The chapter continues the story from chapter 27. Jacob had just deceived his father, included God in his lie, and caused his brother Esau to want to kill him. After a short exchange between his parents, Isaac then bids Jacob to return to the homeland and find a wife there (as did his grandfather Abraham and his father Isaac).
The writer of Genesis then includes an almost parenthetical paragraph of Esau’s marriage to another wife. So he married again, in addition to the wives he had already married (see 26.34).
So Jacob set out to travel back to Harran to find a wife. During this journey he rests, placing his head on a rock for a pillow. As he was sleeping the vision of the ladder reaching to heaven and angels ascending and descending on it comes to him. Then God grants the same blessing upon Jacob that he had previously given to Abraham and Isaac. Upon waking Jacob realized that he was in the presence of God. He then made a vow to become a follow of God if God would provide for his needs and bring him safely back to his home.
This journey for Jacob would prove to be one that would have a significant effect on the rest of his life. He is slowly beginning to change from the heel catcher to the prince of God. Now before we are too harsh on Jacob, let’s remember our own spiritual journey. I imagine that most of us are like Jacob, at first we were dirty scoundrels. We were the trouble makers, the liars. But slowly, as Jacob was, we are being made more like Jesus. So as we walk through the rest of this book, we are really walking by a mirror. It is my hope that as you and I look at our reflection that we see our own journey from being heel catchers to princes with God.
In this chapter we find the taking of another wife by Abraham, his death, the genealogies of Isaac and Ishmael, the birth of Isaac’s two sons, and the selling of Esau’s birthright.
Coming from the previous two chapters this one is packed with information. But we can still glean some basic principles from each segment.
Abraham’s taking of another wife (which was probably a concubine) is an interesting account. I will save any discussions on polygamy for another day, but one thing about it is it can cause a great deal of derision. We have already seen how Sarah treated Hagar, and while she wasn’t treated as harshly, Keturah and her children were sent away. I can’t imagine doing this, but it was fairly normal for ME culture. Either way, our take away is that multiple marriages can create some rather difficult situations.
The two genealogies are recorded, and while we may make our way through the names with difficulty, there are important because they tell us that people (those whom the names represent) are important.
The third aspect comprises Rebekah’s barrenness, prayer, and eventual pregnancy. Isaac prayed for her barrenness and God blessed her with twins. During the pregnancy she had difficulty, and because she was concerned she prayed to God to make sure that everything was okay. God answered her prayer and spoke to her! It is amazing that this was noted in the Hebrew Bible which is predominantly a male focused society. God interacts with women just as much as He does with men!
The final account is the selling of the birthright. While we do not have birthrights today, the connection we can make is valuing what is important. Esau did not understand (or at the most did not care) about the value of the birthright. He would later come to regret this decision, but for now he was satisfied with releasing it. Often in our lives we sell what is precious to us, perhaps time with our spouses, our children, or more importantly with our Heavenly Father for cheap things. Instead of playing with our kids we watch the game. Instead of holding our little baby we clean the house. Or instead of reading the Bible we go out with friends. The examples are endless. Unfortunately we commit the same folly that Esau did. May we learn from these lessons as we continue to walk through Genesis.
Chapter 24 is about the unnamed servant of Abraham finding a wife for Isaac. It is a wonderful chapter that really shows how God can and does work in the life of His children to bring about His purpose. It also shows how prayer can have a drastic affect on our lives and provide direction for us as well.
In this case Abraham’s servant made a promise to his master that he would go to Abraham’s original homeland and find a wife for Isaac. If he couldn’t find anyone then the servant would be free from the oath. So he gets his caravan ready and when he arrived he asked “the God of my master Abraham” (24.12) to be with him and bless his way. Having lived with Abraham for many years this servant had become a believer, and now was experiencing the same direction that God provided Abraham in his own life. Eventually he prayed a very specific prayer and God answered it. It was a wonderful example of God’s providence through our prayer lives.
So as you go about your day, week, and year, remember the example of Abraham’s servant. Pray for God’s direction, pray specifically, and watch God move and direct in your life.
Chapter 22 is one of the most perplexing and yet beautiful passages of Scripture in Genesis, and perhaps the entire Hebrew Bible. It is the test of Abraham, where God sees if Abraham really believed God. The story line is rather linear, Abraham is told by God to sacrifice Isaac, the son that he loved, on a mountain God would tell him. Abraham immediately obeys,saddles his donkey, and takes two young men with him. They make the journey. But before they reach the mountain Abraham instructs his two servants to stay behind while he and Isaac went to sacrifice. And then Abraham said that they would return.
This chapter has greater significance now that I have two children. Abraham displayed a depth of faith that I cannot imagine. When I hold me little girl or my son I cannot imagine anything bad happening to them, especially from my own hands. Even knowing, as Abraham seemed to, that God would raise them from the dead, it would still be too hard. But Abraham went through with it, and before he actually sacrificed Isaac the Lord stopped him. While God did provide them a lamb (see verse 13), God would eventually provide THE LAMB, His own Son, Whom He loves, Jesus of Nazareth. When we look at the account in this light it brings on a much greater significance. And the implications are almost as numerous as the stars. Our focus, however, is that whenever God asks us to do something, remember how he sent His own Son for our sins.