Origins

Jumping on the Bandwagon

(Genesis 26:26-35)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Jumping on the Bandwagon,” the Cambridge Dictionary defines the phrase as, “to join an activity that has become popular or to change your opinion to one that has become very popular so that you can share in its success.” ​​ 

 

[https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/jump-on-the-bandwagon].

 

This concept is used heavily in sports, especially with super, hardcore fans. ​​ They will blame current converts to a particular sports team as “jumping on the bandwagon.” ​​ These current fans want to share in the success of a winning team.

 

Of course, other fans are willing to go down with the ship. ​​ They will never abandon their team no matter how long it has been since they had a winning season.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Loyal – not a band wagoner

        • I have been a Baltimore Orioles fan and a Washington Redskins fan since growing up here in southcentral Pennsylvania

        • Even though I spent the last two years of high school in Alabama and did not return to Pennsylvania until I was 40 years old, I have never stopped being a fan of those two sports teams

    • Following a particular player

        • Over the years, I have followed certain players no matter what team they have played for

        • A couple of players have shown such great character and have stood up for their faith in Jesus Christ that I have followed the teams they have played for

          • Kurt Warner is one of those players – I watched the St. Louis Rams play, because Kurt Warner was their quarterback, and when he was traded to the Arizona Cardinals, I watched them play

          • Albert Pujols is another player that I have followed from team-to-team – he played for the St. Louis Cardinals, then the Los Angeles Angels, and is back with the St. Louis Cardinals

        • Had Tim Tebow played longer in the NFL, I would have followed him no matter what team he played for

        • You could say that I am on the Warner, Pujols, Tebow bandwagons

 

  • WE

    • Loyalty

        • All of us are probably loyal to something or someone

        • Some of us are loyal to a certain brand or team

          • John Deere, CAT, Massey-Ferguson, etc. (tractors)

          • Ford, Chevy, Dodge, etc. (trucks)

          • Apple or Android (phones)

          • Mac or PC (computers)

          • Marvel or DC (comics)

          • Star Wars or Star Trek (futuristic space fantasy)

          • Penguins/Pirates/Steelers or Flyers/Phillies/Eagles (PA sports teams)

          • Mary Kay, Estee Lauder, L’Oréal, Maybelline, Revlon, Covergirl, Clinique, etc. (makeup)

          • Gucci, Chanel, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Vera Bradley, etc. (handbags)

        • Most of us remain loyal, but there are times that we may choose to “jump on the bandwagon”

    • Bandwagons

        • Sports

        • Brands

        • Social issues

        • Political

        • Spiritual (teaching or pastor)

 

We will see today that Abimelech, after sending Isaac away, realizes that God is blessing him. ​​ Abimelech, and his two companions, track Isaac down in order to make a treaty with him. ​​ They wanted to be included in what God was doing for Isaac. ​​ They wanted to “jump on the bandwagon” of God’s blessing. ​​ What the author wants us to understand from this section of Scripture is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God’s blessing on us can draw others to Him.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 26:26-35)

    • Request (vv. 26-31)

        • Meanwhile

          • We have to look back at what Pastor Marc shared last week to understand the context

          • Isaac had moved approximately three times and his servants had dug at least three wells and reopened other wells that Abraham had dug

          • Isaac had been in conflict with the people of Gerar during that time (they kept claiming ownership of the wells his servants had dug)

          • After digging the Rehoboth well, he went up from the Valley of Gerar to Beersheba

          • The Lord appeared to him and confirmed the promise he had made to Abraham

          • Three things happened there:

            • Isaac built an altar and worshiped the Lord

            • Isaac pitched his tent and began to live there

            • Isaac’s servants dug a well

          • After all this had taken place, we see Abimelech coming for a visit

        • The visit

          • Abimelech traveled about 20 miles from Gerar to Beersheba to see Isaac

          • He brought two people with him

            • Ahuzzath (akh-ooz-zath’)

              • His name means “possession”

              • He was Abimelech’s “companion, confidential friend”

            • Phicol (pee-kole’/pee-hole’)

              • His name means “strong”

              • He was the chief captain of the army of the Philistines in Gerar

            • So, Abimelech has brought is main civilian officer and his main military officer with him [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, ,Chapters 18-50, 206]

          • Isaac’s question

            • Why have you come to me?

            • Their visit confuses Isaac, because of how he was sent away

              • The NIV translates it as they were hostile to him

              • Most other Bible translations, translate the Hebrew as hate/hated

              • We know that Abimelech sent Isaac away because he had become too powerful for them

              • We also know that every time he moved and dug wells, that the people of Gerar mistreated him by claiming ownership of the wells that his servants had dug

              • Isaac obviously interpreted their actions as hating him or being hostile towards him

              • As we will see with Abimelech’s response, he did not interpret it the same way

            • Abimelech’s response shows that God’s blessing on us can draw others to Him.

          • Abimelech’s response

            • Abimelech and his people wanted to share in the success that Isaac was experiencing through God’s blessing

            • They also wanted to make sure they were not in opposition with Isaac and his God

            • They clearly recognized that the Lord was with Isaac

              • Last week we saw that Isaac planted crops and in the same year those crops produced a hundredfold (that was clearly the hand of God blessing Isaac)

              • We also saw last week that every time Isaac’s servants dug a well, they found water (those statistics are staggering) and on one occasion they found a well of fresh/flowing water

              • God’s promise to bless Isaac was being fulfilled

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is glorified when others recognize His blessing in our lives.

                • Abimelech recognized that the Lord was the One who had blessed Isaac

                  • It was God’s supernatural power at work that caught Abimelech’s attention

                  • It was not anything that Isaac did in his own strength

                • Do our family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors recognize the blessing of God in our lives?

                  • It may or may not be supernatural

                  • Are we sharing with those individuals what God is doing in our lives and how He has provided for us?

                • God’s blessing on us can draw others to Him

                  • I have purposefully used the word “can,” because God’s blessing on us does not always draw others to Him

                  • Some people will not acknowledge or recognize that God is the One who is blessing us, because if they acknowledged that, they would have to acknowledge that He exists and they are unwilling to do that

                  • Abimelech was drawn to Isaac because of God’s blessing on him

                  • We are not told that Abimelech believed in God and began to follow Him

                  • I am reminded of Luke’s narrative about Simon the Sorcerer, who was drawn to Philip, Peter, and John because of the God’s blessing on them that was manifested through great signs and miracles and the receiving of the Holy Spirit

                  • Read Acts 8:9-24

                  • Hopefully, Simon’s response was a genuine act of repentance and he became a true disciple of Jesus Christ with a heart that was right before God

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Share with my family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors how God has blessed me.

              • Because God had blessed Isaac and he had become very powerful, Abimelech and his people wanted to be sure they were on his side – they wanted to be included in Isaac’s success

            • They were asking for a peace treaty between Isaac’s people and Abimelech’s people

              • Even though Abimelech was the king of the Philistines in Gerar, he was humbly coming to Isaac to ask for a peace treaty

              • “He [Abimelech] is presenting his case from a position not of strength but of vulnerability.” ​​ [Hamilton, 207]

                • Abimelech was seeking a sworn agreement a treaty that would protect them from any harm

                • Abimelech reminds Isaac that he had given orders to his people not to molest Isaac or Rebekah

                • He also tells Isaac that they always treated him well and sent him away in peace

                • Notice that Abimelech did not interpret what happened between his herdsman and Isaac’s herdsman as being hostile or hateful

                • Pastor Marc mentioned last week, that it appears as though Isaac moved away from the disputed wells, without a fight, until he dug a well and no one tried to claim ownership of it

                • Perhaps Abimelech took Isaac’s actions as leaving in peace, even though there were disputes over the wells

                • It is amazing how two people can look at the same situation and interpret it differently

                  • This just goes to show us how important open communication is

                  • Without communicating clearly, we always run the risk of misinterpreting the intentions or actions of others

                  • The Lord used this passage this week to remind me that there was a situation that I probably misinterpreted, because of the lack of clear communication

                  • The other party probably misinterpreted my actions also, but we never came together and talked it out

                  • The Holy Spirit prompted me about this situation quite a few months ago while walking the dog in the orchard, and as a result I sent cards in the mail apologizing for my failure in the situation

                  • Perhaps the Holy Spirit is prompting you about a situation where you have misinterpreted the intentions, actions, or communication from another person

                  • As I think about our theme this year of loving one another, maybe you need to contact that person and open up the lines of communication, so that any misunderstanding can be resolved

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Be obedient to the Holy Spirit’s prompting about resolving a situation I have misinterpreted.

          • Abimelech has asked for a sworn agreement, a peace treaty with Isaac, but how will Isaac respond?

        • Sealing the deal

          • Isaac prepared a feast for them

          • “Typical of ancient treaties, a shared meal by the two participants, even between superior and inferior parties, confirmed a pact (v. 30; cp. 31:46, 54; Exod 24:11; Deut 26:17). ​​ Isaac provided the covenant meal as the host, exhibiting his good will (e.g., 18:5; 19:3; 24:31, 54) and also perhaps his superiority (cp. 2 Sam 3:20).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 414]

          • The next morning they swear an oath to each other

            • The peace treaty is done!

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is able to make our enemies live at peace with us, when our ways are pleasing to Him.

              • Proverbs 16:7, When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

              • Isaac was experiencing the blessing of the Lord, because his ways were pleasing to the Lord

              • When the Lord confirmed that the Abrahamic covenant was extended to Isaac (Gen. 26:3-6) if he obeyed the Lord, Isaac did just that

              • While it is not stated directly, my guess is that Isaac kept the Lord’s requirements, His commands, decrees, and laws, just like his father, Abraham, had done

              • He was living a life pleasing to the Lord, which resulted in Abimelech and he living in peace with each other

              • Application

                • Are you currently in conflict with someone?

                • Do you want to live at peace with that person?

                • Have you done some soul searching to make sure you are living a life pleasing to the Lord?

                • Is there an area that you need to sacrifice before the Lord?

                • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Examine my life to make sure it is pleasing to the Lord, so I can live at peace with my enemies.

                • When we live a life that pleasing to the Lord we will experience His blessing in our lives, which can draw others to Him.

            • Isaac peacefully sends them on their way

              • Isaac treats them the opposite of how he was treated

              • “Abimelech ‘drove’ Isaac from Gerar; Isaac, ‘sends’ Abimelech back to Gerar in peace.” ​​ [Hamilton, 208]

        • Something extraordinary happens the same day that the oath is sworn

    • Reward (vv. 32-33)

        • We saw in Genesis 26:25 that Isaac had built an altar, pitched his tent, and his servants dug a well

        • Their labor was not in vain, because they found water

        • God had blessed Isaac once again

        • Isaac named the well Shibah (shib-aw’/shiv-ah’)

          • The name of the well means “an oath”

          • Isaac was obviously connecting the peace treaty with Abimelech and the finding of water by naming the well Shibah

          • “The passage implies that the new well was not a coincidence but a signal of the Lord’s blessing. ​​ The man could now rest comfortably in the land, knowing that his neighbors had been pacified and that provisions abounded.” ​​ [Mathews, 414]

        • Beersheba (be-ayr’ sheh’-bah/beh-air’ sheh-vah)

          • We were told in Genesis 26:23 that Isaac had gone up to Beersheba

          • The name of the town closest to the well of Shibah was Beersheba

        • Verse 33 concludes the narrative about Isaac and Abimelech, but the next two verses are a transition from this narrative to the narrative about Jacob getting Isaac’s blessing

    • Reject (vv. 34-35)

        • Esau’s heart

          • When Esau was 40 years old he married two Hittite women

            • Judith (yeh-ho-deeth’/yeah-who-deeth’) [“Jewess”/”praised”], daughter of Beeri (be-ay-ree’/bay-a-ree’) [“my well”]

            • Basemath (bos-math’) [“spice”], daughter of Elon (ay-lone’) [”terebinth or mighty”]

          • We see that Esau’s heart was with the world instead of with God [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 175]

          • Esau had not jumped on the bandwagon of God’s blessing through his grandfather and father

          • He was his own man, determined to make his own way

          • “Sarna has suggested that the placement of these two verses here reinforces the unworthiness of Esau to be his father’s heir. ​​ Esau’s errors are threefold. ​​ He has contracted the marriage himself, thus bypassing his parents; he married exogamously (marrying outside the tribe, family, clan, or other social unit) rather than endogamously (marrying within a specific group as required by custom or law); he has gone against the honor of his clan group by intermarrying with the native women.” ​​ [Hamilton, 210]

          • Esau was rejecting everything he had been taught growing up

          • Others were not drawn to the Lord through Esau’s life, because he was not living a life pleasing to the Lord – he was not receiving the Lord’s blessing

        • Isaac and Rebekah’s heartache

          • It is presumed that the source of grief that Isaac and Rebekah were experiencing was related to the fact that the two women were Hittites and part of the Canaanite people [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Genesis, 435]

          • These women were from a pagan culture, which means that they were probably not following the Lord, but were wrapped up in idol worship

          • Abraham made his chief servant swear an oath not to get a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites, but from his own people (Gen. 24:2-5)

          • Deuteronomy 7:1-4, When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations – the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you – and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. ​​ Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy. ​​ Do not intermarry with them. ​​ Do not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord’s anger will burn against you and will quickly destroy you.

        • All of this prepares us for the narrative found in Genesis 27 and the beginning of 28

 

  • YOU

    • Do others recognize God’s blessing in your life?

    • Is the Holy Spirit prompting you to resolve a situation that you may have misinterpreted?

    • Is your life pleasing to the Lord?

 

  • WE

    • We need to make sure that we are recognizing God’s blessing in the life of our church

    • Perhaps we have misinterpreted a situation at church and need to open up a conversation with leadership

    • Is the corporate life at Idaville Church pleasing to the Lord?

 

CONCLUSION

I want to encourage us today to “jump on the bandwagon” of God’s blessing by living a life that is pleasing to Him.

10

 

Where there is a Well there is a Way

In Africa and other developing countries, water is a daily and crippling challenge. Without water you can't grow food, you can't build housing, you can't stay healthy, you can't stay in school and you can't keep working. Children, especially girls under the age of fifteen, often bear the burden of walking miles each day to find water in streams and ponds which is full of disease that makes them and their families sick. Wells bring clean, safe water closer to where people are living cutting down on illnesses and the time used to fetch water which can better be spent on other things.

There are five things that digging wells can help in these countries. The first is education. Education is critical for breaking the cycle of poverty and yet over half of the world's schools lack access to safe water and sanitation facilities. Lack of clean water has serious effects on students' academic performance and attendance rates. Second is hunger. Relieving hunger begins with access to clean water. It may seem simple, but we forget that without access to a reliable source of water, food is hard to grow and even more difficult to preserve and prepare. Globally we use 70% of our water sources for agriculture and irrigation, and only 10% on domestic uses. Third is healthy living. In developing countries, about 80% of illnesses are linked to poor water and sanitation conditions. 1 out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease. Fourth is poverty. The lack of water is an often insurmountable obstacle to helping oneself. Without clean water, the possibility of breaking out of the cycle of poverty is incredibly slim.

Lastly, water has long been at the center of conflict in these countries. You can travel tens or even hundreds of kilometers without seeing a single water facility and even then it is not of good quality. Finding water is becoming increasingly urgent to ease the strain on local community tensions. Water is the source of many conflicts within nations and between them. The causes of this conflict are complex, but one thing is certain: water shortages raise tensions, and in turn tensions make access to water more difficult. The digging of wells can reduce these tensions.

Today’s sermon is titled, “Where there is a well there is a way” because wells can be a way to better education, relieving hunger, healthy living, less poverty and less conflict in developing countries today. Wells are one way to help the physical and emotional needs of the world. This was also true in the time of the Patriarchs. Without water people could not have survived in the desert for very long. The lack of water took a physical and emotional toll on all living things. In our scripture this morning, wells will also take on a spiritual quality. Because of Isaac’s obedience to the Lord he was blessed with water wherever he went. “Where there is a well there is a way” meant that God was taking care of Isaac’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Physically, he had water for his family, for his flocks and herd and his crops. Emotionally, he didn’t need to worry about him or his family dying of thirst or losing his flocks and herds to a lack of water. And spiritually, he could trust God to provide for his daily needs knowing that the same blessing that the Lord had promised to his father Abraham was now extended to him.

We will see that God’s blessing is upon Isaac as he becomes very wealthy as a farmer and a shepherd. But Isaac’s life was not without trouble. Some of his troubles were brought on by himself and other troubles were brought on by others as they saw the blessings of God in his life. We will see conflict involving water this morning as we study this passage and we will notice that even though Isaac is abundantly blessed by God his life is not trouble-free which brings us to the big idea that Being blessed by God doesn’t mean a trouble-free life.

Before we begin the study of our scripture this morning let’s pray: ​​ Heavenly Father, we thank you that your Holy Spirit is among us this morning. I pray that your Spirit would move in this place and among those who are listening online. I pray that our hearts and minds would be open to what you want to say to us individually and corporately as Christ followers. Illumine us, teach us and grow us to spiritual maturity through your Word and your son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. In his name, Amen.

There are three points this morning. The first is Abundance and is found in Genesis 26:12-14. This is what God’s Word says, “Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.”

The first thing we notice is that Isaac has become a farmer. We don’t know how long he has been in Gerar but it has been long enough to plant crops and reap its harvest. What is significant is that the first time Isaac plants his crops in the area and in the very same year he reaps a hundred-fold. He reaped this abundant harvest even in the midst of a famine in the land because the Lord blessed him. This fulfilled the promise made by God back in verse 3 that if Isaac stayed in the land of Gerar, God would be with him and would bless him. He chose obedience to God over the attractions of Egypt. There must have been a good source of water nearby for his harvest to have been so great. He was probably using the wells that his father Abraham had dug when he was in the same area back in Genesis 20 and 21. In Genesis 21:25, we see Abraham complaining to Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants had seized from him.

Next we are told that Isaac became rich and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. A literal reading shows the repetition of the word “great.” ​​ “And the man became great, and he continually became greater until he became very great.” It is the picture of a person growing wealthier and more powerful because God has abundantly blessed him. But Isaac’s life wasn’t trouble-free. Last week, we saw that his troubles came because of his own actions. He lied about Rebekah being his wife and that caused tensions between him and his neighbors. We are not told that they were upset with Isaac and Rebekah but we notice in verse 11 that Abimelech had to order the Philistine people to not molest them or they would be put to death. They must have wanted to harm Isaac and Rebekah for their deception. Second, his troubles came because of the blessings of God in his life. Because of his abundant wealth, his neighbors, were envious of him. They had access to the same soil, sunshine and rain as Isaac but his hundred-fold harvest was greater than theirs and his flocks and herds were more abundant. He had also accumulated many servants during his time in Gerar. Isaac’s neighbors did not appreciate how successful and powerful he had become and they despised him and his success.

This brings us to our second point this morning which is Animosity found in verses 15-22. This is what God’s Word says, “So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth. Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.” So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them. Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

The Philistines are envious of Isaac and they showed their displeasure by stopping up all the wells that his father’s servants had dug. These were the same wells that Isaac had been using. He relied on these wells to water his crops, his flocks and herds and to keep his family alive. Water was essential to his survival in the region. Think about how much the Philistines must have hated Isaac. By stopping up the wells they wouldn’t have access the water either. It seems they just wanted to hurt Isaac and run him off their land. Then his troubles get worse as Abimelech orders Isaac to move away from them. Abimelech orders him to move away which suggests he has the upper hand but states that Isaac “is too powerful for us” making his words more of a request than an ultimatum. Nonetheless, Abimelech’s involvement makes the banishment more official. The fact that the Philistines and Abimelech are so focused on getting rid of Isaac shows how much the wells and the water were a blessing from God. The Philistines were probably not finding water in their own land like Isaac was. Isaac was blessed by God but that didn’t keep the troubles away from his doorstep reminding us of our big idea that Being blessed by God doesn’t mean a trouble-free life.

