse, here is a Christian who is walking closely with the Holy Spirit who dwells within him.

Yet, the whore that is Potiphar’s wife, attempted to seduce Joseph into lying with her. He refused the advances of the whore of Babylon (Isaiah 14; Revelation 14:8; 17:5), and he was unjustly accused of something which he did not do – he was completely innocent, a man who pleased God, and served men. However, even as he dwells in the pit, the LORD was with him and showed his steadfast love and faithfulness towards Joseph (v.21). Even in the pit, Joseph’s work was successful because of the LORD (v. 23).

2.  Pierced for our transgressions (Genesis 40)

The wonderful thing about the image of Genesis 39 is that it is a direct foretelling of Jesus’ incarnation. Indeed, this man who is born an Israelite is called to Egypt to be tested for forty days and forty nights; not only that, but he also grew in stature and wisdom (Luke 2:52), pleasing to both God and man. No doubt, the events of chapter 39 reflected very much what Jesus’ had done in the early days of his ministry. But he was unjustly brought to the cross to die for sins which he did not actually do. Meanwhile, in spite of the rejection of Christ, His work is intercessory on our behalf – the dreams of the chief cup-bearer and the baker are good examples. The chief-cup bearer, like Nehemiah, is that of a faithful Christian who is brought up on the third day (v. 20); and the chief baker, on the third day, did not rise again. He experienced his second death, after his first one in the pit.

Yet, when we receive the blessings of man, we forget where the true blessings came from very often. And here, we see the ascension of Christ – his true glory is revealed in the next chapter when God remembers Christ, although men did not.  The glory of the chief cup-bearer is but the firstfruits of the true glory of Joseph.  And the glory of Joseph in the following chapter is but the firstfruit of the true glory of Christ, and his work when he ascends and his work when he returns the second time where the tree of life and its leaves are given for the true healing of all nations.

Revelation 22:2

“…also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”

3.  Restored to true glory (Genesis 41)

In spite of all the cultish methods the magicians of Egypt employed to satiate the Pharoah’s trouble over dreams, God has used dreams as a tool of his communication of prophetic events. This interpretation of dreams is highly prophetic of that of Daniel; and both Daniel and Joseph were gifted with the charismatic gift of dream-interpretation. Here, however, it is not merely exalting Joseph to the position of that of a person who can interpret dreams. Rather, it is the significance of there being no-one the King of Egypt can rely on; and how someone so seemingly insignificant and forgotten can not only bring blessings to the cup-bearer, but bring blessings to the Pharoah himself. Joseph knows he is not the centre of the story (v. 16) – however, he knows someone who should be – and that is God himself.

His faithfulness and evangelism is so convincing that even the Pharoah admits to God’s power shown through Joseph; just as Abimelech admits the blessedness of Isaac. “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” (v. 38). Clearly, by now, there is a somewhat working knowledge of the Trinity: the Spirit of God, the Father (Creator) who is the God of the heavens, and the Son, the Chief Angel who makes appearances to several characters of the Old Testament.

Now, Joseph is re-clothed – he is no longer merely a servant of Potiphar, as he was a servant of the disciples and the Jews of Jerusalem. He is ascended and restored to the right hand of God the Father, that for a “little while [he was made] lower than the angels; you (the Father) have crowned him (Christ) with glory and honour, putting everything in subjection under his feet” (Psalm 8:4-6). And so it is the same here – Joseph is crowned as second to the Pharoah by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in Him, clothed with the King’s signet ring and garments of fine linen and gold chain representing his present glory and righteousness. But remember – Joseph is merely a type to the true gospel.

By the end of the chapter, seven years of plenty that occurred in the land of Egypt came to an end, and the seven years of famine began. And so also, as prophesied in Amos 8:11, this famine of bread is merely a type of the famine on the land…

“not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it”.

This is the famine of 400 years until Christ’s incarnation in the time prior to the writing of the synoptic gospels. For 400 years the word of the LORD has not been heard, indeed leading to all types of weird theologies popping up (c.f. Pharisees and Sadducees) when the written word of the Pentateuch, Prophets, Writings and Psalms have not been consistently preached and contemplated upon. And the same here – seven years of plenty of bread had been collected, as the law and gospel has been continually proclaimed from Adam to Malachi; but there will be a famine of the hearing of the words of the LORD, after which time the only place to hear the true words of Christ is from his own incarnated mouth at the time of fulfillment. In the same way, people flock “from all over the earth” (v. 57) to Egypt, to find the Israelite from the Promised Land providing true bread for the people to feed. Let us fellow Christians take our evangelism seriously, as we direct those to the one who resides in the true Promised Land, who can give them the true bread of life.

Genesis 39-41: He who will give us the bread of life

Genesis 36-38: The unidentifiable Mediator

NB:  I may not be posting for this week, because I will be serving at a church mission @ Philippines (pending internet @ the hotel or otherwise).  Please pray for me and the kids who are going, and that people will be saved!

1.  Esau’s descendants (Genesis 36)

2.  The Dream about Christ: Gospel re-enacted (Genesis 37)

3.  The story of Judah and Tamar: Randomly inserted, or God glorifying? (Genesis 38 )

1.  Esau’s descendants (Genesis 36)

Here we have the first really detailed account of a nation that does not involve the Saviour’s line – and there is much about Esau indulging in his adulterous polygamous relationship with Canaanite wives, most definitely a burden to Isaac and Rebekah given their understanding of Christian marriage.  These Canaanites were effectively the forefathers of Edom, the not-so-brotherly nation of Israel (c.f. Obadiah).

Here is a table for easy referencing (table to be uploaded later!).

How sad it is that despite Esau and Jacob’s reunion at the end of chapter 35, Jacob failed to evangelise to Esau and have him serve Jacob, both maintaining their Israelite identity.  Rather, Esau returns to his place in Canaan, merging with the Canaanites, whilst Jacob is still in the Canaanite world but not of it.  The juxtaposition of chapter 36 and the events of chapters 34-35 simply shows the different priorities in the two brothers; however compromised they both are, Jacob at least still looks to the LORD.

2.  The Dream about Christ: Gospel re-enacted (Genesis 37)

Chapter 37 begins with “these are the generations of Jacob” – clearly, we have now moved to a different part of the history of Israel.  In other words, these are the generations of he who cheats – he who struggles.

What is interesting is the dynamic between Joseph and Jacob – perhaps because Joseph is the actual firstborn of Jacob’s first love; but we can only have guesses at this point.  What is interesting is how Joseph brings a bad report of the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah – both the servants of Leah and Rachel.  These were the children who were born illegitimately per se; children born out of competition, rather than heeding God’s will.

If we look at the grander events played out in Genesis 37-40, we can see that more is being spoken of than the relationship of Joseph with his 11 brothers.  Never in Scripture is a man particularly exalted, unless it speaks of the blessed man of Psalm 1 – who, though not exclusively about Jesus Christ, definitely speaks of Christ in the context.  Sure, we have the odd few who are exalted in Jewish and Muslim tradition (Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon) – but even these characters have their serious flaws.  We’ve looked at Jacob, and he is really not very different from us.  Even Joseph understands that he is not the one who interprets dreams, but God alone (Genesis 40:8 ).  If that is the case, what does Joseph’s dream really mean?  Is it only about Joseph and his 11 brothers serving him?  Of course not.

Back to context… here is a summary of the things that happen in this chapter (and a preview of things to come) – thanks to Dev’s post on Genesis 38:

(1)  Israel, the God who fights for us, loved Joseph, his firstborn son more than any of his other sons (v.3).  Joseph owned a robe of many colours, made by his father exclusively for him.

(2)  Joseph brought a bad report of the children born out of competition and not of God’s will; and because of this, as well as his brothers seeing that their father loves Joseph more than the others, they hated him. (v.4)

(3)  Joseph’s dream, which caused his brothers to hate him even more (v. 5) – the dream firstly takes form as such, “Behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and behold, my sheaf arose and stood upright.  And behold, your sheaves gathered around it and bowed down to my sheaf.”  The second dream took form of this: “Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me” (v.9).  The father rebuked him, and his brothers were jealous of him (v.11), but “his father kept the saying in mind“.  Another Selah moment for his father perhaps?  For the first time is a ‘prophecy’ being made not about Christ and his lineage, but about Joseph and exclusively Joseph.  Or is this really the case?  This is probably why Jacob had to have a second look at Joseph’s words.  What is the significance of the two dreams?

(4)  Joseph is sent by his father to Shechem, and further directed to Dothan.  Shechem which we know about in Genesis 34 (the massacre); Dothan which we later will know is the place where Elisha witnessed the vision and chariots of fire (2 Kings 6). (v. 12-17)

(5)  Joseph is then thrown into a waterless pit, and the Midianite traders passed by and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for 20 shekels of silver. (v. 18-28 )  His robe had already been stripped from him (v. 23)

(6) Reuben failed to speak up when he could have – and when he returned to the pit, it was too late (v. 29).  They decided to dip Joseph’s robe in a slaughtered goat’s blood and proclaim that a fierce animal had devoured him (v. 32-33).  Jacob, Joseph’s father, mourned for many days but he refused to be comforted, saying “I shall go down to Sheol to my son” (v.34-36).

