Abraham, Isaac, Jacob & Sons
Before we embark on the life of the Patriarchs, we need to make mention of two additional incidents in Genesis in order to complete our investigation of the Seed’s journey down the Adamic generations in preparation for its manifestation.
In Genesis chapter 10, we read about Nimrod, the mighty warrior. Most of the genealogies of chapter 10 are devoted to the children of Ham, and that for a good reason. I want to emphasize this fact once again that the entire Old Testament history with its intricate details, such as the extensive genealogies, is a picture of the conflict that God and Satan have and even today are engaged in because of the Seed of God, who is none other than Jesus Christ, the redeemer and the King of the universe. From the first pages of the bible in Genesis, Satan, having realized the imminent end of his rebellious kingdom, has been engaged in a covert and seditious attempt to prevent God from achieving His goal of reestablishing His sovereignty and kingdom on this planet through the instrumentality of man, the chosen vessel of God’s intents. This must remain the foremost and paramount thread holding together divine history. Creation, redemption, and the eventual restoration and glorification of man through Jesus Christ our Lord, is the cause and the outcome of this conflict between the forces of evil and the divine. The Seed promised in Eden and its subsequent history and manifestation are truly awesome and worthy of our worship and homage. He gave His all in the person of His Son to conclude all matters so beautifully and become “All and in All”.
In this chapter immediately following the flood, Hamites, as representatives of the demonic powers in pursuit of the Seed, are in focus. It seems that as soon as the flood subsided and things went back to “normal”, the children of Ham began a rapid growth and expansion, once again attempting to usurp power and dominion, contrary to what God had pronounced through the mouth of Noah. Here we immediately see the first ruler of the Hamite dynasty, Nimrod. It seems that Nimrod very quickly took control of the powers of government and established a center for his name and tribal ancestry. He built Babel, Calneh, Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen. Notice how quickly he built all the major civilized cities of the ancient world, all with one intention in mind, as his name reveals: “mighty hunter”. He was a mighty hunter in search of the descendants of Shem. Later in the history of the Hamites we will see their relentless pursuit of the Shemites who were carriers of the Seed of redemption and deliverance of the entire human race.
Chapter 11 of Genesis brings us to new heights in the history of man and his quest for godhood and dominion without the knowledge of the true God. The opening verses state that “the whole earth had one language and one speech”. What was wrong with having one common language? After all, isn’t that a much more convenient way for humans to communicate with each other and avoid all misunderstanding and confusion? Isn’t it better to be united rather than divided? Just look how the world today is slowly moving in a similar direction to unify mankind by even making one particular language, in this case English, the universal language of the world. It all seems reasonable and logical, but there is a deadly and dangerous spirit behind it – the spirit that looks to destroy the “Seed” of God in the people of God, the church now, and later in the last seven years of this part of world history, Israel.
Satan was attempting to keep the people of the world united but in his own terms. They could all be united but in subjection to the children of Ham. Let the Hamites rule and everything would be acceptable. The unification and the retention of a common language was a very wise ploy by of Satan to maintain his grip on the peoples of the world through the Hamites. The erection of the tower of Babel in the land of Shinar is not just a last minute wish of a dictator, but a very carefully calculated scheme to deflect attention from the real problem of man – his lost spiritual condition – and from the Shemites representing the hope of recovery to all mankind through the coming of the Seed. Babylon was Satan’s attempt to usurp focus and sovereignty from God. Satan’s agents acting in accordance with the wishes of their spiritual master, were to exert power and influence upon all the peoples of the world in order to bring everyone into conformity to the image of Satan. What Satan had failed to do once before, prior to the flood, by invading the human gene pool, was now being attempted by controlling the linguistic and consequently the communicative and intellectual faculties of man in order to achieve the same end result. The Shemites would have had to bow to the will of the majority and conform to the principles of Babylon, abandoning their call to be the carriers of the Seed.
I must, of course, emphasize that not all Shemites were aware of their predetermined calling and destiny, and as such were generally unaware that they were the carriers of the Seed in a conscious way. Some of them, by divine revelation, had sensed that there was something special about their lineage. After all, they probably reminded each succeeding generation of the prophecy of their great father Noah and its implication. And God perhaps strengthened this sense in at least some of them, who later became the ancestors of Abraham. This is evident in chapter 11 of Genesis, which begins with the disaster in Babylon and ends with the lineage of the Shemites, and in particular, with Abraham, the son of Terah.