We notice that Isaac moves away instead of fighting for his right to use the wells or taking offense at the Philistines or Abimelech. He simply obeyed their demands. He had every right to those wells because they were his father’s and the water should have been his. He had done nothing wrong and was just trying to take care of his family. But he walked away when confronted and didn’t take offense at being wronged. God is pleased when his people live in peace and harmony with the world. We see this in Romans 12:16a & 18 which says, “Live in harmony with one another. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” And in Proverbs 19:11 it says, “A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” To overlook an offense is to take no notice of wrongs done against oneself, to refuse to retaliate or seek revenge, to let affronts go, or in a word forgive. This is what Isaac does here and will also do again later in our passage this morning. That brings us to our first next step on the back of your communication card which is to strive to live in peace and harmony with everyone and to forgive and not take offense when wronged. That is important as we live our lives among believers and unbelievers.

We are told that that Isaac moves and encamps in the Valley of Gerar settling there. It is possible that Isaac had been living in the city proper because in verse 8 Abimelech was able to look out a window (probably from his palace) and see Isaac and Rebekah caressing. ​​ If this is true he may not have moved too far. It may have been like moving from Carlisle or Gettysburg to Idaville; moving from a town or city to its suburbs. He probably stayed close by so he could continue to use the wells his father had dug when he was living in the area. These wells had been stopped up by the Philistines after Abraham had died. The Philistines didn’t seem to care about the previous treaty made between Abraham and Abimelech in Genesis 21. The Philistines just wanted to control and claim all the resources of the land for their own, even if they didn’t intend to use them. We are told that Isaac reopens his father’s wells and gave them the same names that his father had given them. It is significant that Isaac knew the names of his father’s wells and where to find them. He was making the statement that he now owned them as Abraham’s son.

We continue to see more evidence of God’s blessing on Isaac as his servants dug a new well in the valley and discovered fresh water. Some translations say “springing water” or “living water.” They not only found water but water from an underground spring instead of stagnant water from a cistern. It would have been fresh water that would always be fresh because it came from a spring. But we see that trouble was not very far away. The herdsmen of Gerar, seemingly having followed Isaac, quarrel with his herdsman claiming that the water from the new well was theirs. So Isaac named the well Esek which means “quarrel” or “disputed.” Then Isaac again walks away from conflict and dug another well but the herdsman quarreled over that one too. This well he named Sitnah which means “to accuse” or “to oppose” relating to the word “satan” meaning “opposition.” It has the connotation of a formal complaint. It seems that the herdsmen of Gerar filed a legal, formal complaint against Isaac to seize this well as their own.

We notice a couple of things: One, God continues to bless Isaac because every well he dug he found water. We see this in that the herdsmen of Gerar continue to harass him as he digs new wells and finds water. If these wells didn’t produce water there would be no reason harass him. He would have just continued to move farther away from their land until he did. Two, Isaac again and again takes the high road. He doesn’t start a confrontation; he doesn’t take offense. He moves on trusting in God to provide the water needed for his family, flocks and herds. God continues to bless Isaac as he tries to faithfully live in peace and harmony with his neighbors.

After the formal complaint is filed against Isaac, he again moves on and digs another well. No one comes to quarrel over this well meaning that he must have moved far enough away from the land of the Philistines that they did not need to harass him anymore. Isaac names this well “Rehoboth” which means “room”, “open spaces” or “enlargement. This name praised the Lord for ending the conflict and giving Isaac and his family “room” to flourish and be fruitful in the land. It is the same root word used in Genesis 13:17 which describes the breadth of land that God showed to Abraham. God told Abraham to look to the north, south, east and west and promised him that all the land as far as he could see would belong to his descendants. Isaac and his descendants would possess all this land and would flourish and be fruitful there. Isaac’s life was not trouble-free but God continued to abundantly bless him over and over again even in the midst of trouble. (Big Idea)

This brings us to our third point this morning which is Assurance found in verses 23-25. This is what God’s Word says, “From there he went up to Beersheba. That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.

Isaac moves from the area of where he dug the well, Rehoboth, to Beersheba. Beersheba was the same place where Abraham and Abimelech had made a treaty earlier in Genesis 21:31. The words “that night” show how significant it was that Isaac returned to his father’s homestead. The Lord appeared to Isaac the same night he returned to Beersheba and assured him that he was same God that was the “God of his father Abraham.” This is the first occurrence of this title for God that will continue throughout the rest of Genesis. The title reflects God’s personal commitment to Abraham in fulfilling his promises to him and involving him in the fulfillment of the promise to bless his offspring and in turn to bless the nations. He renews this personal commitment here to Isaac as he will later on with Jacob. God enters into a personal relationship not just with Abraham but also with his descendants. The Lord also told Isaac he did not need to be afraid because he is with him. Everywhere he dug a well he had found water because the Lord was with him. God was assuring Isaac of his protection and provision physically, emotionally and spiritually.

God also reiterated and reaffirmed the covenant blessing that Isaac would have numerous descendants. This covenant that Isaac was now a part of was for the sake of God’s servant Abraham and affirmed that Isaac was the true recipient of the Abrahamic blessings. But it was not for anything Abraham or Isaac did but because of the grace of God. The honored title, “my servant”, will also be used of the great leaders of Israel: Moses, Caleb and Joshua. God appearing to Isaac after the troubles in Gerar would have been an encouragement to him like it had been for Abraham. God also speaks to us and encourages us today.

Then Isaac did three things. The first reminds us of what Abraham did in the past: He built an altar and called on the name of the Lord. He was following in his father’s footsteps expressing his faith in the Lord. The altars built by the patriarchs were a grateful response to God coming and speaking to his servants. Baldwin says, “Worship seemed to be the first thought. They heard and received God’s word and gave themselves in adoration and worship pledging their obedience.” Then Isaac pitched his tent and his servants dug a well. These actions show Isaac’s commitment to worshipping the one true God as his father did and to making his residence in the land of promise in obedience to God. In the midst of troubles Isaac was still blessed by God. God proved faithful in producing water every time he dug a well providing for the fundamental needs of Isaac and his family. And in gratitude Isaac worshipped God thanking him for his protection, provision and blessing on his life. This brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card which is to worship God with thanksgiving for his protection, provision and blessing on my life. This worship is not supposed to be a one-time thing. We should continually worship the Lord for his protection, provision and blessing on our lives.

My conclusion is adapted from Weirsbe’s commentary. In the Bible, wells sometimes symbolize blessings from the hand of the Lord. When we become followers of Christ some of the spiritual wells or blessings that we receive are the Word of God, prayer, worship, faith, the power of the Holy Spirit, sacrifice and service. In our individual lives or even in the church we sometimes allow these wells to be stopped up by the enemy. The Bible is full of warnings against this. 2 Timothy 4:3 warns us that there will be a time when people will not endure the sound teaching from God’s Word but will look for teachers to say what they want to hear. 1 Samuel 12:23 warns that when we don’t pray we are sinning against the Lord. Malachi 1:6-14 warns us about not offering our best in worship to God. Hebrews 11:6 warns us that without faith it is impossible to please God. Luke 14:26 warns us that we must be willing to sacrifice everything even father and mother or our own lives for the sake of Christ. Matthew 12:31 warns us about disregarding the power of the Holy Spirit. Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is the unpardonable sin. Matthew 25 warns us about not serving the least of these. The goats are the ones who did not serve the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick or the prisoner and they will go to eternal punishment.

We’ve just had the Revival on the Farm and we continually pray for revival for Idaville Church and for the church universal. Weirsbe says, “Whenever there has been revival of spiritual power in the history of the church it’s been because somebody has dug again the old wells so that God’s life-giving Spirit can be free to work.” We must evaluate our individual hearts and the corporate hearts of our church to see if any of these spiritual wells have been stopped up by the enemy. And if they have we must begin to dig and reopen those wells. That brings us to the last next step on the back of your communication card which is to evaluate the spiritual wells in my life and the life of Idaville Church and reopen the ones that the enemy has stopped up.

As the Worship Team comes to lead us in a final song, let’s pray: Most Holy God, enable us through the power of your Holy Spirit to reopen those spiritual wells in our lives and in our church that Satan, the enemy has stopped up. Help us to worship and thank you for the blessings you have given us. And help us to live in peace and harmony with our neighbors and to not take offense against those who wrong us. For your honor and your glory. Amen.

 

Origins

Overcoming Temptation

(Genesis 26:1-11)

 

INTRODUCTION

“How does temptation come? ​​ Sometimes with lots of warning and time to think, and we may succumb or resist after much deliberation. ​​ At other times, temptation presents itself in the span of a few moments, and we react, making a quick decision to follow or flee from wrong desires.

 

Sudden temptation was what one man experienced when he walked into a suburban Chicago Walgreens in June of 2011. ​​ According to the Chicago Tribune, a security video shows that he walked up to an ATM in the store, set his drink on the floor, and did his banking. ​​ He then leaned over and picked up his drink, and did a double-take at what he saw on the floor. ​​ There was a bag with a Chase bank logo on it filled with cash and checks. According to the Tribune, the security video shows that ‘he pauses for a moment, his eyes riveted to the floor. ​​ Then he takes long look around, picks something up and slips out the door.’

 

The man got in his car with the money and drove away. ​​ The bag contained over $17,000. ​​ By the time he had driven to his home suburb some 45 minutes away, he had time to weigh his decision further, and realizing he had probably been captured on video he decided to turn in the money to the bank, according to the Tribune. ​​ Unfortunately, he also decided to lie about where he found the money. ​​ He walked into a Chase bank in Rolling Meadows and said that he had found the money in a Rolling Meadows mall.

 

The story hit the newspapers. ​​ Writer Burt Constable says that the man was featured in newspapers around the world, gave interviews to radio and TV stations, was hailed as a hero on websites, received a gift basket and small gifts from strangers, was the object of romantic inquiries, was repeatedly asked about a reward, and even drew high praise from a nun for being so honest.

 

The Rolling Meadows police weren’t so sure. ​​ It didn’t take long to learn where the money had actually come from, and the FBI was brought in to aid in the investigation. ​​ A few weeks later, the police confronted the man with the truth, and he confessed to what had happened. ​​ He was fined $500 for filing a false police report. ​​ Far worse, no doubt, was the embarrassment he suffered as the real story also hit the newspapers.

 

After the truth came out, he admitted in an interview, ‘I did have that thought in my mind (upon finding the money): ​​ Yes, I could do a lot with that. ​​ I considered that to be the human reaction to seeing a large sum of money in front of me.’”

 

Source: ​​ “Video Doesn’t Lie,” Chicago Tribune (7-1-11); Burt Constable, “Arlington Hts. man hailed for honesty charge with lying to cops,” Daily Herald (6-30-11).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2011/august/5080111.html].

BODY

  • ME

    • Testing of our faith

        • Seth was 2 years old when we found a bump on his belly

        • We didn’t know what it was, but it continued to grow over the next year

        • We finally got a second opinion from a surgeon, who recommended that it be removed

        • At 3 years old he had surgery to remove the bump

        • We did not know if the bump was cancer or not

        • It turned out to be a mass of tissue that was probably his twin

        • We had to trust in the Lord during that time

        • We were tempted to give in to fear instead of trusting the Lord

 

  • WE

    • All of us have probably had our faith tested

    • All of us have experienced temptation in our lives

 

The narrator focuses on Isaac in Genesis 26. ​​ In the first eleven verses, we see that Isaac is tempted in two ways – to run and to lie. ​​ How will he react to the temptations that come his way? ​​ Will he continue in the faith his father had? ​​ Will he be obedient to the commands, decrees, and laws that the Lord had given to his father? ​​ From this section of Scripture, we will learn that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – “True faith is always tested.” ​​ [Wiersbe]

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 26:1-11)

    • Temptation to run (vv. 1-6)

        • Setting (v. 1)

          • The narrator tells us that Isaac experienced a famine in Canaan during his lifetime

          • It was not the same famine that Abraham experienced (Gen. 12:10-20)

          • Isaac goes to Abimelech, king of the Philistines in Gerar

            • Abimelech

              • This is the not the same Abimelech that Abraham encountered in Genesis 20

              • Because of the lapse in time, this Abimelech would have been the son or grandson of that Abimelech

              • The name Abimelech was perhaps a dynasty/throne name – similar to Pharaoh in Egypt

            • Gerar

              • The last time we are given a location of Isaac and Rebekah it is in Genesis 25:11 – he is living in Beer Lahai Roi

              • Quite a bit of time has passed since that reference and Isaac and Rebekah would have been nomadic – traveling around

              • From wherever Isaac and Rebekah were living when the famine hit, they traveled to Gerar to see Abimelech

              • If they were living in Beer Lahai Roi when the famine hit, perhaps they thought that heading 75 miles northeast would make a difference

              • They may have found that the famine was also affecting Gerar

          • We do know from this next section that Isaac was thinking about going down to Egypt to escape the famine, but God had other plans for him

        • Command (v. 2)

          • The Lord realized the intentions of Isaac’s heart, so He intervened, by appearing to Isaac and giving him a command

          • The Lord does not want Isaac to go to Egypt – He wants him to remain in the Promised Land, even in the middle of a famine

          • “The safest place in the world is in the will of God, for the will of God will never lead us where His grace can’t provide for us.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 117]

            • We will see this fulfilled later in Genesis 26

            • God blesses and provides for Isaac when he was obedient to the Lord’s command

            • Have you experienced that in your own life?

              • We may not always understand the will of God for our lives

                • We may be tempted to run when we lose our job or the company we work for folds

                • We may be tempted to move our retirement to other investments when the stock market drops

                • We may be tempted to run when the political climate is not to our liking

                • We may be tempted to run when things at church get difficult

              • The Lord tells us to hold on, to stay where He is telling us to stay – within His will

              • He promises that His grace is sufficient for us, His strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:8-10)

                • The Apostle Paul understood this when he asked the Lord three times to remove the “thorn in his flesh”

                • The Lord’s grace was sufficient for him

                • The Lord provided for Paul through the difficulty that was experiencing

              • He will do the same for you

                • True faith is always tested

                • Will you give in to the temptation to run when things get difficult, or will you trust in the grace of the Lord to provide for you in the middle of the difficulty you are experiencing

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in the Lord’s all sufficient grace and remain in His will, instead of giving in to the temptation to run.

          • With the command to remain in the Promised Land, the Lord also gives Isaac a promise

        • Promise (vv. 3-5)

          • Presence

            • This is the first time in the narratives about the patriarchs where God says, ​​ I will be with you [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 193]

            • What an incredible promise for Isaac

            • We are given the same promise that God will never leave us or forsake us, so we can say with confidence that the Lord is our helper (Hebrews 13:5-6)

            • He will help us through our times of temptation

            • 1 Corinthians 10:11-13, These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. ​​ So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! ​​ No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. ​​ And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. ​​ But when ​​ you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

          • Blessing

            • Isaac would experience the blessing of God immediately

            • We see this in Genesis 26:12-15

              • Isaac’s crops produced a hundredfold

              • He became very rich and wealthy

              • He had many flocks and herds

              • He had many servants

              • The Philistine’s became jealous of him

            • The Lord not only promised His blessing, but also land

          • Promised Land

            • The Lord again promised that Isaac and his descendants would inherit all of the lands

            • This promise would be fulfilled in the future

            • The Lord also promised to confirm and fulfill the Abrahamic oath through Isaac

          • Confirmation of Abrahamic oath

            • Innumerable descendants – stars in the sky

            • Promised Land – all these lands

            • All nations on earth will be blessed

              • This will happen through Isaac’s descendants

              • It is a continual, ongoing promise that the Lord fulfills, generation after generation

              • “Regarding the doctrine of election, Christopher Wright notes that election isn’t just for our individual benefit and salvation. ​​ According to the biblical story, election means that ‘the elect’ become agents of blessings to others.

                Wright uses the following story:

                It is as if a group of trapped cave explorers choose one of their number to squeeze through a narrow flooded passage to get out to the surface and call for help. ​​ The point of the choice is not so that she alone gets saved, but that she is able to bring help and equipment to ensure the rest get rescued. ​​ ‘Election’ in such a case is an instrumental choice of one for the sake of many.”

                Source: ​​ Christopher J. H. Wright, The Mission of God’s People (Zondervan, 2010), p. 72.

                [https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2012/september/1092412.html]

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – Others will be blessed by our godly lives.

                • When we live a godly life, others will see Jesus in us

                  • They will see that following Jesus means something different that following the patterns of this world

                  • It shows them that we live by Biblical standards

                  • It shows them that we are shaped by the Word of God

                  • It shows them that we are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit living within us

                  • Our actions, speech, behavior, and attitudes are governed by the Lord

                  • Jesus is our Lord and Master, so we follow His example

                • Are others blessed by how we live our lives?

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Live a godly life, so that others will be blessed.

              • The same is true within the body of Christ – the church

                • Our sole purpose in attending church is not to be served, but to serve others

                • That is the attitude with which we should be coming

                • That would transform our volunteerism

                • It would create an environment where people will leave our services feeling blessed, encouraged, welcomed, loved, and so much more

                • What is your purpose in attending church?

                • Are there any changes that you need to make?

            • The oath continued to Isaac, because of Abraham’s obedience

          • Abraham’s obedience

            • The Lord had tested Abraham’s faith through three avenues

              • Commands

                • The most general of the three

                • “It concerns demand that incur obligation.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 552]

                • Two examples [Walton, 553]

                  • Lot being told to flee Sodom

                  • Abraham being told to sacrifice Isaac

              • Decrees/Regulations

                • “…usually concerns regulations.” ​​ [Walton, 552]

                • An example would be the ordinance of circumcision

              • Laws/Instructions

                • “…used for the entire Mosaic legislation and for the Pentateuch, Torah.” ​​ [Walton, 552]

                • Example – circumcision should be done on the eighth day

            • True faith is always tested and we see that Abraham had passed the test

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – Obedience to God’s commands, decrees, and laws brings God’s blessing.

              • Isaac would experience God’s blessing when he was obedient to the God’s commands, decrees, and laws

              • The same is true for us today

                • We may not understand why God is not answering our prayers

                • We may not understand why God is not allowing the church to grow

                • We may not understand why God is not blessing our business, our relationships, our schooling, our children, our investments, our finances, etc.

                • We may not understand why God is not doing the miraculous or supernatural in our nation or church

                • It all comes down to whether or not we are being obedient to His commands, decrees, and laws

                • We want God’s blessing without having to follow His requirements

                • We sometimes feel like they are too restrictive

                • We soften our standards and beliefs to be more accepting

                • We do not exhibit the same faith that the 1st Century believers did and then we wonder why we do not experience the miraculous and supernatural

                • We will experience God’s blessing when we are obedient to His requirements

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Commit to obeying God’s commands, decrees, and laws, so I can experience His blessing.