In these six short events, without looking at the future yet, is something oddly ‘coincidental’.  Let’s compare the above to what I have to say – the Father loved His only son, and the splendour of that love is portrayed through the colourful robe, as the rainbow of the throne of God and the covenantal rainbow had displayed; it is the Son’s role to bring to the High Judge all those who deserve to be punished, and all those who do not spiritually abide in the Son’s line (displayed by the physical birth through Bilhah and Zilpah).  The dreams were exclusively about Christ, about the bowing of the sun, moon and stars which witness to Christ alone (check my post on Day 1 and 4 of Creation) rather than the actual saints, since any blessing is a result of abiding in Christ.

Christ is then sent by his Father to find his brothers, the shepherds, in Shechem of Canaan and then re-directed to Dothan (I’m positive there is something significant here with the locations… what say you?) only to find the Father’s shepherds rejecting Christ.  And so Christ is rejected by the physical Israel, and thrown into a waterless pit temporarily, to signify the rejection he received from the shepherds who failed to fulfill their role.

Christ is then lifted out of the pit only to be sold in slavery to Egypt for 20 shekels of silver as his royal robe was stripped from him, just as Christ was sold by Judas to Caiaphas and the Pharisees for silver, and his robe stripped from him.  Reuben’s intervention was spoken too late, and his silence cost Joseph his suffering, just as Peter’s silence at the suffering of Christ was unedifying to God.  Christ’s splendour with his Father is unrecognisable, and what we see in the synoptic gospels are but only a faint glimmer of his transfigured self – and Joseph without his colourful robe makes it harder for others to see his glorious relationship with his Father.

The Death of Christ is a painful thing to the God in Heaven – so much that he denies comfort unless Christ returns to the Father, whereupon the Father’s livelihood is restored only upon the resurrection and ascension of his Anointed One (v.34-36). Here are some bullet points from Dev to make it clear:

– We start of with Joseph – the picture or type of Christ – Son of His Father
– His first coat – the coat of many colours – the splendour/glory He had with His Father – even before the world began
– We see him dream of exaltation – the Lamb that would be exalted on high
– Yet his brothers – the first shepherds – would hate him for that dream, he knows they would kill him, and throw him into the pit, they would claim a lion has devoured him – Christ knows that the Lamb has to be slain before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8 )
– Then so it begins – he is sold into slavery into Egypt – and indeed out of Egypt He would be called

Indeed, so this is a true gospel witness to the Son being slain prior to his incarnate work when he would be called out of Egypt and that he enters the world stripped of all dignity and all of his splendour with his Father, only to have it partially restored when his work on the cross is complete, and come to completion on the day of Ascension.

3.  The story of Judah and Tamar: Randomly inserted, or God glorifying? (Genesis 38 )

Then we come to the chapter 38.  Some may even say Moses messed up the order – surely he could have placed this chapter somewhere before or after the chronology on Joseph?  However, this proves to be quite an important chapter.  For fear of misquoting, here is something which was taken from http://the48files.blogspot.com/2008/04/judah-and-tamar-retold.html:

Gen 38 Ruth
Judah went down from his brothers and turned aside to a certain Adullamite Elimelech moved away from his people to Moab
Judah and his son marry a Canaanite Mahlon and Chilion marry Moabites
Judah’s two sons die Elimelech and his two sons die
Judah and Onan act unfaithfully as kinsman-redeemer Boaz acts faithfully as kinsman-redeemer, the un-named redeemer of Ruth 4 does not act faithfully
Tamar faithfully seeks to continue the line Ruth faithfully seeks to continue the line
Tamar offers herself as a prostitute to Judah Ruth seeks to seduce Boaz in a way which could almost be considered entrapment
Judah dishonourable and seduced by Tamar Boaz is honourable in his conduct to Ruth
Tamar is included in the people of Israel and is an ancestor of Boaz, David and Jesus Ruth is included in the people of Israel and is an ancestor of David and Jesus

The parallel is uncanny – and this is built on the word spoken in the book of Ruth chapter 4:11-12:

11Then all the people who were(J) at the gate and the elders said, “We are witnesses. May the LORD make the woman, who is coming into your house, like Rachel and Leah,(K) who together(L) built up the house of Israel. May you act worthily in(M) Ephrathah and(N) be renowned in Bethlehem, 12and may your house be like the house of Perez,(O) whom Tamar bore to Judah, because(P) of the offspring that the LORD will give you by this young woman.”

Surely, the relationship between Judah and Tamar is hardly God-glorifying?  But in actuality, it is the line God has chosen to reveal his Son.  The genealogy is established in Ruth 4:18-22:

18Now these are the generations of Perez:(W) Perez fathered Hezron, 19Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab, 20(X) Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon, 21Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed, 22Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.

Let’s look more closely at Genesis 38 now.  When Judah took a Canaanite wife, his firstborn was wicked because it was an abomination in the eye of God to have a covenant between a Canaanite and an Israel!  How can the light mix with the dark?

But the line spoken of in Ruth 4 truly came around through some odd methods – her father-in-law planted his seed in her – Tamar, who is rejected by all and lived as a widow awaiting something to take her as a wife, and playing the role of a prostitute.  Indeed, what is spoken of here is the Holy Father planting his Seed by the power of the Holy Spirit in the prostitute church of Israel, especially the Virgin Mary (who is by no means sinless) whose conception is by someone greater than Joseph the carpenter, but the Father himself.

Finally, the proof of the birth is in the signet, cord and staff, all of which are sufficient to display the birth of the true Son.  The glory is difficult to identify through the unconventional and seemingly inglorious method of conception, but the three items is what identifies Jesus Christ – the signet which speaks of the Holy Spirit in him; the cord of his relationship with his Father (Psalm 2); and the Shepherd staff by which his power and guidance is further identified (Jeremiah 48:17).  The birth of Perez can only be confirmed by the scarlet thread; just as Rahab wanted proof of her conversion to Christianity by her scarlet cord (Joshua 2) – both speaking of the breach of the walls of Canaan, the dividing wall between the Israelites and the Gentiles.

So why is Chapter 38 weaved in between 37 and 39?  Because the acts of Joseph prophesies the act of Christ before the foundation of the world and when he is the incarnate Messiah – and chapters 37-50 speaks of the gospel of Christ punished, sold in slavery, exalted and placed at the right hand of the Pharoah.  Such is the befitting interlude of Chapter 38 which Christologically explains the prophetic events of the final chapters of Genesis!

Genesis 36-38: The unidentifiable Mediator

Genesis 33-35: Jacob – man-fearer

1.  “For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God” – Jacob flatters Esau (Gen. 33)

2.  Dinah defiled and revenge enacted (Gen. 34)

3.  Jacob renamed… again – the drink offering and the oil (Gen. 35:1-15)

4.  The Pillar of Rachel (Gen. 35:16-29)

1.  “For I have seen your face, which is like seeing the face of God” – Jacob flatters Esau (Gen. 33)

There is something disappointing about this chapter.

After seeing Jacob clinging onto Jesus in the end of chapter 32, you would think that he need not rely on his own methods to appease Esau.  But he does – and this is the first challenge God has laid before him.  Jacob had just prevailed, and is renamed Israel which means God strives!  God fights for Jacob!  Jacob has also seen God face to face (v.30)!

But in chapter 33, the very first thing he does, after he sees Esau, is divide the children among Leah and Rachel.  The common refrain is this… “…bowed down”.  The bowing down occurs 7 times in v. 3, once more in v. 6, twice in v.7.  There is a lot of bowing – this is either an act of reverence or an act of fear.  To really get a feel of what is going on, let’s read what Jacob says.  He calls Esau “my lord” (v.8, 13, 14, 15), four times in a matter of less than 10 verses.  So we have four ‘my lords’ and ten ‘bows’ and one more flattery which says that his brother’s face is like seeing the face of God (v.10).  What blasphemy!!!  Indeed, Jacob had seen the living God face to face as to honour Him by calling the place of struggle Peniel (“the face of God”) – but to immediately call Esau his lord, and to say that he looks like God?!   We now know the bowing, the ‘my lords’, and the other flatteries were no result of genuine compassion.  Rather, they are words of flattery which do not build up the body, and work from Jacob’s scheming heart again!

That’s not the end of it.  Esau offers to go with Jacob and his party to Seir, the country of Edom (Genesis 32:3).  But Jacob lies to Esau – firstly he says that his children are frail, that the nursing flocks and herds are a care to him (v.13); then he says that there is no need for Esau’s men to stay behind (v. 15).  Now that Esau and his party has gone, Jacob is free to do as he wishes, and decided to journey to Succoth (v. 17), building himself a house and made booths for his livestock.  This clearly isn’t merely a place of rest – it is a place where he will be for at least quite a while.  Jacob is, yet again, avoiding Esau; and he, yet again, fails to trust in the LORD who proclaimed that Esau shall serve Jacob (Genesis 27:40).  What Jacob could have done, is tell Esau to join him, instead of having Esau tell Jacob to go to Edom!  But Jacob, the man-fearer, fails to remind Esau of the promised land Canaan.  He lets Esau go, and instead goes back to Canaan without having his brother serving him by his side in Canaan.