God recognized the danger that inherently existed in the Babylonian proposal “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth”. So He decided to end this demonic scheme by separating the people of the world through diverse languages, thus creating very distinct nations in order to preserve humanity from the merciless assault of the enemy. In Acts 17:26-27 Paul indicates that God created and separated the nations so that in their separated state, they would seek and search and ultimately find Him. I am not advocating racial purity or superiority. All I am highlighting is a principle that God instituted in Genesis 11 to prevent the mass corruption of the human race. Language and communication are today at the very heart of an attempt to globalize the world under a common economic, political and social banner. This stems from the same spirit that began in Nimrod and will end in the person of the Antichrist. The Babylonian principle is once again being resurrected for one main reason: ultimate control of the human populations and the eventual persecution of those who are carriers of the Seed, Jesus Christ (Revelation 12). Also notice that in the Babylonian statement, they readily admitted that the top of the tower already existed in heaven. It needed no construction. The language indicates that they meant a connection from earth to the heaven where Lucifer held his seat of power. It resembles the vision of Jacob as he witnessed a ladder with its top in Heaven, but it standing on the earth. The only difference here was that first of all, it was not a ladder (which pointed to the fact that approaching God was an individual act and not a national or corporate act), but a tower which was capable of transporting masses of people all at once to the gates of the heavens. Secondly, the tower was an architectural marvel and a masterpiece of man’s personal attempts to reach deity and not a divine initiative as demonstrated in the vision of the ladder. Jacob did not build anything to ascend to Heaven. He witnessed what God had already constructed for His purposes. The ladder spoke of the sovereignty of God through His son Jesus Christ, who in John reminded Nathanael of this truth by saying, “Most assuredly I say to you, hereafter you shall see heaven open and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man” (John 1:51). The Tower of Babel would have ended in one specific location, the throne of the Devil. Once man reached that level of evilness and had a face to face encounter with Satan, there would be no redemptive remedy available since Satan would have possessed all of mankind. What Satan attempted to do in Genesis 6 through his angelic forces and for which he was severely rebuked and restrained by God, now would be received by man voluntarily. God had to act; otherwise there would remain no humans on earth who would be immune to demonic possession including the children of Shem, whose genealogy is immediately listed following the actions of God in Babel as proof of their preservation from this great harm. The Seed was safe and secure in the children of Shem. Once again God had avoided a near disaster and preserved His Son’s Seed by divine intervention.
We now come to the election of Abraham as the Seed carrier of God in Genesis 11:26 to Genesis 12.
Abraham’s life is most interesting and full of deep and precious lessons for the believer. Books can be written about all that occurred in the life of this man of faith, but we will only mention a few outstanding facts and principles.
First, we notice his call to leave his homeland of Ur of Chaldeans and to journey to the land of Canaan. One may ask why Abraham and not some other person? First of all we know by reading chapter 11 of Genesis that he was from the lineage of Shem which qualified him to be a carrier. Secondly, and most certainly, the Lord found in him a receptive quality to this great invitation. Let’s not forget that the Hamites had turned the Euphrates region into a thriving center of civilization; the land of Canaan was a wasteland in comparison. There was not much to desire in a land engulfed by numerous deserts and wildernesses, and yet, Abraham was able to believe that God had a better plan and destiny in mind for him. When we hear the message of the Gospel, in reality, the content of that message should be such as to invite us to leave where we currently are spiritually, and by faith in the finished work of Christ, venture out into the destiny that God has prepared for us. Salvation, as we understand in Christianity, is not just leaving Ur, but also possessing and inheriting what God has destined for us. The first phase of salvation is a “coming out” which is an instantaneous act of repentance and experiencing God’s forgiveness. This has been shown in type in the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt by the blood of the Passover. But there is another phase, a “going in”, which is achieving the fullness of God’s call and purpose, as portrayed by the entrance of Israel into the land of Canaan. In Deuteronomy 6:23 we read, “Then He brought us out from there, that He might bring us in, to give us the land of which He swore to our fathers (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob)”.
The word OUT refers to the redemptive act of God in delivering Israel by the Passover blood out of Egypt – a type of the believer’s salvation from sin and death. The word IN refers to a progressive and life-long preparation and ultimate achievement of fullness, and the coming into the pre-destined purpose of God for His faithful children, by the operation of principles we call “the principles of the cross and Sonship”. Both of these words are essential and complementary. One without the other cannot stand and will render the purpose of God ineffective in our lives. Salvation alone, escape from the fires of judgement and Hell, even though sufficient for atonement and deliverance from God’s wrath and condemnation, is not sufficient for achieving the fullness of God’s plan and purpose for our lives. Many Christians are happy just to be saved and never bother to run the race of faith and take hold of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. They are on the right side of Egypt and the wrong side of Canaan so to speak. They have eternal life but are barren and ineffective just as Peter warns and admonishes us in his second letter chapter 1, verses 1-12. Similarly, Abraham, he not only had to leave Ur, but had to also enter Canaan and take possession of the land by faith and trust in his God’s all-sufficiency and provision. The erection of altars in the land of Canaan, as he journeyed from place to place, was a symbolic declaration that he, Abraham, had taken full possession of the land, and that the region under the scope of the altar erected, was now a territory of God’s kingdom