1 Samuel 27: Blessing on both houses

Despite the continual grace experienced by Saul, he still seeks David’s blood as implied by his refusal to go out to him.  As such, David chooses to hide in the bosom of the rejected, that he is not only surrounded by six hundred worthless men but that he is now in the presence of the fathers of Goliath (1 Samuel 17:4).

Yet, this is reminiscent of our LORD and Saviour who is rejected, but whom the Father still elects to stand on our behalf.  David did not forget his identity as a Hebrew, nor did he forget his mission – to destroy the enemies of Israel.  Despite receiving even Ziklag, he has redeemed it for the kings of Judah (v.6).  Despite fellowshipping with the prostitutes and murderers (Acts 4:11, 7:35; Hebrews 11), he is destroying the idols which surround them (v.10-11) in their midst.  Although he is aligned with the man of terror of the winepress, the son of oppression, so also our Christ was given up over to oppression, over to being both the man on the winepress and himself to become the wine being pressed – all on the cross (Romans 8:32).  He is the LORD who unites both Jacob and Esau, he who married Ahinoam (“the pleasant brother”), he who was given Ziklag at furthest southern tribe of Judah, placed between the core of Israel and Edom (the descendant of Esau).

This is the utter stench (v.12) who is still the Elected and Anointed One fighting on behalf of Israel, the worm (Psalm 22:6) who dwells in the enemies’ grounds to defeat the rivals of old, from Geshurites to Amalekites (v.8).  These are the very same people whom Saul failed to destroy (c.f. chapter 28; and 1 Samuel 24), yet David completely demolished.  The rejected but God-elected Saviour carried out the LORD’s wrath against Amalek (chapter 28:18), whereas the accepted but God-rejected shadow provided the false gospel of mercy where mercy is no longer nor appropriately provided.

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1 Samuel 27: Blessing on both houses

1 Samuel 15: The repenting LORD

The genealogy at the end of chapter 14 ushers in the defining identity of Saul as the rebellious first king of Israel, and that the second king of Israel shall redeem the nation unto the LORD – just as we have sinned through the first Adam and have become righteous through the second Adam.  The election of David over Saul is exactly that of the Father’s will, for it is His will to elect Jacob over Esau, as it is ultimately portraying the greater significance that Christ has always been the only true Mediator between man and God.  Adam, Saul and Esau – none of them ever bore their titles truly as privileged firstborn – for they are replaced by the spiritual firstborn children of the LORD represented by the true firstborn Jesus Christ.  And so, “The LORD sent [Samuel] to anoint [Saul] king over the people Israel” (v.1), just as Adam was given the LORD’s breath of life but was a mere shadow of the One who was filled with the Spirit without measure.  The true anointing will be on David, the far better type of Christ than Saul whose anointing was filled with omens that he would lead the Israelites astray.

And like the first man of Eden, so Saul decided to choose what is good and evil in his own eyes – a consequence of our first ancestor eating from that forbidden fruit of the tree.  Did God’s words fall on deaf ears (v.3)?  Why are the Kenites, the apparent allies of Amalek, given reprieve?  Though they looked upon Israel with favour, is their allegiance to the Amalekites entirely overlooked?  Is it for Saul to decide what is worthless and despised by sight but fail to see that the best of the sheep, oxen, calves and lambs, under the headship of Agag, are all spiritually adulterous and unclean in the LORD’s spiritual sight?

Like Eve who saw the goodness of consuming the forbidden fruit and shared it with Adam, so also Saul committed the grave sin of walking by sight by not by faith of what these ‘good’ but forbidden things represented.  They belonged to Agag, just as the fruit belonged not to the tree of life but otherwise.  And though the serpent is spared in the garden by the first adam, yet the serpent is destroyed by Christ as typified in Samuel by His work on the cross.  Where the king who aimed to overtop (“Agag”) was returned to his rightful role of mere tool of God, his self-exaltation is immediately humbled by Christ’s exaltation.  There can be no fellowship between light and darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14), and the servants indeed merely emulated what their head had done – to pounce on the spoils like a ravenous wolf (v.19, c.f. chapter 14:32). The people took the spoils (v.21)?  Another adamic retort, only to shamefully concede and reveal that it is Saul who had listened to the people (v.24), just as Adam had listened to Eve.  Does the head of a church ever submit to the church?  That would be a false gospel (Ephesians 5:22-33):  and so the kingdom is torn from Saul, just as the tearing of the curtain of the Holy Place and Holiest of Holies signified the fulfilment of the law, the end of Saul’s kingdom of Pharisaic obedience – and the beginning of David’s, of the typological second Adam’s, kingdom of Christian faith.  It is indeed better to obey, than to sacrifice (v.22); so it is indeed better to look to Sabbath rest (v.34 – Ramah, the peaceful hometown of Samuel), than to pursue one’s identity in the glories of battles and wars (v.52, v.34 – Gibeah, the hills which bury the memories of tension between Israel and the neighbouring nations).

Thus, the reproach of Egypt is rolled off of Israel, symbolised in the punishment given to Agag in Gilgal (v.33, c.f. Joshua 5:9).  Yet, what of the LORD repenting of his decision to appoint Saul?  Samuel is quick to assume that the LORD is not a man – and yet the Spirited writing of this chapter lead us to conclude that we are indeed made in His Son’s image, that He would grieve and repent of adam’s death, though it would grieve Him far more to subject His son to such divine wrath on our behalf.  The humanity of our LORD is emphasised so much in the final verse of chapter 15:   “And Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death, but Samuel grieved over Saul. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.”  Our LORD is indeed with us – the truth of Immanuel, God with us, is truly expressed here.  The LORD is weeping with Samuel – he has regretted that man was made, echoing the repentance in Genesis 6:6 (the same Hebrew word used: nacham נחם).  And so we should remember to grieve for Adam as the LORD had also; yet, the greater tragedy is not found in the fall of Saul, but in the symbolized fall of mankind.  Though Saul admits of his sins, it was truly the men who had appointed this wretched king – and it pained the LORD to allow them to anoint this false king.  It pained the LORD to see Adam choose himself as king when there is already a walking Mediator between the Father and him (Genesis 3:8).  Yet this regret is more founded upon the emotion of pity; the emotion of sighing – for we know that the LORD had long prophesied the fall of Saul (chapter 8), and thus this regretting has nothing to do with a change of mind.  In spite of this, it does not lessen the weight of sin and the weight of seeing one’s child fall however much one perceives it.  Such is the LORD Who is with us.

1 Samuel 15: The repenting LORD

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 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