Jacob finally rests at Shechem, the same place that Abraham had passed through in Genesis 12:6.  Is the prophecy going to be fulfilled yet?  No – again, Jacob remembers what Abraham may have said to his descendants about God’s prophecy in Genesis 15:13.  The four hundred years between the book of Genesis and Exodus has yet to occur.  Although Jacob worships God by erecting an altar in Canaan and calling it El-Elohe-Israel (“God, the God of Israel”) – he had failed to convince his brother.  Rather, he folded in and failed to rule and guide his brother to Canaan.

2.  Dinah defiled and revenge enacted (Gen. 34)

This theme is carried across again in this chapter – the theme of Jacob the man-fearer.  This time though, the ‘fear’ has passed down to his son.  The chapter is horrific – it tells of the story of Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter, being raped by Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, who was the prince of the land.  He may have truly loved her – but his expression was also truly confused.

Jacob had heard about the rape already, possibly through Hamor, but kept his peace about the whole situation until his sons returned.  Hamor is sincere about the marriage – “the soul of my son Shechem longs for your daughter.  Please give her to him to be his wife.  Make marriages with us” (Genesis 34:8-9).  Perhaps Jacob kept his peace, knowing that his children would be furious about this event.  Indeed – Israelites and Canaanites must not bond, for it will compromise the gospel message of Christ marrying the Christian Church.  But something heretical is offered here – Hamor is asking Israel to join to Canaan.  Surely there is something odd – isn’t it meant to be Canaan joining Israel, if Israel is the chosen nation to preach the good news of Jesus Christ?!

This is materialised in the abuse of the holy sacrament of circumcision (Genesis 17:12-13) which was also for foreigners.  Why?  So that the foreigners are also marked with this trust in Christ Jesus, that the blessings from the Father are given through the mediatorial offering of Christ’s blood and the water of the Spirit.  So the circumcision, the mark of pain, the mark of cutting of Christ’s flesh, would remind them of their faith.  But no – this sacrament is completely turned on its head; rather, it is now manipulated as a part of a deceitful plan, whereby the Canaanites don’t even have faith in Christ.  Rather, the circumcision is made so that Israel will dwell with the Canaanites, rather than vice versa!  The circumcision is negated of its meaning, but turned completely into a ‘business’ transaction!  How horrifying!  And such is the case of the abuse of infant baptism today; the refusal of people joining “Catholic” or “Christian” schools if the infant is not already baptised, or even special privileges following the completion of certain sacraments.  No – these sacraments have always been about God’s faithfulness to us (Romans 3), and nothing less!  We are set apart for Christ, not set apart for a holy club, or even any club!

And this is the mark of the man-fearer — even though Simeon and Levi did not ‘appear’ to fear man, they became hypocrites.  In return, they killed all the males, and stole their flocks, herds, donkeys, wealth, little ones, wives… what tragedy!  And yet, this is the chosen nation through which God will proclaim Christ.  Yes, as Karl Barth rightly put – the very evidence of God lies in the very existence of Israel to this day.  How can such a nation, with such a horrible track record, be chosen by God?  Naturally, we come to the conclusion that it isn’t down to the nation’s credentials; but it is down to their God’s credentials.

Love thy neighbour and thy enemy… but they could not even do that.  Simeon and Levi seemed not to even repent of what they did (Genesis 34:31).

3.  Jacob renamed… again – the drink offering and the oil (Gen. 35:1-15)

“Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there.  Make an altar there to the God who appeared to you when you fled from your brother Esau”.  Again, we see the Father speaking of Jesus as “the God who appeared” to Jacob.  God protects the sons of Jacob during this period by striking terror on the cities around them (v.5) – such is the provision of God!  Jacob is probably unaware of it, though he may have wondered why his journey through Canaan was peaceful, despite the vengeful massacre Genesis 34.

Interestingly, prior to God re-iterating the blessing he made to Abraham and Isaac (v.11-12), he renamed Jacob as Israel again.  The name, from he who cheats to God strives.  From struggling against God to clinging onto God’s righteousness.  Jacob responds favourably with a drink offering on a pillar of stone and poured oil over it, in prophecy to Isaiah 53:12, our LORD Christ who poured out his life unto death, so that we can be gifted with new names which speak of Christ as well (Revelation 2:17).  And the oil is a representation of the anointing of the Holy Spirit.  We have, in these short verses from 9-15 the appearance of Christ (v.9), and his work expressed (v.14) on the Pillar of Stone, in Bethel, “the House of God”.  Jacob had all this head knowledge, but he still failed to obey and trust in the LORD entirely.

4.  The Pillar of Rachel (Genesis 35:16-29)

Rachel’s death definitely worths a mention – it is quite a sad account.  She dies from giving birth to Benjamin, the final and 12th son of Israel.  And she dies on the way, from the House of God (Bethel) to Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ:

2[a](A) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of(B) Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be(C) ruler in Israel,
(D) whose coming forth is(E) from of old,
from ancient days. (Micah 5:2)

There is again a re-establishment, after Benjamin’s birth, of the 12 tribes of Israel.  Now the 12 tribes of Israel are complete and all born – and they are now the object of the next part and section of Genesis.  The previous generation has gone, and Abraham and Isaac have yet to physically see their descendants inheriting the true Promised Land.  Jesus had re-established the blessing he had made to Abraham and Isaac, now to Jacob (renamed as Israel).  Israel, the nation and people for whom God fights and strives, now has 12 tribes.  The 12 tribes who will usher the world, as the spiritual forefathers of all those in Christ, ushering the age of the Gentiles and Jews shown by the ruler to be born in the little town of Bethlehem Ephrathah — this ruler whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.  Isaac had striven for his church, Rachel – and the 7 years had felt only like a few days to him.  Now Rachel has passed away – his church has fall asleep; but the 12 tribes live on – and it all culminates on the path to Bethlehem.  The Pillar of Rachel, the Pillar of the physically dying Church, looks forward to the path set on the O Little Town of Bethlehem – and meanwhile, the last act before her falling asleep is an act of giving new life, as the church should be continually doing.

Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. – Malachi 2:15

These 12 tribes were the original 12 apostles, and the Pillar of Rachel, the only “pillar” built for a person, as opposed to being built for God, is a testimony to the work that will be done in Bethlehem and which the 12 tribes are striving towards in long expectation – and the fulfillment of the prophecy is spoken of the death of Rachel’s children at the hands of Herod in Ramah (in Arabia according to Justin Martyr in his dialogue with Trypho chapter LXXVIII):

15Thus says the LORD:(AL) “A voice is heard in(AM) Ramah,
lamentation and bitter weeping.
(AN) Rachel is weeping for her children;
she refuses to be comforted for her children,
(AO) because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15)

Genesis 33-35: Jacob – man-fearer

Genesis 30-32: Struggle no more!

1.  Rachel vs. Leah:  The 12 Tribes of Israel (Genesis 30:1-24)

2.  The striped, spotted and mottled flock (Genesis 30:25-43)

3.  Jacob and Laban (Genesis 31)

4.  Jacob and Esau (Genesis 32:1-21)

5.  Jacob and Jesus: the struggle (Genesis 32:22-31)

1.  Rachel vs. Leah:  The 11 (or 12) Tribes of Israel (Genesis 30:1-24)

This seems to be an extrapolation of the story of Abraham, Hagar and Sarah.  Instead, the feud between Sarah and Hagar is enlarged here.  Abraham had stupidly ‘listened’ to Sarah rather than the LORD, and mated with Hagar; but here:

(a)  Jacob and Leah – Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah (Genesis 29:31-35), Issachar, Zebulun, Dinah (Genesis 30:18-21)

(b)  Jacob and Rachel – Joseph (Genesis 30:22-24), Benjamin (Genesis 35:18 )

(c)  Jacob and Bilnah (Rachel’s servant) – Dan, Naphtali (Genesis 30:4-8 )

(d)  Jacob and Zilpah (Leah’s servant) – Gad, Asher (Genesis 30:9-13)

Jacob is having a busy time.  What is seriously awry here is how scheming the two wives have become.  Not only did Jacob have an issue with Esau; now his wives also have issues with one another.  This is the effect of Jacob’s sin in his heart – he has not resolved it.  He is still called Jacob, the struggler, the cheater.  It is not surprising to see Leah and Rachel struggling against one another, and as equally scheming and manipulative as their husband.