and no longer Satan’s (as represented by the Hamite races resident in Canaan). Abraham understood and demonstrated the twofold meaning of his calling, one being the departure from Ur and the other being the full possession of the land. The Seed that God had predetermined to be revealed some day through the Shemites not only required individual vessels who would faithfully and uncompromisingly “walk before” Him and be “blameless” (Gen. 17:1), but also required a realm where the Seed would have the opportunity to be brought forth and manifested to the world. God’s economy requires both an individual and a land for the development of the Seed and its ultimate manifestation. In the Old Testament, as demonstrated by Abraham and subsequently the children of Israel, the individual calling and the land of Canaan were of paramount importance in fulfilling this long awaited promise. That is why the land of Israel was, and still is so precious to the children of Israel. Those who had the spiritual eyes to see what God desired to accomplish through them knew that the land must not only be possessed, but also cleansed and prepared for the Seed. How many times do we see in the Old Testament, battles over the land, and God warning Israel not to pollute land. Idolatry and other detestable practices of Canaanite nations and later of the Israelites, had consistently polluted the land which was so much required by God as the realm of the eventual revelation and manifestation of the Savior and Redeemer “Seed”. The entire Old Testament is filled with struggles over this issue. The prophets cry out and weep over the land and its corrupted condition. The kings were appointed by God to preserve the land from the enemies of Israel so the Seed could peacefully and in purity be developed and passed on to the following generations. The priests were appointed in order to prepare the hearts of the people to worship properly and receive the person of the Seed. These offices and institutions were not merely there as a formality. They were there, along with prophets, as the voice of God’s alarm and correction, to maintain an environment and realm most suitable for the Seed. And yet, we see the utter failure of Israel in being true and faithful to her calling as the preserver nation all over the pages of the Old Testament. This serves as an indictment against them, and as a warning to the church, which is now the spiritual Israel, lest we, in the pattern of the Israel of old, succumb to the same mindset that prevailed and caused them to stumble and to be rendered ineffective. God demonstrated in type the call of Abraham, as a suitable vessel and his subsequent possession of the land of Canaan as the realm of the manifestation of the Seed (which by the way, was where Isaac, a type of Christ, was born to Abraham). So has He called us individually to walk in faith and obedience, and live a corporate life and stand as the realm in which the life of the Seed (the life of Christ) could be manifested and demonstrated to the powers and principalities and rulers of this dark age as the seat of God’s sovereignty and kingdom.
The church of Jesus Christ today, is and has always been, the realm in which God has called people individually to a life of faithfulness, and to His Kingdom, and collectively to be the demonstration and representation of the realm of God’s sovereignty and kingdom as the Seed, Christ lives in and through us.
Thus Abraham portrays to us a beautiful picture of how one man, in his faith and obedience to the calling of God, achieved the full purpose for which he had been invited to leave Ur. We are not saved for our own purposes, but for His purposes. We are not given grace because we deserve it or because we are indispensable to God, but because He has a plan He desires to achieve, and it fortunately includes and involves us. God doesn’t love us because we are lovable in our current state, but because of what we can become once He is finished molding us and conforming us to the image of His beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
There is however, another very sad but important truth in the story of Abraham. Of all the Shemites living in Ur, only Abraham is brought to that fullness! Even after his departure from Ur, many of his companions fail to realize their co-inheritance with Abraham. Terah dies, Lot departs for Sodom, and Ishmael is removed from Abraham. Many started out with him, but ultimately only Abraham, Sarah, and a few others made it to the goal of their calling. This truth is rightly called the “Principle of the Remnant” (for more information on the Principles of the Altar and the Remnant, see an excellent book written by my father, Fred Saleh, called “Breaking the Silence”). Abraham stood in the position of a remnant. When the majority fails and succumbs to the pressures of the surroundings, a remnant always stands to carry on the torch of the testimony. Abraham represented the remnant of all Shemites and his personal tribal members who had become conformed to the ways of the world and were no longer concerned with the goal of their existence and their calling as the carriers and preservers of the divine Seed. The majority will always fail as we see time and time again in Biblical history. Why? Because Satan has one goal in mind: to render God’s plan of bringing forth His Seed and crushing the head of Satan, ineffective and impossible. He will do everything to corrupt and pollute God’s people in order to achieve his own aim of stifling the Seed’s manifestation and effectiveness. However, Praise the Lord, Our God has always had his remnant in all ages who have stood for Him and His kingdom and have not given in to the enticements of the enemy.
Abraham becomes the carrier of the promised Seed for a good reasons. He is teachable, obedient, and willing. God can use such a person. God is always looking for people like Abraham with such qualities. Even though Abraham had his fair share of failures and shortcomings, one thing was outstanding about him. In spite of everything, he never turned away from following the Lord, and always desired to be the recipient of God’s favors and benefits. That desire as we read in Genesis 12-25 is so vividly evident in his life.
In Genesis 12:1-3 the Lord tells Abraham, “Get OUT of your country, from your family, and from your father’s house, TO a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation [the Seed fully manifested], I will bless you [the results of the Seed’s manifestation], and make your name great [the destiny of us in the Seed] and you shall be a blessing [our future occupation through the Seed]. I will bless those who bless you and I will curse him who curses you [the relationship of people to the Seed]; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed (the ultimate intention of God in Christ Jesus).”