          • Isaac experienced the blessing of the Lord, because he was obedient

        • Obedience (v. 6)

          • Isaac stayed in Gerar

          • He did not travel down to Egypt, but obeyed the Lord’s command

        • Isaac overcame the temptation to run, by being obedient to the Lord’s command

        • His faith was tested and found to be true

        • Isaac was human, so he did not always overcome temptation

    • Temptation to lie (vv. 7-11)

        • True faith is always tested, as Isaac experienced when tempted to lie, out of fear, instead of trusting the Lord by faith

        • The lie

          • The men of Gerar asked Isaac about his wife Rebekah

          • He told them that she was his sister, because he was afraid that he would be killed since Rebekah was beautiful

          • This lie seemed legitimate to the men of Gerar

            • We can assume that this narrative either took place prior to Jacob and Esau’s birth or after they were grown and out on their own

            • If the boys had been with them, the lie would not have worked

            • It would have been evident that Isaac and Rebekah were husband and wife

          • This lie worked for a long time

        • The truth

          • The truth was not revealed until a long time had passed

            • The reason the lie worked for a long time is because Rebekah was not taken into the kings harem like Sarah had been on both occasions

              • Pharaoh and his family all experienced serious diseases

              • God warned Abimelech in a dream

            • There was not any divine revelation when it came to Rebekah

            • “That Isaac was at Gerar a long time demonstrates that the danger to Rebekah was more imagined than real.” ​​ [Hamilton, 195]

          • Abimelech looked out his window one day and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah

            • Play on words

              • Isaac’s name means “he laughs”

              • The Hebrew word for “caressing” can mean “to laugh, mock, play”

              • “Here the problem is that Isaac is Isaac-ing with Rebekah: ​​ the euphemism implies that they are having fun or amusing themselves in a way that suggests that they are more lovers than siblings.” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 422-23]

              • We are not given the exact details of what physical contact took place between Isaac and Rebekah, but Abimelech knew they were more than brother and sister

              • So, Abimelech summons Isaac to confront him

            • Confrontation

              • Abimelech makes a statement and then asks a question

              • She is really your wife!

                • I am certain that Abimelech shared with Isaac what he saw

                • Otherwise, Isaac could have denied Abimelech’s claim

              • Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?

                • Isaac expresses his fear to Abimelech

                • He tells Abimelech the truth

          • Abimelech explains the risk that Isaac took in giving in to the temptation to lie

        • The risk

          • One of the men of Gerar could have slept with Rebekah and brought guilt upon the Philistines

          • Adultery seemed to be have been a very heinous offense in the Philistine culture

          • “Isaac has missed the fact that in attempting to spare his own life he was risking the lives of everybody else.” ​​ [Hamilton, 196-97]

          • When Isaac comes clean we see the outcome, which was not what he expected

        • The outcome

          • Abimelech gave orders to all the people

          • If anyone molests/touches Isaac or Rebekah they will pay with their lives

            • To touch Isaac meant to physically hurt him

            • To touch Rebekah meant to sexually abuse her

          • Abimelech provides protection for Isaac and Rebekah

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is pleased when we tell the truth.

          • Isaac should have been concerned with pleasing the Lord instead of protecting his own life

          • He should have been truthful with Abimelech and trusted the Lord by faith

            • “Truth is the foundation of all knowledge and the cement of all societies.” ​​ [English poet John Dryden cited by Wiersbe, 118]

            • “Truth is always strong, no matter how weak it looks; and falsehood is always weak, no matter how strong it looks.” ​​ [Phillips Brooks cited by Wiersbe, 118]

          • Application

            • Past

              • Was there a time in the past when you gave in to the temptation to lie, because of fear?

              • When the truth finally became known, were your fears realized or were they found to be exaggerated?

              • Did the lie created drama that would not have been there had you told the truth?

            • Present

              • Are you currently being tempted to lie about a particular situation?

              • Is fear of self-preservation the driving force behind the temptation to lie?

              • What does the Bible say about lying

                • Psalm 101:7, No one who practices deceit will dwell in my house; no one who speaks falsely will stand in my presence.

                • Proverbs 6:16-19, There are six things the Lord hates, seven that are detestable to him: ​​ haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.

                • Proverbs 12:22, The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

                • Proverbs 14:5, A truthful witness does not deceive, but a false witness pours our lies.

                • Colossians 3:9-10, Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.

                • Ephesians 4:25, Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

              • You and I should be concerned about pleasing the Lord instead of protecting our own lives and reputations

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust the Lord by faith and tell the truth, so that He will be pleased and glorified.

 

  • YOU

    • Do you need to trust in the Lord’s grace and remain in His will instead of giving in to the temptation to run?

    • Are you living a godly life, so that others will be blessed?

    • Are you ready to obey God’s command, decrees, and laws, so you can experience His blessing?

    • Do you need to trust the Lord by faith and tell the truth?

 

  • WE

    • As a body of believers, there are times when we need to overcome the temptation to run and trust in the Lord’s grace to remain in His will

    • Obeying God’s commands, decrees, and laws will show others that we are living a godly life – through that we will experience blessing for ourselves and for those in our community

    • We must always tell the truth as a body of believers

 

CONCLUSION

“Recently my wife and I went fly-fishing for the first time. ​​ Our guides told us that ‘to catch a fish you have to think like a fish.’ ​​ They said that to a fish life is about the maximum gratification of appetite at the minimum expenditure of energy. ​​ To a fish, life is ‘see a fly, want a fly, eat a fly.’ ​​ A rainbow trout never really reflects on where his life is headed. ​​ A girl carp rarely says to a boy carp, I don’t feel you’re a s committed to our relationship as I am. ​​ I wonder, do you love me for me or just for my body? ​​ The fish are just a collection of appetites. ​​ A fish is a stomach, a mouth, and a pair of eyes.

 

While we were on the water, I was struck by how dumb the fish are. ​​ Hey, swallow this. ​​ It’s not the real thing; it’s just a lure. ​​ You’ll think it will feed you, but it won’t. ​​ It’ll trap you. ​​ If you were to look closely, fish, you would see the hook. ​​ You’d know once you were hooked that it’s just a matter of time before the enemy reels you in.

 

You’d think fish would wise up and notice the hook or see the line. ​​ You’d think fish would look around at all their fish friends who go for a lure and fly off into space and never return. ​​ But they don’t. ​​ It is ironic. ​​ We say fish swim together in a school, but they never learn.

 

Aren’t you glad we’re smarter?”

 

Source: ​​ John Ortberg, The Me I Want to Be, (Zondervan, 2010), pp. 137-38.

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2012/january/7011612.html].

13

 

Origins

The Bartered Birthright

(Genesis 25:27-34)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In 2012, a 19-year-old man from Washington state named Dakoda Garren was charged with stealing a rare coin collection worth at least $100,000. After Garren had completed some part-time work for a woman living north of Portland, the woman reported that her family coin collection was missing. Her collection included a variety of rare and valuable coins, including Liberty Head quarters, Morgan dollars, and other coins dating back to the early 1800s.

 

Initially, Garren denied any involvement, claiming that the police didn't have any evidence against him. But then he started spending the coins at face value, apparently unaware of the coins' worth. He and his girlfriend paid for movie tickets using quarters worth between $5 and $68. Later on the same day, they bought some local pizza with rare coins, including a Liberty quarter that may be worth up to $18,500.

 

The news article reported, ‘Garren has been charged with first-degree theft and is being held in jail on $40,000 bond. Which, technically, is an amount he could easily afford if the valuable coin collection were actually his.’”

 

Source: Eric Pfeiffer, "Man allegedly steals $100 coin collection, then spends at face value on pizza and a movie,' Yahoo! News (9-21-12).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2012/october/7100812.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Bank

        • I worked for a bank in Florida after graduating from college

        • From time-to-time people would bring in money to deposit, not realizing what they had

        • When that would happen, we would ask the Manager or Assistant Manager if we would swap out the bill or coin with a current bill or coin and keep the unique one

        • I have a 1935 Silver Certificate one-dollar bill (it’s not worth much, but it’s unique)

        • I also have a 19xx ten-dollar bill that is in rough shape (again, not very valuable, but unique)

    • Original Nintendo

        • When I was in college, I bought an original Nintendo Entertainment System from twin brothers with all of the games they had

        • Over the years, I purchased other games for it, especially from Blockbuster Video

        • When Nintendo started advertising their new system, the Wii, they shared that you would be able to download all of favorite games from their other consoles, including the original NES system

        • With the potential of having all of my NES games available on the Wii, I sold my console at our garage sale in Missouri before moving to California

        • When Wade bought the Wii, we realized that Nintendo may have oversold the ability to download ALL of our favorite games from the previous consoles

        • Two games

          • Thunder & Lightning

            • I probably bought it for $5-10

            • Complete Price (used cartridge, box, and instructions) - $79.88

            • New Price (new cartridge, box, and instructions) - $320

          • Pinball Quest

            • I probably bought it for $5-10

            • Complete Price - $38

            • New Price - $291.03

 

  • WE

    • Perhaps all of us have had or have something that we do not realize is valuable

    • Antiques Roadshow [show image]

        • All we have to do is watch Antiques Roadshow

        • It is always fascinating to see what, seems like something insignificant, is of great value

    • Gold & Silver Pawn Shop [show image]

        • Have you ever watched Pawn Stars

        • It is equally fascinating when someone comes into their store thinking that something is really valuable, only to realize that it is not, because it is not genuine or original

    • How many of us have something that we know is really valuable? (do not raise your hand or acknowledge that today, keep it a secret)

 

Pastor Marc began the eighth toledot (the account of…) last week. ​​ It is the account of Isaac. ​​ We saw the conception and birth of Esau and Jacob. ​​ We do not know exactly how much time passed between verses 26 and 27, but some scholars believe it has been around 20 years. ​​ Esau and Jacob are young men at this point. ​​ We already know that God has chosen Jacob to carry on the Abrahamic covenant. ​​ As we will learn today, neither Esau nor Jacob deserved to carry on the covenant, but God’s sovereign work continues whether or not we deserve it. ​​ Through this narrative, we will learn that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God uses us in spite of our weaknesses.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 25:27-34)

    • Occupation (vv. 27-28)

        • Esau

          • Skillful hunter, man of the open country

            • This occupation was not highly regarded by the biblical writers

            • It was not against Jewish law to eat wild game, but the occupation of “hunter” was not consider favorable

            • In Genesis 10:9 Nimrod, the son of Cush, was a mighty hunter

            • In Genesis 27:40, Esau will be “described as one who lives by the sword.” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 362]

          • Man of the open country

            • Esau enjoyed roaming around, instead of being tied down by the more traditional occupation of the day

            • Perhaps he was a restless man

          • While Esau and Jacob were twins, it sounds like they were very different, which was what the Lord had said to Rebekah while she was pregnant with them (Genesis 25:23)

          • Even after their birth, there were marked differences in their appearance (Esau was red and hairy; we assume that Jacob was not, since Esau’s appearance was noted by the author)

        • Jacob

          • Quiet man

            • “This is better translated ‘civilized’ or ‘fine.’ ​​ The basic idea of the Hebrew root (tmm) is ‘to be complete, finished, perfect.’ … it probably denotes Jacob as being ‘well-cultured,’ ‘civilized.’” ​​ [Waltke, 362]

            • It can also be translated “wholesome” and normally, within the Old Testament, it has the meaning of innocence or moral integrity (i.e. “blameless”). ​​ This meaning is found in Job 1:1, 8; 2:3; 9:20-22 [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 181]

            • “The word translated ‘quiet’ is elsewhere used as an attribute for someone with high moral character (Job in Job 1:8). ​​ It is most often parallel to the adjective yašar, ‘upright.’” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 549-50]

            • It may be hard for us to see this meaning being true as the narrative continues and we see the cunning way in which Jacob obtains the birthright and eventually the blessing of Isaac

            • But, we will see that God does a transformational work in Jacob’s life as he continues to grow and mature into God’s covenant carrier

            • God uses us in spite of our weaknesses.

          • Staying among the tents

            • Jacob has the more traditional occupation of animal husbandry (shepherd or farmer)

            • Staying among the tents simply means that he is probably working with his father’s flocks and herds

          • Esau and Jacob took very different occupational paths, which may have played a role in their parent’s preferences

        • Parent’s preference

          • IMPORTANT NOTE: ​​ While it appears that Isaac and Rebekah have their favorites, the word “love” here represents a personal preference and not a lack of genuine love for both sons. ​​ Isaac and Rebekah love both of their sons, but they each have a personal preference for a different son

          • Isaac

            • We are kind of given a reason why Isaac preferred Esau

            • Isaac had a taste for wild game

            • This probably did not mean that he hated beef, mutton, or goat

            • Perhaps he liked to mix it up sometimes

            • How many of us can connect with Isaac?

              • I like a good steak

              • I enjoy chicken, turkey, ham, and seafood

              • But I am also adventurous when it comes to trying new things

              • I like venison, bison, elk, and other exotic meats

              • I’ve tried shark, frog legs, octopus, bear, snake, alligator, turtle, and probably some other animals too

              • I have said that I will try anything, once

            • So, Isaac prefers Esau, while Rebekah prefers Jacob

          • Rebekah

            • We are not given a reason why Rebekah prefers Jacob over Esau

            • Perhaps her preference for Jacob is because of the revelation she received from the Lord concerning both boys and how Esau would serve Jacob

          • “Isaac’s love is based on natural senses, Rebekah’s on divine choice and enduring qualities (see 27:1-46).” ​​ [Waltke, 363]

        • The two son’s occupation helps us understand what is happening in the second part of this passage

    • Oath (vv. 29-34)

        • Setting (vv. 29-30)

          • “Once” encompasses a broad range, so we do not have any idea when this took place (my guess is that it was while Jacob and Esau were still young men)

          • Jacob was cooking some stew

          • Esau had been out hunting in the open country

            • He obviously had not caught any wild game

            • If he had he probably would have prepared it himself

            • In Genesis 27:31 we see that Esau prepared the wild game he had caught for his father, Isaac, in preparation for receiving the blessing

            • Both Jacob and Esau knew how to cook

          • Esau was really hungry after hunting in the open country

            • Quick, let me have…!

              • Esau is perhaps feeling weak and/or sick from hunger and needs nourishment

              • I have felt that way recently, while helping one of our sons with a project – we did not want to stop to eat, but at one point I had to stop and eat, because I was not feeling well

              • “‘Quick, let me have…’ translates the root lāʿaṭ (law-at’), a hapax legomenon (word or phrase that appears only once), meaning something like to devour, that is, ‘gulp down’ (NAB, NJPS).” [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 392]

            • Red stew

              • Esau is not really aware of what Jacob has been cooking

              • In the Hebrew, Esau is actually saying, “Quick, let me gulp down some of that red stuff, this red stuff.”

              • Only later do we find out what the contents of the “red stuff” are

              • Esau is famished and in that state, he is impulsive

            • We have the parenthetical note about why Esau is also called Edom

              • Edom means red

              • We know that when Esau was born, he was identified in two ways, 1) red and 2) hairy all over

              • Now he is begging for some of that red stuff

          • Esau asked Jacob for some of the red stew he had prepared and Jacob sees an opportunity to get something he wants, that is of value to him

        • Selling (vv. 31-32)

          • Jacob takes advantage of Esau’s extreme hunger by asking him to sell his birthright, before he will give him any of the red stew

          • Birthright

            • What is the significance of the birthright?

            • It obviously included a double portion of the father’s inheritance/estate

            • For Esau that would mean two-thirds of Isaac’s estate

            • For the patriarchs, the birthright not only included material possessions, but also the covenant blessing of Jehovah

            • Jacob understood that the birthright included material possessions and leadership responsibilities both physically and spiritually

            • He was willing to accept those responsibilities

            • Jacob’s desire to have the birthright was not necessarily wrong, but the way in which he sought to obtain the birthright was wrong

            • We do not know if Jacob knew about the divine revelation given to his mother prior to his birth, that the older twin would serve the younger twin

            • If he knew about this, he could have waited patiently on the Lord’s timing for it to be fulfilled

          • Esau did not see the value of the birthright

            • He was more interested in satisfying his hunger than thinking about the spiritual value of the birthright

            • “There is proof enough that he knew he was giving away, along with the birthright, blessings which, because they were not of a material but of a spiritual nature, had no particular value in his estimation, in the words he made use of: ​​ ‘Behold I am going to die (to meet death), and what is the birthright to me?’ ​​ The only thing of value to him was the sensual enjoyment of the present; the spiritual blessings of the future his carnal mind was unable to estimate.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 173]

            • Hebrews 12:14-17, Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. ​​ See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many. ​​ See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. ​​ Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. ​​ He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – “Humans are tempted to get their material and spiritual priorities out of order.” ​​ (Gangel & Bramer)

            • Esau definitely put his material priority of hunger ahead of the spiritual priority of his birthright

            • We have all probably given in to the temptation to get our material/physical/social priorities ahead of our spiritual priorities

              • It is simple to do

              • We wake up thinking about everything we have to get done today and neglect to spend time with the Lord

              • We work a full day and feel exhausted at the end of the day, so we decide to skip Wednesday evening church

              • We either work really hard on projects around the house on Saturday or we spend all day recreating and sleep through our alarm on Sunday morning or decide Saturday night that we will skip church

              • We save for a new car, computer, game console, cell phone, appliances, vacation, etc., but we neglect to give to the Lord, through tithes and offerings (we don’t trust God to supply our needs)

              • We try to work out a problem in our own strength, without going to God first, in prayer

              • Our desire to be in a relationship is so strong that we neglect to ask the Lord to guide and direct us to the right person (we can become so desperate that we start looking in the wrong places and eventually compromise our standards and beliefs)

              • Matthew 6:33, But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Seek God’s kingdom first (spiritual priorities) instead of the things of this world (material priorities).

          • Jacob manipulates Esau to get his birthright

          • Esau does not care about his birthright, but Jacob wants to make the transaction official and binding

        • Swearing (v. 33)

          • Jacob presses Esau to make it official by swearing an oath

          • Esau did just that – he swore on oath that the birthright of the firstborn was now Jacob’s

          • With the transaction complete, we see the fulfillment of Genesis 25:23, The Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.”

          • Jacob now releases the stew for Esau to eat

        • Serving (v. 34a)

          • Esau receives bread and lentil stew in exchange for his birthright

          • I can just imagine Jacob handing over the bread and stew with a smile of satisfaction on his face

        • Separating (v. 34b)

          • Esau finished his meal and then promptly gets up and leaves

          • The final note from the author tells us that Esau despised his birthright

            • He holds his birthright in contempt

            • Esau treated his birthright with irreverence and rejection [Waltke, 364]

            • Esau did not show the Lord the proper respect He deserved for allowing him to be born first [Walton, 551]

          • “By this incident the author implies that Esau’s decision regarding his religious heritage disqualifies him to succeed his father.” ​​ [Mathews, 395]

    • Application

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God uses us in spite of our weaknesses.

          • “Jacob is distinguished from Esau by his faith in the promises and blessings of God. ​​ He wrongly schemes against his brother because he correctly believes that the birthright in the line of Abraham and Isaac holds tremendous blessing and promise. ​​ Despite all of his weaknesses, Jacob lives within the vision of faith.” ​​ [Waltke, 365]

          • This is true for us also

            • I know my weaknesses and so does the Lord and Satan

            • Satan tempts me in my areas of weakness

            • The Lord uses me in spite of my weaknesses

            • The same is true for every one of us (Satan tempts us and the Lord uses us in spite of our weaknesses)

            • Too often we forget this principle

              • When we fail and give in to temptation we feel like God cannot or will not use us

              • We allow this lie from Satan to keep us from serving the Lord – to do what the Lord has called us to do

            • Forgiveness

              • 1 John 1:9, If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness

              • The Lord provides forgiveness through confession, so we can continue to be useful for Him

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that God can still use me in spite of my weaknesses, when I confess my sins to Him.

          • God is sovereign, so He will accomplish His plans and purposes for us

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s sovereignty outweighs our failures and flaws.

          • Biblical background

            • Romans 9:11-12, Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: ​​ not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger,” ​​ Just as it is written: ​​ “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

            • Malachi 1:2-3, “I have loved you,” says the Lord. ​​ “But you ask, ‘How have you loved us?’ ​​ “Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” the Lord says. ​​ “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.”