Let’s look at the meaning behind the names of the 12 sons born (11 mentioned thus far up to Genesis 30)

(1) Reuben = “See, a son” — Preeminent in dignity and power; unstable as water, he shall not have preeminence (Genesis 49:3-4) (1)

(2)  Simeon = sounds like Hebrew for heard

(3)  Levi = sounds like Hebrew for attached — Weapons of violence are the swords of Simeon and Levi; cursed be their anger; divided in Jacob and scattered in Israel (Genesis 49:5-7) (2) & (3)

(4)  Judah = sounds like Hebrew for praise — brothers shall praise him; scepter shall not depart from Judah (Genesis 49:8-12) (4)

(5)  Dan = sounds like Hebrew for judged — judge his people; be a serpent in the way, bites the horse’s heels; “I wait for your salvation, O LORD” (Genesis 49:16-17) (7)

(6)  Naphtali = sounds like Hebrew for wrestling — doe let loose, that bears beautiful fawns/words (Genesis 49:21) (10)

(7)  Gad = sounds like Hebrew for good fortune — raiders shall raid Gad, but he shall raid at their heels (Genesis 49:19) (8 )

(8 )  Asher = sounds like Hebrew for happy — food shall be rich, and he shall yield royal delicacies (Genesis 49:20) (9)

(9)  Issachar = sounds like Hebrew for wages, hire — strong donkey; a servant at forced labour (Genesis 49:14-15) (6)

(10)  Zebulun = sounds like Hebrew for honour — dwell at the shore of the sea; haven for ships (Genesis 49:13) (5)

(11)  Joseph = “May he add”; sounds like Hebrew for taken away — fruitful bough, his bow remained unmoved, three types of blessings, up to the bounties of the everlasting hills/mountains (Genesis 49:26) (11)

(12)  Benjamin = “son of my sorrow” or “son of my strength” (he is born later, and added as Rachel’s second son in Genesis 35:18). — a ravenous wolf, morning devouring prey, evening dividing spoil (Genesis 49:27) (12)

A quick explanation of the “table” above.  The first half of each name is what his mother called him (e.g. what his Hebrew name sounds like or what it means); the second half, after the double dash (“–“) is what Jacob says of them in Genesis 49 when he pronounces “what shall happen to [them] in days to come” (Genesis 49:1).  The final number in the brackets at the end of the name is the order in which Jacob places the children in his blessing to them, as opposed to the order of birth at the beginning of the name.

Note that there is no real correlation between the two (the name of boy and his future ‘destiny’).  Something important should be stated about this – that our God is not fatalistic.  Though Jacob is born the cheater, he is later renamed Israel.  However, Esau remains as Esau… and decides not to partake in the blessings of the house of Jacob/Israel.

Same here, the parents name the children all types of names.. many of which seem to give praise to the LORD (especially for all the children prior to Joseph).  But the LORD is unsurprisingly quiet during the entire ordeal.  Why?  Because this is like a more exaggerated version of what Abraham did when Hagar bore Ishmael.  He did not wait.  So here, Jacob did not only fail to wait, but listened to what his wives said rather than sanctifying them with the Word (Eph 5:22-33).  That is because he had the same fraternal struggles with Esau.  Only in Genesis 30:22-24 is God mentioned – “Then God remembered Rachel, and God listened to her and opened her womb.  She conceived and bore a son and said, “God has taken away my reproach.””

What’s really important is how Joseph and Judah play a large role in securing the future of the Israelites.  Judah, being the line from which Jesus is born; Joseph, the type of Christ in Egypt in later chapters. But this is not on any merit of their own. Sure, Joseph obeyed God, but it was God who remembered Rachel, and gave her Joseph. It was the LORD who saw that Leah was hated. It was God who listened to Leah. Note – the first child that God grants Rachel is Joseph, whom we will hear all about. Many of the other children in between are forced. Many are based on competition – “I have more sons than you, so in-your-face” sort of ordeal. “I have six sons because I gave my husband my servant to have sex with” sort of logic.

2.  The striped, spotted and mottled flock (Genesis 30:25-43)

Now, why would “fresh sticks of poplar and almond and plane trees, and peeled white streaks in them, exposing the white of the sticks” (v. 37) be any effective in the breeding of the flock? Jacob continues to manipulate the situation with his own power, in a very similar manner to Laban’s own deception.

What think you about the significance of the striped/spotted/mottled flock?

3.  Jacob and Laban (Genesis 31)

Yet, Jacob does not depend on his own ways to gain the favour or wages from Laban, the cheater (v.6-7). It is by the LORD that Jacob has any confidence in what he does (v.3), the comfort found in the words “I will be with you”. Even he realized that it is by God that the flock is spotted or striped, and not by his own methods (v.8-13). It is by the angel of God, the just and righteous God of Bethel who tells Jacob to go back to the land of his kindred, Canaan. However, he relied not on God when he left to Canaan. This reveals much of his heart.  Did he really think that it was God who gave him the flock?  Or did he think it was by his own effort again? He had to trick/steal the heart of Lot by not telling him that he intended to flee (v.20). Rachel also stole her father’s household gods – which goes to show that not only she, but also her father, has serious issues in their faith. Not so surprising, given the compromise of her father’s cheating attitude, and Rachel’s lies. Such are those who take comfort in idols of the Deceiver and Liar, Satan (John 8:44).

The Angel of the Lord, the God of Bethel in v.11-13 is just – and he sees everything that had happened between Jacob and Laban. He is also called the God of Abraham, Fear of Isaac and God of Jacob’s father (v.42) – and Jacob acknowledges the complete sovereignty of the Chief Angel. Indeed, the Angel’s hand is over Jacob. Why? Because the Angel is faithful and remembers the promises made to Jacob in Genesis 27 – “will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you” (Chapter 27 v.29).

So here, we have established the heap of witness, the watchpost called “Gilead” or “Galeed” or “Jegar-sahadutha or Mizpah (cf. v. 23, 46-47). This watchpost, this heap is a witness between Jacob and Laban, so that they won’t do harm to one another, and that God of Nahor is judge between them.  Of course, whether Jacob and Laban actually remember the heap of witness is another issue. 

Here, we see more of God’s personality in this chapter – we see Him as the all-seeing Angel; we see Him as the great judge; we see Him as the one who fulfills his promises in spite of our lack of faithfulness or holiness; we see Him as the true righteous one; we see Him as the source of blessings; we see Him as relational (God of Nahor, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob); we see Him as the same God then, present and forevermore. Yet, the irony is that all the heaps of witnesses, all the wells dug, all the covenants made between man has or will be broken – and God is the only one who remembers these covenants, whilst our covenants with other people are such failures.

Even v. 55, Laban’s blessings on his grandchildren and daughter is nothing compared to Isaac’s blessing on Jacob. It is notably quiet. We have here a family of misfits, a family of liars, a family born in deceit, a family born out of competition, a family made of jealousy, a scheming manipulative family.

And yet, this is the same nation from which God will bring his only Son. For when we are weak, He remains strong (2 Corinthians 2:10; Romans 5:6).

4.  Jacob and Esau (Genesis 32:1-21)

Now, for the first time, Jacob meets a camp of sent ones. There is nothing specific about Christ here – but instead, his sight of the angels should strengthen his faith. He calls the place Mahanaim, for it means two camps – one of which is his own, the other is God’s camp of angels. These visions should not have been something trivial; rather, it should have given him the sufficient encouragement that God is indeed with him.

But as soon as he hears that Esau is coming with four hundred men (v.6), he panics. Such is our spiritual ancestor; though he just saw a camp of angels, he flees to the other direction. However, we see something strange for the first time. From v. 9-12, he prays an earnest prayer whereby he acknowledges that Jesus, the God of his father Abraham and Isaac and who spoke to him directly, is his true deliverer. However, he still does not trust the Christ. He had divided the people into two camps within his own schemes; he decided to present 200 female goats, 20 male goats, 200 ewes, 20 rams, 30 milking camels and their calves, 40 cows and 10 bulls, 20 female donkeys and 10 male donkeys. Does this sound like someone who admitted to the LORD that it is by the LORD that he has anything? Does this sound like someone relying on the LORD’s instructions? No – it sounds like someone trying to get the best of both worlds; firstly pleading to the LORD desperately, and secondly trying to handle things by himself. Jacob still cannot relinquish his control to the Angel completely; and is still living a life of distress, fear and compromise (v.7).

5.  Jacob and Jesus: the struggle (Genesis 32:22-31)

So while he divided one camp, the other camp consists of him, his two wives, two female servants, and his 11 children, totaling up to 16 people crossing the ford of the Jabbok (v. 22).

Then comes this interesting section – once Jacob was left alone, a “man” wrestled with him. Who is this man? Is he from the camp of Esau? He is just as mysterious as Melchizedek, as sudden as the Chief angel with his two angels when they appeared to Abraham. This man had godly powers – able to put Jacob’s hip out of joint by a mere touch (v. 25). And this struggle was during the evening, a testimony of sin and struggle in itself (Psalm 17:3). But Jacob did not give up – and he struggled till day-break. Here, again, is a chief portrayal of the man of struggle, the man who cheats. But we finally see a different picture when his hip was put out of joint. No longer can Jacob struggle properly – rather, he must cling onto the man and ask for his blessing (v.26).

Many people misinterpret this part of chapter 32 as a justification for us to work for blessings, to rely on works righteousness to receive God’s approval. No – the scenario here isn’t to praise Jacob’s struggle. We can tell that simply by how many times God has been in complete control, regardless of Jacob’s methods and struggles, scheming and deception in the last few chapters in Genesis. God is the one who is faithful; Jacob is the one who is seriously compromised. And here, the underlying flaw in his character is brought to the forefront, where he is finally (and physically) made to cling onto God. This picture of clinging rather than struggling is different. God describes that Jacob had striven, and has run the race of faith and has come out victorious (c.f. Psalm 17). But he didn’t run the race of faith. Note what Jacob says in v.30 “… yet my life has been delivered”. It is a statement of mercy. But that is the language used throughout Scriptures, especially the warning passages in Hebrews (Hebrews 3). Jacob himself doesn’t run the faith on works, but his faith relies on the deliverance and mercy of God. Sanctification, also, is by God.