Abraham immediately leaves Ur and obeys the Lord’s instruction. He realizes that there is a special calling that not only includes him but also his “Seed”. He realizes that his Seed has a special place in God’s economy. He realizes that he is the carrier of the Seed and therefore must obey and be faithful in order for this Seed to come to full manifestation. He realizes that God has a wonderful plan for humanity and that this plan hinges upon his and his descendants’ faithfulness to their calling to be the preservers of the Seed. He realizes that in order for the Seed to be brought forth in to this world, there must be chosen and suitable vessels prepared and molded by the Lord. He realizes that God wants a realm, away form the harmful effects and influences of the enemy, that would harbor and nurture the Seed. He realizes that he is to possess such a territory for God and maintain a lifestyle that would stand no chance of corruption and pollution by the spirit of the enemy. He realizes the enormity of the call and the grace he would need in order to fulfill his destiny. And He does it!
Abraham had to deal with a number of serious obstacles in his life in order to fulfill his calling and be the vessel which could carry and preserve the Seed. These obstacles reached into the very heart and soul of his being. First, he had to say goodbye to Ur and all that it offered him. Let us not forget that Abraham was not only a wealthy man, he also was a prominent member of society in Ur. We know this because in the ancient Eastern cultures, wealth naturally gave rise to prominence and prestige. Affluent people in those times were often appointed judges or leaders. Abraham had to leave the lures and the honor that Ur bestowed upon him, looking for a city whose builder was God. In that city he was to receive honor and glory from God. Hebrews 11 and the account of the lives of the heroes of faith are testimonials to how they all forsook what was theirs by right in favor of the honor and commendation that would be bestowed upon them by God.
Next, Abraham had to endure the loss of his father. Fathers in ancient times, were representatives of strength and stability for a man and his family. Fathers were the final authority in all matters pertaining to the welfare of the family; and the loss of one’s father meant certain disastrous future for the family members. A woman who lost her father would become destitute and forced into poverty. Her children would have to grow up experiencing terrible hardship. No wonder, the Lord, through the mouth of His prophets, rebukes His people for neglecting widows and orphans. Moreover, the father was the source of strength and stability for a son. If all else failed, the house of the father was always open to receive the son. How beautifully our Lord Jesus used this principle, so well known to his audience, in the story of the prodigal son to display the love of God for His lost sons (Luke 15)! I will always remember a statement a friend made many years ago when he had just lost his father. He said, “When I lost my father, it felt like my back had been broken!” Abraham must have felt the same way when he buried his father and had to journey to Canaan by himself and with his family. Abraham had to lose his affections for the world, as represented by his departure from Ur. He also had to lose natural and seemingly very appropriate affections because they would become a hindrance on his path to the calling of God. He left his old father behind and journeyed on. Next, he had to let go of his nephew Lot. He loved Lot like his own son, but Lot was becoming increasingly a source of contention and discontent for Abraham, because of Lot’s ever-increasing lust and appetite for “more” and “better”. When you read Genesis chapter 13, you notice how Lot selected the land most suitable for his flocks by looking for a place that seemed to be the best in his eyes. He evaluated things by their appearance. (Genesis 13:10 says, “And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere [before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah] like the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt as you go towards Zoar.”)
Lot was a very sensual man – totally dependent on his senses to determine good from bad. How wrong he was! He was taken captive shortly after resettling in the area. That should have sounded the alarm for Lot and yet, we find that instead of returning to his uncle Abraham, like the prodigal son, he chose to move into the city of Sodom! How tragic! Lot represents those believers (Yes, believers!) who want the pleasures of this world and despite the repeated warnings of the Holy Spirit, ending up right in the midst of a perverse generation whose end is destruction. Lot, of course, was spared the destruction but ended up having nothing to show for his life, but a wife who turned into a pillar of salt, two corrupt and incestuous daughters who enticed him into impregnating them, and two grandsons who became the fiercest enemies of Israel. All was lost but Lot himself. Does this not remind us of what Paul writes to the believers in 1 Cor. 3:10-15?
Abraham had to also let go of Lot. He had to surrender everything that was of the world and everything that he had inherited by natural affections. The intensity of the test becomes even more evident: Abraham has to give up Ishmael, his first born. You see, the closer we come to the light and the fire of God’s holiness and purpose, the brighter and more intense becomes the heat in dissolving and burning everything and anything that is contrary to the mind of God. But as we endure these so-called “losses”, we gain the transparency and the purging that qualifies us for the great prize that God has reserved for those who are willing to pay whatever the price to be in the roll call of the heroes of faith. Abraham was becoming more and more a suitable and tested vessel to contain and pass on the Seed to the next generation.
