Everything will be Okay
Chapter 25 is a transition chapter in the book of Genesis, and as such proved to be quite challenging, at least for me. The chapter was not challenging to read, my challenge was figuring out the main idea. Perhaps you’re much better than me at this, but I struggled.
Personal story/confession time
(if you’re pressed for time you can probably skip this session)
I read the chapter. (Genesis 25) I outlined the chapter. I filled notebook pages with notes on the chapter. I then read commentaries on the chapter. I searched other books for information on this chapter. I discovered interesting things, I learned things, but I still failed to have the one main idea that would preach on Sabbath morning. I had been blessed by my study of the passage, but I failed to see how I would pass that blessing on to my congregation as I spoke, and to you, my readers, as I wrote. As you can probably tell, I’m still struggling.
To make things better, my wife left for the weekend (she attended a training for children’s ministries), I had to watch two kids (5 and 6 yrs old), and I became sick on Thursday night. By Friday night I was so sick I was unable to finish my sermon. I decided to go to bed since my time at the computer was not being productive only to lay in bed for hours worrying about preaching the next morning. I hoped to doze off soon and wake up early the next day feeling refreshed and finish the sermon, but I took forever to fall asleep.
I woke up the next morning still feeling sick. Body ached, head felt fuzzy, nose running, throat hurting, and two kids to feed and dress and get ready for church.
I was feeling guilty for not having done my slides, the review sheet for the church, or written this blog. I had to get the kids ready and they had been a bit sick too (I think I got it from them and they were mostly over it).
So I made it to church, with my kids. I dropped them off at their Sabbath school class. Checked on a few things around the church, talked with some members and made my way to the Sabbath school class I teach. Nobody was there yet so I began to outline the message on the back of the church bulletin.
I had all the info. I knew what the text said. I had studied it. I had read it many times over. But what was the main idea? What should people take away? What did I take away from it?
Students began to walk into the class and it was time to teach.
Genesis 25 seems to just be a transition or a series of transitions. Abraham will no longer be the main protagonist. He dies and is buried (verses 7-11). There is a list of Abraham’s sons and their sons and where they lived. What do I take away from this?
To be succinct I’ll just list the main lessons I took away from this chapter.
Abraham had many children other than Isaac.
Abraham’s other children would have known about Abraham’s God and His promises and the prophecies regarding Isaac and the promised land. As Abraham’s children spread throughout that region and become nations and peoples they would have taken that truth with them. This means the nations surrounding the promised land and who eventually interacted with the children of Israel were not completely ignorant of their God and His will.
God was faithful to Abraham granting him many children. Even if there is some debate on whether or not Abraham should have had all those other children, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham.
The text is very clear that Isaac was the child of promise and the one who would continue to line of Abraham (Genesis 25:5,11).
There seem to have been plenty of opportunities for conflicts and possible confusion, but everything seems to work out in the end with God blessing Isaac (Genesis 25:11).
Isaac and Ishmael bury Abraham showing they were able to set aside their differences, they are not enemies.
Ishmael is richly blessed by God though he does not get to live in the promised land.
Overall I see a picture of a faithful God willing to bless Abraham and his children even if God had special plans for Isaac. I believe it could be argued that Abraham should not have had all those other children, but God is merciful and gracious and blesses them.
God is referred to as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at least 32 times in the Bible. Here we are witnessing the birth of this. Genesis 25 takes us from Abraham to Jacob. There really isn’t much about Isaac, he seems to be mostly a transitional character, more famous for his role at the end of the story of Abraham and at the beginning of the story of Jacob.
It is interesting how Genesis 25 begins introducing the children of Keturah,
[…] All these were the children of Keturah.
Genesis 25:4b NKJV
Then we are introduced to the children of Ishmael.
Now this is the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maidservant, bore to Abraham.
Genesis 25:12 NKJV (bold mine)
Finally, we are introduced to Isaac.
This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac.
Genesis 25:19 NKJV (bold mine)
Did you notice the difference? Some were the sons of Keturah, some were the sons of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagar, the Egyptian, Sarah’s maidservant. And finally, we have the genealogy of Isaac, who is introduced as the son of Abraham. According to the wording of the text, Isaac is the son of the promise, the true son of Abraham, even though Abraham had other sons.