Joshua 22:5

“Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Joshua 23:8

but you shall cling to the LORD your God just as you have done to this day…

Psalm 63:8

My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.

Jeremiah 13:11

For as the loincloth clings to the waist of a man, so I made the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah cling to me, declares the LORD, that they might be for me a people, a name, a praise, and a glory, but they would not listen.

On this account, who is the man who Jacob clings to?  Who is the right hand who upholds me?   We should do a character study of the man. He is mysterious, suddenly entering the picture. He is strong, and has struggled with Jacob till day-break. He has godly powers. He has a mysterious name, unrevealed. But we need not stab in the dark – Jacob the theologian in v.30 spares us of that mystery – “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered”. God’s name is so utterly important, and it is a privilege to call on the name of the LORD (Genesis 4:26) – this is probably why Jacob asked for the man’s name. The name of the visible of the invisible Him (Colossians 1:15).

Let us remember today to cling onto the LORD, while we are handicapped and seriously compromised. Let us not kid ourselves into thinking we can get the best of both worlds, scheming and creating back-up plans while praying to God for mercy – because God will definitely put your hip out of joint if you continue with that attitude.

Genesis 30-32: Struggle no more!

Genesis 27-29: The one who cheats vs. the one who promises

1.  Isaac blesses Jacob (Genesis 27)

2.  Esau and an Ishmaelite (Genesis 28:1-9)

3.  Jacob’s dream: the stairway to heaven (Genesis 28:10-22)

4.  Jacob’s marriage with Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29)

1.  Isaac blesses Jacob (Genesis 27)

Here is a picture of an old Isaac with dim eyes.  God’s blessing on Jacob had been pronounced in Genesis 25:23; but it appears that this promise has been ignored by Isaac and Esau.  Isaac would rather rely on his own works to please Jacob.  He would cheat his way back into the birthright which he had despised by resorting to the one thing he knows – that is, to hunt game for Isaac.  Where is God in this picture?  No-where – though Jacob be a Schemer, at least he values the birthright.  Here, we see two people joining together to disobey God’s plan which had been announced two chapters ago.

Which is why Rebekah is especially quick to act when she hears Isaac and Esau speaking to one another.  What is Rebekah’s solution?  Take the place of Esau, by pretending to be Esau!

But there is something very apparent.  Jacob is a smooth man!  And Esau is hairy!  Such an important physical difference, let alone difference in personality should be enough to distant his father from his son.  Jacob is fearful of this, and wishes to stay away: “Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be mocking him and bring a curse upon myself and not a blessing”.

Indeed, such is the same fear when we present ourselves to our heavenly Father when he expects something but we present something entirely unacceptable.  Instead, Jacob is advised to wear the goat skin to be in the place of Esau.  And who is to receive the curse?  Rebekah.  Who appeased the father’s wrath?  Rebekah, essentially.  Yet, who does Isaac look favourably on?  Jacob, in the place of Esau.  Not only goat skin, but also Esau’s best garments.

Then, let’s look at the blessing:

“See,(B) the smell of my son
is as the smell of a field that the LORD has blessed!
28May God give you of(C) the dew of heaven
and of the fatness of the earth
and(D) plenty of grain and wine.
29Let peoples serve you,
and nations(E) bow down to you.
(F) Be lord over your brothers,
and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
(G) Cursed be everyone who curses you,
and blessed be everyone who blesses you!”

But let’s look at the blessing in detail.  Can this be a blessing strictly for Jacob the person?  No.  “Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you.” – within his lifetime, at most, only one nation bowed down to Jacob and his immediate descendants, that being the Egyptians when Joseph had aided the Pharoah.  But that is far from saying nation”s”… Secondly, Jacob has no other brother beside Jacob.  But the refrain in v. 29 is “Be lord over your brother”s”… and may your mother’s son”s” bow down to you”.

If anything, there is something interesting at play here – it is an entirely prophetic blessing, peering into the future of the nation Israel, the name of which means “God fights”.  If anything, this blessing seems to work… only in the context of Jesus Christ.  So what does Isaac mean in v. 37, when he says he made Jacob lord over Esau, and “all his brothers I have given to him for servants, and with grain and wine I have sustained him”?

Let me work on the typologies first lest I be misunderstood:

1.  Isaac = the Father

2.  Jacob = a son (note… not the son)

3.  Rebekah = Mediator, though she proclaims that the curse be on her, she was never actually cursed.

4.  Esau = a potential son… though not from the chosen race, he was given an option to serve.

5.  Goat skin = Christ

For point 4, Isaac told Esau (v. 40) that “By your sword you shall live, and you shall serve your brother; but when you grow resltess you shall break his yoke from your neck”. Thus, he is given an option to serve Jacob… but he refused.  If he had listened, then like Jacob, Esau could have become part of the covenant people; like Japheth the brother of Shem (representing the Gentiles), taking cover under Shem the covenant people.

So here, the Father loves Jacob, one of his sons clothed in animal skin and blesses him and his kingdom in Christ.  Esau came with the wrong dress (Matthew 22), and though he smelt like Esau, and provided game like Esau… Isaac still said: “Who are you?” (v. 32).  And in the same way, even though we cry Lord Lord, He will still tell us go to away… replying “I never knew you” (Matthew 7).

The animal skin points to Christ himself… and yet Rebekah plays the role of the Mediator.  The curse never actually falls on her – and I think this is significant.  This most likely points to the aspect of the mediatorial role offered by people like Job… and by people like Moses, Nehemiah and Daniel with their respective intercessory prayers (Exodus 9, Nehemiah 9, Daniel 9).  Does this make Moses, Nehemiah and Daniel a representation of Christ?  Merely a type… but the true curse doesn’t fall on them.  They merely imitate the true Mediator, the true Redeemer, Jesus Christ.  Rebekah intercedes for Jacob… but the one truly interceding is the goat skin which witnesses to Christ.

What think you?

2.  Esau and an Ishmaelite (Genesis 28:1-9)

So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him finally, accepting God’s chosen one.  He finally gives him the same advice that Abraham gave him – to note marry a Canaanite women.  Rather, he tells Jacob to go back to the house where Rebekah was found – to take a wife from one of the daughters of Laban, his uncle (Rebekah’s brother).  Thus, Jacob goes to Paddan-aram. We’ve already established the significance of physically marrying someone from the same race – that it represents spiritual wholeness, like a Christian should marry a Christian out of obedience to display the picture of Christ marrying a Christian church, rather than Christ marrying a non-Christian.

But then Esau overhears the instructions given to Isaac, and attempts to imitate Isaac.  So Esau, after his marriage to the two Hittites, decides to marry another wife!  He completely misunderstands the instruction!  He just wants to appear like Jacob now.  Such is the problem of many “Christians” today.  They sing with their hands clapping, they lift their eyes to the ceiling as they sing, they jump up and down, or they bow down low… all of these are just external actions.  But their heart is not cured.  Their actions are misrepresented, while they compromise the other aspects of their life.  Esau still missed the point… and still refuses to serve Jacob.  Rather, he still wants to replace Jacob, given his actions in attempting still to please his father.

3.  Jacob’s dream:  The stairway to heaven (Genesis 28:10-22)

Now we come to what Jesus was speaking of in John 1:51.  Here’s the verse 48-51 to refresh your memory:

48Nathanael said to him, “How(A) do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49Nathanael answered him,(B) “Rabbi,(C) you are the Son of God! You are the(D) King of Israel!” 50Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you,[a] you will see(E) heaven opened, and(F) the angels of God ascending and descending on(G) the Son of Man.” (John 1:48-51)

And here in v.12-13

12And he(A) dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder[a] set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold,(B) the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! 13And behold,(C) the LORD stood above it[b] and said,(D) “I am the LORD, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac.(E) The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring.

Who is the LORD?  Jesus Christ himself.  Jesus in the book of John testifies to the Christophany of himself in Genesis 28:13.  But he doesn’t spend a long time explaining it.  He expects Nathanael to understand it.  So here, we see Jacob putting his head on the rock of oath, of Beersheba which Isaac had established with Abimelech.  And on this rock of oath does Jacob, just like Nathaneal, see “heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” – Christ himself.

Then, we see Jacob wake up in delirium, setting up a pillar and pouring oil on top of it, calling the place Bethel (house of God), though the city was named Luz.  Luz, being a Canaanite name, renamed as Bethel.  This re-confirms that “God is with him and will keep him in this way” (v.20).  Does Jacob really think that Bethel is the house of God?  No – he just made the point that God is with him.  Yet, this is a reminder, an establishment which he raised as a place of worship, an altar placed on the rock of oath.  This rock which shall be set up as a pillar.  A place where the worship takes the form of giving a full tenth back to the Angel of the LORD, reminiscent of Genesis 14:20 when Abraham gave a full tenth back to Melchizedek, establishing the connection between the Angel and Melchizedek.

However, we must distinguish something important.  Jacob is still Jacob – and has not been renamed Israel yet.  He is still the one who cheats – and here, he is offering God a conditional obedience in v.20-22.  He is not quite ready to be rid of his ways.  He is still trying to control the situation, and still, to many an extent, trying to control/manipulate his own obedience to God.

