Genesis 25-26: God’s Sovereign Blessing
January 10, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Genesis 25-26, Psalm 10, Matthew 5:1-12, Acts 6
The chapter in Abraham’s earthly sojourn has come to an end (25:7-11). Beforehand, he married again, and was careful to ensure that Isaac, the seed of the promise of God, was protected against rivalries from other children by his later marriage (25:1-6).
Next we come to the story of Isaac. Rebekah is barren, and Isaac asks God to intervene for his wife, and God does (25:21), and she is pregnant with twins. These twins are jostling, wrestling as it were, even in her womb; and she asks God why, given that the children are clearly an answer to prayer, should they apparently already be in trouble (25:22). God answers that there are “two nations” in her womb, this conflict and competition that is already apparent will, as God prophecies, become more marked through the lives of Esau and Jacob (25:23). Jacob, the younger, is the one who will carry the blessing of the One who is to come, the Savior, God again showing his delight in using the weak, the small, the neglected, the things that are not, to shame the wise.
As Paul exposits in Romans 9, this operation of Esau and Jacob, while we can (and will to some extent) examine it at a human level—the deceiver Jacob, the wild hunter Esau, careless about his position—in the end it is a story of God’s sovereign election. “Who are you, O man, to answer back to God?… Has the potter no right over the clay…?” (Romans 9:20-21).
God’s prophecy starts to pan out as he has predicted when Esau sells his birthright for a good meal. We might ask why Jacob, the deceiver, makes a birthright the price for a good meal (25:29-34). It seems a pretty unfair deal. But at the same time, as the account says, “Esau despised his birthright” (25:34). You might jokingly say that you’d give your right arm for a hot meal, but it would be a foolish thing to actually mortgage your entire future for one bite to eat.
Isaac tries to protect himself and his wife against attacks by the same ruse that his father Abraham used—lying (26:1-11)—and the same thing happens: blessing all around (26:12-17). God’s blessing on this family, faithful and obedient to God’s promises as Abraham was, is clearly not based upon their perfect righteousness.
There is then an ongoing battle between Isaac and Abimelech — somewhat petty it appears, but serious nonetheless because it is about water — which is finally resolved over a handshake and a covenant (26:18-31). God has blessed Isaac, multiplied his talents and resources, and that blessing is evident and means that others want to be friends with him. Esau, however, again showing his lack of wisdom, does not respect his heritage, and marries outside the covenant, the same covenant that is so blessing his family. Like any parents in a similar situation, Esau’s actions make Isaac and Rebekah’s life “bitter” (26:34-35). Despite all, God’s blessing is continuing: “I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 26:4, ESV).
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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