As we witnessed in our previous posts on the life of Abraham (Beginning with Called by God), his life was not easy nor was it a smooth. Abraham had his challenges, waiting for God being a major one. In that sense, his life is not very different from ours. Abraham was aware of God’s promises and plans for him, yet now knowing when or how exactly they would come true made life challenging. God always provided, but waiting and experiencing uncertainty and perhaps even doubt was not easy.
Isaac has the advantage of being raised by Abraham and Sarah who experienced God’s provisions and faithfulness firsthand. Also, as we learned from my post Good Company (a study of Genesis 24) Isaac married the woman God picked out for him. Isaac not only had great parents he also had the right wife! How difficult could his life be? The Bible clearly tells us that God blessed Isaac (Genesis 25:11). With great parents, the right wife and blessings from God, would you not expect Isaac’s life to be easy and comfortable?
Pleading with the LORD
Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren;
Genesis 25:21a NKJV
If Isaac has everything going for him and he is following God’s will, why does he have to plead with the LORD?
Was it not God’s will for Isaac to marry Rebekah? (Genesis 24:48)
If God will bless the seed of Abraham and multiply it (Genesis 17:19; 15:5) that must mean that God wants Isaac to have many children. So why does Isaac have to plead with God for God to do what He said He would do?
Should you have to pray to God for Him to do for you what He promises to do for you?
Do we have to pray and ask God for things? I have a short post on this entitled Ask, one of my most popular posts is entitled Is Anything Too Hard for the LORD?, another post that touches on asking for blessings is God be merciful to us and bless us, and one of my personal favorite posts is a list of Bible promises and other passages that have significantly impacted my prayer life. Especially the last link above has so many Bible texts that tell us to pray and to ask.
We tend to think that we only need to pray when we mess up or when we want something extraordinary but the Bible itself presents us with the idea of continual prayer or prayer as a lifestyle you can read some of those texts here. Isaac was doing everything right, yet he had to plead with the LORD for his wife was barren. Why? Why would God choose a wife for Isaac who was barren? I believe Rebekah was chosen because of her character.
I also believe that Isaac had to plead with the LORD so he could that victory comes from God. Isaac would not achieve his goal by strength or by might (Zechariah 4:6), Isaac is learning that works are not able to help him achieve certain things in life (Ephesians 2). Ultimately I believe Isaac is learning that his children are a blessing from God and will only exist because of God’s intervention. Isaac must know that he is not doing this himself, rather God is doing this in him and through him and for him, and the same can be said for his wife Rebekah.
Rebekah finally becomes pregnant and she is not feeling well. She asks God and discovers that two nations are in her womb and two peoples shall be separated from her body. Not only that,
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”
Genesis 25:23b NKJV
Meaning, there will be conflict. Even in God’s chosen family here on earth, there will be conflict and it has already begun, even before birth. Indeed Rebekah has twins.
So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
Genesis 25:23-26 NKJV (bold mine)
Side note, the names picked for the children of Isaac and Rebekah sound more like mean nicknames kids get stuck with at school. One is called “Hairy” (Esau) and the other is called “One Who Takes the Heel” (Jacob). Imagine growing up being called Hairy or Heal-grabber? Not only that, there’s this prophecy about them, about one being stronger than the other and about the older serving the younger.
All these details set up our characters for future struggles and conflicts.
One other detail
Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
Genesis 25:26b NKJV
Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife,"
Genesis 25:20a NKJV
Isaac waited 20 years for God to answer his prayers. Isaac pleaded with God for 20 years! For God to bless him with a blessing He had promised. At least he did not wait as long as his father. And we should not be shocked that God does not always answer our prayers immediately.
So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.
Genesis 25:27-26 NKJV
From this transitional chapter, we learn that God is faithful. He provides and blesses despite the mess we can make of things. God does not give up on us, and we should not walk away from Him, even if it feels like He is delaying. Walking away from God never solves any problems, but rather creates new ones.
We also see clearly, in case we had not yet noticed, the life is messy. There are conflicts, there are trials, there is plenty of prayer and pleading with God. There is also assurance, and promises, and prophecies that guide us. But our faith still struggles even though we have prophecies and promises and a history (both personal and inspired) that remind us that God is faithful.
So because our God is faithful, we can know today, that everything will be okay. Ultimately it is all about God and God is faithful and merciful. God always provides. God never gives up on us, and with this in mind, I never give up on Him. Because I know that ultimately, everything will be okay.