4.  Jacob’s marriage with Leah and Rachel (Genesis 29)

Jacob kissing Rachel.  Laban kissing Jacob.  I think we can guess that this kissing is quite innocent.  Probably more along the lines of 1 Thessalonians 5:26.  Laban’s proclamation in v. 14 – “Surely you are my bone and my flesh!” is a repeat of Adam’s statement to Eve – it is a statement of oneness, a statement that we are of one flesh within the same church, the body of Christ. Such is the joy when we meet Christians whom we barely know, if at all – the hospitality of knowing that someone is striving in the race of faith as you are, whose founder of faith is the Spirit himself.

Something theologically profound in Chapter 29v.20 – “So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed to him but a few days because of the love he had for her”.  Amazing.  7 years is not exactly a short time – but, just as the Trinity is awaiting the day that we marry into Christ; just as creation is awaiting the revealing of the sons of God (Romans 8:19).  But because Christ loves us, and strives for his Bride, the 7 years, let alone 7000 years are just like a few days. 2 Peter 3:8-13:

8But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and(N) a thousand years as one day. 9(O) The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise(P) as some count slowness, but(Q) is patient toward you,[a](R) not wishing that any should perish, but(S) that all should reach repentance. 10But(T) the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then(U) the heavens will pass away with a roar, and(V) the heavenly bodies[b] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.[c]

11Since all these things are thus to be dissolved,(W) what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12(X) waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and(Y) the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13But according to his promise we are waiting for(Z) new heavens and a new earth(AA) in which righteousness dwells.

But Jacob has now met someone equally cunning – his uncle!  Firstly he gets Leah as the bride, then he has to work an extra seven years for Rachel, the true bride he had sought for.  However, even after Jacob’s struggle, the birth of children is still out of his hands.  The LORD continued with his unconditional promise by fulfilling the blessing which Isaac gave to Jacob, but through Leah, the neglected wife.  Through Leah is Jacob given 4 of the 12 tribes of the future nation of Israel – Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah.  Even this is out of his manipulative hands, and provides a leaping contrast between God’s faithfulness and unmoving promise; as opposed to Jacob and Laban’s trickeries and deceptions in order to struggle for what they both desire, even if it may not be pleasing to the LORD.

Genesis 27-29: The one who cheats vs. the one who promises

Genesis 24-26: The virgin bride of Christ

1.  “It is not good for man to be alone”: Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 24)

2.  Abraham, Keturah, Isaac and Ishmael (Genesis 25:1-28 )

3.  Jacob and Esau – birthright = stew? (Genesis 25:19-34)

4.  Isaac and the Philistines (Genesis 26:1-33)

5.  Esau and the Hittites (Genesis 26:34-35)

1.  “It is not good for man to be alone”: Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 24)

v.2 – Abraham’s servant, “the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he had” is told to swear by the LORD, God of heaven and earth (note, not only the God of Abraham!), that he is to take a wife from his country and his kindred.  What kindred would that be?  The Hebrews!  And there shall the chief servant take a wife for his son Isaac.

This is an amazing prophecy to the work of the Great Commission.  The gospel is presented in a short few verses (v.2-4).  To make things simpler:

(a)  Abraham = The Father

(b)  Isaac = The Son, the Bridegroom

(c)  Chief Servant = The evangelist, steward of the earth

(d)  Wife = The bride

Let’s work through these representations.  In Genesis 22 we saw Abraham sacrifice Isaac, and that it is a direct parallel to his sacrifice of Christ himself.  Does the typology end there?  Absolutely not.  Here, the chief servant of the Son’s Father asks the chief servant of his house to find Isaac, his only beloved Son, a wife.  And yes – that is much of our mission in life today.  To serve our Master, our Father, by finding more men and women to add to the bride.  And many things are taught in Genesis 24.

Firstly, we swear by the LORD that we will not take a wife from the adulterous Canaanites.  What I mean here is that the Canaanites are not lovers of LORD Jehovah, Yahweh, Adonai, Abba… rather, they are lovers of their own idols of their own makings.  Such is the definition of spiritual adultery – and as represented by the Canaanites.  Thus, it isn’t merely a case of Abraham seeking a physical family – he is seeking a spiritual family to build up God’s kingdom.  So, in everything we do in our evangelism, we are seeking to find a Christian bride, a bride who loves Christ and who will honour Christ.  A spiritual Canaanite simply will not do, but completely contradict the point of evangelism.  Hence the odd statement from the servant: “Perhaps the woman may not be willing to follower me to this land.  Must I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” (v.5)

Charles Spurgeon has this to say:

“If she will not come to Isaac, shall Isaac go down to her?  This is the suggestion of the present hour:  if the world will not come to Jesus, shall Jesus tone down his teachings to the world?  In other words, if the world will not rise to the church, shall not the church go down to the world?  Instead of bidding men to be converted, and come out from among sinners, and be separate from them, let us join with the ungodly world, enter into union with it, and so pervade it with our influence by allowing it to influence us.  Let us have a Christian world”.

Thus, though the steward be prudent, there is a sense of fear.  “What if the gospel will fail?”  “What if no one will believe the report?”  “What if the bride is unwilling?”  These are all statements of insecurity – but Abraham’s response is exactly that of the response of the Father when he sends us to find more to add to the Son’s bride; his response is “See to it that you do not take my son back there (v.6)”.  He maintains that his Son stay put.  It is for the wife to come to the Son, because the work is complete.  The promise has already been made.  Although the promise hasn’t been fulfilled, it is de facto completed.  “To your offspring I will give this land’, he will send his angel before you, and you shall take a wife for my son from there”.  (v.7)

This isn’t just some hasty statement – Abraham is saying that the promise will be fulfilled – and that Jesus, God’s chief Sent One, will be before the servant, the evangelist.  In the same way should we regard evangelism – it is not ‘ours’ to control, however eloquent we might be.  It is by the power of the Angel, by the power of the Spirit, that anyone can come to join as the bride of Christ.

Here, the chief servant goes to find the wife – not blindly, but with the sense given to him by the instruction of Abraham.  He seeks first the instruction of the LORD as well – “O LORD, God of my master Abraham, please grant me success today and show steadfast love to my master Abraham”.  He asks for a sign, he asks for confirmation.  “Let the young woman to whom I shall say, ‘Please let down your jar that I may drink'”.  In the same way should we ask for confirmation and not to rush into the open and preach like a mad-man.  Indeed, Paul confirms that he is sent from the LORD, as do all the evangelists.  The shipwreck is there to stop him, when the LORD wanted him to go elsewhere.

Then, in v. 22-30, the chief servant Eleazar of Damascus prepares the gift of inheritance.  Gold ring and two bracelets for Rebekah’s arms weighing ten gold shekels, after understanding that her heart is open.  How does he know?  Because of the fulfilled promises – that she is from the line of Shem, the line of Nahor, Abraham’s brother.  She gave Eleazar a drink and watered his ten camels.  Now she is given the possession of the inheritance – but that is merely a foretaste, a firstfruit, of the marriage to come.  Like the dove which took an olive leaf (Genesis 8:11), like a king’s signet ring (Esther 8:8), is it a foretaste of the true communion with the High King, the Father.  This ring represents the Holy Spirit, the gift of inheritance; the bracelets are adornments of righteousness which we receive by Christ’s blood (Job 29:14).

Yet, if the woman refuses?  Then the chief servant shall be clear from this his oath: only bring not his son to the woman.  If we therefore faithfully preach the gospel without watering it down, then even though numbers have not been added to the saved, it is fine – we can keep enduring, but we have stood firm.  The blood is not on our hands (Ezekiel 3:20).

And what of the significance of a virgin woman?  For he is to be the bride’s First Love (Revelation 2:4), as the bride is Christ’s first love – and in Him will Rebekah become “thousands of ten thousands, and may [her] offspring possess the gate of those who hate Him” (Genesis 24:60).  This proclamation shows the forward looking nature of the Arameans then – they remembered God’s covenant with Adam (Genesis 3:15), with Seth, with Noah, with Abraham.  She may cover herself with a wedding veil (v.65), whilst still wearing the ring and bracelets of inheritance and righteousness, but that veil will only be temporary, until the day it is torn completely apart on the great Wedding Day between the Son and his Bride.  For now, the veil will last as we are still merely engaged to Christ.

“So Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death” (v. 67).  It is not good for man to be alone.  And what an awesome picture of evangelism and marriage to cure Isaac of his loneliness, which is not good.  So, it is also not good for Jesus to be alone – and the Father and the Spirit have been working hard since Day 7 of creation to build up the church and body of Christ.

2.  Abraham, Keturah, Isaac and Ishmael (Genesis 25:1-28 )

Abraham took another wife – and by now, despite being over 100 years old (and that he had previously had serious difficulties bearing children), he is bearing many.  The sons of Midian will later lead to Jethro, the priest whom Moses will meet, and his very father-in-law.  Yet, the sons of his concubines he merely gave gifts, but sent them away from Isaac to the eastward to the east country.  Abraham is working hard to maintain the Israelite line without corruptions, that the sons of concubines may not be related to the Promised Son.

Here is a table which I prepared for easy reference of the genealogy in this chapter, the new sons of Abraham, and the sons of Ishmael.

