Discover the true Bible message...
Bible reading plan & guide - week 6


In accordance with God’s promise, Abraham had a son by his wife Sarah. He was called Isaac and inherited the same promises made to his father as, in time, did his son Jacob. These three men are set forth as examples of faithfulness, so much so that God is not ashamed to be called their God (Hebrews 11:16), saying "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6). These are designated the fathers of all the faithful, so the record of their lives is highly instructive to us, that we might learn from them how we too can please God by our faithfulness.

Sunday: Genesis 21

Abraham was promised a son when he entered the promised land at the age of seventy-five, and twenty-five years later Isaac was born. During this long period of waiting Abraham never ceased to trust that God would perform his promise: "Who against hope believed in hope, that he might become the father of many nations, according to that which was spoken, So shall thy seed be. And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara’s womb: He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform" (Romans 4:18-21).

The new baby was named Isaac, meaning "laughing" in the sense of "rejoicing", because God had caused them to rejoice v.6, this name also signifying that "all who hear" with understanding shall rejoice. Ultimately this will be all peoples of the earth, when the seed promised through Isaac rules the whole world. Abraham was given the assurance that the Saviour would come in his line through Isaac for: "in Isaac shall thy seed be called" v.12. The apostles cite this assurance to prove that the inheritors of God’s promises to Abraham are not his natural descendants but those, whether Jews or Gentiles, who have Abraham’s faith: "Neither, because they (the Jews) are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed" (Romans 9:7-8).

The two classes of Abraham’s seed, natural Jews and adopted faithful sons, are represented in Genesis by Abraham’s two sons, Ishmael and Isaac (Galatians 4:22-31), so their lives are an allegory to illustrate God’s purpose with both natural Israel and faithful believers in Christ. Although Ishmael, Abraham’s first son, was not to inherit the birthright, God promised that his descendants would nevertheless become a great people v.18, and they became Arab nations, cousins of the Jews. Isaac was the inheritor of both the birthright and the blessing and through him the promised seed would come. In his seed (Christ) all the nations will be blessed, and the rest of the Bible concentrates on Isaac’s descendants until the coming of Christ.

Monday: Genesis 22

This chapter is one of the most remarkable in the Bible in that it typifies, two thousand years beforehand, the sacrifice, death and resurrection of Christ. Abraham’s faith was put severely to the test when God told him to take Isaac and sacrifice him on a mountain in Moriah, significantly the very place where Jesus was later crucified. Abraham knew that God’s promise would be fulfilled in Isaac’s seed and therefore that, even if he did die on the mountain, he would rise from the dead. This explains his confident instruction to the servants to wait at the foot of the mountain until he and Isaac returned v.5.

Abraham bound Isaac on the altar and raised his knife to kill him, but an angel intervened and a ram was sacrificed instead. By this act Abraham demonstrated his faith: "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure" (Hebrews 11:17-19). This event not only shows Abraham’s exemplary faith but also typifies the death and resurrection of the "lamb of God", according to the statement: "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering" v.8. As Abraham did not withhold his beloved son v.16 so God did not withhold his Son for he "so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16).

Following this monumental act of faith, God reiterated his promise to Abraham: "And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice." vs.16-18. Possessing the gate of an enemy’s city means completely vanquishing that enemy which Jesus, for he is the seed, will do when he returns. He will overcome the wicked and all enemies among the nations until the last enemy "death" is destroyed at the end of the Millennium.

Tuesday: Genesis 23

Sarah died after spending sixty-two years in the promised land without inheriting any of it. This is what she and Abraham expected because they knew that God’s promises related to a time long in the future. While their contemporaries set about possessing estates, building cities, and naming their lands after themselves to leave to their descendants, Abraham and Sarah were content to remain pilgrims in the promised land, living in tents. The apostle explains Abraham’s behaviour as the consequence of his faith: "By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God" (Hebrews 11:9-10).

Although all the land of Canaan was promised to Abraham for an everlasting possession, he possessed none of it during his lifetime, not even enough to bury his wife, as Stephen said: "And God gave him none inheritance in it, no, not so much as to set his foot on: yet he promised that he would give it to him for a possession, and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child" (Acts 7:5). Therefore, Abraham bought a field to bury Sarah, in which he also was later buried, in the hope of resurrection from the dead to inherit all the land.

Wednesday: Genesis 24

Because of Abraham’s belief in God’s promises and his willingness to remain a stranger in the promised land, there was no suitable wife for his son Isaac among his neighbours. Abraham was most concerned that Isaac should not marry an idolater among the inhabitants of Canaan, and so he sent his servant to his own people, worshippers of the one true God, in Mesopotamia.

