1 Chronicles 8-11: The City of Jesus

1 Chronicles 8 begins with the genealogy of Saul with some notable Christians such as Jonathan and Merib-baal (Mephibosheth, the “contender against Baal”, he who was exalted by David in 2 Samuel 21:7).  It is interesting that v.29-40 are repeated in chapter 9, as if to emphasise the mighty descendants of Benjamin, the son of Jacob.  Yet, it is in the prophecy and in their names that we realise the promise of the Seed will not be fufilled through Benjamin.  This “ravenous wolf” who in the morning is devouring its prey, and in the evening dividing the spoil (c.f. Genesis 49:27) is but the proper presupposition with which we see Saul’s lineage.  His genealogy focuses not on Jonathan or Mephibosheth, the significant characters which seemingly redeems Saul’s posterity; rather, it ends with “the sons of Eshek” – which is means the sons of “oppression“.  Ulam, Eshek’s firstborn, being both “their strength“, yet also “their folly“.  These were indeed mighty warriors of Benjamin, having many sons and grandsons – emphasising once again from which son of Israel they descend in v.40.

Yet, almost immediately, we are shown the genealogy of the returned exiles.  From the glory of Saul’s days, his warriors which seem to be his lineage’s stronghold, the focus is not on the returned Benjaminites.  Rather, the focus is firstly the priests, the Levites, and the temple servants (1 Chronicles 9:2).  The meaning of the name of the chief of the gatekeepers, Shallum, is in contrast to Eshek or Ulam.  Where Shallum means retribution or a restoration of sorts, Eshek and Ulam are both folly and oppression – explaining why the Spirit does not inspire the narrator of 1 Chronicles 9 to focus any longer on the folly of Saul’s bloodline, the spirit of whom was followed continuously by the rebellious kings of Israel.  Rather, the Levitical focus of Chronicles reminds us of the importance of the Priesthood and the chosen tribe Levi – such as the Korahites (c.f. Numbers 26:58; 2 Chronicles 20:19 – musicians of the Lord).  Their work of service, their fathers being “in charge of the camp of the LORD” (v.19), their “duty of watching” (v.27) – all summed up in David and Samuel’s joint election (v.22).  Note once again that such genealogies were not elected by Saul – but by the prophet and the first king after the LORD’s own heart, the man who modelled his life after the Second LORD of his worship (c.f. Psalm 110; Matthew 22:45).  So also the work of the kinsmen of Kohathites (who had been the focus of Numbers chapter 4 in their service of the tabernacle), are brought to the fore.  It is not until a full exposition of the glory of the LORD’s restoration of Israel through the priesthood that the narrator seems to strangely return to Saul’s genealogy.  Yet, the purpose is apparent in comparing the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 9:35-44 with 1 Chronicles 8:29-40.  Verses 39 and 40 are removed from chapter 9:35-44 – no longer does the narrator focus on Eshek or Ulam or even the warriors or bowmen of Benjamin, for these things are useless in the face of restoring Israel after its captivity in Assyria / Babylon.

The folly of Saul’s lineage is made even more apparent in chapter 10, which opens with the death of Saul and his sons, and Saul’s plan to preserve his ego and reputation by falling upon his own sword rather than being overwhelmed by the Philistines.  Saul is accordingly diminished, whilst David, Samuel and the Levites are appropriately exalted.  The author of Chronicles is clearly intent on remembering the Lord as the Author of Israel’s life, and Refiner of Israel’s rebellion.  Chapter 10 therefore ends with “So Saul died for his breach of faith.  He broke faith with the LORD in that he did not keep the command of the LORD, and also consulted a medium, seeking guidance.  He did not seek guidance from the LORD.  Therefore the LORD put him to death and turned the kingdom over to David the son of Jesse” (v.13-14).  Instead of seeking guidance from a medium, he should have sought after the Mediator; instead of satiating his lust of self-preservation, he should have satiated his need to be preserved by Christ in the Father’s wrath.

