Dr. Jack L. Arnold Equipping
Pastors International Genesis
Isaac Receives A Son
A. This chapter introduces the reader to Jacob, the son of
Isaac, who is the choice of God to carry on the Abrahamic Covenant. Isaac now
fades into the background and Jacob becomes the leading character in God’s
B. This chapter also gives the reader good contrast between the
believer and unbeliever portrayed in Jacob and Esau. There is a perfect
balance between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.
II. ABRAHAM’S LAST DAYS 25:1-11
A. After the death of Sarah, Abraham chose to remarry. At 140
years old, he married Keturah. This marriage was due to Abraham’s realization
that he was to begat many children
(Gen. 17:4) and also perhaps out of lonesomeness.
B. Keturah’s sons became fathers of Arab tribes that peopled
the land to the east, southeast, and south of southern Palestine. This was down
in Arabia, and near the Gulf of Aqabah and in north and southwestern Arabia.
C. The sons of Abraham’s concubines (Hagar and Keturah)
received gifts, but Isaac, the covenant son, received the portion of the one
possession, the blessing.
D. Abraham died when he was 175 years old, and he was buried in the cave of Machpelah with his wife Sarah by his
two sons, Isaac and Ishmael (Heb. 11:13). NOTE. Death in family can
often draw the worst of enemies together for a short while.
III. ISHMAEL’S DESCENDANTS (25:12-18): These
are Arab people east and northeast of the Jordan River area in Arabia.
IV. ISAAC RECEIVES A SON 25:19-21
A. Isaac was about 50 years old, for he had married Rebekah
when he was 40 years old. There was a 20-year period in which no man-child had
come into Isaac’s home. There was no fulfillment of the divine promise and
Isaac had to have a son to carry on the Abrahamic Covenant. NOTE. God undoubtedly brought this situation
or testing to Isaac in order to teach him the disciplines of faith. Isaac had
to learn that God would fulfill His Covenant in His time and His way.
NOTE. This tells us that
conception or lack of conception is really in the hands of an omnipotent
B. Isaac came to the end of himself and his human attempts to
fulfill the Covenant, and turned to God in prayer to open the womb of Rebekah.
NOTE. So often Christians
live the slogan, “When everything else fails, try prayer.”
C. God answered the prayer and Rebekah became pregnant.
NOTE. The Lord really does answer
prayer. We “have not because we
V. REBEKAH’S DILEMMA 25:22-23
A. In her pregnancy, Rebekah felt a great struggling or
jostling within her. At this point, she had no idea that two children (twins)
were inside her, nor did she realize that these two children would fight all
through life. NOTE. Rebekah
understood well that God had a general plan for her life but she did not
understand the details of what God was doing through this pregnancy.
B. Rebekah did the right thing. She took the problem to God in
prayer, for she wanted understanding of the plan of God for her. The Lord gave
her a specific answer and it has profound theological and practical
C. The Lord told her she was to have two sons. The two sons
would represent two nations, which would oppose each other. Also the elder
(first born) would serve the younger. Even before the birth, God announces His
own sovereign choice of the younger, or Jacob, for the place of preeminent
blessing. Not only were there physical blessings that accompanied the Abrahamic
Covenant, but also there were more important, spiritual blessings. Here again
we see the importance of the family of Abraham and the line that leads to the
Lord Jesus Christ. Isaac is chosen and Ishmael set aside. Jacob is chosen and
Esau set aside. NOTE. The New
Testament is a divine commentary on the Old Testament. The Apostle Paul cites
this passage to stress the sovereign choice of God to salvation (Rom. 9:10-14).
