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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson


February 2021

Genesis 27:46-28:9: He is not a disappointment

“46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, ‘I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.’ 28 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him. Then he commanded him: ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram,  to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May God Almighty[b] bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now reside as a foreigner, the land God gave to Abraham.’ Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau.Now Esau learned that Isaac had blessed Jacob and had sent him to Paddan Aram to take a wife from there, and that when he blessed him he commanded him, ‘Do not marry a Canaanite woman,’ and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and had gone to Paddan Aram. Esau then realised how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac; so he went to Ishmael and married Mahalath, the sister of Nebaioth and daughter of Ishmael son of Abraham, in addition to the wives he already had.” NIV

You find plenty of things that seem disappointing in the Bible. But in truth, it is holding up a mirror to real life. Isaac and Rebekah’s family was so dysfunctional. Their relationship seemed to start well, with that wonderful story of God guiding Abraham’s servant in chapter 24. This seemed to be a ‘marriage made in heaven.’ It clearly was God’s will to bring them together. But we, with our innate sinfulness, can mar and tarnish something that begins well and is initiated by God. Sin is a great spoiler of human relationships in general, and of marriages in particular.

We have already witnessed Rebekah assisting Jacob to deceive Isaac. Now, it seems to me, she was again being manipulative in what she said to her husband (46). There was undoubtedly truth in her words, but did she tell ‘the whole truth and nothing but the truth?’ I don’t think so. That’s the first disappointing thing I see here.

The second disappointment is with Esau (28:8,9). Talk about ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face.’ See how bitterness can poison a person’s spirit. It’s tragic.

Even the best of people will disappoint us at times.

But God is never a disappointment (28:3,4). Sandwiched between stories of fallible human beings, we are reminded, in the words of Isaac’s blessing, that the Lord is faithful to all His promises. He has done as Isaac said. We can always trust Him.

F.B. Meyer says of Jacob: ‘Sad as he was at the inevitable separation, the star of hope shone in the sky, beckoning him onward. It was necessary that he should be taken from under his mother’s influence into that greater world where, through pain and disappointment, he could become a prince with God. Often our nest is broken up that we may learn to fly.’ Devotional Commentary’, p.25.

Genesis 27:41-45: An undrained grudge

“41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, ‘The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.’42 When Rebekah was told what her elder son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, ‘Your brother Esau is planning to avenge himself by killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: flee at once to my brother Laban in Harran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?’” NIV

‘’Esau held a grudge against Jacob…Your brother Esau is consoling himself with the thought of killing you’’ (41a,42b).

In his excellent book ‘Better decisions, fewer regrets’, Andy Stanley writes about Joseph finally meeting up with the brothers who had done him so much harm. (Joseph is a man we will encounter later on in the book of Genesis). It had been years since he had last seen his cruel brothers. By this time, Joseph was the second most powerful man in Egypt and they were at his mercy:

‘They were terrified because they assumed Joseph would decide unto them as they had decided unto him. Joseph had decided years earlier to live a story worth telling. He had been deciding a good story for thirteen years. He wasn’t going to ruin it now with a revenge chapter…Revenge stories? There are plenty of those. It’s what we expect. It’s when we decide against the grain that we decide a story worth repeating’. (Pages 83,84).

Well, that’s to come some chapters from now. But in this chapter, a red hot revenge story is bubbling away. Rebekah knew it, so she hatched a plan to get her boy Jacob out of the way ‘’for a while’’ (44). He would actually be away for more than 20 years and she would never see him again.

Selwyn Hughes was a well-known Christian leader from just a few decades ago. He was a popular speaker and writer, and his daily devotional, ‘Every day with Jesus’ was read by large numbers of Christians. In one edition, he told a story about a man who was injured by someone, and from that point on this man could not let the grievance go. He nursed it. Eventually, he became ill. In fact, he was so unwell he had to take to his bed, and he eventually died. Selwyn said that the man’s doctor told him, ‘You couldn’t put it on the death certificate, but he died of an undrained grudge!’

PRAYER: Lord, even if I should be treated badly or unfairly, help me to always ‘take the high road’. Enable me to follow the Jesus way of mercy and forgiveness. May no thought of vengeance ever capture my heart.

Genesis 27:30-40: Bitter regret

30 After Isaac finished blessing him, and Jacob had scarcely left his father’s presence, his brother Esau came in from hunting. 31 He too prepared some tasty food and brought it to his father. Then he said to him, ‘My father, please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.’32 His father Isaac asked him, ‘Who are you?’‘I am your son,’ he answered, ‘your firstborn, Esau.’33 Isaac trembled violently and said, ‘Who was it, then, that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it just before you came and I blessed him – and indeed he will be blessed!’34 When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, ‘Bless me – me too, my father!35 But he said, ‘Your brother came deceitfully and took your blessing.’36 Esau said, ‘Isn’t he rightly named Jacob? This is the second time he has taken advantage of me: he took my birthright, and now he’s taken my blessing!’ Then he asked, ‘Haven’t you reserved any blessing for me?’37 Isaac answered Esau, ‘I have made him lord over you and have made all his relatives his servants, and I have sustained him with grain and new wine. So what can I possibly do for you, my son?’38 Esau said to his father, ‘Do you have only one blessing, my father? Bless me too, my father!’ Then Esau wept aloud.39 His father Isaac answered him,‘Your dwelling will be away from the earth’s richness, away from the dew of heaven above. You will live by the sword and you will serve your brother.
But when you grow restless, you will throw his yoke from off your neck.’” NIV

‘’When Esau heard his father’s words, he burst out with a loud and bitter cry and said to his father, ‘’Bless me – me too, my father!’’ (34).