Releasing Ishmael was certainly a very difficult decision for Abraham. God had promised Abraham that He would bless the world through his Seed. Melchizedek had strengthened and reassured him of God’s unfailing promise of provision and protection in the face of upcoming adversities. Abraham needed this strength and reassuring words at a time when he would have to deal with the eventual loss of his son Ishmael, and the ultimate test of his life, the sacrifice of his beloved son Isaac. Following Abraham’s blessed encounter with Melchizedek, the priest and the dispenser of God’s grace and favor, chapter 15 of Genesis opens with a renewed covenant between God and Abraham. We read the following, “After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying ‘Do not be afraid Abram. I am your shield, your exceedingly great reward’” (15:1). God reminds and reassures Abraham that because he was the carrier of the Seed of the promised one, God would be his protector (Shield) from all that Satan would want to do to destroy him, and his exceedingly great reward (the goal of his faith and the destiny he was headed for – the very presence and the throne of God). Therefore he should not fear but keep moving forward.
We see how Abraham misunderstands and misapplies the promise to his circumstances. He looks at the promise, then looks at himself and his wife who were beyond the age of conception. He fails to realize that he who had promised was able and faithful to carry it out, in spite of physical barriers. Often, we like Abraham, know the Word of the Lord in our lives and yet do not know how to apply and reconcile it to our seemingly impossible circumstances. We look and we despair. We look and lose faith. We look and we are misled to believe that we need to do something to help God achieve his goals and ends. How wrong was Abraham and how wrong are we! We really don’t know our God in His resurrection power. Paul takes up this matter beautifully in Romans 4:17-25. The result of this misunderstanding and miscalculation is Ishmael. Ishmael is the strength of man in its ultimate form. Ishmael is the fruit of the flesh, and therefore is not acceptable to God as the carrier of the Seed, as it was with the case of Cain’s offering. God chooses his vessels not on the basis of human logic or outward considerations, but on the basis of His own purpose and ability to reign in life. He gives life to whatever He chooses even if that thing be as dead as the womb of Sarah. God will never share credit for His plans and purposes with anyone else. He is the author and the finisher. God had to demonstrate to Abraham in a successive and progressive manner who he was dealing with. Abraham was not dealing with just a god, but The Lord of Life Himself! And yet, invariably, flesh will arm itself against the spirit. Ishmael will always be a thorn in the flesh of Isaac. Ishmael will always mock Isaac! Therefore, in God’s view, Ishmael has to be dealt with. Ishmael must be removed. Spirit and soul cannot hold the reins of power together. One or the other must surrender to the separating effect of the cross. Ishmael will never be the Seed carrier because he is natural, a by-product of human effort and shrewdness. He is not a son of promise but a son of fleshly struggle to please God. Therefore, Abraham, realized the danger Ishmael would pose to Isaac and his ability to carry on the Seed. So he had no choice but to remove him from Isaac’s presence. A very painful yet very necessary decision! Abraham was slowly being stripped of all that he considered valuable: his prestigious world in Ur, his father Terah and his nephew Lot, and now his firstborn Ishmael! And God was still not finished with him. In order for Abraham to become truly the father of the Seed and the ancestral head of the lineage that would bring the Seed to the world, he had to face the ultimate test of his life.
In Genesis 21 we read that Isaac was born, and subsequently, Ishmael was removed. When the spirit comes, flesh must go. Spirit and flesh cannot dwell together in one place. Galatians 5:17 states this fact vividly. Abraham became the father of Isaac through divine intervention and the powerful hand of the Lord. Isaac was the son of promise and miracle! Isaac was the Seed bearer! Isaac was the chosen one!
God wants one last act from Abraham. He wants to know how much Abraham has understood and remembered the promise given in Genesis 15:1, “…I am your exceedingly great reward”. Does Abraham obey and love God for the sake of His promises or does he really want God and nothing else? God wanted to give HIMSELF to Abraham. Did Abraham want God or did he want His benefits, even if these benefits were divine origin and totally approved of God?
The divine gift, Isaac, is required back by God. Genesis 22 says, “Now it came to pass after these that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And Abraham said ‘Here I am.’ Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
Abraham had to return Isaac, God’s divinely appointed gift, back to Him. He had to demonstrate that he truly wanted God – Him and Him alone. Even Isaac, who was God’s gift and the future heir to Abraham, and the carrier of the Seed had to be considered nothing compared to the excellence of gaining God as his reward. In Philippians 3:7-11 Paul states this attitude so beautifully: “But what things were gain to me [for Abraham: Terah, Lot, Ishmael, and Isaac], these I have counted loss for Christ [the exceedingly great reward of Abraham]. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for Whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to his death, if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from (among) the dead”. One must stand in awe of the depth of this Paul’s devotion to Christ.
So Isaac was bound up and placed on the altar for burnt offering. Abraham had to learn one last and final lesson along with the experience of God alone being his reward. He had to come to believe in the power of resurrection. It is one thing to have faith in resurrection, but it is something different to have resurrection faith!
In Hebrews 11:17-19, the writer states, “By faith Abraham, when he was tested offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises, offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called,’ concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from which he also received him in a figurative sense.”
Even though Isaac was the Seed bearer, he had to be surrendered to the altar in order to test the intentions of Abraham’s heart and his love and absolute devotion to his God. In a similar manner – even though we are like Isaac, children born of the divine working of our Father, and we carry within us the divine Seed of Christ’s life through the Holy Spirit – we must surrender to the altar or the cross on a daily basis, as the living sacrifice in order for our sonship and devotion to the will of the father to be tested and proven as it was so done in the person of Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God.