Abraham was confident, because he was doing God’s will, that an angel would prepare the way for his servant, this being the role of angels: "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14). It is God’s will that his people marry only fellow believers so that unity and harmony is maintained and that each partner may help the other in faithfulness to God. This is palpably wise and has been insisted upon by God in all dispensations, including the obligation upon Christians to "marry only in the Lord".

A wife, Rebekah, was found for Isaac and her character is well illustrated in her treatment of Abraham’s servant, a stranger to her. She willingly drew water not only for him but also for all his companions and ten camels vs.19-20, and she exemplifies the character which is pleasing to God.

Thursday: Genesis 25

Abraham had many sons vs.1-4 but, because God’s promise concerning the inheritance of the land of Canaan was centred in Isaac, before he died he sent them away into the lands east of Jordan. These men later multiplied to become nations, such as Midian, of whom we read later concerning their relationship to Israel.

When Abraham did die and was buried in the same sepulchre as Sarah we are told he "gave up the ghost" and "was gathered to his people" v.8. Death of the faithful is consistently described in the Bible in this manner, with no suggestion whatsoever of heaven-going. They all died in the belief that, though laid in the grave, they would be raised from the dead. The word "ghost" is Anglo-Saxon for "breath", and it was breath which left Abraham when he died. The first man became a living soul when the breath of life was breathed into him, and all men become dead souls when their breath leaves them.

The promises of God to Abraham became Isaac’s birthright and in due course passed to Esau his eldest son but he despised the birthright and, remarkably, sold it for a mess of pottage. This occurred when a severe famine put him and his brother, Jacob, to the test. Esau, a skilful hunter v.27, was unable to catch anything but, returning home famished, found his brother willing to exchange food for the birthright. Declaring that, being at the point of death, the birthright had no value to him Esau then sold it to his brother. God’s covenant offered him eternal life, but he despised it and sold his birthright to satisfy an immediate craving for food. God’s judgment on Esau is a warning to everyone else to appreciate God’s promises: "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God ... Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright" (Hebrews 12:15-16).

Jacob, in contrast, fully appreciated God’s promises and desired them above everything else. Throughout his life he was willing, if necessary, to give up anything in life to inherit what God had promised to his fathers. At the height of the famine he gave up the only food available to gain the birthright, and he is set forth as an example to all the faithful, even as Jesus instructed his disciples: "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:31-33).

Friday: Genesis 27

Despite Esau having sold his birthright, and forfeited the related blessing, when Isaac proposed giving him the blessing he acted deceitfully by concealing the true position. However, his mother Rebekah recognised the deception and acted to ensure that the blessing went to Jacob, the rightful holder of the birthright. Jacob had supplanted his brother Esau, "supplanter" being the meaning of his name, in accordance with God’s will expressed to Rebekah before the children were born, and she acted prudently to ensure that Esau’s deception was not successful and the rightful heir was blessed.

The character of these two brothers is set forth in the scriptures for our learning as God said: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated" (Romans 9:13). We should be like Jacob who believed God’s promises, appreciated their true value, was prepared to give up everything to obtain them, longed for their fulfilment, and acted in accordance with God’s revealed will so that he might in due course receive them. Esau’s example is to be avoided: "For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears" (Hebrews 12:17). The prophet Malachi warned Israel, who were then acting like Esau, that God loved Jacob and hated Esau (Malachi 1:2-3) and that the day of judgment will come when, despite present appearances, the truly righteous and the wicked will be manifested: "Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not" 3:18. Then it will be vital to be like Jacob, rather than Esau.

Esau’s supplanting by his brother provoked murderous intent in his heart v.41, a recurring event in the relationship between the righteous and the wicked. Those, throughout history, who rejected the glorious inheritance God offers nevertheless envied and persecuted those who sought by belief and obedience to inherit them, for example: Ishmael and Isaac; the Jewish religious leaders and Christ; the Jews and the first Christians; as the apostle wrote: "But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now" (Galatians 4:29).

Saturday: Genesis 28

Because of Esau’s threat of murder, and because of his distressing marriage to idolaters of the land, Rebekah suggested that Jacob be sent to Mesopotamia to find a suitable wife among Abraham’s family, as Isaac had done. In this Jacob obeyed Isaac and Rebekah v.7, obedience to parents being a command of God and a characteristic of his people, and journeyed to Padan-aram. On the way the LORD made to him the same promise he had made to both his father and grandfather: "I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed" vs.13-14. This is the gospel: the blessing of all nations in their seed when they inherit the land of Canaan for ever. Interestingly, Jacob received the promise when he dreamed of angels ascending and descending between heaven and earth, showing that open communication with heaven will be a feature of the kingdom of God, as Jesus declared: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man" (John 1:51).

Jacob called the place "Bethel", meaning "the house of God", expressing God’s great purpose -- to establish for ever in the earth his house, composed of men and women who are his sons and daughters because they manifested his character in their lives, as did Jacob.


Questions? Comments? Agree? Disagree? Contact Us