            • God had chosen Jacob to be the covenant carrier prior to his birth

              • He already knew that Jacob would manipulate and take advantage of Esau in order to get his birthright

              • He already knew that Rebekah and Jacob would conspire together so that Jacob would also get Isaac’s blessing

              • He already knew how Jacob would deceive Laban in order to grow his own herds

              • He already knew that Esau would hold in contempt his birthright and not value it

              • While it seems like neither Jacob nor Esau were worthy or deserved to be the covenant carrier, God’s sovereignty outweighed Jacobs failures and flaws

              • God knew that Jacob would eventually mature in his faith and be able to handle the spiritual responsibilities of the covenant carrier

          • God’s sovereignty works the same way in our lives

            • We may look at ourselves and think, “I’m not deserving of God’s new covenant through Jesus Christ”

              • We would be right in thinking that, because none of us are worthy of salvation, apart from the grace and mercy of God

              • In His sovereignty, God knew we would need a Savior

              • So, He sent Jesus from heaven to earth to take our punishment for sin

              • He showed us His great love through sending His Son

            • Wayward child

              • Maybe you are going through the heartache of a wayward child right now

              • In the midst of that, it is hard to see how God’s sovereignty is at work, but it is

              • We may know the things they are doing and that they feel like they do not deserve God’s forgiveness or love

              • Hold on to hope, because God’s sovereignty far outweighs their failures and flaws

              • God is able to restore and transform what we think is lost

              • He can use that wayward child to bring others to Jesus for His glory

              • He can take a deceiving, lying person and transform them into an honest, truth-telling follower of Jesus

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in the sovereignty of God for myself and my family.

 

  • YOU

    • Do you need to realign your spiritual and material priorities?

    • Do you need to recognize that God can still use you in spite of your weaknesses? ​​ (confess those weaknesses to Him today)

    • Do you need to trust in the sovereignty of God for yourself or a family member?

 

  • WE

    • As a body of believers we need to help hold each other accountable to these next steps

    • We need to share with one another how we need to be held accountable

 

CONCLUSION

“Twins”

(Jeanne Steig)

 

Esau said, “I’m feeling faint.”

“Aw,” said Jacob, “no you ain’t.”

“Papa’s blessing,” Esau cried,

“Is mine by rights. ​​ But I’ll have died

Of hunger first. ​​ For pity’s sake—

My birthright for your lentils, Jake.”

“Your birthright?” Jacob murmured. ​​ “Sold!

Dig in, before the stuff gets cold.”

 

[Steig cited by Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 551]

12

 

Sibling Rivalry

Since the beginning of human history there have been sibling rivalries. Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, the first siblings on earth didn’t get along. Since then, sibling rivalries have dotted history in many shapes and forms. Some sibling rivalries are purely playful, competitive one-upmanship, while some siblings sue each other over money or defamation. Some take the form of constant bickering and arguing while others live out their days amid a frigid silent treatment. Siblings have even gone to war against their brothers and sisters in the pursuit of wealth and power, not stopping even until the other was dead. These stories of sibling rivalries prove that it's impossible to expect brothers and sisters to get along all the time. Just because you're related to your brother or sister doesn't mean you will like them. I found the following examples of famous sibling rivalries.

Edwin and John Wilkes Booth. Long before the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865 by John Wilkes Booth, he and his older brother Edwin were locked in a brutal sibling rivalry. The brothers were both aspiring actors and fought for the attention of their father, a famous Shakespearean performer at the time. When John began supporting the Confederates, Edwin had him thrown out of their home for treason. Though Edwin was very famous for his acting talent at the time, his legacy has been overshadowed throughout history by his brother’s heinous crime.

Eppie Lederer and Pauline Phillips. These sisters are better known as Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren. They were twin sisters who wrote competing high-profile advice columns starting in the 1950s. In 1958, Life magazine published an exposé entitled “Twin Lovelorn Advisers Torn Asunder by Success,” which featured “bitter exchanges” between the two. It seems the feud began in the mid-1950s when Pauline allegedly offered to write "Dear Abby" for their hometown newspaper for less pay if it promised not to print "Ask Ann." The twins were never the same after that. It is said that this sibling rivalry has been passed down even through the sisters’ children.

Adolph and Rudolph Dassler. In the 1920s, they created a shoe company in Germany together in their mother’s laundry room. As business boomed, so did the tension between them. The actual feud allegedly stemmed from a mere miscommunication during a WWII air raid but barely five years later, the brothers were dividing the company into two separate shoe brands Adi's Adidas and Rudi's Puma. The rivalry continued for more than 60 years, as the Dasslers' companies earned the loyalties of different athletes, celebrities, and even their fellow German townsfolk.

Olivia De Havilland and Joan Fontaine. They were sisters and actresses during Hollywood’s Golden Age and were known rivals. As they rose to fame, both were nominated for Best Actress during the 1942 Academy Awards. Olivia was assumed to be the winner by many, but Joan famously went home with the Oscar. In a 1978 interview, Joan said, "You can divorce your sister as well as your husbands. I don’t see her at all and I don’t intend to…I got married first, got an Academy Award first, had a child first. If I die, she’ll be furious, because again I’ll have got there first!"

How many here today have siblings? I have a brother, Christian, and a sister, Laurie. They are twins like the subjects in the message today. My brother, Christian, is older than Laurie by a whole three minutes. From my perspective I wouldn’t say there was sibling rivalry between us growing up. There may have been between Chris and Laurie since they were only born three minutes apart. But there were definitely times in the past that my brother and I wouldn’t let her forget who was born first. What about you? Did you and your siblings experience any sibling rivalry? Maybe it was grades in school or vying for attention from the same friends or vying for the love and attention of parents that caused the rivalry. Maybe the rivalry was in sports or in the same job or field.

This morning we are going to delve into the story of a sibling rivalry that started before birth. In fact it pretty much started at conception. There was a war of sorts going on in their mother’s womb that would be the beginning of a sibling rivalry that would last many years. The brothers would eventually make up and be able to coexist but their descendants would not end up on the same happy terms. We are going to see that the characters in this narrative go through struggles just like the generation before them. All their struggles had the capability to derail God’s will and plan for their lives. But they never did because God is sovereign and in control of all things. Which brings us to our big idea this morning that God’s will and plan is accomplished even in the midst of our struggles. It doesn’t matter what we are struggling with. Maybe it’s in our relationships with family at home or with friends at work or in the church. Our struggles may come due to our sin and trying to do things our own way. No matter what we are struggling through our struggles cannot stop or thwart or change God’s will and plan for our lives or for the world. God’s will and plan will always be accomplished even in the midst of our struggles.

Before we dive in to our scripture let’s bow our heads and commit ourselves and the study of God’s word to the Lord this morning. Dear Heavenly Father, give us ears to hear and eyes to see what truths you have for us this morning. Open our hearts and minds to your Spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

We are in Genesis 25:19-26 and there are three points to the message this morning. The first point is Devoted and we see this in Genesis 25:19-21. Follow along as I read. This is what God’s Word says, “This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.”

Last week we heard about the account of Abraham’s son, Ishmael and today we begin the tolodot or the account of Abraham’s son, Isaac. There are a couple of differences in the two accounts that we notice. One, Abraham is mentioned twice here but only once last week. This repetition stresses the connection of Isaac to Abraham, who was the one who received the promise. Two, we notice here that Isaac’s mother, Sarah is not mentioned but last week Ishmael’s mother, Hagar, was. ​​ Also, here it doesn’t state that Isaac fathered Esau and Jacob but last week it stated that Abraham fathered Ishmael. Three, last week what followed was the names of the sons of Ishmael but here Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, where she is from and who her father and brother are, is highlighted. This tolodot links the following story back to how Rebekah came to be married to Isaac and forward to the struggles that Jacob will have with Rebekah’s brother later on.

As we look at the patriarchs, Abraham and Jacob seem much more prominent than Isaac. Even in this passage that begins the tolodot of Isaac, he seems to be overshadowed by his father, Abraham, and his wife, Rebekah. As Pastor Stuart said last week, Isaac seems to be a transitional character, but Isaac is an important link in the chosen line that would lead to Jesus. God used the traits and personalities of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to call his people out of paganism and into a relationship with himself and to make them into his chosen people and a royal nation. Take away Abraham’s obedience to the call, Isaac’s obedient faith or Jacob’s tenacity and the nation of Israel probably doesn’t survived the exiles to be a nation today. God was able to take all those different traits and personalities and mold them together in order to fulfill his plan and purpose for the world. Those traits and personalities caused many struggles but God’s will and plan was still accomplished. (Big Idea)

In verse 21 we see the first struggle that could have derailed God’s plan: Rebekah was childless; she was barren so was not able to have children. So far we haven’t been told how long she has been barren but in verse 20 we see that they were married when Isaac was forty and in verse 26 we are told that Isaac is sixty when Rebekah gives birth to the twins. So Rebekah has been barren for twenty years. Sarah was barren for 39 years and it took nine chapters in Genesis for Sarah’s barrenness to be resolved but only took one verse to resolve Rebekah’s. Rebekah’s barrenness is like a “ditto” reminding us of Sarah’s barrenness and God’s provision of Isaac. We can presume that Rebekah had all the anxiety, concern and uncertainty of Sarah’s barrenness.

We notice a contrast in the way Isaac and Abraham handled their wives’ barrenness. When confronted and struggling with Rebekah’s barrenness, Isaac and Rebekah did two noteworthy things. One, they were patient for twenty years and waited on the Lord’s timing to be revealed. They didn’t try to figure it out on their own. They didn’t try to do in their own strength. They held onto their faith in the Lord’s promises to them. This brings us to our first principle this morning: God is pleased when his people are patient and wait on his timing. On the other hand, instead of waiting on the Lord’s timing, Sarah finds a surrogate wife for Abraham in Hagar and he agrees to Sarah’s plan for a son. They didn’t trust the Lord to take care of Sarah’s barrenness and they didn’t wait patiently on the Lord to fulfill his promises to them of a son. Abraham and Sarah’s struggles and taking things into their own hands had the potential to derail God’s will and plan but it didn’t. God did the miraculous and Sarah conceived Isaac in her old age.

The entire book of Genesis emphasizes God’s sovereignty and the wisdom of his timing. Psalm 31:14 -15a says, “But I trust in you, Lord; I say “You are my God.” My times are in your hands.” Baldwin says, “Trusting in the Lord means having faith in his way and his timing and demands patience. We can learn a lesson here that we need these same attributes to navigate the tests that are sure to come in our Christian walk. Every believer needs to hold on to their faith no matter what comes. That is spiritual maturity to hold on instead of taking the easy road to just let go of their faith.” That brings us to the first next step on the back of your communication card which is to be patient and wait on the Lord’s timing in the midst of my struggles.

Two, Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of Rebekah but we never see Abraham praying to the Lord on behalf of Sarah. Isaac was devoted to Rebekah. He cared for and loved her so as the NLT says he pleaded and interceded to the Lord on her behalf. This would not have been the first time in twenty years that he prayed for her to become pregnant. The Hebrew word “entreated” means Isaac kept pleading and kept praying on Rebekah’s behalf until God answered his prayer. This brings us to our second principle this morning: God is pleased when we intercede for others. Weirsbe says, “It has been said that the purpose of prayer is not to get our will done in heaven but to get God’s will done on earth. Isaac wasn’t praying selfishly but he was concerned about God’s plan for fulfilling his covenant. True prayer is being concerned about God’s will, not our own wants, and claiming God’s promises in the Word.”

The Lord answers Isaac’s prayer and Rebekah becomes pregnant. This answer to prayer shows the importance and effectiveness of intercessory prayer and God’s response to it. It also shows that the seed was provided by God and Rebekah was able to conceive by the direct action of the Lord. The first two mothers of the promise were able to conceive because God provided the miracle of conception. Ross says in his commentary, “Isaac was the son of Abraham, the heir of the promise and Rebekah was of good stock and carefully chosen to be the bride but these facts are not sufficient to produce the next heir of the promised blessing; it will still take divine intervention.”

Our second point this morning is Distressed and we see this in Genesis 25:22-23. This is what God’s Word says, “But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why am I in this condition?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. And the Lord said to her, “Two nations are in your womb; And two peoples will be separated from your body; And one people will be stronger than the other; And the older will serve the younger.”

Isaac and Rebekah are confronted with the second struggle that could derail God’s plan: Rebekah is having a hard and difficult pregnancy. The narrator tells us there are twins in her womb that are “struggling” with each other. But Rebekah doesn’t know that she is carrying twins and doesn’t understand what is happening inside of her. ​​ All she knows is she is troubled and in distress. It is so difficult that she questions whether her pregnancy is even worth it. It’s worse because the struggle in her womb was an answer to prayer. The Hebrew word for “struggle” means to “abuse,” “crush” or “oppress.” It implies a violent collision as the children were “smashing” against each other inside her. These words were used to depict the oppression of the poor and to describe skulls being “smashed” together. It was not a mild discomfort and suggested that what was going on was not normal.

In the ancient world events during pregnancy and birth were considered ominous. Rebekah realizing there was something going on inside her that she couldn’t explain thought that possibly God was trying to speak to her in some way. It seems she wanted to understand God’s will for her life and for the life inside her. So, instead of following in her mother-in-laws shoes, trying to take things into her own hands in some way, Rebekah makes a correct choice. In her distress she goes and inquires of the Lord. She realizes that her pregnancy was because the Lord had willed it in the first place and he would have the answers. This brings us to our third principle this morning that God is pleased when we seek his counsel. There were other avenues she could have sought but probably because of the influence of Isaac in their marriage she inquired and sought the counsel of the Lord. When we are suffering or struggling physically, emotionally and or spiritually or in any other ways we also should inquire of the Lord. God is pleased when we seek him in the midst of our struggles.

We are told that the Lord answered her. The Hebrew word used implies she got her answer from the Lord in the form of an oracle. An oracle was a divine utterance delivered to a person usually by another person, in answer to a request for guidance. They could also be indications of favor or disfavor communicated through designated mechanisms such as with Gideon and the fleece. Later in Israel a divine response was given by means of the Urim and Thummim in the breastplate on the high priest's ephod, or by casting lots or given by the prophets. We are not told how Rebekah received the oracle but if we take it on face value we can believe she received it directly from the Lord. The oracle answered her question of what was happening to her and why. The Lord tells her that there are two nations in her womb and the two peoples will be separated or divided. This means that she will be the mother of twins but it also means their descendants will be incompatible and not able to coexist together. This dividing was going on even now in her womb. This dividing reminds us of the tensions between Abraham and Lot and Isaac and Ishmael in which separation was the best resolution to the struggles between them. This same resolution will be played out later with Jacob and Esau.

The Lord goes on to tell her that one of the peoples will be stronger than the other and that the older would serve the younger. This expressed God’s sovereign choice of the younger son getting the blessing instead of the older one. Before the twins were ever born the Lord was predicting what would happen in their later lives. The struggle within Rebekah’s womb foreshadowed the competition that would come later resulting in the older brother serving the younger one. Later in Genesis the nation of Edom that came from Esau will be enemies with and under the subjection of the nation of Israel that came from Jacob. This was all part of the sovereign will and plan of God for his chosen people. This story makes us acutely aware that the Lord is aware of, concerned about and involved in the very existence of the unborn. It also suggests that human personality is well on the way to being formed even in the womb. God’s answer probably didn’t bring Rebekah much comfort but she seems content and is able to endure the pain of her pregnancy. Both Isaac and Rebekah sought after the counsel of the Lord in prayer for the struggles of barrenness and a difficult pregnancy. That brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card which is to seek the Lord’s counsel in continual prayer in the midst of my struggles.

The third point is Divided and is found in Genesis 25:24-26. This is what God’s Word says, “When her days leading to the delivery were at an end, behold, there were twins in her womb. Now the first came out red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so he was named Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them.

When the time came for Rebekah to give birth she had twins proving the truth of the oracle from God. Only time would tell who the stronger one would be and what would happen when the older one ended up serving the younger one. The narrator wants us to take notice of the unusual birth of these two boys. With the birth of the firstborn we are take notice of his appearance. He came out “red” and his whole body was like a hairy garment and his parents named his Esau. Names in the ancient world were important and often made statements about deity or the circumstances surrounding the child’s birth. Esau is described using only adjectives and his name came from three plays on the sounds of words. Esau (esaw) means “hairy” (se’ar). The Hebrew word for “hairy” (se’ar) sounds like “Se’ir” which will be the place that Esau settles. The Hebrew word for “red” (admoni) sounds like “Edom” (edom) which was Esau’s nickname relating to his red skin or hair and later to the red stew which he sold his birthright for.

The second born came out with his hand grasping the heel of his brother so they named him Jacob. Jacob is described in action from the very beginning. His name made statements both about deity (God) and the circumstances surrounding his birth. Jacob (ya aqob) means “may God protect” and sounds like the word for “heel” (aqeb), or “watch behind” or “to follow closely.” It has the idea of God watching our “six” like in the military, protecting and guarding our rear flank. We can see that God was already protecting Jacob in the womb and would surely protect him in the future. Heel (aqeb) sounds like the word for deceived (aqab). So because of the way Jacob stole Esau’s birthright, as we will see next week, the name Jacob came to mean someone who had the tendency to supplant, to trip, or to cheat. Jacob latching onto Esau’s heel conveys the ideas of deception, betrayal, and opportunism. Hamilton in his commentary states, “Even the infantile Jacob is acting out the oracle of Yahweh. From the very moment of birth the divine plan is in evident operation.” The parents observed the unusual circumstances of the births in view of God’s oracle and commemorated them in the naming. This commemorative naming was recognition that God’s oracle was the answer to their prayers.

Lastly, we are told that Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to her sons. Our narrative is bookmarked by how old Isaac was when he married Rebekah and how old he was when Rebekah gave birth to Jacob and Esau. Isaac and Rebekah waited on the Lord for the continuation of the promise to be realized for twenty years confirming the faith of Isaac and the faithfulness of the Lord’s promise. God in his sovereignty did not allow their struggles of barrenness and difficult pregnancy to get in the way of his will and plan. (Big Idea)

Brothers, Clifton and William Prentiss, were born near Baltimore, Maryland. When the Civil War began, Clifton enlisted in the Union Army and rose through the ranks to major. William enlisted in the First Maryland Infantry of the Confederate States. On April 2, 1865, after the Union and Confederate armies had been stalemated at Petersburg, Va for almost ten months, General Grant ordered a full assault to break the Rebel lines. Major Clifton Prentiss led the 6th Maryland as they attacked the Rebels and was reported to be the first officer to enter the enemy's line. Almost immediately, he was shot in the chest. William, defending the Confederate trenches against his brother's regiment, was struck by a shell fragment above his right knee. ​​ 

An account given in 1920 by J.R. King in the National Tribune recorded this "pathetic incident": "Two of the 6th Md. men like many others were going over the field ministering to the wounded without regard to the uniform they wore, came upon a wounded Confederate, who after receiving some water, asked if the 6th Md. was any way near there. The reply was, "We belong to that regiment. Why do you ask?" The Confederate replied that he had a brother in that regiment. "Who is he?" he was asked. The Confederate said, "Captain Clifton K. Prentiss." Our boys said, "Yes, he is our Major now and is lying over yonder wounded." The Confederate said, "I would like to see him." Word was at once carried to Maj. Prentiss. He declined to see him saying, "I want to see no man who fired on my country's flag." Colonel Hill, after giving directions to have the wounded Confederate brought over, knelt down beside the Major and pleaded with him to see his brother. When the wayward brother was laid beside him our Major for a moment glared at him. The Confederate brother smiled; that was the one touch of nature; out went both hands and with tears streaming down their cheeks these two brothers, who had met on many bloody fields on opposite sides for three years, were once more brought together." William died on June 24, 1865 and his brother died on August 18 less than two months after his brother. Clifton was buried next to his brother William, and they have lain side by side for more than a century.

We will see later in Genesis that Esau and Jacob were reconciled just like Clifton and William Prentiss were. If you are going through a sibling rivalry today, it is not too late for you to be reconciled to them, either. It will take patience, it will take prayer, and it may take you being the bigger person. This is true in sibling rivalry conflicts and with conflicts with other human beings. With the help of the Holy Spirit, if we will humble ourselves to the other party, sibling or not, reconciliation can take place. So, I want to encourage us with that this morning.