It was thus that Abraham occupied such a great place of honor and prominence among the people of God. Paul states that those of us who approach God in faith and are justified by faith in the Lord Jesus are the true children of Abraham, not after the flesh but after the Spirit. It is so beautiful and truly amazing how Abraham abandons everything, including the gift of God in the person of Isaac, in favor of God Himself. Do we seek to desire God for him alone or are we motivated to love him and seek him because we are told that he is a provider and a “rich” Father? Is it because we think we can have everything we desire by just asking (in many cases and according to the recent theologies that prevail in North America, command Him to obey our wishes!) and “claiming”! is that the true Spirit of sonship and faith or what we see in the life of Abraham and his son, Isaac? You be the judge!
Abraham becomes the perfect federal head of the Hebrew nation through whom the Lord Jesus takes body and is born into this world.
How fascinating and magnificent it is when we read the first verse of the first chapter of the first Gospel: “The Book of the genealogy [history of the Seed] of Jesus Christ [the promised Seed], the Son of David, the Son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1).
Abraham and David occupy a unique position in the history of the Seed. We shall later look at the life of the Davidic dynasty and how God had to preserve and protect His Seed through the most tumultuous periods in the history of Israel.
We conclude our comments on the life of Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, and the promised Seed by once again quoting the verse from Hebrews 11:17 from its original location in Genesis 21:12, “For in Isaac your Seed [meaning Jesus Christ] shall be called.”
Let us now briefly consider the life of Isaac. Much of the life of Isaac, beyond his encounter with the altar of burnt offering when he was a young man, is quite uneventful. Even though he encountered challenges similar to his father, he enjoyed a relative degree of peace. Like his father Abraham, he had to go through experiences in life in order to be purged and prepared for his calling. He encountered similar challenges in Egypt, and conflicts with his brother Ishmael, all of which were assaults from the enemy to render him, the Seed bearer, ineffective and useless. Nevertheless, God was with Isaac and He not only protected him from all danger, He also gave him Rebecca, who would bear him the next generation of the Seed bearers. The story of Isaac and Rebecca’s marriage is one of the most beautiful and romantic stories in the Bible.
Of course, the entire episode of Abraham commissioning his servant to find a suitable wife for Isaac is nothing but a beautiful type of God commissioning the Holy Spirit to find and prepare a bride for his Son, Jesus Christ. The typology of this story is so detailed and so beautiful that one can write an entire book on this incident alone. Suffice it to say that Abraham forbade the servant to get Isaac a wife from any of the neighboring nations and only find a young woman from among his own family. Does this remind you of my earlier discussion about the Shemites and Hamites? The Hamites were all the nations of Canaan; and Abraham knew well that the Seed must be protected from corruption and pollution by allowing its carriers to enter mixed marriages and endangering the purity and integrity of the lineage. He had his servant swear that he would find a girl from among the Shemites! Abraham even forbade his son, Isaac, to leave the land of Canaan lest he be enticed and be taken captive by alien nations and destroy the chosen vessel of the Seed. If you read about Ishmael, you will notice that he, being a seed of Abraham, did not observe this principle and married a woman from the neighboring region.
The servant of Abraham journeyed to Mesopotamia and came to the city of Nahor, where Rebecca and her father Laban resided. The principle in this story is very clear. As Adam, in the Garden of Eden, had to be with a companion suitable to him in all aspects, even so, God is preparing a bride for His Son, Jesus Christ, who must be fully suitable and compatible to His Son. That is the goal of our salvation! We are not just saved so we escape the burning fires of Hell and enter heaven as we are, full of self and soulish tendencies and mindset. We are saved by the blood of the Lamb, so we can be found and prepared by the Holy Spirit to become a companion (Church) compatible and suitable for Christ at the time of his second coming to take possession of the kingdoms of this world! Paul once again reminds us of this truth in Ephesians 5:26-27, “that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that he might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be Holy and without blemish.”
Thus Isaac’s greatest achievement was the securing of a suitable vessel for the purpose of passing the Seed on to the next generation. Isaac becomes the father of two boys, Esau and Jacob.
Esau was the firstborn of his father and by the right of birth had the promise of the inheritance and all the blessings that went along with the birthright. But, he was uninterested in the affairs of his father and the significance of such an honor and privilege. All he cared about was his hobby and the pleasure he received from his relatively affluent life. It reminds me of the Christians in North America who have become ‘fat’ with possessions and are at ease with all manners of pleasure and conveniences of life at their disposal. They, or at least the majority, have very little interest in the plan and the purpose of God for humanity, and the calling of God that needs to be lived out once salvation is experienced. As long as we are the children of God, like Esau’s spoiled mindset that he was the son of Isaac, that is all that matters. We, in North America, just want to have our Heaven secured so that we can go on living our own self-centered, self-absorbed, and shallow lives, without anyone, including God, telling us how to live our lives. We still want to be the masters of our own destiny. This is the Esau syndrome. He was a son to Isaac, and yet a totally self-absorbed and unconcerned with the calling of God in his life to be the carrier of the Seed.