Paul goes beyond the temporal and physical aspects of the covenant and stresses
the spiritual and eternal aspects of it. Luepold says,
Paul’s use of it (Rom. 9:12) indicates that at the
same time the concluding statement (“ the elder shall serve the younger”)
offers general principle holding good for all times in the kingdom of God. For
in this kingdom, first of all, every natural advantage of the carnal man is of
no account in God’s sight in the matter of salvation. The power and the claims
of the natural man have to yield precedence to God’s choice and election by
grace. (H.C. Luepold, Exposition on Genesis)
Thomas further comments,
In all this we see the marvel and glory of the Divine
sovereignty. Why the younger son should have been chosen instead of the elder
we do not know. It is, however, very striking to find the same principle
exercised on several other occasions. It is pretty certain that Abraham was not
the eldest son of Terah. We know that Isaac was the younger son of Abraham, and
that Joseph was not the eldest son of Jacob. All this goes to emphasize the
simple but significant fact that the order of nature is not necessarily the
order of grace. All through, God desired to display the sovereignty of His
grace as contrasted with that which was merely natural in human life. The great
problem of Divine sovereignty is of course insoluble by human intellect. It has
to be accepted as a simple fact. It should, however, be observed that it is not
merely a fact in regard to things spiritual; it is found also in nature in
connection with human temperaments and races. All history is full of
illustrations of the Divine choice, as we may see from such examples as Cyrus
and Pharaoh. Divine election is a fact, whether we can understand it or not.
God’s purposes are as certain as they are often inscrutable, and it is
perfectly evident from the case of Esau and Jacob that the Divine choice of men
is entirely independent of their merits or of any pre-vision of their merits or
attainments (Rom. 9:11). It is in connection with this subject that we see the
real force of St. Paul’s striking words when he speaks of God as acting “according
to the good pleasure of His will” (Eph. 1:5); and although we are bound to
confess the “mystery of His will” (Eph. 1:9), we are also certain that He works
all things “after the counsel of His will (Eph. 1:11). There is nothing
arbitrary about God and His ways, and our truest wisdom when we cannot
understand His reasons is to rest quietly and trustfully, saying, “Even so,
Father, for so it seems good in Thy sight.” (W.H. Griffith Thomas, Genesis)
VI. JACOB’S BIRTH 25:24-28
A. Of the twins, the first
to be born was Esau (hairy), giving him by natural birth proper claim to the birthright.
Jacob was born second, and came out holding Esau’s heel. This Jacob means “heeler.” Also each boy had favorite parents. Esau was loved by Isaac. Jacob was loved by his mother
because of his gentle traits.
Esau and Jacob differed physically from the moment of their birth. They had
different pursuits in life. Esau superficially had many wonderful traits:
specimen of hunter, a rugged outdoorsman, a real man’s man. Superficially Esau
was a “dream” but he had no spiritual insight whatsoever. Jacob was just the
opposite: quiet, cunning, homebody, etc. There was not much outwardly
attractive about Jacob but he did have a spiritual capacity for God.
VII. ESAU SELLS JACOB THE BIRTHRIGHT
A. Esau, a man of the world, who thinks only of him and the
here and now, came the field famished and wanted food. Jacob, very cunning
person, seizes upon the opportunity and gets Esau to sell him the birthright.
Esau said, “And what profit shall this birthright do to me?” The birthright
gave to man:
1. Priority over his brothers during the
father’s lifetime (Gen. 27:29).
2. Priority in the inheritance, for he
received a double portion (Deut. 21:17).
3. Priority as the head of the family
after the father’s death (Gen. 35:23; 2 Chron. 21:3).
4. In the case of the promised line for
Messiah, it meant the spiritual right for the son to be in the promised line.
Esau saw absolutely no
eternal value to the covenant, the temporal aspects were no more important to
him than a little stew to satisfy his hunger.
B. Esau failed to attach value to the privilege of preeminent
blessing which God valued.
He was willing to barter his birthright away as of little worth simply
to gratify an appetite of the moment. Esau was materialist and his life was
entirely earthbound. He had no eternal values and was intent only on present
gratification. God was not in his thoughts. He was a “fornicator”
(apostate) “profane” (placed no
value on spiritual things) (Heb. 12:16-17). To him the world was everything and
God was nothing. Total spiritual incapacity was characteristic of this man.
C. Jacob, by contrast, desired the birthright and showed that
he considered it of high value, proving he was a believer. He knew it was his
and he sought after it. However, the way he got the birthright is unbecoming of
true believer. In the flesh, he operated on the idea that the ends justify the
means, and turned to his own devices, human ingenuity and shrewdness to fulfill
God’s covenant. God had made the choice and God would have gotten the
birthright to him one way or another, but Jacob got impatient and tried to help
God out. NOTE. Jacob’s character
was unattractive and even repulsive at times. He was cool and calculating.
And yet underneath the surface, he had true appreciation of the spiritual value
of the covenant and the birthright. Yet, God had to break Jacob’s leg before he
learned that all his human conniving in spiritual things were of no worth to