Thus, as we turn to chapter 11, we come to understand why Jerusalem is not the city of Israel; nor is it the city of Saul.  For the true character of this city was not defined by the physical first king, nor from Israel, but from the LORD of the kings and the LORD of the nation.  David embodies the character of Jesus in taking over Jerusalem, the once city of the Jebusites, with the support of Israel declaring herself as David’s “bone and flesh“, reminiscent of the relationship between Christ and the Church in Genesis 2:23 and Ephesians 5:22-33.  Just as Israel submits herself to her king David, so also David’s victory came from seeking the Mediator’s guidance contrary to Saul’s actions – and of all the notable events of David’s life (such as his slaying of Goliath), the narrator opted to focus on the renaming of Jerusalem as the city of David (v.4-9), for this city is essentially not David’s city, but the city of the One Whom David’s worshipped – the city of Jesus.

For David to become such a great man in the LORD (v.9), it was befitting that he was supported too by mighty men as described in the remainder of chapter 11.  The emphasis, however, is not on how mighty they were; contrarily, their efforts cannot hold a candle to David’s sacrifice (c.f. v.18-19).  For it is David’s lifeblood which gives these men their life, not vice versa – “”…Shall I drink the lifeblood of these men?  For at the risk of their lives they brought it.”  Therefore he would not drink it.”  Indeed, the only cup that Christ shall drink is the cup of the Father’s wrath, pouring out His lifeblood for the mighty men.  Although the followers of Christ are co-heirs and perhaps mighty kings and mighty men, their exaltation comes from the humbleness of the One who poured His lifeblood out to us, so that we may drink of His blood and feast on His flesh (Matthew 20:28).  It is in this light that we are to read about the lives of such mighty men, their might hinging on the One whose might is in His weakness; whose might does not lie in men’s sacrifice, but in His sacrifice for us first.

1 Chronicles 8-11: The City of Jesus

Married

Hi all – apologies for my hiatus from writing (consistently) for so long.  I am now happily married 🙂 In keeping up with this blog/commentary, hopefully what Christ teaches me through the mysterious and spiritual Book of Life – the Word of God – will only serve to enrich our oneness as man and wife.

Ephesians 5:22-33, the Great Gospel, is what marriage is all about.  How about time we learned about the first marriage before Adam and EveChrist and His Bride?

 

Married

2 Samuel 15: The Exiled King

A key mark of difference between Absalom and David lies in these words: “Oh that I were judge in the land!  Then every man with a dispute or cause might come to me, and I would give him justice” (v.2).  Such an arrogant and self-righteous sigh was never borne on David’s lips, and yet we are presented time and time again with Absalom’s vengeful anger (2 Samuel 13:22, 28, 32), and the only spoken words are words which enforce silence (2 Samuel 13:20) – escalating to his pompous reply though David is already the king-judge.  What grand arrogance and assumption to make in v.4, when David had just redeemed Absalom into his presence in chapter 14?  Instead, Absalom led people astray, he beguiled those who came to the gate, just as the enemy has done in Genesis 3:13 – and so, Absalom in the pattern of Satan has begun to steal the hearts of the men of Israel by his words and by his physical appearance in v.5-6 (2 Samuel 14:25-26).  So Absalom sowed the seeds of his seduction which will soon unravel the great expulsion of the Israelites from their city, the king also being expelled as a result of Satan’s prideful seduction.  This conspiracy grew strong, the hearts of men no longer following David the true king of Israel, but following Absalom the wayward prince.

It is important to note that from v.14 onwards, David’s actions are not typical of what he has been consistently doing in 1 Samuel and in previous chapters.  Instead, what we see is a king protecting his people; a king who still commands people’s love – “behold, your servants are ready to do whatever my lord the king decides” (v.15).  Are these the words of a charmer?  No – these are the words of a king who is being banished from his own kingdom, and yet the church has decided to go out into exile with him our Christ (1 Peter 1:17).  Notice the parallel between v.16

(16) So the king went out, and all his household after him…

and Hebrews 13:13 –

Heb 13:13 Therefore let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured.