As the praise team comes forward to lead us in a final song, let pray: Dear Heavenly Father, let us be people of reconciliation. You are our supreme example of wanting reconciliation with us by sending your son to die on a cross for our sin. I pray Lord that we would in the midst of our struggles wait upon your timing and not try to fix it on our own. I pray that we would seek your counsel through prayer in the midst of our struggles as well. Take us from this place and give us divine appointments with those who need to be reconciled to you and allow us to proclaim your salvation to them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Origins

Non-Covenant Care

(Genesis 25:12-18)

 

INTRODUCTION

“When I picture God's rejoicing over his people with singing, I think of Snowflake Bentley. Wilson ‘Snowflake’ Bentley, a New England farmer born in 1865, couldn't get enough of snowflakes. For forty years, he ran around in the snow, raucously joyful, catching snowflakes on chilled slides and photographing them, seeking to capture for others the beauty he saw in those one-of-a-kind masterpieces of frozen crystals. Over his lifetime, he photographed more than five thousand individual snowflakes. His notes were effusive: ‘No. 785 is so rarely beautiful.’ He wrote of the ‘feast of [their] beauty.’ As I imagine Snowflake careening in the snow, giddy with joy, I marvel with the psalmist, ‘LORD, what are human beings that you care for them, mere mortals that you think of them? They are like a breath; their days are like a fleeting shadow’ (Psalm 144:3-4). I'm like a vanishing, vaporous breath, and God cares for me.”

 

Source: Jean Fleming, Pursue the Intentional Life (NavPress, 2013), page 50.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2015/november/8110915.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Overcoming obstacles

        • I could have entered college with scholarships to help pay for my schooling, but instead I entered college on academic probation

        • My grades in high school were passing, simply because I did not apply myself

        • I had to take a required, none credit, class my first semester that taught me how to study and held me accountable

        • I graduated college with a much better GPA that was much higher than just passing

        • I graduated seminary with almost a 4.0 GPA. ​​ I had one class that I did not complete perfectly

        • While maturity played a role in my developing educational success, I know that God was taking care of me

    • God’s care

        • God has taken care of me throughout my life in many ways

          • He provided safety for me as I experienced culture shock with our move to Birmingham, AL as a Junior in High School

          • He protected me from many of the teenage pitfalls

          • He led me to Judy in college and has provided wisdom and guidance for both of us through nearly 31 years of marriage

          • He has shown great care in waiting for me to be obedient to His calling for my life – pastoral ministry

          • I have seen God’s care for me through various illnesses I have experienced over the years

          • God has cared for me by answering prayers

        • I know that He will continue to take care of me until He calls me home or sends Jesus again

 

  • WE

    • Every one of us has probably experienced obstacles that we have had to overcome with the Lord’s help

    • We can all share ways in which we have seen God taking care of us or of our family members

        • We may be able to recall times that God took care of us even before we were His disciples

        • We can probably recount times that God took care of family members, friends, and coworkers who are not His disciples

 

These seven verses are the shortest toledot (“the account of . . .”) section in Genesis. ​​ It is a transitional section that prepares us for the section on Isaac’s family line. ​​ It focuses on the genealogy and obituary of Ishmael, the non-covenant son of Abraham and Hagar. ​​ This is a continued featured of the narrator of Genesis, to provide information about the non-covenant people before addressing the covenant people. ​​ What we will see from this section is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God cares for all people. ​​ (this includes covenant and non-covenant people)

 

Let’s pray

  • GOD (Genesis 25:12-18)

    • The Genealogy (vv. 12-16)

        • Abraham’s son

          • “This is the account of . . .” is the seventh statement like this in Genesis

            • This the shortest one in Genesis (only 7 verses)

            • Verse 19 begins the eighth section beginning with, “this is the account of . . .”

          • This is the account of Ishmael

            • He is Abraham and Hagar’s son

            • Hagar was Sarah’s maidservant from Egypt

            • As was mentioned earlier in Genesis (12:16), Hagar perhaps was one of the maidservants that the Egyptian Pharaoh gave to Abram when he and Sarai went there during the famine in Canaan

          • Now that we know who Ishmael’s parents are, the narrator lists his sons

        • Ishmael’s sons

          • We find all of these names listed in the ancestry of the nation section of 1 Chronicles 1:29-31

          • We are told that Ishmael’s sons are listed in birth order

            • Nebaioth (nev-ah-aw’/nev-aw-yoth’) = “heights”

              • Firstborn

              • Isaiah 60:7 tells us that this tribe was rich in rams

              • They were located in what is modern Ha’il [show map 1]

            • Kedar (kay-dawr’) = “dark”

              • Isaiah 60:7 also mentions the richness of their flocks

              • They were nomads that lived between Egypt and Dedan-Edom [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 345]

              • Isaiah mentions them as warriors, skilled with the bow and arrow (Isaiah 21:17)

              • They were “the most influential tribe during the first millennium until the Nabateans.” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 360]

            • Adbeel (ad-beh-ale’/ade-bee-el’) = “chastened of God”

            • Mibsam (mib-sawm’/miv-sawm’) = “sweet odour”

            • Mishma (mish-maw’) = “a hearing”

            • Dumah (doo-maw’) = “silence”

              • Isaiah has an oracle about Dumah (Isaiah 21:11-12)

              • They were located in northern Arabia [show map 2]

              • This oasis town was a key point in the incense trade between Babylon and Palestine [Mathews, 361]

            • Massa (mas-saw’) = “burden” or “oracle”

            • Hadad (khad-ad’/kha-dad’) = “mighty”

            • Tema (tay-maw’) = “desert”

              • “Tema is also mentioned in Isa. 21:14 along with Dedan (v. 13) and Kedar (v. 16), and they are urged to provide water and bread for Arabian refugees who have been ravaged by Syrian forces.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 172]

              • Tema also appears in Job 6:19 and Jeremiah 25:23

              • There is an oasis town named after Tema in northwest Arabia [show map 2]

            • Jetur (yet-oor’/yet-tour’) = “enclosed”

              • Found together with the tribe of Naphish in the Transjordan (1 Chronicles 5:18-19)

              • The Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh went to war against them and Nodab

              • These three tribes were considered the Hagrites

            • Naphish (naw-feesh’) = “refreshment” or “precious”

            • Kedemah (kayd’-maw/kayd’-de-maw) = “original” or “toward the east”

          • The narrator tells us that these are the sons of Ishmael

            • The names are also the names of the twelve princes

            • They settled in villages and set up camps according to the tribes/clans named after them

              • Settlements – unwalled villages near towns (without protection) [Mathews, 362; Waltke, 346]

              • Camps – it has the idea of tents related to towns [Mathews, 362]

              • The sons of Ishmael were nomadic/transient, so they lived in unprotected structures

            • Twelve tribal rulers

              • God cares for all people.

              • We see the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham concerning Ishmael

              • Genesis 17:17-20, Abraham fell facedown; he laughed and said to himself, “Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old? ​​ Will Sarah bear a child at the age of ninety?” ​​ And Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael might live under you blessing!” ​​ Then God said, “Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. ​​ I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him. ​​ And as for Ishmael, I have heard you: ​​ I will surely bless him; I will make him fruitful and will greatly increase his numbers. ​​ He will be the father of twelve rulers, and I will make him into a great nation.

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – God fulfills His promises.

                • We talked about this last week, that God fulfills His promises to us also

                • It is a great reminder again this week that we can claim the promises of God for peace, provision, protection, presence, and so much more

        • In verse 17 we are told of Ishmael’s death

    • The Obituary (v. 17)

        • Age

          • He was 137 years old

          • He lived another 48 years after his father, Abraham’s, death

        • Death

          • We are told that he breathed his last and died

          • He was gathered to his people

          • He was not buried with his father in Machpelah near Mamre

          • While it is not stated, it can be implied that Ishmael had secured his own family burial location

        • The narrator concludes this toledot section with the destiny of Ishmael’s sons and their tribes

    • The Destiny (v. 18)

        • Where they settled

          • They were nomads, so they traveled throughout eastern and south-eastern Arabia

            • [show map 3]

            • [show map 4]

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God can overcome our lack of faith.

            • We don’t really see the removal of Ishmael from Canaan, in this statement about where they settled

            • Ishmael and Hagar had already been sent away many years earlier

            • God had promised to bless Ishmael and make him into a great nation also, but He was not the son through whom His covenant would be fulfilled

            • Abraham and Sarah had tried to take matters into their own hands, but God was able to overcome their impatience and lack of faith

            • Application

              • Past

                • Have you ever gotten impatient with God’s timing?

                • Have you ever lacked faith in God’s ability to accomplish something?

                • Did your impatience or lack of faith create obstacles that God overcame in order to accomplish His plan and purpose for your life?

              • Present

                • Is there currently a situation where you are struggling with God’s timing?

                • Is there a current circumstance where your faith is lacking?

                • Are you in danger of creating an obstacle that God will have to overcome?

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask God to strengthen my faith in Him and wait patiently on His timing.

          • God had overcome Abraham and Sarah’s lack of faith by providing a region where Ishmael and his descendants could live and thrive and where the promises of God would be fulfilled

          • The final half of verse 18 shows us that God’s Word never fails

        • How they lived

          • Ishmael’s descendants lived in hostility toward all their brothers

            • This fulfilled what the angel of the Lord told Hagar when she was expecting Ishmael and had fled from Sarah

            • Genesis 16:11-12, The angel of the Lord also said to her: ​​ “You are now with child and you will have a son. ​​ You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard of your misery. ​​ He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers.”

            • In hostility

              • The original Hebrew can be translated two ways

                • “Against the face,” which means in defiance or in hostility

                • “Opposite, east of,” meaning dwelt alongside of

              • While both translations would make sense here, the one that speaks of them living in defiance/hostility fits better with the context of Genesis 16:12 where Ishmael’s hand will be against everyone

              • That is what is being referenced in Genesis 25:18b

            • While this narrative note is not positive, it still shows that God’s Word never fails

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God’s Word never fails.

            • There are hard sayings in Scripture (Read John 6:53-66)

            • There are difficult concepts for us to grapple with in God’s Word

            • There are things that God calls us to do that we do not always want to do (Read Luke 14:25-27)

            • There is discipline that God promises for our disobedience that we do not want to think about

            • And yet, God’s Word never fails (Read Joshua 21:43-46)

            • His Word provides guidance and direction for our lives

            • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Know and submit to God’s unfailing Word whether or not I understand it or agree with it.

          • God’s Word did not fail when He told Hagar that Ishmael would live in hostility towards his brothers – it happened even though it was not a positive revelation/word

        • Even though Ishmael’s line was not the chosen covenant line, God still cared about him and his descendants

        • God cares for all people, whether or not they believe in Him or are disciples of His Son, Jesus

 

  • YOU

    • Do not forget that God fulfills His promises!

    • Do you need to patiently wait for the Lord to strengthen your faith about the difficult situation you are currently facing?

    • Are you ready to submit to God’s unfailing Word?

 

  • WE

    • As a body of believers, we can help to support one another as we patiently wait for God’s perfect timing

    • We can also help support one another as we submit to God’s unfailing Word

 

CONCLUSION

“During the recent uprisings in the Middle East, Ron and Joke Jones, who serve with the Christian and Missionary Alliance in Israel, communicated the following in their prayer letter:

 

The result of the fighting and killing has left a profound sense of discouragement that hovers over the country. Several times we have come into closer contact with this conflict than our comfort zone allowed.

 

Yesterday a friend shared with us something she observed that was a delightful reminder of God's care for us. She watched a shepherd caring for his flock near the area where guns are fired. Every time the shots rang out the sheep scattered in fright. The shepherd then touched each of them with his staff and spoke calmly to them, and the sheep settled down immediately because they trusted the shepherd. And then another shot sounded, and the same routine happened again. Each time, the sheep needed the shepherd to orient them again and to reassure them they were safe.

 

We are like those sheep, and our Shepherd reaches out and touches us with his staff, speaking words of calm and comfort.”

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2001/january/12813.html]

9

 

Origins

Covenant Continued

(Genesis 25:1-11)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Witnessing to the holy love of God was always in John Wesley's mind. Even in death.

 

Here was a man who had preached more than 45,000 sermons, traveled (mostly on horseback) a distance equivalent to nine times around the world, written 233 books and pamphlets, and helped with the writing of 100 more.

 

But for Wesley, this was not enough. Even in death he witnessed to the love of God. Among Wesley's funeral instructions was the request that his body be buried in nothing more costly than wool. No silk or satin was to adorn the corpse from which his spirit had fled. And his last will and testament gave final seal to the gospel he had so long and courageously preached. He directed that ‘whatever remains in my bureau and pockets at my decease,’ was to be equally divided among four poor itinerants. He specially requested that neither hearse nor coach take any part in his funeral, and he desired that six poor men in need of employment be given a pound each to carry his body to the grave.”

 

Source: Adapted from J. Wesley Bready, "The Passing of a Prophet," Good News Magazine (July/Aug 1991).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2003/october/14655.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Will, Power of Attorney, and Living Will

        • After having the Life Institute come for the Stewardship Lifestyle Seminar, Judy and I decided that we needed to update our will

        • We did not have a Power of Attorney or a Living Will previously, so we added those to the list

        • Just last week we received the draft by email for our review

        • We are looking forward to having those documents up-to-date

    • Obituary

        • I have not really put any thought into what I would want in my obituary

        • The standard items will probably be there, like who has survived my death, who has preceded me in death, who my parents and wife were, and when and where I died.

        • Perhaps it will have what church I was a member of

        • I would like everyone to know that I was passionate about following Jesus as my Master

        • I would want people to know that I loved my wife, children, and grandchildren will all my heart

        • I would also hope that people would remember me for being passionate about teaching God’s Word and the importance of prayer

 

  • WE

    • We all should have a Will, Power of Attorney, and Living Will – have you all done that?

    • Has anyone thought about his or her obituary?

        • What would you like it to contain?

        • Are you going to write it yourself or leave that responsibility to the Funeral Director and surviving family members?

 

Abraham has lived a good long life and has experienced the faithfulness of God. ​​ Isaac is married to Rebekah and they have twin sons. ​​ In the first eleven verses of Genesis 25, we see Abraham’s last will and testament and his obituary. ​​ Abraham has remained faithful to the covenant that God began with him and instructed him to continue through Isaac. ​​ Abraham establishes that covenant in such a way that no one will question that Isaac is the covenant heir. ​​ Through Abraham’s example, we learn that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Obedience to God’s covenant brings blessing.

 

Let’s pray

  • GOD (Genesis 25:1-11)

    • The Will (vv. 1-6)

        • Genealogy with Keturah [ket-oo-raw’] (vv. 1-4)

          • Abraham took another wife

            • Scholars are split on whether Abraham married Keturah before or after Sarah’s death

            • Both sides have compelling arguments

              • After Sarah’s death

                • The sentence structure seems to indicate that Abraham married Keturah after Sarah died

                • Abraham lived another 37 years after Sarah’s death, so he certainly could have fathered six more sons during that time

                • God had renewed his vital powers in order to father Isaac in his old age (100 years old), so certainly God could have allowed those vital powers to continue after Isaac’s birth and Sarah’s death

                • If Abraham waited until Isaac was married, to take Keturah as his wife, there would have been 35 years until his death, which would have been plenty of time for the youngest son to be twenty or twenty-five when he is given gifts and sent away (Ishmael and Hagar were dismissed when he was about 15 years old) [Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Old Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006), paragraph 1832.]

              • Before Sarah’s death

                • She is identified as a concubine in verse 6, which could indicate that Abraham took her as another wife while Sarah was still alive

                • The Hebrew word for “took” can also be translated as “had taken,” which could leave room for the possibility that Keturah became his wife while Sarah was still living

                • The narrator has not put everything in chronological order, so perhaps the mention of Abraham taking another wife, happens prior to Sarah’s death

                  • In Genesis 25:19-34 the narrator will share the details of Jacob and Esau’s birth

                  • Abraham is still alive when the twins are born

                  • In fact Jacob and Esau are 15 years old when Abraham dies [Isaac married at 40 (Abraham is 140); Jacob and Esau are born when Isaac is 60 (Abraham is 160); Abraham dies at 175 (Jacob and Esau would have been 15)]

                  • So the narrative about Abraham’s death precedes the narrative about the birth of Jacob and Esau (the narratives are not in chronological order)

            • Fortunately, the main point of this passage does not stand or fall on whether or not we can determine if Abraham married Keturah before or after Sarah’s death

          • Abraham’s sons, grandsons, and great grandsons

            • Sons

              • Zimran [zim-rawn’] = musician

              • Jokshan [yok-shawn’] = snarer

              • Medan [med-awn’] = contention

              • Midian [mid-yawn’] = strife

                • Located east of the Gulf of Aqaba

                • They traded in gold and incense

                • “In the Pentateuch the Midianites initially have neutral standing as the traders who transport Joseph to Egypt, then a favorable standing because Moses marries into the family of the priest of Midian, Jethro. ​​ By the end of the period, however, they are in collusion with the Moabites in the disaster at Baal Peor – an event that places them firmly in the category of antagonists to Israel.” ​​ [Walton, The NIV Application Commentary, Genesis, 533]

              • Ishbak [yish-bawk’] = he releases

              • Shuah [shoo-aw’] = wealth

            • Grandsons

              • Jokshan’s sons

                • Sheba [sheb-aw’/shev-vaw’] = seven or an oath

                • Dedan [ded-awn’] = low country

              • Midian’s sons

                • Ephah [ay-faw’] = gloomy

                • Epher [ay’-fer] = a calf

                • Hanoch [khan-oke’] = dedicated

                • Abida [ab-ee-daw’/av-ee-daw’] = my father knows

                • Eldaah [el-daw-aw’] = God has known

            • Great Grandsons

              • Descendants of Dedan

                • Asshurites [ash-oo-ree’] = steps

                • Letushites [let-oo-sheem’] = hammered

                • Leummites [leh-oom-meem’] = peoples

              • All of these are in the plural, probably referring to people groups

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God keeps His promises.

            • God had made a covenant with Abraham as we saw in Genesis 17:4-6

              • “As for me, this is my covenant with you: ​​ You will be the father of many nations. ​​ No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations. ​​ I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you.”

              • The Lord changed Abram’s name to Abraham to reflect this covenant with him

              • What we see with the genealogy through Keturah is God keeping His promise to Abraham

              • These additional six sons and their descendants would be nations of people

              • Obedience to God’s covenant brings blessing.

              • Abraham was experiencing God’s blessing

            • Application

              • God continues to keep His promises today

              • He has not failed to keep every promise that He has made in Scripture

              • There are some promises that are waiting to be fulfilled when Jesus returns a second time

              • How have you seen God keep His promises to you? (take a moment to write those down)

              • Are there some promises, from His Word, that you need to claim for yourself today?

                • Peace (Isaiah 26:3, You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you.)

                • Provision (Philippians 4:19, And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.)

                • Protection (Psalm 91:4, He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.)

                • Presence (Deuteronomy 31:6, Be strong and courageous. ​​ Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.)

                • There are many more promises that you can claim from God’s Word

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Claim God’s promise of ____________ (peace, provision, protection, presence, etc.) in my life.

          • This genealogy is important because of what happens in verses 5-6

        • Last will and testament (vv. 5-6)

          • Abraham left everything to Isaac

            • This should not come as a surprise to us

            • The narrator already mentioned this in Genesis 24:36, My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns.

            • While Isaac was not Abraham’s first-born son, he was the first-born son to Abraham and Sarah, which was the covenant couple in God’s eyes

            • As the first-born son of covenant, Isaac receives all of his father’s possessions

              • Genesis 13:2, Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold

              • Genesis 23:6, “Sir, listen to us. ​​ You are a mighty prince among us. ​​ Bury your dead in the choicest of our tomb. ​​ None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.”