Doesn’t your heart almost break for him? How sad and pathetic this cry of bitter regret. The book of Hebrews exhorts us:

‘’See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears’’ (Hebs.12:16,17).

F.B.Meyer writes about verse 34:

‘On this incident the writer to the Hebrews founds the impressive lesson, that the choices of the past may cast a bitter and irrevocable shadow on all our future…Because of the cravings of appetite – in an evil moment Esau yielded to these…and found afterwards that the choice made in that hour was irrevocable…’

Someone observed that we make our decisions and our decisions turn around and make us.

Another said, ‘How sad it is to have to live with the consequences of forgiven sin.’

It’s not a question of whether or not the sin may be forgiven. If we are truly repentant it will be. But the consequences of a bad decision can haunt us for the rest of our lives. Although what Esau said in verse 36 was partially true, we know it was not the full picture. Certainly, Jacob was a deceiver. But had he really ‘’taken’’ Esau’s birthright and blessing? Is it not rather the case that, as Hebrews says, he ‘’sold’’ them? At such a poor price too. So his painful, bitter regret was self-inflicted.

PRAYER: Lord God, recognising that my choices have consequences, I ask you to give me the wisdom I lack. Please guard and guide all my ways, and keep me from wrong turnings.

 Thought: ‘Every decision you make becomes a permanent part of your story…you decide one decision at a time, because you write the story of your life…one decision at a time.’ Andy Stanley: ‘Better decisions, fewer regrets’ p.53.



Genesis 27:5-29: ‘Living without scheming’’

“5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. When Esau left for the open country to hunt game and bring it back, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, ‘Look, I overheard your father say to your brother Esau, “Bring me some game and prepare me some tasty food to eat, so that I may give you my blessing in the presence of the Lord before I die.” Now, my son, listen carefully and do what I tell you: go out to the flock and bring me two choice young goats, so that I can prepare some tasty food for your father, just the way he likes it. 10 Then take it to your father to eat, so that he may give you his blessing before he dies.’11 Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, ‘But my brother Esau is a hairy man while I have smooth skin. 12 What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing.13 His mother said to him, ‘My son, let the curse fall on me. Just do what I say; go and get them for me.’14 So he went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared some tasty food, just the way his father liked it. 15 Then Rebekah took the best clothes of her elder son Esau, which she had in the house, and put them on her younger son Jacob. 16 She also covered his hands and the smooth part of his neck with the goatskins. 17 Then she handed to her son Jacob the tasty food and the bread she had made.18 He went to his father and said, ‘My father.’‘Yes, my son,’ he answered. ‘Who is it?’19 Jacob said to his father, ‘I am Esau your firstborn. I have done as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may give me your blessing.’20 Isaac asked his son, ‘How did you find it so quickly, my son?’‘The Lord your God gave me success,’ he replied.21 Then Isaac said to Jacob, ‘Come near so I can touch you, my son, to know whether you really are my son Esau or not.’22 Jacob went close to his father Isaac, who touched him and said, ‘The voice is the voice of Jacob, but the hands are the hands of Esau.’ 23 He did not recognise him, for his hands were hairy like those of his brother Esau; so he proceeded to bless him. 24 ‘Are you really my son Esau?’ he asked.‘I am,’ he replied.25 Then he said, ‘My son, bring me some of your game to eat, so that I may give you my blessing.’Jacob brought it to him and he ate; and he brought some wine and he drank. 26 Then his father Isaac said to him, ‘Come here, my son, and kiss me.’27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,

‘Ah, the smell of my son
    is like the smell of a field
    that the Lord has blessed.
28 May God give you heaven’s dew and earth’s richness –
    an abundance of grain and new wine.
29 May nations serve you
    and peoples bow down to you.
Be lord over your brothers,
    and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed
    and those who bless you be blessed.’ NIV

‘’What if my father touches me? I would appear to be tricking him and would bring down a curse on myself rather than a blessing’’ (12).