Is not the church bearing the reproach of David in leaving the city?  Yet, this way only the body of Absalom and the body of David are clearly identified; only in our baptism in Christ’s death (Romans 6:4) can we avoid the second death which the deceived Israelites would ultimately experience.  And note the different groups of people who followed after David in v.18 – the Cherethites, Pelethites, Gittites.  These were groups of mercenary men who had followed David prior to his throning as king of Israel; and even in his banishment, these people continue to stay loyal to him, just as we follow Christ be Him pre-incarnate, humiliated as the man of Nazareth, nailed to the cross, or even glorified in his ascension.  These groups of people are represented ultimately in the man Ittai the Gittite, who is ‘an exile from [his] home’ (v.19), a Gittite being a man from Gath the hometown of Goliath.  Yet, instead we find a man who is with David (Ittai meaning “with me”), this non-Israelite who replies with words of allegiance:

(21) But Ittai answered the king, “As the LORD lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king shall be, whether for death or for life, there also will your servant be.” (22) And David said to Ittai, “Go then, pass on.” So Ittai the Gittite passed on with all his men and all the little ones who were with him.

It is significant that we observe the solemnity of the entire affair and yet the ark of God does not go into banishment with Christ.  Instead, the ark which represents the Father (c.f. Exodus 40) stays in the city as it is absolutely key for David to return upon the LORD’s favour (v.25).  Canaan is still the Promised Land; Jerusalem is still the city of peace; and this world is not destroyed entirely in favour of another one.  Instead, new creation is but a renewal of the old things (Luke 5:38): and there is thus no reason for the ark of God which bears the Ten Words and Aaron’s staff (Hebrew 9:4) to go into exile with Christ.  Rather, Christ’s return is to symbolize the bringing of the true church, His true body, with Him back into the centre of the Promised Land when Absalom and his deceived body are uprooted (Job 21:18; Psalm 1:4) and that the meek (Psalm 37:11) worthless Israelite and non-Israelite mercenaries inherit the land.  Despite the languish of David and his men, Zadok, Ahimaaz and Jonathan (v.27-28), all of the priestly line, are to remain in the city to intercede on the true Israel’s behalf – following the pattern of the Christ who, after his ascension, is currently the High Priest interceding on our behalf (Hebrews 9) in the third heavens.

This theme of David’s return to his rightful throne, implied through the LORD’s favour in v.25, is immediately prophesied in v.30 – in his ascension of the Mount of Olives, imitating the ascension of Christ in Acts 1:12 in the same place.  Yet, the time is not yet – though the priestly intercession is already portrayed by Hushai the hasty messenger and friend of David (v.37), speaking to Zadok, Abiathar and their sons Ahimaaz and Jonathan who stand in the city as a firm reminder that David is to return to the city and not remain in banishment forever. And so the chapter ends with Absalom’s arrogant self-enthronement akin to the prideful Satanic cherub of Eden (Ezekiel 28), against the humiliation of David though the true bride goes with him (2 Samuel 17:3) and the false church remains in Israel.

2 Samuel 15: The Exiled King

1 Samuel 25: The Redemption of the Olive Tree Branches

Now we come to see how David sent these ten young men (v.5) in a similar manner to how Abraham sent his servant to seek for his Son a wife (Genesis 24) – and so these young men came in the name of David (v.9) just as we are proclaiming the victory of Christ in His name.  Yet, this Nabal was a lost sheep in the wilderness (v.4) – and David, the shepherd at heart, goes out with his men to redeem and reclaim this lost sheep and his wife Abigail, and usurp Nabal’s position as the man with possessions in the garden-land Carmel (v.2, v.14), a shadow of Christ restoring us to our position as righteous children and stewards in the true Garden of Eden through his prayer in the garden of Gethsemane.

