Summary: Part 43 in our Genesis series, discussing Esau and Jacob and God's plan for them.
What About the Kids? (Genesis pt. 43)
Text: Genesis 25:12 – 34
By: Ken McKinley
Well, the last time we were here… last Sunday, we looked at the death of Abraham. And now Genesis is moving on from Abraham to his children and his grandchildren. And this passage today is one of those that’s made for a sermon. It breaks down into three points. From verses 12 – 18 we are told about Ishmael’s line. And if you remember from last time, we saw that Ishmael was at Abraham’s funeral, so it’s a natural place to put into the text a little about Ishmael and his descendants. Then verses 19 – 26 we are told about Isaac’s line, and we’re given a little bit of a glimpse into Isaac’s struggles in trying to have a family as well. We’re told that Rebekah was barren. And then in verses 27 through 34 we’re told about Jacob. And this is kind of a foreshadowing of what’s to come. Moses gives us a glimpse into how things are going to play out in Jacob’s life, even though he’s going to go back to telling us about Isaac in the next chapter.
So let’s begin with verses 12 – 18. Now if you remember back in chapter 17, verse 20, God had told Abraham that He would bless Ishmael, even though Isaac was the promised son. Abraham had desired that Ishmael would be the one who entered into covenant with God, and God told him no, that it was going to be Isaac, but God did promise Abraham that He would bless Ishmael. And so Ishmael is blessed by God, but he’s not part of the covenant community. And we talked about that a little last week when we talked about the difference between saving grace and common grace. And so once again; God is faithful to keep His promise. He told Abraham that Ishmael would receive temporal blessings, and here Moses is recounting for us how God kept that promise and has indeed blessed Ishmael. We’re also given a little insight into Ishmaels territories and his offspring. And again we see from where Ishmael settled, that he would be the father of the Arabic people. He’s territory is basically modern day Saudi Arabia. This is also the last time we hear about Ishmael in the Bible, at least as far as him actually doing anything.
So the first point, and the first thing we’re reminded of is; that God always keeps His promises. We’ll see this happen again and again as we continue through Genesis.
In verses 19 – 26 we get to the second point, or part of the passage.
And what we see in these verses is that Isaac has a test very similar to his fathers. His wife is unable to have children. He and Rebekah go twenty years before they ever have any children. And so Isaac goes to God and prays for his wife. Husbands should always pray for their wives. I pray from MJ every night. She’s at the top of my prayer list. I imagine she prays for me as well, “God help that poor man who is my husband. You know he needs it.” Right?! And Isaac prays for Rebekah. Now when it says he prays for her, it wasn’t like he waited 20 years before he prayed. What verse 21 is talking about, was an ongoing, continual prayer. It took 20 years before God answered the prayer with a “yes”. Prior to that time, God was answering the prayer with “wait”.
And so verse 22 tells us that Rebekah conceived… but she was pregnant with twins and they “struggled against one another in her womb.” And I guess its women’s intuition (which I believe the Bible makes a strong case for), but somehow, she knows something isn’t quite right, and so she goes to the Lord in prayer and asks Him what’s going on?
God tells her; in verse 23, “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.”
And so again, just like in the life of Abraham, we’re seeing that God is sovereign, and that He’s going to do things His way. The covenant line isn’t going to come about by the will of Isaac. Rebekah is barren. She can’t have children, and there’s nothing Isaac can do about it. But he knows who can do something, and so he goes to God in prayer. And finally God answers with a yes, and Rebekah conceives… but not only is she going to have a child, and not only is it going to be a male to carry on Isaac’s line, but there are two boys, and God shows His purpose of election by saying, “The older will serve the younger.” And the Apostle Paul tells us in the Book of Romans chapter 9, that God’s choice had nothing to do with who Jacob and Esau were, or what they were like, or even what they were going to do later in life. It simply had to do with the sovereignty of God in election. Let’s turn there and look at that real fast, (Read Romans 9:6-13).