            • This does not mean that Abraham did not love his other sons or provide for them from his wealth

          • He gave gifts to everyone else

            • While Abraham was still alive, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines

              • The word “concubines” is in the plural

              • To our knowledge, through Scripture, the only two concubines that Abraham had were Hagar and Keturah

                • Hagar is only referred to as a “maidservant” (Gen. 16:2) and a “slave woman” (Gen. 21:10). ​​ Waltke states, “she probably could be designated ‘a concubine.’ ​​ Similarly, Bilhah is called both a ‘maidservant’ (30:3) and ‘concubine’ (35:22).” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 338]

                • Keturah is designated as a concubine in 1 Chronicles 1:32 when Ezra lists the ancestry of the nations

              • Neither of these women were the covenant or first wife of Abraham, that honor rested with Sarah

            • Abraham still provided for them

              • When Hagar and Ishmael are sent away they were given some food and a skin of water (Gen. 21:14)

              • My guess, from this passage, is that Abraham provided more than just food and water for Ishmael – perhaps he gave him livestock and flocks, gold, silver, and other possessions

              • Keturah’s sons probably received some of the same kinds of gifts, although, we are not told exactly what gifts were given

          • He sent them away to the east

            • “Abraham recognized his other children by giving them gifts and sending them away, thereby making sure they couldn’t supplant Isaac as the rightful heir.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 115]

            • The imagery of going east, in Genesis, is not only a geographical location, but also the physical separation from God and His blessing

              • Adam and Eve went east when they were evicted from the Garden of Eden

              • Lot went east when he separated from Abraham

              • The inhabitants of Babel had traveled east to build their tower

              • Jacob will flee to the east

              • All of Isaac’s potential rivals are dismissed to the east

              • God has chosen Isaac and his descendants as the covenant people to fulfill His covenant and purpose

              • Jesus will come through the line of Isaac

        • The will has been “executed” prior to Abraham’s death – Isaac gets everything and the other sons get gifts from their father’s estate

        • What comes next in the narrative is Abraham’s obituary

    • The Obituary (vv. 7-10)

        • Age

          • The narrator tells us Abraham’s age when he died

            • He was 175 years old

            • During Abraham’s time period, that was considered old

            • He had lived in Canaan for a century (100 years)

            • Isaac is now 75 years old

            • Jacob and Esau are 15 years old

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God keeps His promises.

            • This was a fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham

            • Genesis 15:15, You, however, will go to your fathers in peace and be buried at a good old age.

            • Abram was not told at that point what a good old age was, but we know now that it was 175 years old

          • We not only know how old Abraham was, but we also know a little about his frame of mind

        • Frame of mind

          • The phrase “full of years” includes both quantity and quality of life

            • “This obituary notice about Abraham draws attention to the fact that Abraham died not only at an elderly age but in a frame of mind filled with inner shalom and satisfaction.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 167]

            • “Several years ago I was talking with some lay people about a problem in one of our American denominations, and I asked why there had not been any progress in a certain area. ​​ One person [Gen, p. 724] replied, ‘There is not going to be any progress until some people die.’ ​​ Later I reflected on how sad it is when someone is such a problem that people actually wait for that person’s death and inevitably greet the news of it with thanksgiving.

              How different with those who have walked close to the Lord, having been a blessing to others by the quality of their life and testimony! ​​ Then, people are thankful for the life and not for the fact that it has ended.” ​​ [
              James Montgomery Boice, Genesis 12–36, vol. 2 of Boice Expositional Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1998), 723-724.]

            • “How few people really experience joy and satisfaction when they reach old age! ​​ When they look back, it is with regret; when they look ahead, it is with fear; and when they look around, it is with complaint.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 113]

            • I am reminded of something my father said several years ago, when he was reflecting on his life. ​​ He told me that he is ready to go home and be with the Lord. ​​ There is not anything else on a “bucket list” or any other thing he needs to accomplish in his life to feel fulfilled, satisfied, or at peace

            • How many of us know of family members who have expressed the same feelings?

            • That was the same frame of mind that Abraham had as he breathed his last

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – Living a faithful, righteous life brings joy and satisfaction.

            • Psalm 92:12-15, The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. ​​ They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.”

            • Where are you at today?

              • Frame of mind

                • Are you aging gracefully?

                • Are you at peace with God and with other people?

                • Are you looking forward to death with joy?

                • Are you satisfied with how your life has gone?

              • You have a choice!

                • Are you living a faithful, righteous life?

                • That kind of life brings joy and satisfaction

                • You can experience inner peace and satisfaction

                • You can say, like my father and many others, that you are fulfilled, satisfied, and at peace with your life

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Strive to live a faithful, righteous life, so that I can experience inner peace and satisfaction, as I grow old.

                • Some of us have more time than others to accomplish this

                • Embrace the time you have to live a life that is faithful and righteous

          • The final part of Abraham’s obituary is the location of his burial

        • Location of burial

          • Isaac and Ishmael come together to bury their father

          • It should not come as a surprise that he is buried in the same location as his wife, Sarah

            • It is the cave of Machpelah near Mamre

            • The cave was part of the field that Abraham had purchased from Ephron son of Zoar the Hittite

        • The final verse of this section transitions us from Abraham to Isaac

    • The Blessing (v. 11)

        • Isaac is living in Beer Lahai Roi, [be-ayr’ lakh-ah’ee ro-ee’] which is where Hagar had fled after being mistreated by Sarah

          • The name of the well there means, “well of the Living One who sees me”

          • That was how Hagar felt after being visited by the Lord at the well (Genesis 16:13-14)

        • God blessed Isaac

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God blesses His covenant people.

            • Isaac was the covenant son through whom the Messiah would come

            • He and his descendants had been set apart by God

            • As disciples of Jesus Christ, we are God’s covenant people, too

          • Obedience to God’s covenant brings blessing.

            • We can experience God’s blessing when we obey His covenant

            • There is a new covenant that God has given to us through Jesus Christ

              • Read Jeremiah 31:31-34 (also found in Hebrews 8:7-13)

              • We see four promises here [https://www.inversebible.org/assets/inverse/lessons/Covenants/INV-D-2021-Q2-L02.pdf]

                • “He [God] promises that He will write His laws in their hearts (Heb. 8:10), to sanctify them, to make them holy, aligning their hearts and characters with His.”

                • “He [God] promises to be their God and make them His people (Heb. 8:10) to reconcile them to Himself.”

                • “God promises to reveal Himself to the whole world , and He promises that the day is coming when that will not be necessary anymore, because everyone will know Him, from the least the greatest (Heb. 8:11)—the harmony of Eden will be restored.”

                • “God promises to forgive our sins and remember them no more (Heb. 8:12), in order to justify us so that we stand before God as though we had never sinned.”

              • 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: ​​ The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” ​​ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” ​​ For whenever you this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

                • After Jesus’ death, burial, resurrection, and ascension, He sent the Holy Spirit to live within His disciples

                • That is how we have God’s law in our minds and written on our hearts

                • We have God’s Word, the Bible, so we can know the Lord

                • God has forgiven our wickedness and sin through Jesus Christ

                • John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior, so I can experience the blessing of eternal life.

            • Obedience to God’s covenant brings blessing.

 

  • YOU

    • Is there a promise from God that you need to claim today?

    • Do you need to strive to live a faithful and righteous life, so you can experience inner peace and satisfaction?

    • Are you ready to experience the blessing of eternal life by believing in Jesus Christ as your Savior?

 

  • WE

    • We can encourage one another to claim the promises of God

    • We need to urge one another on in living a faithful and righteous life

 

CONCLUSION

“Ken Fuson actually wrote his own tribute before passing:

 

Ken Fuson, born June 23, 1956, died Jan. 3, 2020 in a Nebraska Medical Center, of liver cirrhosis, and is stunned to learn that the world is somehow able to go on without him. Ken attended the University of Missouri-Columbia’s famous School of Journalism, which is a clever way of saying, ‘almost graduated but didn't.’ Facing a choice between covering a story for the newspaper or taking his final exams, Ken went for the story. He never claimed to be smart, just committed.

 

In 1981, Ken landed his dream job, working as a reporter for The Des Moines Register. Ken won several national feature-writing awards. No, he didn't win a Pulitzer Prize, but he's dead now, so get off his back.

 

In 2011, Ken accepted a job in the marketing department at Simpson College, where he remained until 2018. He was diagnosed with liver disease at the beginning of 2019, which is pretty ironic given how little he drank. He is survived by his sons who all brought Ken unsurpassed joy. He hopes they will forgive him for not making the point more often. He loved his boys and was (and is) extraordinarily proud to be their father.

Ken had many character flaws - if he still owes you money, he's sorry, sincerely. He prided himself on letting other drivers cut in line. For most of his life, Ken suffered from a compulsive gambling addiction that nearly destroyed him. But his church friends never gave up on him. Ken last placed a bet on Sept. 5, 2009. He died clean. He hopes that anyone who needs help will seek it. Miracles abound.

 

Ken's pastor says God can work miracles for you and through you. Skepticism may be cool, and for too many years Ken embraced it, but it was faith in Jesus Christ that transformed his life. That was the one thing he never regretted. It changed everything. God is good. Embrace every moment, even the bad ones. See you in heaven. Ken promises to let you cut in line.”

 

Source:

Ken Fuson, Des Moines Register (1-8-9-20); Joseph Wulfsohn, Obituary goes viral after journalist pens his own funny, touching tribute,” Fox News (1-10-20).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2020/april/mans-own-hilarious-obituary-points-to-christ.html]

12

 

In Good Hands

You’re in Good Hands with – All State. That’s right, you are in good hands with All State. Probably all of us have seen the commercials for All State with these guys. The “You’re in Good Hands” slogan started in the 1950’s when a general sales manager at the insurance company rushed home after learning his daughter was ill. His wife, comforting him, noted that the girl was “in good hands” with the doctor. The manager recalled the incident at a sales meeting, and the slogan, “You’re in good hands with Allstate” was born. What are the qualities that All State wants their customers to believe they have that means they are in good hands? They want their customers to believe that they are knowledgeable, approachable and leaders in the field of insurance. They also want their customers to believe they are trustworthy, reliable and dependable, that they will take care of them when there is a problem and that there is nothing to worry about if you are insured by them.

Character is defined as attributes or features that make up and distinguish an individual; moral excellence and firmness. Your character, good or bad, is made up of different qualities and we all have the choice as to what our character will be. I think we all probably strive for the same qualities that All State wants their customers to believe they have. Those qualities also remind me of the character of God. God is trustworthy, reliable, dependable, he takes care of us and we have nothing to fear or worry when we are “in his good hands.” As Christ-followers we know from scripture and from our own experiences that we are “in good hands” with God. Psalm 33:4 says, “For the word of the Lord is upright, and all his work is done in faithfulness.” 1 Peter 5:7 says, “Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” Matthew 6:25-26 says, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

As we think about the character of God, I believe it is important to evaluate our own character. We should ask ourselves: Am I trustworthy, reliable and dependable? Do my loved ones feel cared for by me? Do people feel like they don’t have to worry if they have been placed in my hands or if a task is left in my hands? Do I possess the same character qualities as God? This brings us to the big idea we will explore this morning that God is pleased when we exhibit his character. We want to emulate the character of God. We want to be more like his son, Jesus. I believe that God will use us for his purposes when we exhibit his character and it is important for our witness as Christ-followers that others would say that they are in “good hands” with us.

Two weeks ago, Pastor Stuart, opened up the beginning of chapter 24 to us which tells the story of Abraham sending his servant to Mesopotamia to find Isaac a wife from his family/clan and not from among the Canaanite women. The servant was led by God to find Rebekah, who was the granddaughter of Nahor, the brother of Abraham. When Rebekah tells her family about what the servant had said and done, her brother, Laban, invites the servant into his house, gives his camels a place to stay and be taken care of, and places food before the servant and his men. But the servant would not eat until his story was told and that is where we pick up the passage this morning.

The phrase, “in good hands” will be important as we study this passage and see how the character qualities of the main players fit in with it. Before we begin, let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, we praise you for your many attributes. You are trustworthy, reliable and dependable. You care for us and we don’t not need to worry about anything because we are being held in your good hands. Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us this morning. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear what you want us to understand from this passage. Give us opportunities to share your good news with those in our spheres of influence who do not know you as their Lord and Savior. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

There are three points to the message this morning. The first is Witness, this is the witness of the Servant, found in Genesis 24: 34-49. This is what God’s Word says, “So he said, “I am Abraham’s servant. The Lord has blessed my master abundantly, and he has become wealthy. He has given him sheep and cattle, silver and gold, male and female servants, and camels and donkeys. My master’s wife Sarah has borne him a son in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. And my master made me swear an oath, and said, ‘You must not get a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, in whose land I live, but go to my father’s family and to my own clan, and get a wife for my son.’ “Then I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not come back with me?’ “He replied, ‘The Lord, before whom I have walked faithfully, will send his angel with you and make your journey a success, so that you can get a wife for my son from my own clan and from my father’s family. You will be released from my oath if, when you go to my clan, they refuse to give her to you—then you will be released from my oath.’ “When I came to the spring today, I said, ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come. See, I am standing beside this spring. If a young woman comes out to draw water and I say to her, “Please let me drink a little water from your jar,” and if she says to me, “Drink, and I’ll draw water for your camels too,” let her be the one the Lord has chosen for my master’s son.’ “Before I finished praying in my heart, Rebekah came out, with her jar on her shoulder. She went down to the spring and drew water, and I said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ “She quickly lowered her jar from her shoulder and said, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also. “I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ “She said, ‘The daughter of Bethuel son of Nahor, whom Milkah bore to him.’ “Then I put the ring in her nose and the bracelets on her arms, and I bowed down and worshiped the Lord. I praised the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to get the granddaughter of my master’s brother for his son. Now if you will show kindness and faithfulness to my master, tell me; and if not, tell me, so I may know which way to turn.”

The servant is giving witness to Rebekah’s family about everything that has happened from the time that Abraham has commissioned him to find a wife for his son until the present, with a couple variants. There is a lot going on and a lot to notice in this long narrative. The length, the detail and the retelling of the story shows how important this story is to the continuation of God’s promises to Abraham. The servant begins by identifying himself as Abraham’s servant and informing the family of his master’s abundant wealth. He is not modest as he lists all that Abraham owns such as sheep, cattle, silver and gold, etc. This list reflects what Abraham acquired in Egypt and Gerar and is a more comprehensive list of his wealth then we have seen before. He also tells them that Sarah has borne a son to Abraham in her old age and that the ​​ son has been given all that Abraham has. He is enticing Rebekah’s family to agree to allow her to marry Isaac. Why does he begin with Abraham’s wealth? He wants her family to believe that the son of Abraham has the wealth to take care of Rebekah. I also believe that the servant noticed that his gifts to Rebekah brought out the materialistic character in Laban. In verse 30 we notice that as soon as Laban saw the nose ring and bracelets on his sister’s arms and heard her story he makes a great show of hospitality towards the servant. He’s probably thinking there was more where that came from.

The servant twice mentions the oath he took to find a wife from Abraham’s family and not from among the Canaanite women. This shows the importance of finding a wife from Abraham’s family. Baldwin says, “The success of this enterprise was depended on the separateness of the people of God, a necessary condition for developing a counter-culture that would reflect their walk with God.” Notice that servant never mentions that Abraham commanded him not to bring Isaac to Mesopotamia. He probably thought it would give the family the idea they needed to meet the son first before giving their ok.

Up to now the servant has focused on Abraham’s wealth and his kinship with Rebekah’s family. Now he turns to how the providence of God led him directly to Rebekah. He recounts his prayer to God to show him the right woman and how God answered that prayer. The servant knew that God had led him to Rebekah because even before he was done praying she came to the well and gave the servant a drink when he asked her. Then the sign that he was waiting for was fulfilled when she offered voluntarily to water his camels. Further verification came when he asks Rebekah whose daughter she was and she answered that she was the granddaughter of Nahor who just happened to be Abraham’s brother. The servant knew that the Lord had led him to exactly the right place at the right time to find the right woman. He knew God was in control of all that happened and he bowed low and worshipped the Lord. Now the servant asks Laban and Bethuel to show him the same kindness and faithfulness that the Lord showed Abraham’s servant in finding Rebekah in the first place. He wants them to act in good faith the same way the Lord has and make a decision one way of the other. If they say “yes” then he can take her back to Isaac or if they say “no” he can move on to find someone else.

We see certain character qualities in the servant and Rebekah that are the reason why the Lord chose them to play such a huge part in the next installment of the blessing to Abraham and his descendants. The servant was loyal, patient, determined, and humble. He had integrity and a heart for prayer, thanksgiving and praise. He praises and worships God every time he answers his prayers. That brings us to the first next step on the back of your communication card. My next step is to be a person who prays before I act and to praise and thank the Lord for answered prayers. Rebekah was generous, kind, friendly, hospitable, practical and hard working as seen in volunteering to water the servant’s camels. Their character showed that the blessing was in “good hands.” The servant and Rebekah were able to be used by God for his purposes because they exhibited his character and I believe that God will use us as well for his purposes when we exhibit his character in our daily lives. (Big Idea).

Our next point is willingness and we will see this in the willingness of the bride to go back with the servant to Canaan. It is found in Genesis 24: 50-61. This is what God’s Word says, “Laban and Bethuel answered, “This is from the Lord; we can say nothing to you one way or the other. Here is Rebekah; take her and go, and let her become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has directed.” When Abraham’s servant heard what they said, he bowed down to the ground before the Lord. Then the servant brought out gold and silver jewelry and articles of clothing and gave them to Rebekah; he also gave costly gifts to her brother and to her mother. Then he and the men who were with him ate and drank and spent the night there. When they got up the next morning, he said, “Send me on my way to my master.” But her brother and her mother replied, “Let the young woman remain with us ten days or so; then you may go.” But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has granted success to my journey. Send me on my way so I may go to my master.” Then they said, “Let’s call the young woman and ask her about it.” So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. So they sent their sister Rebekah on her way, along with her nurse and Abraham’s servant and his men. And they blessed Rebekah and said to her, “Our sister, may you increase to thousands upon thousands; may your offspring possess the cities of their enemies.” Then Rebekah and her attendants got ready and mounted the camels and went back with the man. So the servant took Rebekah and left.”

Laban and Bethuel say they realize that the Lord has been at work in this matter and give their consent for the servant to take Rebekah to become Isaac’s wife as the Lord has directed. It is interesting because this part of Abraham’s family was probably not following the one true God as Abraham had been for close to a hundred years. Stenberg says, “The Mesopotamians undergo a process of discovery that brings home to them God’s management of the world.” And Hamilton says, “It is not the servant, Abraham or Isaac, but rather their God that Laban and Bethuel find persuasive.” God was in total control of this situation.

The servant worships the Lord for their. He provides the bride and her family with costly gifts. This would have been seen as the bride price and the “mohar” which would compensate the bride’s family for taking her away from her family. We notice that the servants gives the gifts to Rebekah’s brother and mother and not to the father. It seems that the father may had been ill and only brought out for the initial negotiations with the servant. Or it is also possible that it was normal for the brother and mother of the bride to take the lead in these types of negotiations. Finally, after the servant had recounted the story, after Rebekah’s hand in marriage had been given and the gifts handed out the servant and his men now eat, rest and spend the night knowing that the task was satisfactorily completed.