Verses 6-8 are reflective of David’s compassion on Nabal and Abigail: “Peace be with you… to your house… to all that you have”.  How is this peace obtained?  Because Nabal’s business consists of the shearing of sheep in Carmel (v.2), and the shepherd need be protected to manage the sheep – these very shepherds being  protected by David (v.7) during the time at Carmel.  David had secured peace for Nabal in a variety of ways; by the first defeat of Goliath by David’s self-election; by the defeat of the Philistines, by the protection of Nabal’s shepherds, and even through his ancestor’s Caleb’s obedience that the land Carmel, near Hebron, was even inherited and passed down (Joshua 14:14; Joshua 15:54-55) – from both a wider and more specific context, we can see that David achieved salvation for Nabal and his household as a type of Christ just as Caleb was.  This day, he came to find favour in his eyes as they came on a feast day (v.8).

And this is not how our Christ achieved salvation for us long before we knew him?  He had ensured our greatest peace with the Father through his work on the cross (Romans 5:1) that our household may inherit the covenant of grace through Christ, so that on the day when the Saviour comes to find us in the wilderness, we may have a feast day with him in anticipation of the Resurrection feast day.

Yet, Nabal’s answer is typical of the unbeliever – “Who is this David?  Who is the son of Jesse?”  What ridicule!  This Calebite, his very existence dependent upon his father Caleb who stood faithfully by Yeshua/Joshua, was the only spy who came back alive from tasting the firstfruit of Canaan (Numbers 13:20-27), and yet this Nabal would not recognise the true Yeshua typified in David, son of Jesse.  Who is this Jesus Christ, son of Joseph?  Who is this Jesus Christ, son of God?  These words are treated with contempt – and to those who ignore the peace achieved in Christ remains condemnation and wrath on their heads (John 3:18; Romans 1:18-32).

Hope is not lost on Nabal’s household as one young man manages to recount the glory of David to Nabal’s wife – “David sent messengers out of the wilderness… the men were very good to us… we suffered no harm, and we did not miss anything when we were in the fields, as long as we went with them.  They were a wall to us both by night and by day, all the while we were with them keeping the sheep”.   This young man spoke of the salvation through David; he was giving his testimony to Abigail – and like the pillar of cloud and fire (Exodus 13:21), so David and his men shielded these shepherds who were also in themselves sheep which needed divine protection.

This entire episode bears semblance to the Angel of the LORD seeking for Moses’ life for failing to circumcise his child, but by the mediation of the blood of the child’s circumcision was this wrath propitiated; so also we see the mediation of Nabal by the sacrifice of Abigail (v.18).  Is not David’s work to lead us to salvation, his blessings for the intention of repentance (Romans 2:4)?  Yet, if it does not achieve this effect, then David’s work of salvation is indeed done in vain; so also Christ’s work on the cross and His blessings to us is entirely meaningless if we do not confess Him to be our Saviour, though that work of salvation indeed did occur and remains true.

However, what we see next is a wonderful word-play of David as Abigail’s lord, fighting the battles on the LORD (the Father’s) behalf – and what we see here is Abigail expounding a Trinitarian understanding of how salvation is effected:

“24She fell at his feet and said,(AC) “On me alone, my lord, be the guilt. Please let your servant speak in your ears, and hear the words of your servant. 25Let not my lord regard(AD) this worthless fellow, Nabal, for as his name is, so is he. Nabal[c] is his name, and folly is with him. But I your servant did not see the young men of my lord, whom you sent. 26Now then, my lord,(AE) as the LORD lives, and as your soul lives, because(AF) the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt and from(AG) saving with your own hand, now then(AH) let your enemies and those who seek to do evil to my lord be as Nabal. 27And now let this(AI) present that your servant has brought to my lord be given to the young men who follow my lord. 28Please forgive the trespass of your servant. For the LORD will certainly make my lord(AJ) a sure house, because my lord(AK) is fighting the battles of the LORD, and evil shall not be found in you so long as you live. 29If men rise up to pursue you and to seek your life, the life of my lord shall be bound in the bundle of the living in the care of the LORD your God. And the lives of your enemies(AL) he shall sling out as from the hollow of a sling. 30And when the LORD has done to my lord according to all the good that he has spoken concerning you and has appointed you prince over Israel, 31my lord shall have no cause of grief or pangs of conscience for having shed blood without cause or for my lord(AM) taking vengeance himself. And when the LORD has dealt well with my lord, then remember your servant.””