So, what’s interesting is that Ishmael returns to bury Abraham!  However, we don’t know where he came from and how he heard the knews.  That appears unimportant – what is starking is his uninvolvement besides the burial.  His name is mentioned, and then instantly forgotten – for after the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son (v.11).  Could Moses have added another line…”and Ishmael as well” to v.11?  There is a very good reason he is omitted, because he is not part of the chosen line.  What we finally hear about him is that God has fulfilled his promise to him – that 12 princes have come from his line.  But, like the Kenite genealogy, his people settled from Havilah to Shur, opposite Egypt in the direction of Assyria.  Unlike Abraham, Sarah, and later Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob… Ishmael’s line settled not in Canaan,  he was however gathered to his people eventually in Assyria.  Like Lot, he chose to settle with the world, and not with the LORD, and it is no surprise that we find the Assyrians later becoming enemies of the LORD.

3.  Jacob and Esau – birthright = stew? (Genesis 25:29- Genesis 26:33)

It seems that Jacob and Esau have had their personality predicted from birth.  “Two nations are in your womb and two peoples from within you shall be divided”.  Essentially, speaking of the Israelites (as Jacob shall later be renamed Israel after his struggle with the Angel of the Lord, Jesus) vs. the Edomites as to even reward an entire book speaking of the judgment against Esau’s line:

10(M) Because of the violence done to your brother Jacob,
shame shall cover you,
(N) and you shall be cut off forever.
11(O) On the day that you stood aloof,
(P) on the day that strangers carried off his wealth
and foreigners entered his gates
(Q) and cast lots for Jerusalem,
you were like one of them.
12(R) But do not gloat over the day of your brother
in the day of his misfortune;
(S) do not rejoice over the people of Judah
in the day of their ruin;
(T) do not boast[e]
in the day of distress.
13(U) Do not enter the gate of my people
in the day of their calamity;
(V) do not gloat over his disaster
in the day of his calamity;
do not loot his wealth
in the day of his calamity.
14(W) Do not stand at the crossroads
to cut off his fugitives;
do not hand over his survivors
in the day of distress. (Obadiah 1:10-14)

And here we have two nations – one labelled “red”, the Edomites, because of his desire for red stew.  Another called “Jacob”, meaning “he takes by the heel” or “he cheats”.  What a way to describe two nations!  One that is cheating, full of struggle; another that desires food and short-term fulfillment over the long-term promise!  Esau’s desire for red stew even preceded that of his birthright!  “I am about to die” (v.32) he says!  Like Eve was about to die if she didn’t eat the fruit from the tree of good and evil?  Like Judas was about to die if he didn’t betray Jesus?  Like Balaam was about to die if he didn’t curse Israel?  Such is the mindset of the sinner… “I am about to die”.  It is a statement not of desperation – it is simply whining!  And yet, despite Jacob’s questionable methods, he planned far ahead.  He wanted the birthright.  He didn’t want to die, physically and even in the long-term – spiritually.  Yet, Edom wanted to live now, live fast… and die not only young, but die forever.  A stew for his birthright – quite clearly, “he despised his birthright”.

4.  Isaac and the Philistines (Genesis 26:1-33)

Isaac settled in Gerar, because the LORD told him so.  He didn’t go with his ‘rationale’ – he didn’t go with good foresight in planning (though that may be helpful in certain situations).  But he went there, simply because the LORD said so.  What great reverence!

Unfortunately, he feared the men of the place and lied about his wife being his sister, much like his father.  And to the same people like his father!  What is most interesting however is that this chapter maps out in far more detail about Isaac’s life than Abraham’s time with Abimelech in Genesis 20.  We have the Philistines:

(a) envying him (v.14) – an emotion expressed by filling up Abraham’s servants’ dug-out wells with earth.  Abraham respons by encamping in the Valley of Gerar and digs the wells again, giving them the names his father had given them previously.

(b) contending with him (v.20) – that the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen over the water which Isaac had found.  Yet Isaac is gracious once more; he leaves to another land, digs another well, and named that well Rehoboth (meaning broad place/room) rather than Sitnah (meaning enmity).  We can tell that Isaac is a man very much unlike Jacob and Esau who struggle against one another.  Rather, Isaac is gracious and seems to be looking to the LORD over everything.  Such is the stark contrast between the Philistines who contend with Isaac for something as a personal gain; but Isaac relinquishes it, just to be equally blessed but to give thanks to the LORD exclusively for that blessing.

(c) admiring him (v.28-29) – “We see plainly that the LORD has been with you, that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace.  You are now the blessed of the LORD”.  What sarcasm from the Philistines!  They want to keep face; but they must admit that they admire Isaac, because he is the “blessed of the LORD”.  The problem, however, is that a Christian may misread this history and say that you can only be blessed after such trials.  NO.  read v.3 – “I will be with you and will bless you”, and v. 4 – “…And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”.  This is more of God’s promises – one-sided promises.  He establishes this covenant which he later fulfills by himself.  Though it is through the word of the Philistines that his ‘blessedness’ is established, Isaac is by no means perfect.  We saw that in his fear of the people of Gerar when he said his wife is merely his sister.  Yet, like Abraham, he has faith in Christ, the truly blessed man – the only one who is blessed and can bless others.  It is important to note that Isaac depended not on himself, for Jesus appeared to him twice in this chapter, firstly before he set off as a wandering pilgrim, inevitably meeting enemies and insecurities (v.2); and secondly in the midst of his difficulties in v.24-25.

The oath between Philistines and Isaac is interesting.  It doesn’t last.  We see that more clearly when Samson fought the Philistines in the book of Judges.  Yet, God’s promises, his oath to us, lasts.  There may be water in the well of oath now, but that water can be easily filled with earth again by the Philistines.  But God’s oaths are never-failing.

5.  Esau and the Hittites (Genesis 26:34-35)

Finally, we end on a solemn note with Esau marrying a Hittite.  Such is the pain and trouble which Isaac’s father had tried to prevent.  And yet, such is the case when a Christian marries a non-Christian.  Contradictions, compromises and troubles are inevitable – not only that, but it is a clear misrepresentation of the gospel.  Can you see Jesus being preached when Christ comes to the world and marries his adulterous church?  Or can you see Jesus being preached when the church, his bride, conforms to him single-heartedly after his initiative work on the cross before the foundations of creation?  (Revelation 13:8 )

Genesis 24-26: The virgin bride of Christ

Genesis 21-23: Isaac and Jesus

1.  Church Discipline:  Wilderness (Genesis 21:1-20)

2.  Abraham’s treaty with Abimelech (Genesis 21:22-34)

3.  Sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19)

4.  Nahor (Genesis 22:20-24)

5.  Sarah’s death and burial (Genesis 23:1-17)

1.  Church Discipline:  Wilderness (Genesis 21:1-20)

So we see the difference between the conception of Ishmael vs. the conception of Isaac.  The former is a representation of human effort; the latter the representation of the grace of God.  This is further substantiated by Ishmael, laughing in mockery (this being in the ESV footnote of v. 9 – the Hebrew word is “tsachaq” which literally means to laugh outright in scorn).

This is no mere mockery.  This is a threat to the very gospel itself.

If Ishmael, the ‘firstborn’ gained by human effort were to supersede Isaac, the true firstborn given as a gift, then we have essentially preached that effort trumps grace.  God expresses these sentiments in v.12 : “…’Be not displeased because of the boy (Ishmael) and because of your slave woman (Hagar).  Whatever Sarah says to you, do as she tells you, for through Isaac shall your offspring be named.”

So what happens here is a primary example of church ostracism – either you are for the gospel, or against it.  Remember that this incident began because Ishmael laughed with mockery against Isaac.  This is much like the jealousy portrayed by Cain in Genesis 4 against Abel.  What resulted is murder and deceit.  Cain was banished to the east of Eden.  Here, Ishmael and his mother Hagar, are sent away and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

However, like Cain, Ishmael was not abandoned completely.  When Hagar cried out, God heard the voice of the boy and “the angel of God” (again, one of Christ’s titles) called to Hagar from heaven and said to her that the Father has heard the voice of the boy where he is.  She then saw the ‘living water’, despite being in the wilderness.  Here, we see the work of the Trinity again.  Firstly, someone calls to God (the Father), and the Father sends his presence, his face, the visible of the invisible – his Son, to be the mediator between him and the person who cried to the Father.

There is small hope yet for Ishmael.  God had been with Ishmael in his youth, and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.  Some things to say about Ishmael, his character, and the wilderness of Paran.

(a)  Expert with the bow – perhaps this is prophetic of the warring nature of the Ishmaelites.  If it so be true of the Muslims, then it concords well with the Islamic militaristic and political nature of their evangelism.

(b)  Wilderness of Paran – this is most likely where the Israelites had wandered for 40 years between the Exodus and arrival at Canaan.  And how painful a time that was – a time of thirst.  But when they call on the LORD, they received manna and water from the rock.  It is no different for Ishmael. But it still calls into the question of his character, being a militaristic person who also married an Egyptian woman.

(c)  Wife from the land of Egypt – as already mentioned, if God is with Ishmael, then it is likely that the gospel has gone out to Egypt in some respect. But the problem is, like Lot, he had sojourned and mingled with foreign people.  Like Lot’s daughters who were supposedly engaged to the Sodomites, here we have Ishmael married to an Egyptian.  God may have been with Ishmael, like Cain – but the blessing is merely physical (e.g. like Cain’s descendants), but they may not revere God persistently over the subsequent generations for their physical blessings.

