Obedience to God's covenant brings blessing.
Genesis(86) (Part of the Origins(84) series)
by Stuart Johns(199) on May 15, 2022 (Sunday Morning(282))
Faithfulness(13), Promises(11), Righteousness(8), Salvation(64)
“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).
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
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 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.
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
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
Sheba [sheb-aw’/shev-vaw’] = seven or an oath
Dedan [ded-awn’] = low country
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
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
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)
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.
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 can encourage one another to claim the promises of God
We need to urge one another on in living a faithful and righteous life
“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.”
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).