This is her response upon hearing from the young man of the testimony of the lord David; and in the household of Nabal, in which the covenant of peace was made, Nabal did not represent the entire house, just as Jacob was not the representative of the entire nation of Israel.  Even in the house of Israel, there are plenty of Nabals (fools), just as there are plenty of Abigails who, upon hearing the word (Romans 10:14) are convicted of the truth of the Anointed One.  Just as she cannot serve two lords, she has decidedly put herself before David in worship and reverence, just as men have bowed before the Angel of the LORD rather than mere angels (Numbers 22:31 against Exodus 23:24).  She readily calls her husband, her first lord a fool; but rather submit herself to the second lord David whose victories are by the LORD in heaven.  Is this not also true of us?  That we may denounce our first man Adam to receive the second Adam?  To denounce the first king Saul to receive the true prince David (v.30)?  Just as the LORD redeemed Lot from the land of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), had preserved a remnant of Israel in times of overt heresy and rebellion (Romans 11:5), so David preserved at least one in the household of Nabal.  Are we to remain in the house of Adam if we do not receive Christ and His Spirit by Whom we are reborn into the body of the new Head, of the new prince, of David?  If so, we will perish alongside Nabal – and it does not please David to hurt (v.34), just as it does not please the LORD to see people die (Ezekiel 18:31).

So the death of Nabal shall come in the same way as the drunken and merry heathens experienced – that the coming of Christ and his redemptive work was actually necessary, true, and a great surprise (2 Peter 2).  “In the morning, when the wine had gone out of Nabal, his wife told him these things, and his heart died within him, and he became as a stone” (v.37).  As if the news of David coming to cleanse the household of Nabal was not sobering enough, the judgment came from the hand of the Father though the condemnation already came by Christ.

What then of Abigail, who now has no husband?  Just as we were once married (Romans 7:2), by the death of Nabal is Abigail freed from the head of her household, that she should attach herself to the new and true lord David as her new husband – so we also escape from Adam, our flesh crucified in Christ, and reborn under the new head of Jesus.

It is here that we need to differentiate between the grammatico-hermeneutical method of exegesis and the Christological hermeneutic – here, David (and like many before him, such as Abraham) takes two more wives (besides Michal) – Ahinoam and Abigail.  Though it is apparent why Abigail is taken (for she was redeemed from the hands of the false steward, an analogy of the salvation of the church-sheep from the clutches of the Satan), what of Ahinoam?

In 1 Samuel 14:50, Saul’s wife is mentioned as Ahinoam, named my brother is delight, the daughter of Ahimaaz, named my brother is anger.  Yet, Saul has, instead of contributing to any delight in his wife’s life has instead become an epitome of anger and jealousy in the latter half of the first book of Samuel.  Contrarily, we have here a juxtaposition of David taking a bride of the same name as Saul’s wife placed next to a verse where David’s first wife is given away by Saul, and taking the faithful wife Abigail; instead, Michal is not ‘redeemed’ by David until 2 Samuel 3; and her demise is summed up in 2 Samuel 6:23 – that she shall have no more children.  Michal, though faithful to David and truly loved David in 1 Samuel 18, did not love David’s LORD.  Yet, Abigail and by implication Ahinoam are David’s new wives who do love the LORD – and here we see the unnatural olive tree branches implanted as the natural olive tree branch is removed (Romans 11).  Though David returns to buy her back (2 Samuel 3) such that our LORD God has not forsaken the Israelites his first bride, her limp response to him when he danced before the LORD truly portrayed a bride who was not suitably dressed for the true Wedding Day (Matthew 22:11).