The next morning the servant announces that he is ready to leave and take Rebekah back to marry Isaac. This seems abrupt but he may have been worried that Abraham would not live long enough to see his new daughter-in-law. The family pushes back wanting Rebekah to stay with them for ten days before leaving. This was probably normal so the woman could spend some final days with her family knowing that they may never see each other again. It would have also made sure that the marriage arrangement was on the up and up. The servant though pushes back as well and plays the “God” card. Now that the Lord has granted him success in his journey he wants them to send him on his way. It was important for the servant to return to his master to report on the success of the mission. We see a determination to finish the task at hand as another of the servant’s character qualities. ​​ 

The family leaves the matter in Rebekah’s hands and without hesitation she says she will go with the servant. Rebekah recognized the will of God for her life and was willing to follow that will wherever it led. Discernment and obedience to the will of God were other character qualities of Rebekah. We also need to be discerning the will of God for our lives and then be obedient to that will. That brings us to the second next step on the back of your communication card which is to listen, discern and obey the will of God for my life. When our character aligns with the character of God, we can be better equipped to listen, discern and obey God’s will for our lives. Once Rebekah has decided to go, her family sends her and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men. It is interesting that neither Abraham’s servant nor Rebekah’s nurse is specifically named in this passage. As Pastor Stuart said two weeks ago, Abraham’s servant may have been Eliezer, but we aren’t told for sure. Rebekah’s nurse is named later in Genesis as Deborah. This anonymity may be so we focus on the major characters in this passage which are Rebekah and later on Isaac.

The last thing that Rebekah’s family does is bless her. Notice they did not invoke the name of the Lord with this blessing. They bless her to increase in numbers, to thousands upon thousands, and that her offspring would possess the gates of their enemies, meaning they would conquer their enemies. It is significant that these blessings mirror the blessings that God promised to Abraham. Mathews says, “The author (of Genesis) is declaring Rebekah the divinely chosen instrument who helps realize the promise made to Abraham and his descendants.” Rebekah’s character is equal to Abraham’s and she exhibits the character of God which means the fulfillment of the divine blessing is in “good hands.” After the blessing we see Rebekah, her maids, Abraham’s servant and his men mount their camels and leave for Canaan.

The final point this morning is welcome talking about the welcome of the bridegroom. We see this in Genesis 24: 62-66. This is what God’s Word says, “Now Isaac had come from Beer Lahai Roi, for he was living in the Negev. He went out to the field one evening to meditate, and as he looked up, he saw camels approaching. Rebekah also looked up and saw Isaac. She got down from her camel and asked the servant, “Who is that man in the field coming to meet us?” “He is my master,” the servant answered. So she took her veil and covered herself. Then the servant told Isaac all he had done. Isaac brought her into the tent of his mother Sarah, and he married Rebekah. So she became his wife, and he loved her; and Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

The narrative now turns to Isaac. It seems since we saw him last he has changed locations from Beer Lahai Roi to the Negev. What has probably happened is that in the time it took for the servant to go to Mesopotamia and back, Abraham has set Isaac up with his own homestead, in the hopes that the servant’s mission is successful. We notice that one night Isaac is out in the fields “meditating.” This word could mean “prayerful” or “contemplative” or even “lamenting.” We can only wonder what is going through Isaac’s mind. He has lost his mother who he was very close to. He is awaiting news of whether the servant has found a bride for him or not. It’s possible that he is lonely in that Abraham has set him up with a home but has not stayed with him there. He is probably regularly calling out to God in the pain of his mother’s loss, in his loneliness and in the uncertainty of what the future holds for his life.

Isaac “looks up” and sees the camels approaching and Rebekah also “looks up” and sees Isaac. To “look up and see” indicates that what is about to be seen is important. What is important is that Isaac and Rebekah get their first glimpse of each other. We are told that Rebekah gets off her camel. It seems in that time and place it was unladylike for a woman to be on a camel in the presence of a strange man. She asks the servant who is the man that is coming to meet them and when he tells her that the man is his master she covers herself with her veil. Notice that the servant now refers to Isaac as his master. We already heard that Abraham had given everything he had to Isaac, and this now includes his servant. She puts on her veil which was a mark of chastity, modesty and submission. Her face would now be covered until their wedding night.

The servant reports to Isaac all that had transpired and a number of things happen as we end the story and the chapter. One, Isaac brings Rebekah into the tent of her mother and marries her. This signified that just as Isaac has replaced Abraham within the blessing, so has Rebekah replaced Sarah. Rebekah now becomes the next mother in line to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham that he will become a great nation. Two, Isaac loved Rebekah. As with any arranged marriage the couple doesn’t start out loving one another but Isaac and Rebekah fell in love with each other and their marriage was more than a marriage of convenience. Lastly, Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death. It is clear that Sarah’s death deeply affected her son. Rebekah’s arrival would prove to be a source of solace and support. There would be a good balance and compliment in their home.

Other character qualities of Rebekah in this section are that she was alert and expectant. She was waiting to see the man whom she would spend the rest of her life with and when she saw him she obeyed God’s will for her and became his wife and a comfort to him after Sarah’s death. She was also chaste, modest and submissive. We also notice some character qualities of Isaac. He had a quiet and patient faith. He was seeking after the Lord as he meditated in the field. He showed grace and humility as he humbled himself to take Rebekah as his wife because the Lord had arranged and ordained it.

In his sermon titled "Think Hard, Stay Humble," Francis Chan told about a man named Vaughn who radiated the love of Christ to everyone around him: There were a couple of guys who came to his church who said they were inspired by their former youth pastor, a guy named Vaughn. The next week another person named Dan told Francis "I know Vaughn. He's a pastor in San Diego now, and he takes people into the dumps in Tijuana where kids are picking through the garbage. I was just with Vaughn in Tijuana. We would walk in the city, and these kids would run up to him, and he would show such deep love and affection for them. He'd hug them and have gifts and food for them. He'd figure out how to get them showers. Francis, it was eerie: the whole time I was walking with Vaughn, I kept thinking, If Jesus was on earth, I think this is what it would feel like to walk with him. He just loved everyone he ran into, and he would tell them about God. People were just drawn to his love and affection." And then Dan said this, "The day I spent with Vaughn was the closest thing I've ever experienced to walking with Jesus." Hearing this made me think, “Would anyone in their right mind say that about me? Would anyone say that about you? … As I thought about all this, I prayed, "Lord, that's what I want. I don't want to be the best speaker in the world. That doesn't matter. I don't want to be the most intelligent person on the planet. That's not what I want to be known for. I want to be known for someone saying, "Wow, he's a lot like Jesus."

God is pleased when we want to and strive to be more like Jesus. He is pleased when we exhibit his character. (Big Idea). Earlier I put forth that each of us need to look into our own hearts and evaluate our character. Does our character fall in line with God’s Word? Do we daily exhibit the character of God in our lives? That brings us to the last next step on the back of your communication card. My next step is to evaluate my character to see if I am exhibiting God’s character in my life. If we are that’s great and we must keep it up. If we aren’t then it is time we make the necessary changes to align our character with his.

As the praise team comes to lead us in a final song, let’s pray: Dear Heavenly Father, help us to be praying people and a thankful people for answered prayer. Help us to listen, discern and obey your will for our lives. And help us to evaluate our character and align it with yours. As we leave this place today give us divine appointments with those who do not know you as their Lord and Savior and use each of us as witnesses to your love, your holiness and your salvation. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

 

Origins

Led by the Lord

(Genesis 24:1-33)

 

INTRODUCTION

“I made my pastoral calls in the county hospital and walked back to my car in the parking lot. Just as I reached out to the car door to get inside, I heard, ‘Go see Bob.’ Bob was a retired fireman, seriously ill with heart problems and confined to a bed because of his ailment. He had recently made a decision to accept Christ and was making wonderful spiritual progress. I took what I heard to be the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but I protested, saying, ‘I was there not long ago. It's not time yet to go back again.’ The prompting persisted, so I got into the car, pulled out of the lot, and headed for Bob's place. It was just a few minutes away, up a rural road winding through beautiful, northern California hills.

 

I came to Bob's house, pulled into the driveway, and looked over to the big front window of the living room where Bob usually lay in a hospital bed.

 

Bob was lying there, but he looked different. I thought to myself, "He looks dead." I hurried to the front door and knocked. Evelyn, his wife, came to the door breathless and distraught. "Oh, I'm so glad you're here. Bob just died a few minutes ago!"

 

We sat together in the kitchen, not saying too much to each other as the man from the funeral home did his work in the other room, getting ready to remove my friend from the home. Quietly, when the time was right, I read from the Scripture, and Evelyn and I prayed, seeking God in the loss of her husband.

 

I've thought back many times to that afternoon, and I am so glad that I followed the leading of the Spirit. I got there just as someone needed me most.”

 

Source: Unknown.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2008/april/10040907.html].

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Divine prompting

        • I have experienced divine promptings throughout my life

        • Most of you know the story about my divine calling to pastoral ministry and how that was confirmed by multiple people in the weeks following that calling

        • There have been times when I have sensed the Lord prompting me to pray for or call certain individuals

          • It’s amazing to hear what those individuals were going through when I was prompted to pray for them

          • It gives me chills when I call someone and they need to talk about a situation they are going through

    • Obedience shows true faith

        • I had befriended another man who worked in the suite beside the one I worked in

        • During a break, one day, he was telling me that he was considering moving in with his girlfriend to save on expenses

        • The Lord prompted me to challenge him not to do that, but I chickened out

        • When I went back to my office, I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit for not being obedient

        • So, I prayed and asked the Lord to give me another opportunity to challenge this man

        • That opportunity came about a week later

          • We were standing outside chatting and I mentioned his comment about considering moving in with his girlfriend

          • I challenged him to trust God and not move in with his girlfriend

          • His response was something like this, “Thank you, I needed someone to challenge me on that.”

        • He claimed the name of Christ, yet he was considering doing something that he knew would tarnish that claim and witness

 

  • WE

    • Divine prompting

        • As disciples of Jesus Christ we all have probably experienced a divine prompting at one time or another?

        • How do we respond when those promptings come?

    • Obedience

        • Perhaps, like me, we all have experienced the conviction of the Holy Spirit for not being obedient to that prompting

        • Hopefully, we have all experienced the blessing of obedience, too

 

Abraham is getting older and is probably realizing that in order for God’s promise to be fulfilled, his son Isaac was going to have to get married and start having children. ​​ Abraham had a couple of criteria for this bride search that he had his chief servant swear to abide by. ​​ The servant understood the criteria, but asked what he should do if the woman refused. ​​ Abraham reassured him that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Where God guides, He provides.

 

Abraham’s faith had developed into a strong faith that trusted God to do what seemed humanly impossible.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 24:1-33)

    • Promise (vv. 1-9)

        • Abraham’s state (v. 1)

          • His age

            • The narrator tells us that Abraham is now old

            • Well advanced in years

            • It is believed that Abraham is almost 140 years

            • Isaac would be 40 years

            • Sarah has been gone two or three years

          • His status

            • God has blessed him abundantly

            • “Age and wealth are often signs of a blessed life (e.g., Job 42:12).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 326]

            • God had blessed Abraham in every way

              • Long life

              • Flocks and herds

              • Gold and silver

              • Male and female servants

              • Promised covenant son

              • Promise of land (a country)

          • The narrator moves from Abraham’s state to a conversation that he has with his chief servant

        • Instruction (vv. 2-4)

          • Chief servant

            • Most Bible translations have “oldest/eldest servant”

            • From that translation, many scholars believe that it could be Eliezer, who was his most trusted servant and household administrator

            • Genesis 15:2, But Abram said, “O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?”

            • We are not told if it is Eliezer, but if it is, he would also be old and advanced in years

          • Put your hand under my thigh

            • This must have been the customary way for oaths to be sworn in the Ancient Near East

            • The hand would actually be put under the male reproductive organ, since that was the source of life/offspring

            • “Westermann says, ‘The rite of touching the generative organ when taking an oath occurs elsewhere only in Gen. 47:29 where the circumstances are the same, namely, imminent death. ​​ The one who is facing death secures his last will by an ‘oath at the source of life.’’ (Westermann, 384” [Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 201]

          • Swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth

            • This was not a deity that the Canaanites or Abraham’s relatives in Mesopotamia worship

            • This is the only God who deserves to be called God

            • He is the God of the Creation and the Cosmos

          • Ethnic purity

            • Abraham urges his servant to not choose a wife for Isaac from the Canaanites

            • He instructs him to go back to Mesopotamia to find a wife from among his own relatives

            • NOTE: ​​ Abraham’s relatives were also polytheistic in their beliefs, so perhaps Abraham is more concerned about ethnic purity than religious practice

          • The instructions given by Abraham cause his servant to ask two legitimate questions

        • Question & Answer (vv. 5-8)

          • Questions

            • What if the woman does not want to come back to Canaan with me?

              • Keep in mind that the distance from Canaan to Mesopotamia is around 400 miles

              • It would take about a month for the servant to travel to Abraham’s home area

              • The woman would be leaving everything she knows and embracing her new family

              • There wouldn’t be any weekend trips home to visit her mom and sisters

              • She would be making a life-changing decision to accept the marriage proposal

              • The servant wants to know Abraham’s wishes in case Abraham passed away while he was gone

            • Do you want me to take Isaac back to Mesopotamia?

              • If the woman is unwilling to return with him, do you want me to take Isaac back to Mesopotamia?

              • The servant wants to know which criteria is most important to his master – wife from his own people or remaining in Canaan

            • We see Abraham’s answer to the two questions

          • Answers

            • Don’t take Isaac back to Mesopotamia!

              • God promised to establish my offspring in Canaan

              • Perhaps Abraham was concerned that if Isaac left Canaan that he would never return

              • Abraham believed God’s promise with all of his heart and never looked back

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – “True faith always results in obedience.” ​​ [Wiersbe]

                • It would have been easy for Abraham to abandon Canaan and return to what was familiar, but he held to God’s promise by faith

                • This is true for us as well

                  • When God calls us out of our comfort zone

                  • When He asks us to follow Him to a place that is far away from family and friends

                  • Do we follow in faith or resist in doubt and fear

                  • I declined the offer, twice, to move from Ohio to Missouri, to work at the headquarters of Child Evangelism Fellowship in the USA Ministries department

                  • We did not have any family in Missouri (I did have a cousin and her family in Kansas, but they were not close)

                  • Moving from Missouri to California took us further away from family

                  • We had faith that God was calling us to both of those places, so we obeyed in faith, trusting Him

                  • He blessed us with incredible friends and neighbors who became our surrogate family

                • Is God calling you to obey Him, by faith, in a particular area?

                • Are you resisting that calling?

                • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Obey the Lord’s calling on my life and follow Him by faith.

              • Abraham knew from past experiences that God would provide and so he encourages his chief servant

            • God will provide

              • Abraham reassures his servant that God would send His angel before him to prepare the way for his success

              • Where God guides, He provides.

              • Abraham was confident in God’s ability to transform the heart and mind of a young woman to accept the adventure of a lifetime

              • Abraham then helps to put his servant’s mind at ease

            • Release from oath

              • If the woman is unwilling to come back with you, then you will be released from the oath

              • Abraham reiterates again that he does not want Isaac to go back to Mesopotamia

          • With his questions answered and his mind at ease, Abraham’s servant is willing to swear the oath

        • Oath (v. 9)

          • Abraham’s servant places his hand under his master’s thigh

          • While doing that he promises to find a wife for Isaac from Abraham’s family in Mesopotamia and not to take Isaac back there

        • Once the oath is sworn, it is time to prepare for the trip

    • Preparation (vv. 10-11)

        • Before (v. 10)

          • The servant took ten camels and loaded them down with all kinds of good things (choice things, expensive things)

          • We are not told what these good, choice, expensive things are

          • In verse 22 we find out that there was a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets

          • The narrator leaves us in suspense as to other items that the servant took as a bride price

          • The location in Mesopotamia

            • We are told that the servant goes to the town of Nahor in the region of Aram Naharaim

            • The town of Nahor can either refer to the actual name of the town or to the town where Abraham’s brother Nahor lived (perhaps Haran)

            • Aram Naharaim means “Aram of the two rivers” [Mathews, 332]

              • Northwestern Mesopotamia [northern Syria and Iraq today]

              • The two rivers would have been the Euphrates and its tributary the Habor/Habur/Khabur

          • This was the preparation for the trip

        • PRINCIPLE #2 – God will direct us when we trust and obey His Word.

          • Abraham’s servant has a general idea of where he is supposed to go

            • This is more than Abraham had when he left Haran

            • If this chief servant has been with Abraham since he left Haran, then he would know where to go, but we are not given that information here

            • He has to trust and obey God’s word of guidance as he travels north

            • When we obey God’s leading by faith, He will direct us – where to go and what to do

            • We can claim that truth for our lives today – God will direct us when we trust and obey His Word

          • About one month passes between verses 10 and 11

        • After (v. 11)

          • In verse 11 we see the preparations of the servant after he arrives in the town

          • He has the camels kneel down near the well outside the town

            • This was strategic on the servants part

            • He was preparing to watch the evening trek to the well by the young women of the town

            • What better way to encounter women who could be potential wife material for Isaac

        • There is one more vital part of his preparation – prayer!

    • Prayer (vv. 12-21)

        • Prayer (vv. 12-14)

          • He addresses the Lord

            • Since he is Abraham’s liaison, he addresses the Lord as the God of my master, Abraham

            • This is does not mean that the servant does not have faith in the Lord

          • Requests

            • Give me success

            • Show kindness to my master Abraham

            • The servant needs to know which young woman is God’s choice for Isaac, so he asks for two specific things to identify her

              • First, when I ask a girl for a drink, she will lower her jar and give me a drink

              • Second, without prompting, she will recognize that my camels need water and offer to give them water too

            • He petitions the Lord again to show kindness to his master, Abraham

          • Aren’t you glad that the Lord knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:8) and because He knows before we ask, He is already acting on our behalf

        • Answer (vv. 15-21)

          • The Lord had already prompted Rebekah to leave her house and head to the well while Abraham’s servant is praying

          • The narrator gives us some key pieces of information

            • Genealogy

              • He does not keep us in suspense about whether or not Rebekah is part of Abraham’s family

              • While the servant does not know it yet, we are given insider information

              • Rebekah is the daughter of Bethuel

              • She is the granddaughter of Nahor and Milcah, Abraham’s brother and sister-in-law

            • Attributes

              • Rebekah is very beautiful – probably referring to her appearance

              • She is a virgin – in the Ancient Near East it does not necessarily means she has not been sexually active, but rather it means that she is of marriageable age

              • She is pure – no man had ever lain with her (which in our modern culture means she was a virgin, she had not been sexually active)

              • Again, the servant is not aware of these attributes when he sees her

            • At the moment, the servant is relying on the criteria he has asked the Lord about

          • Rebekah went down to the spring, filled her jar, and came up again

          • The servant is hopeful, so he hurries over to meet her

            • I’m assuming that Rebekah is the first woman to come to the well, which is why he hurries over to meet her

              • He is hopeful and enthusiastic about the Lord’s ability to answer his prayer

              • Just imagine if he had already approached multiple women and they had rejected his request for a drink or, if they gave him a drink, but didn’t offer to water his camels

              • I think his demeanor would have been less hurried with Rebekah

            • When he asks her for a drink, she lowers her jar and gives him a drink, then she offers to draw water for his camels until they are satisfied

              • She doesn’t waste time, but empties her jar into the trough

              • Then she ran back down to the well to get more water and continues this process until the camels were taken care of

                • Camels who have not had a drink for a couple of days could consume as much as 25 gallons of water to rehydrate

                • Multiply that by 10 camels and you have 250 gallons of water

                • On average, a water jar in the Ancient Near East, could hold up to 3 gallons

                • That would be a potential of 83 trips down to the well and back – talk about water aerobics

              • “When you see a man or a woman going out of his or her way to minister, you have found someone very special.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: ​​ Genesis-Job, 113]

            • While she is serving the needs of the camels, the servant is quietly watching her to discern if the Lord had made his journey a success

        • We can assume that he felt certain that the Lord had made his journey a success by what he does next

    • Presentation (vv. 22-25)

        • Gifts

          • The camels are satisfied and the servant is satisfied

          • So, he takes out a gold nose ring and two gold bracelets

          • It is apparent that he gives these items to her, because in verse 30, Laban saw her wearing them

        • Request

          • He then asks her whose daughter she is and if there was room in her father’s house for he and his companions to spend the night

          • She tells him that she is the daughter of Bethuel, the son of Milcah and Nahor

          • She answers his second request by telling him that they have plenty of resources and space to house them for the night

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God answers prayer!

