Friday, January 13, 2012

Blogging the Bible: A wife, a death, 2 sons, and the passing of the covenant

 As I continue this blog through the bible mission, We are on week 2, Day 5. Genesis 24-26

Chapter 24 is all about how God continues to move his promise forward. This story is about getting a wife for Isaac, so that the line of promise may continue. The story is simple; Abraham doesn’t want his son to marry a Canaanite woman, and to blend into the peoples of the land. And so he makes his servant swear to go find a wife, while not taking his Isaac back to his homeland. And so the servant goes to Nahor, probably Haran, and prays for God to bring the right woman to him, and God does, he answers the prayer, bringing someone who’s the perfect answer to the prayer, Rebecca.

Two players in this passage show themselves to be commendable. The servant is a man of prayer; he doesn’t use the resources he has with him to find just anyone, but instead beseeches God for the right person. Rebecca shows amazing faith, as she trusts God, and willingly heads off with this strange man, to a strange life, as the wife of a stranger. You can point to them, and see examples of how we are to live, but be careful. Ultimately, the bible isn’t a book of hero’s; it’s about God, and his redemptive purposes. This story is surely a reminder of that as we see that God moves the story along.

Chapter 25 is the end of Abraham’s story. After Sarah died, Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah, who bore a whole slew of children, but notice, while Abraham has many children, and he gives gifts to them, he sends them away; he gave all he had, the estate and the blessing, to Isaac, who buries him with Ishmael.

Notice what happens next. We get two stories. First, “these are the generations of” Ishmael. Then you get his descendants. These are the ones outside the line of promise. Then you get the line of promise. “These are the generations of Isaac”. He has two sons.

Notice how this story contains to tell us that God is the one at work. Once again, we find a patriarch and a barren woman. Rebecca is barren. Once again the lord must Act. Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebecca his wife conceived. Right away, the sons are in conflict. In the womb and in life. But notice something. God chooses the one the world would not. In the ancient world, the oldest son is the one who was favored. But what does God say, the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger." He chooses the things the world doesn’t.

Notice what we find out about Esau, he’s his father’s favorite, a man’s man. But more than that, he’s also not someone who values the inheritance; he doesn’t respect or honor the fact that the inheritance represents his status as part of the line of promise. Even though the birthright is his, he sells it for stew. Jacob is just as much a weasel. He swindles his brother, and shows no compassion, rather than show love to his brother, he’s making his brother sell him a treasure for a bowl of soup.

The final chapter, 26, just makes me shake my head. What, didn’t Abraham teach his son anything? A famine comes, God says; don’t go to Egypt, and what’s Isaac do? He obeys, but he borrows dad’s playbook. “When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," for he feared to say, "My wife," thinking, "lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebecca," because she was attractive in appearance”. Now, Abimalech figures out the truth, but apparently, Isaac learned nothing from dad’s exploits. The story moves on from there, to conflict with Abimelech’s people, and with other herders, and in this, we get a glimpse of how the world and Gods purposes are always in conflict. The story ends with heartache. Esau married two Canaanites, and “they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebecca”. Unfortunate, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what’s coming next.

But in all this, in this hardship, and brokenness, we see something wonderful. The covenant is given to Isaac, the covenant has been passed on,  and it is restated in the face of hardship. God is working. He will give all these lands to Isaac, he will give offspring to Isaac, and he will bless all the nations through Isaac’s offspring. And as the people around attest, The Lord is with him. He is now “the blessed of the LORD”. That is what God wants us to see. His plan is going forward.

So, what are the lessons from today's reading? Once again, see the plan of God move forward, and marvel at all that God has done to bring salvation to the world, marvel at all he has done to make a name for himself, and bring glory to himself. Ultimately, these chapters show us how God is working, bringing redemption. They also feature a picture of faith, and a picture of a heart hardened to God. MY hope and prayer, is that you will be more like Rebecca, and less like Esau, and that you will respond in faith to the one that offers salvation, and seek to live for His glory.

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