1 Samuel 25: The Redemption of the Olive Tree Branches

1 Samuel 1: Formation and Filling

Ruth ended on a teaser – a firstfruit of what is to come, as we see the enjoining of the once cursed race of the Moabites enjoin herself under the tent banners of the children of Shem as represented by Boaz.  In this mixed heritage will come David, the typological son of God as emphasised in Ruth 4:22.

Yet, despite God’s plan being explained in the narrative for David to be the true and favored king, why then does 1 Samuel focus not firstly on Samuel, nor firstly on David?  Instead, we see a pattern – a pattern of Peninnah against Hannah; of Eli against Samuel; of Saul against David – the pattern of the office of the old being redeemed by the new, renewing all that was initially just a formation (like the first three days of creation), but needs to be filled (akin to the latter three).  Like the body which was made of dust, but needed to be filled with the Spirit of Christ to be renewed and partake of that divine glory which Peter spoke about in 2 Peter 1:4.

Thus, the office of the true wife, the true church of Christ is to be fulfilled not by the laughing prostitute but by the one wife who is truly loved by Elkanah, who prays in tongues even against the accusation of the compromised high priest Eli.  Thus, the office of the true spiritual Levitical priest and prophet is not fulfilled by Eli whose sons are unworthy men who do not believe in Christ, but is fulfilled by Samuel the type of John the Baptist – a forerunner to David.  The promised son of the promised and loved spiritual church, Hannah.  Thus, the office of the King has been established in Ruth before 1 Samuel – that is David, who clings onto the two Lords, the Father and the Son, in the Spirit Whom he begs the LORD to let him keep (Psalm 51:11).  Saul, Peninnah, and Eli are pushed into the shadows where they belong – and the narrative of 1 Samuel 1 teach us how the first order of things (in Israel) but never meant to be; but that the true first order of things is established in Abraham when he was part of no nation, but was of the mobile international church before the physical limitation of Israel as a national and ethnic identity in Christ.  We are not David’s children, nor Moses’ children – but we are the children of Abraham who rejoiced at the thought of seeing Christ’s day which he already saw and was made glad by (John 8:39, 8:56).  This is the essence of the gospel – to yearn and to cling onto Christ Jesus, as Abraham, Hannah, Samuel and David did and will do – to perform the true Spirit of the Law which is but an empty framework, both functioning as a curse for unbelievers but a blessing for believers, just as the office of the wife, priest, king function as an empty shell of a curse for Peninnah, Eli and Saul.

In the story of Elkanah, what we see is a retelling of the creation story with different figures representing the same truth through the meaning of their names and through the details of the narrative in this chapter.  Elkanah comes from the land of the double height of watchers, Ramathaimzophim, and hails from the line of Jeroham, Elihu, Tohu, Zuph – each bearing the fruit of the Spirit akin to the list in Galatians 5 – a line of compassionate, humble, godly men tasting of the honey comb of new creation.  They are all from Ephraim, the land of double-fruit.

From Elkanah comes two wives – the churches of two categorised ages – the age of Israel and the age of the international global community; the age of Peninnah, though seen and called as a jewel, was however not the favoured one.  Like Esau, whose physical might was indeed treasured in Isaac’s eyes, it was Jacob who was truly the one favoured (Romans 9:13) through whom the line of David would be established.  Indeed, this physically beautiful church, Israel, was in fact rotting within.  She would laugh at those around her, like Jonah with the Ninevites, and fail to love Hannah whose womb was closed.  It would appear that only through Peninnah, who had many sons and daughters (v.4), would Elkanah’s righteous line continue.  However, it is through Hannah that the shaming of physical Israel is truly manifested; that Hannah, the typological spiritual church, is the true apple of Elkanah, the Creator God’s eyes.  It is in Hannah that the true line of prophethood and priesthood would continue.  Though Hannah’s womb was closed, it was eventually opened to bear fruit to new creation within her; that this global international community should be the truly favoured church bearing new creation fruit as opposed to the sting and poison of the old, rotting Israel for all her physical glory in the height of David and Solomon’s day.