On the other hand, we see Jacob, who in all aspects was weaker and less than his brother, yet desired one thing with such passion and obsession: the birthright! He wanted it! He wanted to be the one who would receive the blessings of the firstborn. He knew that along with the blessings of the firstborn, God would, subject to his cooperation and obedience, give him the promise of the Seed and would thus become a link in the chain binds men together in the lineage of the Messiah. He wanted it all, and God liked that attitude in Jacob, even though he would have to be cleansed by the fires of trial that God would allow to come his way in order to truly make him what he was destined to become: Israel, Prince with God!
So, in Genesis 25:29-34 we read that Esau sold his birthright for a momentary relief from hunger and Jacob took it with welcoming arms. Verse 33 is emphatic in reminding us of Esau’s attitude towards his birthright and the Seed-bearing responsibility. “Thus Esau despised his birthright”. No wonder the Bible makes this sad commentary about Esau, “Jacob I loved and Esau I hated!” God cannot tolerate those who want the benefit of being born from Him and yet despise their calling to take possession of their inheritance, which in the New Testament is the right to rule and reign with Christ in His coming Millennium. God will do all He can to aid and change the Jacobs of the Church who despite their major shortcomings, have one thing in their favor: They desire to become Israel (Prince with God) at any and all cost, even if it takes them twenty years, as it did in the life of Jacob!
One last comment about the state of mind of Esau is that out of resentment for God’s exclusion of him from the inheritance, he purposely and deliberately went and married the women of Canaan, contrary to the wishes of his father Isaac. We can never react with anger and resentment towards God if we ourselves are the cause of our failure. We end up becoming the loser while God moves on with His plan and purpose and leaves us to ourselves.
Jacob’s life begins with a crisis. Even at the moment of their birth, Esau and Jacob were at conflict with each other (Gen. 25:24-27). Later, when Jacob deceived his brother to sell his birthright to him and thus gain the blessing of the inheritance and the Seed-bearing responsibility, troubles started for him. In type, when a believer desires and takes hold of the promise of the inheritance and ruling with Christ in His kingdom, the troubles of life begin. The enemy purposely begins pursuing him in order to distract, dishearten, and ultimately, destroy his faith and life. Esau, who represents the power of self opposes Jacob and persecutes him. Genesis 27:41 says that, “Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing with which his father blessed him….” What did Isaac bless Jacob with? In Genesis 27:27-29 Isaac blessed Jacob with the blessing of inheriting the dominion that was promised to the Seed of Shem and Abraham, who would come through the descendants of these great ancestors. Jacob was now in the direct line of being the conduit that would receive and pass on the Seed of the promised one. Read the prophecy carefully and you will see nothing but a prophecy concerning Christ and His authority and dominion which would be manifested in due time through Jacob and his descendants.
Later Isaac blessed Jacob by first charging him to seek and marry a Shemite girl, unlike his brother Esau who had married Canaanite women. He then proceeded to bless him by saying, “May God Almighty bless you, and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may be an assembly of peoples; and give you the blessing of Abraham [Inheriting the Seed and the Land], to you and your descendants with you, that you may inherit the land [the realm in which the Seed would be able to be manifested] in which you are a stranger [Canaanites occupied it and therefore, needed to be dislodged before a full claim could be placed on the land] which God gave to Abraham.”
Thus Jacob received the right of bearing the Seed as well as the territory in which the Seed would be planted and manifested. Therefore, Jacob, in obeying his father’s wishes left his hometown and escaped from his vengeful brother in order to find refuge and a suitable wife for himself. During this historic trip, he dreams the dream of all time, and sees Heaven opened and the ladder of God’s favor and grace extended down to the earth with the angels of God ascending and descending upon it. He realizes that with the blessing and the right of the firstborn comes the privilege of viewing God’s plan and purpose in visions and dreams. Esau never saw a dream or vision, he never had an encounter with God, and yet Jacob has many such encounters. Why? Because he was pursuing the goal of his calling. He was obsessed with the notion of inheriting all that Abraham and Isaac had received – both material and spiritual. In the dream God reiterates to Jacob two necessary truths about his calling: namely the Seed and its incredible multiplication into a vast mass of humanity beyond measure, and the land that would be necessary to bring this promise to fulfillment. Notice in Genesis 28:10-17, particularly in verse 14, “…and in you and your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Who was the Seed that through him the families of the earth would be blessed? There has never risen one person from the Jewish nation that has been able to bless the families of the earth save Jesus of Nazareth. More people in the world today than any other prophet or teacher worship and adore Jesus Christ. No person in history has had more lasting and eternal influence on humanity in all aspects of human endeavor, culture, and existence than Jesus Christ. He is the true Seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
So Jacob realizes the enormity of this dream and its possible consequence and decides to keep it secure in his heart until another opportune time. His faith is still a babe and needs many years of testing and trusting. He needs to come to know his God in a very unique and practical way. He needs to be purged in the furnaces of much affliction and trial until he becomes totally transparent and ready to act in the position of Israel, prince with (or of) God.