2.  Abraham’s treaty with Abimelech (Genesis 21:22-34)

(a)  Seven ewe lambs – it is interesting that Abraham uses 7 lambs to represent the “witness” of the covenant.  Why seven lambs?  Even Abimelech does not know; but Abraham clearly does.  Job 42:8 and 2 Chronicles 29:21 displays the significance of the number 7.  Why seven?  Because it is the day of the Sabbath, the day of completion. 2 Chronicles 29:20-22:

20Then Hezekiah the king rose early and gathered the officials of the city and went up to the house of the LORD. 21And they brought seven bulls, seven rams, seven lambs, and seven male goats(A) for a sin offering for the kingdom and for the sanctuary and for Judah. And he commanded the priests, the sons of Aaron, to offer them on the altar of the LORD. 22So they slaughtered the bulls, and the priests received the blood(B) and threw it against the altar. And they slaughtered the rams, and their blood was thrown against the altar. And they slaughtered the lambs, and their blood was thrown against the altar.

(b)  Beersheba – this location will pop up again and again throughout Genesis.  Especially Genesis 26, when we see that Isaac and Rebekah commit the same sin as Abraham and Sarah.  It is clear that the sins of the father has passed down to Isaac; but Abimelech remembered the covenant between Abraham and him.  The relationship between the future nation of Israel and the Philistines could have boded well; but we can see that by the time of the Judges, it could not have been worse.

(c)  Tamarisk tree – this type of tree pops up again in 1 Samuel 22:6 and 1 Samuel 31:13.  What is a tamarisk tree?  Here is a bit on the Tamarisk tree:

Tamarix can spread both vegetatively, by adventitious roots or submerged stems, and sexually, by seeds. Each flower can produce thousands of tiny (1 mm diameter) seeds that are contained in a small capsule usually adorned with a tuft of hair that aids in wind dispersal. Seeds can also be dispersed by water. Seedlings require extended periods of soil saturation for establishment. Tamarix species are fire-adapted, and have long tap roots that allow them to intercept deep water tables and exploit natural water resources. They are able to limit competition from other plants by taking up salt from deep ground water, accumulating it in their foliage, and from there depositing it in the surface soil where it builds up concentrations temporarily detrimental to some plants. The salt is washed away during heavy rains.

So what we have is a sturdy tree, built by a well.  The seed can spread over vast areas by wind dispersal, and water, and exploit the natural water resources.  This explains even more about the well.  We should expect that the Tamarisk tree planted there would later grow into more trees.

Any theology behind the seeds?  Surely so – Abraham had presented 7 ewe lambs; a well of water; and a seed-bearing plant.  Living Water, Living Lamb, Living Seed.

(d)  Philistines – coming from Casluhim (Genesis 10:13), a son of Ham.  As we have already established, all the sons of Ham have problems in the future.  But they could have taken part of the gospel truth; here, the Philistines understood the nature of Abraham’s God.  He is mighty, and He is with him.  Abimelech, much like the Pharoah in the time of Joseph, revered the same God.  But their descendants did not – and that is the prophetic curse when Ham had sinned against Noah.  However, this again displays the global nature of God – he is not only the God of Abraham, but this God of Abraham is also merciful towards Lot, Abimelech and Ishmael.

3.  Sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19)

This is truly a striking story not merely of Abraham sacrificing his only son; but of the Father sacrificing his only Son on the cross.  Some things to note:

(a)  Moriah, third day, donkey, wood – Moriah is the region where the temple of Jerusalem would be built 100’s of years later and especially important – where Jesus is to be crucified!  (2 Chronicles 3:1).  Jesus was cruficied on the mount in Jerusalem, the same area of Moriah!

Then, it is on the third day that Isaac was to be sacrificed.

OK let’s recount the synoptic gospel story.  Jesus entered Jerusalem in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9 on a donkey… this was seven days prior to his crucifixion on the wood in Moriah in Golgotha…

Far fetched?  Probably… not.  But why the differentiation between seven days and three days?  Let’s take a quick look.

Though in the gospel story, like the Passover lamb, Jesus enters Jerusalem 7 days before he is slaughtered, it is on the third day that he is resurrected.  Here, Abraham saw Moriah on the third day.  Day 3 is quite important as I’ve established in my Genesis 1, Day 3 post.  It is a representation of dry land, of hope, of new creation and of course of resurrection itself, after Day 2, with the waters of punishment.  Here, the slaughter of Isaac and his ‘resurrection’ per se happens immediately one after another.  This corresponds very much to Abraham’s quip to his men that he and Isaac would return.  Did he expect his men to wait there for “3 days”, as if Abraham would wait for Isaac to be resurrected on the third day?  No.  It is already the third day, and the resurrection would occur immediately.  Abraham already knew that Isaac, if he is to die that day, would be immediately resurrected.  Even better, Isaac wasn’t even sacrificed – because a ram was taken in his place.

(b)  The offering – one could say that the sacrifices so far in the book of Genesis has pointed towards this sacrifice.  The sacrifice of the only Son.  And so this is also a foundational chapter for all the law about sacrifice for the coming books.  How odd it is that God would test Abraham in such a way; why did he not test the subsequent Israelites similarly?  God is teaching us something about the offering here.  He is essentially saying that the lamb, the ram, the turtledove, the pigeon, the ox, the heifer… all those offerings pale in comparison to the true offering of one’s only Son.  However, it’s not about the ‘degree’ of sacrifice; rather, it’s about the very specific nature of the sacrifice.  It is not a self-sacrifice as God could have simply asked Abraham to sacrifice himself; it is a sacrifice of something EXTERNAL, but extremely dear to him.

So here, we have Jesus.. sorry, Isaac, bound to a piece of wood, undergoing the punishment of fire as symbolised in the burnt offering.  The interesting thing in God’s response is “you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me”.  What about Ishmael – isn’t he Abraham’s son as well?

This, again, is the gospel-driven focus that God views in sonship.  He is not speaking of mere physical heritage; he is speaking of spiritual heritage.  We are all sons of Abraham in a covenant sense.  But Ishmael had been outside of that covenant, because he laughed at Isaac.

(c)  The LORD will provide

Chapter 22v.5 is a big give-away.  “I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.”  Worship?!  And both will come again to his young men?  What is Abraham speaking of?  He is going there without the sacrificial animal when God had told him to take his only beloved son Isaac to offer as a burnt offering (Chapter 22v.2), and he describes this event as worshipful and he also expects to return to the men with his son?

This reveals Abraham’s mentality.  He had full assurance that God would either intervene or resurrect his son, having seen the miraculous conception of his son when he was already 100 years old (and Sarah 90 years old).  Then, unsurprisingly, we reach v. 12-13, when God tells Abraham to withhold the knife and God provides a ram.  But that is not the end of the offering.  Abraham knew that the ram merely symbolised the things to come – and this is revealed in the phrase “The LORD will provide” or in the ESV, “The LORD will see”.  The phrase then moves on in v. 14 to “On the mount of the LORD it shall be provided” or “he will be seen”.  Abraham was still waiting for the True Lamb who will really take away the people’s sins; not by the testimonial witness of the blood of this ram.

4.  Nahor (Genesis 22:20-24)

Another prophetic fulfillment of God’s provision.  We may have heard a lot about Lot and his disastrous family.  But here, we have Nahor, whose descendant Rebekah will be the future wife of Isaac.  Things are going smoothly in God’s divine plan.

I’ve provided a table which may help you see the extensions of the descendants mentioned thus far from the line of Terah, the descendant of Shem, the son of Noah.

This is quite a family – besides Rebekah, comes Elihu the only person in the book of Job who really understands the truth; then there is Laban who knows of God, despite his household idols (Genesis 31:19).

5.  Sarah’s death and burial (Genesis 23:1-17)

Here we see business practices of the day; but more importantly, we see Abraham buying a cave, a tomb, for Sarah in a small plot of land in Canaan.  He understands the promises made to him earlier on in Genesis 12 and 15; and here again, he looks forward to the day when his descendants will inherit the physical Canaan.  The field of Ephron was in Machpelah, the east of Mamre.  This tomb will not be forgotten – in Genesis 49:29 – Genesis 50:5, we see that Jacob speaks of Abraham and Sarah’s burial place.  They want to be buried in Canaan, not Egypt.  Why?  Because Canaan was the prophesied promised land.  The place where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Leah, Jacob… and future saints of the old were buried.  Did they have confidence in the land itself?  Of course not… the land could not even hold the ‘multitude’ of nations promised to Abraham.  Rather, this land is symbolic, and Abraham knew that the stars in heaven and dust of the earth were the true spiritual numbers of the descendants in Christ.  Now, it is just a bit of property – it is a firstfruit.  It is a temporary inheritance; and much like the Holy Spirit who is in us now as an inheritance (Ephesians 1), and our faith in Christ the firstborn of creation and the firstfruit of those with new creation bodies, we are awaiting the true total inheritance of the new Jerusalem, the complete filling of the Spirit and the new bodies with new names!

Genesis 21-23: Isaac and Jesus