GENERATIONS AND NATIONS
Gathered To His People
All families have struggles, and Abraham's family was no different. The timeline is not clear, but at some point, Abraham had taken another concubine like Hagar. The pain, strife, and heartache that had been caused by the circumstances with Hagar and Ishmael did not keep Abraham from entering into another ill-advised relationship. Keturah bore sons, but these sons would not enjoy the covenant blessings intended for Isaac or the blessing given to Ishmael. This family was divided, and Abraham played favorites. Abraham gave gifts to the sons of his concubines but like Ishmael they were sent away. He did this to try and protect Isaac. Abraham breathed his last when he was full of years and had seen grandchildren. Isaac and Ismael took responsibility for burying their father with Sarah. God blessed Isaac the son of the covenant, and he settled at Beer-lahai-roi. God kept his promise concerning Ishmael, and he fathered twelve tribal rulers, settled in the desert, and lived in hostility toward his kinsman (vs.18). Nations were dawning just as God had promised.
Esau And Jacob
Isaac and Rebekah struggled with infertility for twenty years. It would seem that some families have patterns that seem to continue generationally. The pain of not having children was no doubt something that Isaac had heard about from his father and his mother for as long as he had been alive. Perhaps he thought this would not be the case since he was the son of the covenant and God had promised progeny. Isaac and Rebekah were part of an incredible love story. God had brought them together in a miraculous way, and their love was special. Did they fight behind closed doors? How many times did they blame themselves for their condition? How many tears were shed and how many prayers both silent and audible were uttered? One might be tempted to think that they should live happily ever after because he was the son of promise and she was the fair maiden. Isaac has faith, and he prays to the Lord on behalf of his wife. God had promised that Isaac would have children so why must he pray? God grants his request. We are not told if Isaac had a timeline like his father or if he just had the understanding that God would answer this personal petition, we only know that God answered. Imagine the joy when Rebekah finds out that she is pregnant. Picture the joy on Isaac's face as he looks at his wife and thinks to himself, "She has never been more beautiful." Twenty years have passed, and now everything would change through this beautiful gift. Time passes, and Rebekah has difficulty with the pregnancy. Perhaps she spoke with other women about what she was experiencing, and they stared at her with a concerned look. Rebekah goes to inquire of the Lord. He explains that she has two nations in her womb that would be divided and the customary order of things would be turned upside down and the older would serve the younger. She must have taken some comfort in knowing that the inhabitants of her womb would indeed be born. She must have wondered about these things and discussed them with her husband. When the days were completed, she gave birth to twin boys. The first came out red and hairy, and they named him Esau. The second emerged holding the heel of his brother, and so they called him Jacob. Children can be so different, and as the boys grew, Esau became an outdoorsman while his brother was quiet and kept to the tents. These parents chose favorites, and there was division in the family. Everyone must have been aware that God had designated Jacob for the heir but since Isaac preferred Esau perhaps he was reluctant. This may explain what we read next. Maybe Jacob was looking for opportunities to take advantage of his brother. Esau returned from the field exhausted while Jacob was cooking stew. Esau asks Jacob for stew and Jacob's response is to ask for him to sell his birthright. Esau regarded his immediate need as more important and so Esau sold his birthright which was not his to sell. The result was that Esau despised his birthright.
Things To Consider:
- If polygamy is wrong, why is it recorded in scripture?
- What can we learn about parenting from this story?
- Why do you think there was such rivalry between Ishmael and Isaac?
- What can we learn about infertility from this passage?
- What can we learn from Isaac and Rebekah about faith and struggles?
- Why is it sometimes difficult to trust God when our circumstances are challenging?
- How should we respond to conflict in our families?
- How were Jacob and Esau both wrong?