Bethel is the name by which Jacob describes the experience and the place. “The house of God”, “the gate of heaven”!
With this prelude to his long and dramatic journey of faith, he meets Rachel, his beloved future wife. When we believe in the Lord Jesus and begin to pursue his purpose and calling in our lives, we are given a dream of the ladder to God, and then we begin a lifelong journey of faithfulness and failures that would prepare us for our renaming as Israel of God. Jacob needs to learn a lot! And I mean a lot! Right after the dream, he builds an altar and makes his deal with God and sets the conditions of his devotion to God in exchange for God’s provision and protection. I am sure God must have had a big smile on His face when Jacob was praying in Genesis 28:20. Jacob did not know his God and God was amused by this kind of prayer. If we could hear God whispering to his angels, we would have heard Him say, “Listen to his prayer! He is spelling out the terms of his devotion to me! He doesn’t know what he is asking! He thinks I am going to let him get away from me so he could do whatever he wishes to do! How wrong he is! If I have given him the right of the firstborn through his father, Isaac, I will grind him to powder in my hand so he can become soft and willing to do what I will dictate to him and not what he dictates to me. I am God and he is my child! I will deal with him!” Don’t we also make such deals with God thinking just because we have become a Christian and are his children that we have a carte blanche to do whatever we wish and desire? God disciplines us in the same spirit of correction and restoration He used on Jacob, and we see the end result in the life of Jacob was wonderful and glorious as it will be ours.
My father used to preach to us that if we think we are very smart, God would make sure that someone smarter will come into our lives to teach us a lesson! So Jacob meets his match in the person of his father-in-law, who takes Jacob for the ride of his life. It will take Jacob 14 years of hard work and one wrong wife to finally get what he was after from day one: Rachel. 14 years for a girl! I call that real love!
Jacob spends a total of twenty years in wandering and toiling for the goals of his life and throughout those twenty years God teaches him many lessons. He also becomes the father of twelve sons and a daughter. Why twelve sons? I guess because the time had arrived for God to once again make Satan lose track of the transference of the Seed so that Satan would not succeed in destroying the family of Jacob and the Seed. You see, Satan had figured out the following if we review the beginning of this saga:
The Seed was given from Adam to Able, but when Cain murdered him, the Seed was transferred to Seth. Seth passed it on to His children up until the time of Noah. During this time Satan was not very sure who the carrier was. But with Noah’s prophecy about Shem, it became clear that Shem was the channel. Satan pursued Shem until Abraham received the Seed. God purposely bypassed Ishmael, the firstborn and passed it on to Isaac. This pattern is repeated several times in the Old Testament. Then Isaac bypasses Esau and gives it to Jacob. By now Satan had figured out that if the carrier is not the firstborn, then it must be the second born. Here is where God’s incredible ingenuity comes into view: four women would bear children for Jacob – Leah, Rachel and two concubines. Each will have a firstborn and a second born and in the case of Leah even more children. Confusion sets in. Which wife is the carrier womb? Which child is the carrier child? Naturally it must be the very firstborn Reuben! Is that correct? The answer to this question becomes a series of very complicated and twisted events that confuse Satan and allow the Seed to remain hidden and safe for almost one thousand years! Meanwhile, Jacob burns in the fires of trial and tribulation and comes out of his twenty-year journey of faith the Israel that God had meant him to be from the beginning. Once we yield to the working of the Holy Spirit, He will conform us to the image of Christ, which is the goal of our salvation and the destiny of our calling. Romans 8:28-30 is a summary of Jacob’s life by the Apostle Paul, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose [not ours!] For whom He foreknew [Jacob I loved, Esau I hated] He also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined these He also called. Whom He called these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.”
Jacob’s troubles and trials produced nothing but good for him even though at the time, they seemed difficult and harsh realities of life. The reason he endured such difficulties was because he loved God and was called according to his purpose. What was that purpose? To be conformed to the image of the Seed, Jesus Christ, whom he was carrying in himself. Once God finished his work with Jacob in that memorable night of wrestling in Jabbok, He not only blessed him but renamed him for good as Israel and justified him and all the troubles he had endured. In the process he had lost the most cherished person in his life, Rachel, for whom he had toiled fourteen years; and yet, he gained a name and a dynasty of sons from whom, one would sit on the throne of Egypt, and one would be the father of the Seed, the Lord Jesus. He had not only justified Jacob, but also glorified him. Look at the end of his life! A nomadic Jacob blesses the most powerful man in the world of that time (Pharaoh). The lesser, blessing the greater! Jacob blessed Pharaoh! Who was the real greater and who was the real lesser? Jacob was Israel! Not prince of this world but God’s very own prince!!
How blessed are we who also have a similar calling and justification awaiting us as we also go through the trials of this life, in order to be fully conformed to the image of Christ. We await the glory of a new name and a new occupation: Blessing the world! Israel of God!
Praise the Lord!
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