Thus is the formation of creation – the sky, the waters and finally the land; so also the office of the prophet, the priest, and the overarching church in which both prophet and priest operate.  Yet, they are but an empty infantile shell, just like the created Adam before he ate of either the true of good or evil, or the tree of wisdom.  Instead, Adam needed to cling onto the true vine to experience true communion with the Trinity, yet we are from the fallen Adamic line.  But, Elkanah is from the redeemed Adamic line, where the formation is filled with new life – just as Hannah is about to birth a new child who is to announce the true king of Israel, that the formed and filled creation testifies to Christ.  So this child is also to testify to the fallenness of Saul to emphasise the true kingship of David.  Such is the great responsibility of Samuel that he who is “lent to the LORD” as a Nazirite (v.11, 28) worshipped the LORD in his youth (v.28), just as John the Baptist was filled with joy when he leapt in Elizabeth’s womb upon hearing the greeting of Mary whose son was not yet born (Luke 1:41).  Just as Elizabeth had enjoyed great mercy from God (Luke 1:58) whereupon her son John spoke with a loosed tongue blessing God, so also Hannah spoke with a loosed tongue in hope that her child would follow the ways of the true living LORD Jesus Christ.

So although the book of Judges ended on a sour note as Shiloh is heavily neglected, here the purpose of Shiloh is truly reflected in Hannah when she utters in tongues words which she cannot speak – like the Jews and Gentiles in Acts 2 who were considered drunk for speaking in each others’ languages, so also Eli the priest accused Hannah similarly, though she was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly.  Such a large contrast of faith!  Eli the High Priest with his two worthless sons Hophni and Phinehas (to be described in Samuel 2) being oblivious to the voice of God (chapter 3), yet the line of Samuel through Hannah shaming the High Priest and his sons.  Both Elkanah and Hannah couple-handedly brought the attention back to Shiloh.  Indeed, the office of priesthood and prophethood is truly restored to its true purpose in the spiritual church like Elkanah, Hannah and Samuel – for Hannah had “asked for him from the LORD” (v.20) unlike Peninnah who failed to worship.  For all of Peninnah’s glory in receiving gifts on the day of the annual sacrifice to the LORD of hosts at Shiloh, she is not mentioned once more in Scripture.  Yet, Hannah is placed in the annals of those who devoted all to the LORD – though, unlike Peninnah, she is found throughout the entire chapter weeping, in distress, but prayerful to Him persistently (v.7-8, 10, 15-16).  She is fully confident in the everlasting Christ (Habbakuk 1:12) that her son would dwell in His presence forever, and though he is of an extremely young age, he was able to worship the LORD immediately after being weaned.  None of this could have possibly been achieved without the filling of the Spirit Who teaches man to proclaim Christ crucified and worship him with a circumcised heart (Deuteronomy 30:6, Jeremiah 4:4, 1 Corinthians 2).

And so, chapter 1 ends with a beautiful imagery of the community-based family, with Elkanah, Hannah and Samuel being pushed into the forefront of the picture of the spiritual assembly and body of Christ, worshipping the LORD of hosts (Exodus 7:4; Jude 1:5) who brought the Israelites out of Egypt.  Yet, the bringing of Israel out of Egypt is but a formation and type of redemption – the Israelites still needed to have circumcised hearts like Samuel;  the Israelites still needed to be filled with the Spirit to truly worship God in their hearts.  Unfortunately, they favoured and prioritised the physical beauty of other nations above the beauty of the Trinity in Whom they could have dwelt forever, yet not all hope is lost as a strand of the promised line of the promised Messiah has been maintained from Genesis to 1 Samuel, and the famous prophet Samuel is to be the filled and formed creation witness to Christ.

1 Samuel 1: Formation and Filling

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