          • We see that God answered the prayer of the servant through Rebekah

          • She willingly gave him a drink of water and then offered to water his camels

          • I am a huge proponent of praying specific prayers, because then we know when God answers them

            • I’m not talking about praying specific prayers that try to corner God or prosper individuals

            • I believe we can pray specific prayers according to God’s will and purposes and He will answer

            • Each week we share praise reports for answered prayer

          • We have to remember that God answers prayer in three ways

            • Yes, No, and Wait

            • There are times when we feel like God has not answered our prayers, because we did not get the answer we wanted or hoped for (so we actually missed His answer)

          • How we react to answered prayer is so important

        • That is what we see next in verses 26 and 27

    • Praise (vv. 26-27)

        • The servant bowed down and worshiped the Lord right in front of Rebekah, presumably

        • He again addresses his praise to the Lord, the God of my master Abraham

          • He acknowledges that the Lord has been kind and faithful to Abraham

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God is faithful!

            • We can trust in the faithfulness of God

            • That is His character and His character never changes

            • How have we seen the faithfulness of God?

              • At Idaville Church, we have seen the faithfulness of God through His provision for our finances, through salvations and baptisms, through spiritual growth, through the revitalization of the church, and so much more

              • Personally, we have seen God’s faithfulness through answered prayer for family members, through God’s provision for us financially, through healings, through His protection, and so much more

              • How have you seen God’s faithfulness in your life? ​​ (take a moment and write a couple of things down)

          • The servant also recognized the Lord’s faithfulness to him

            • He acknowledges that the Lord had led him to the house of his master’s relatives

            • This was Abraham’s nephew’s family that the servant would be staying with

        • PRINCIPLE #5 – Worship is the right response to God’s faithfulness.

          • When is the last time you have bowed down before the Lord and worshiped Him for His faithfulness?

          • In our busyness we may neglect to even thank the Lord for His faithfulness and answers to our prayers, let alone bow down before Him and worship Him

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Bow down before the Lord in worship for His faithfulness to me.

          • We are going to give everyone the opportunity to bow down before the Lord in worship during the closing song this morning

        • Rebekah understands the significance of what is taking place, so she runs back to her house

    • Provision (vv. 28-33)

        • Pronouncement (v. 28)

          • Rebekah told her family what had happened when she went to draw water at the well

          • Perhaps they were wondering where she was, since it probably took her a long time to water the camels

          • We learn that Rebekah has a brother named Laban (that name should sound familiar and he will play a significant role with Isaac and Rebekah’s son, Jacob)

        • Hospitality (vv. 29-33)

          • Perhaps Laban was running the household at this point, which is why Bethuel does not go out to greet the servant

          • It is probable that Laban either made preparations prior to going to the spring or gave instructions to the household servants to make preparations for the entourage

          • Laban hurried out to meet Abraham’s servant and invited him to stay with them

          • Perhaps the gifts that he gave Rebekah and his worship of the Lord, prompted Laban to address him as “blessed by the Lord”

          • The servant followed Laban back to Bethuel’s house

          • Hospitality shared

            • The camels were unloaded and given bedding and food

            • Water was brought for the travelers to wash their feet

            • Food was brought out for the men to eat

          • Urgency message

            • Since the Lord had so graciously and faithfully answered his prayer, the servant did not want to eat first

            • He wanted to share the purpose of his trip

            • Laban encourages him to tell them, but that’s a narrative for another time

 

  • YOU

    • Are you ready to obey the Lord’s calling on your life and follow Him by faith?

    • Are you ready to bow down before the Lord, in worship, for His faithfulness to you?

 

  • WE

    • We can encourage those in our congregation by affirming the calling God has place on their lives

    • We can model worship for God’s faithfulness by bowing down before Him

 

CONCLUSION

As the worship team leads us in the closing song this morning, I want to encourage everyone to come forward and bow down to the Lord in worship of His faithfulness.

14

 

Origins

The Deed Dance

(Genesis 23:1-20)

 

INTRODUCTION

Walt Disney made a statement that is the premise behind the animated movie Meet the Robinsons.

 

He said, “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. ​​ We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, doing new things, because we’re curious . . . and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Moving a lot

        • Since Judy and I have moved around a lot during our 30 years of marriage, we have not really thought about where we would be buried when we die

        • Most people don’t like to talk about death to begin with, much less, about burial plots

        • We have discussed it a couple of times over the past 30 years, but I’m not sure we have settled on anything yet

        • We haven’t purchased burial plots

        • We haven’t met with the funeral home to discuss their services

    • Wills, estates, and burial plots

        • I have started thinking more about it, especially after the Stewardship Lifestyle Seminar and meeting with the lawyer to discuss our will and estate planning

        • My family

          • Salem Cemetery in Chambersburg, PA (Johns and Rife) – my parents will be buried there

          • Browns Mill Presbyterian Cemetery in Chambersburg, PA – behind Rhodes Grove Camp & Conference Center (Hykes and Kennedy)

        • Grove family

          • With Mabel Groves’ funeral this week, I was reminded again that Judy and I do not have burial plots

          • When we had the burial service at Barrens Salem Union Cemetery, the family was showing me the other headstones where extended family has been buried

 

  • WE

    • How about you and your family?

        • Most families have a particular cemetery where most of them have been buried or will be buried

        • This is usually the case with most families

    • Long standing tradition

        • This is not a recent tradition in our lifetime or even the generation before us

        • The idea of a family burial place comes to us from the Patriarchs

        • Abraham was just as concerned about securing a family burial space

        • I’m in good in company, because Abraham did not plan ahead for this either

        • It wasn’t until his wife Sarah’s death that he secured the family burial plot

 

Abraham was fully committed to God’s divine plan for him and his descendants. ​​ Once he entered the Promised Land, he didn’t look back – he kept moving forward. ​​ As we will see in Genesis 23:1-20, today, Abraham doesn’t take Sarah back to Mesopotamia to bury her. ​​ Rather, he purchases property in Canaan. ​​ What we will learn from Abraham’s example is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Faith in God’s divine word gives us strength and confidence to keep moving forward.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Genesis 23:1-20)

    • Death (vv. 1-2)

        • Sarah’s age

          • Sarah is the only woman in the Bible whose age is revealed

            • Fun note: ​​ perhaps this is why we never ask a woman her age

            • We know she is 127 years old when she dies

          • “All that we know of Sarah’s activities between the age of 90 and 127 is that she gave birth to Isaac and died thirty-seven years later.” ​​ [Hamilton, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 18-50, 125]

          • It is three years before Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah

          • Abraham is 137 years old

          • They have been in Canaan for sixty-two years

        • Where she died

          • Kiriath Arba

            • This would have been the name of the town when Abraham and Sarah lived there

            • The narrator gives the audience the modern city name to help them know where he is talking about

            • Joshua 14:15, (Hebron used to be called Kiriath Arba after Arba, who was the greatest man among the Anakites.)

            • “‘Kiriath Arba’ means ‘city of four’ (qiryat ʾarbaʿ), which may originally have referred to a group of four related cities (Aner, Eschcol, Mamre, and Hebron, see comments on 14:14).” ​​ [Mathews, The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26, 315]

          • In the land of Canaan – the Promised Land

        • Abraham’s grief

          • The passage makes it sound like Abraham was somewhere else when Sarah passed away

          • He was not in Hebron at the time, so where was he?

            • Genesis 22:19, Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. ​​ And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.

              • This was just after Abraham and Isaac returned from the top of Mt. Moriah, where the Lord tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice Isaac

              • If you remember, it was a three-day journey from Beersheba to Mt. Moriah (close to Jerusalem) [50-60 miles]

            • Beersheba is 26.4 miles south of Hebron (it would have been about a day and half journey)

              • Perhaps Sarah remained in a clan community in the grove of Mamre near Hebron while Abraham and Isaac helped with the flocks and herds in Beersheba

              • Abraham had dug a well in Beersheba when he and Abimelech struck a contract

              • It would have been a natural place for them to shepherd their herds and flocks, since the well was there

            • Abraham followed the mourning rites of the ancient Near East as he mourned and wept for Sarah

          • Mourning and weeping

            • The mourning rites would have included “loud weeping, tearing clothes, sitting in dirt, wearing sackcloth, and shaving the head.” ​​ [Mathews, 315]

            • Mourning would “involve crying out, exclamations of grief that may be a ritual lament, although not the cries of a formal poetic lament.” ​​ [Mathews, 315]

              • It was not uncommon in Biblical times for the surviving family members to mourn loudly

              • The neighbors would have known immediately that someone had died, because of the loud laments of the family

              • In some cases, there were professional mourners who would join the family in their grief

              • Our grief today is much more subdued, though I have experienced family members who have wept openly and loudly

              • There is certainly nothing wrong with expressing our grief openly and loudly

            • Weeping was how a person would express their grief either over the death of a loved one or a difficult situation – it has the idea of shedding tears

            • Warren Wiersbe relates this encounter, “The late Vance Havner had a wife named Sarah. ​​ Shortly after her untimely death, I was with Dr. Havner at the Moody Bible Institute, and I shared my condolences with him. ​​ ‘I’m sorry to hear you lost your wife,’ I said to him when we met in the dining room. ​​ He smiled and replied, ‘Son, when you know where something is, you haven’t lost it.’” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 111]

              • What a great reminder for us today

              • Philippians 1:21-23, For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. ​​ If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. ​​ Yet what shall I choose? ​​ I do not know! ​​ I am torn between the two: ​​ I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;

              • Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-8

              • Revelation 14:13, Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” ​​ “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”

              • When our loved ones, who have a personal relationship with Jesus, depart from this world, we can rejoice, because they are not lost – they are with Jesus!

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Rejoice over my loved ones who have passed away and had a personal relationship with Jesus, because they are with Him now.

              • This is the hope we have as disciples of Jesus Christ – we will one day be with Him also

              • Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

        • As soon as Abraham completes his mourning and weeping, he sets his sights on purchasing a burial location for Sarah

    • Deed (vv. 3-18)

        • This section is broken into three movements that all begin the same Hebrew word, qûm or wayyāqom in the Qal form

          • It is translated “rose” in verses 3 and 7 (arise: after lying down; from bending over the dead)

          • It is translated “was deeded” in verses 17 and 20 (stand: especially figuratively; be established, confirmed, of purchase)

        • First movement (vv. 3-6)

          • It includes the initial round of negotiations with the Hittites

            • Abraham rose (qûm) – he got up from beside Sarah’s body after mourning and weeping

            • Abraham’s request

              • Alien and a stranger

                • Abraham addresses the Hittites (the sons of Heth)

                • “A ‘resident alien’ (gēr; cf. 15:13) is someone who does not belong by right in a place; a ‘settler’ (tûšāb) is someone who is nevertheless staying there semi-permanently.” ​​ [Goldingay, Baker Commentary on the Old Testament, Pentateuch, Genesis, 367]

                • Abraham had tenant status with them, since he had been living among them for years (settler idea)

                • A stranger had some recognition in the community, but could not own property of his own [Kidner cited by Gangel & Bramer, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Genesis, 200]

                • “The truth was that Abraham owned the whole land. ​​ God had given it to him, but there was no way he could convince his neighbors of that.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 111]

                  • Imagine going to the current residents of a home and telling them that God has given you their home

                  • How do you think that conversation is going to go?

                • Instead, Abraham comes humbly before the Hittite people

              • Sell me some property

                • Abraham humbles himself before the Hittites and asks for permission to buy property in their land, which would give him a permanent foothold in Canaan

                • Abraham would no longer be an alien and stranger, but rather a land owner and a permanent part of the community

                • From this little parcel of land, the descendants of Abraham would fill the whole land

                • “The man has no land of his own, but by acquiring Hittite property he demonstrates his reliance on the prior promise of the Lord (cp. Jer 32:6-15).” ​​ [Mathews, 317]

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is pleased when we have faith in His divine promises.

                  • Abraham believed God for the birth of Isaac and it was credited to him as righteousness (Genesis 15:6)

                  • Abraham had faith that God would establish his descendants in Canaan and therefore he asked to purchase land in Canaan to bury his dead

                  • God always keeps His promises

                  • He promises to never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5-6; Matt. 28:20)

                  • He promises to always love us (Jer. 31:3)

                  • He promises to forgive our sins when we confess and repent (1 John 1:9)

                  • He promises to provide for us – supply all our needs according to His riches (Phil. 4:19); He will add all these things to us when we seek His kingdom and righteousness first (Matt. 6:33); God, who didn’t spare His own Son, will also graciously give us all things (Rom. 8:32)

                  • There are so many more promises of God found in His Word

                  • Where do we need to exercise our faith in God’s promises?

                  • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust by faith that God will fulfill His divine promises in my life.

                • Faith in God’s divine word gives us strength and confidence to keep moving forward.

              • Abraham needed some land with a cave on it to bury his dead

            • Hittites’ response

              • Mighty prince

                • The Hittites recognized Abraham’s status within their community

                • They called him a mighty prince

                  • In Hebrew it means, “a prince with God,” “a prince of God,”

                  • They see Abraham as “God’s elect one” [Hamilton, 129]

                  • They recognized God’s protection and provision for Abraham (He was given animals and slaves from Pharaoh and Abimelech and Sarah received a thousand shekels of silver from Abimelech)

                  • Abraham had defeated the five kings that had attacked the region where Sodom and Gomorrah were located and returned all of the people to that region

                  • Abraham had become very wealthy with silver, gold, and animals

                  • Abraham was well known throughout Canaan

                  • Overall he had a good reputation with the people of Canaan

                • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is glorified when our lives testify about Him.

                  • We have the same opportunity that Abraham did, but in our own communities

                  • Do our lives testify about the Lord’s protection and provision?

                  • Do our lives testify about how awesome God is?

                  • Do our lives show others the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

                  • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Glorify God by living a life that testifies about Him.

                • Because of Abraham’s reputation in Canaan the Hittites inform him that he can have his pick of any of their tombs

              • Have your choice of our tombs

                • The Hittites offer their choicest tombs to Abraham

                • They are willing to have Sarah buried in any of their tombs

                • Important note: ​​ The offer does not include land ownership, but simply space in their tombs

                  • There was normally a preparation table in each tomb where the bodies were prepared for burial

                  • There were other chambers where the most recently deceased person was laid

                  • Eventually, the remaining bones were piled up in the back of the tomb

                  • So, we see why the Hittites were amiable in offering their tombs to Abraham

                  • Perhaps they assumed that Abraham would take her bones when he moved on [Goldingay, 367]

          • The first movement ends with the offer of any tomb, but Abraham has a specific cave in mind

        • Second movement (vv. 7-16)

          • It includes two additional rounds of speeches

            • First round is addressed to the “people of the land,” but also includes the specific piece of land that Abraham is desiring from Ephron (vv. 7-11)

              • Abraham rose (qûm) – he got up from sitting in the gate of the city (v. 7)

                • Abraham continues to be respectful and humble as he makes his specific request

                • He stands up only to bow down before the Hittite people, in respect

              • Abraham’s request (vv. 8-9)

                • Abraham is still feeling out the situation with the Hittites when he says, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead . . .”

                • He asks the Hittite leaders to intercede on his behalf with Ephron son of Zohar

                • Ephron owns a field that has a cave at the end of it

                  • The cave is named Machpelah

                  • The name actually means “double-cave” or “split-cave”

                  • Perhaps there were to chambers in this cave, either side-by-side or one on top of the other

                • Abraham is only interested in the cave at the end of the field, and is willing to pay the fair market value for it

              • Ephron’s response (vv. 10-11)

                • Ephron was sitting among the Hittites that were gathered

                  • At the end of verse 10 the city is identified as his city

                  • Perhaps Ephron was the main leader of the city where he lived

                • Ephron offers both the field and the cave that is on it to Abraham as a gift

                  • We have to understand that this was the typical bargaining process in the ancient Near East

                  • Ephron was not really offering the field and cave for free

                  • “If Abraham had accepted the land as a gift when it was offered, he would have insulted Ephron, who then would have rescinded his offer. ​​ Many Middle Eastern shopkeepers still follow this ritual with their customers.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Genesis 23:10-15]

                  • Had Abraham accepted the free offer, Ephron’s family could potentially come back after his death and reclaim the field and cave

              • Abraham understood the bargaining ritual, so he continues his dialogue with Ephron

            • Second round addresses Ephron directly and the payment for the field and cave (vv. 12-16)

              • Abraham once again bows before the people of the land in respect

              • Abraham offers to buy the field that the cave sits on

              • Ephron continues the bargaining process by stating that the land is worth 400 shekels of silver

                • This was an exorbitant price for the field, especially based on other land transactions found in Scripture

                • “David paid only one-eighth that amount—50 shekels of silver—for the purchase of the temple site from Araunah (2 Sam. 24:24). ​​ Jeremiah paid 17 shekels of silver for his cousin’s field in Anathoth (Jer. 32:9). ​​ Omri paid fifteen times as much as Abraham—two talents of silver (6,000 shekels)—for the large hill of Samaria (1 K. 16:24).” ​​ [Hamilton, 135]

                • Ephron didn’t consider the price exorbitant, because he states, but what is that between me and you?

                • He probably knew how wealthy Abraham was

                • “The custom of the day was to ask double the fair market value of the land, fully expecting the buyer to offer half the stated price.” ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Genesis 23:16]

              • Abraham agrees to the price without haggling and weighs out the 400 shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants

              • The transaction was done in the presence of the people of the land, so that there were plenty of witnesses

          • With the purchase complete, the final movement summarizes everything that just happened

        • Third movement (vv. 17-18)

          • The property and location

            • The field, cave, and trees within the borders of the field

            • Machpelah near Mamre

          • The people

            • Ephron

            • Abraham

              • This is the third time that (qûm) is used

              • Here it is translated as “was deeded,” “made sure,” “established,” “secured”

              • “Literally, the phrase is ‘rose [and went over] to.’ ​​ That is, the deed ‘rose and went to Abraham.’” ​​ [Waltke, Genesis: A Commentary, 321]

            • Plenty of witnesses – all the Hittites that had come to the gate of the city

        • The transaction is complete and Abraham can finally bury Sarah

    • Done (vv. 19-20)

        • I’m sure that Abraham didn’t waste any time in completing the burial process

        • The location of the cave is mentioned again

        • The transfer of ownership is mentioned one last time

 

  • YOU

    • You don’t have to weep like those who have no hope

        • When your family members, who have a personal relationship with Jesus, pass away, you can rejoice, because they are with Jesus

        • They are not lost

    • God keeps His promises

        • He will never leave you or forsake you

        • He will always love you and forgive you, when you repent

        • He will always provide for you, and so much more

        • So, you can trust by faith that God will fulfill His divine promises in your life

    • Glorifying God with your life is an incredible way to testify about Him with others

 

  • WE

    • We can rejoice with friends who have believing family that have passed away, because we know where they are at (we can also mourn with them as they grieve)

    • We can encourage each other with the promises of God, found in Scripture

    • We can urge each other on in living lives that glorify God

 

CONCLUSION

“In November 1858, missionary John Paton landed in the New Hebrides to establish a ministry among the people. ​​ On February 12, 1859, his wife gave birth to a son; and on March 3, his wife died. ​​ Seventeen days later, the baby died. ​​ ‘But for Jesus and the fellowship He gave me there,’ said Paton, ‘I must have gone mad and died beside that lonely grave.’

 

But we do not sorrow as those who have no hope! ​​ We have been born again, ‘to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead’ (1 Peter 1:3, NKJV), and we are ‘looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ’ (Titus 2:13).”

 

[Wiersbe, 113]

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