Okay I admit it. I’m a big fan of Inspector Jack Frost, brilliantly played by David Jason. In one episode, someone asked him how he knew a certain thing was so. I can see him now, tapping a nostril and saying, ‘Your nose’. If only  Isaac had taken notice of what his nose told him (22)…Mind you, he would then have blessed the wrong person. But none of that excuses Rebekah and Jacob’s duplicity. Sometimes ‘your nose’ does tell you something, and you can’t afford to ignore it. It may not necessarily be supernatural insight; you just have a deep-down knowing and it’s safest to listen to your instincts.

One thing I do find deeply disturbing in this story is Jacob’s desire to avoid the appearance and consequences of deceit, but not the deception itself. This made him a hypocrite – an actor playing a part. But who of us has not stood in his shoes? If you’re without sin then by all means throw that stone. I doubt you will.

Warren Wiersbe is again helpful:

‘Rebekah knew what God’s promise was to Jacob, and she should have let God work it out in His own way. ‘’Faith is living without scheming,’’ and who can hinder the Lord from accomplishing His purposes (Dan.4:35)?’ ‘With the Word’, pp. 34,35.

PRAYER: Lord, please teach me to live and speak in a straightforward manner. Cause my yes to be yes and my no to be no. May no deceit or guile find a nesting place in me. Let that truth you so desire be in my ‘inward parts’.

Genesis 27:1-4: Not what he was

“When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for his elder son Esau and said to him, ‘My son.’‘Here I am,’ he answered.Isaac said, ‘I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. Now then, get your equipment – your quiver and bow – and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.’”NIV

‘It was only a matter of time before the divided home would start to self-destruct, and it all began with Isaac. He knew that God had chosen Jacob, the younger son, to receive the blessing (Gen.25:23-26); but he announced that he would give it to Esau. It seems that Isaac was more interested in his physical appetite than in spiritual things. He was not the spiritual person he once had been.’ Warren W. Wiersbe: ‘With the Word’,p.34.

I find that last line haunting. Isaac was not what he once had been. He had fallen from a height. Just think about the Isaac we saw in the last chapter. I would say he was in his spiritual prime there. No, he was not perfect. He was a ‘cracked pot’. Hairline fractures in his character and family life were visible. But here was a man being abundantly blessed and divinely guided. He had power, and God was evidently with him.

But how true it is that the mighty can fall. Just as we find in the book of Revelation that churches can lose their lights, so believers can lose their lustre. Or at least, they don’t burn as brightly as they once did. But for all that I find this prospect scary, I have to say that for every Isaac I have known, I’ve had the privilege of being acquainted with many more Enochs and Calebs: people still walking with God and taking mountains well into their later years. Looking back on many years in the church, I have known such a large number of outstanding Christians living exemplary lives in their 60’s/70’s and 80’s (and even 90’s. In fact, I think of one lady – a spiritual giant in my eyes – who is now over a hundred!!)

So it’s not inevitable that we follow Isaac, helter-skelter down his slippery slope, and there is a clear pointer in the story to help us. It is this: never go against what God has clearly revealed in His Word; never compromise where truth is concerned, nor violate your conscience. Stay close to God. Pursue Him relentlessly, and do whatever He tells you.

Genesis 26: Under the anointing…

“Now there was a famine in the land – besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time – and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.’ So Isaac stayed in Gerar.When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, ‘She is my sister,’ because he was afraid to say, ‘She is my wife.’ He thought, ‘The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.’When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, ‘She is really your wife! Why did you say, “She is my sister”?’Isaac answered him, ‘Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.’10 Then Abimelek said, ‘What is this you have done to us? One of the men mightwell have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.’11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: ‘Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.’12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, ‘Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.’17 So Isaac moved away from there and camped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarrelled with those of Isaac and said, ‘The water is ours!’ So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarrelled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarrelled over it. He named it Rehoboth,[e] saying, ‘Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.’23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.’25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal advisor and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, ‘Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?’28 They answered, ‘We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, “There ought to be a sworn agreement between us”– between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.’30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, ‘We’ve found water!’ 33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.”NIV

‘They answered, ‘’We saw clearly that the LORD was with you…’ (28)

One of the early Pentecostal ‘giants’ wrote a lovely hymn: ‘Move me dear Lord, and others I shall move, to do thy will…’ One of its wonderful verses begins in this way: ‘Under the anointing daily let me live, a priest and king…’

I suggest that Isaac is an example (at least at this stage of his life) of someone living ‘under the anointing’. I would summarise this chapter by saying he was divinely guided and abundantly blessed; he was powerful and it was evident that God was with him.

However, this did not mean:

  1. That he was perfect (7-11). Rather, we see the ‘family sin’ reproduced in him. It had twice got his father into trouble (see 12:10ff; 20:1ff), and it is sad to see it being reproduced in the next generation;
  2. That he was pain-free. He experienced opposition from the world (19-22) and heartache at home (34,35). There are many people who have experienced a great anointing, and who have had enormous success in public ministry, yet they have carried personal (even private) burdens.

Note how wisely and sensitively Isaac dealt with his opponents. It was as if he lived out Romans 12:18-21 long before it was written. Recently, while out on a drive, Jilly and I wanted to go down certain roads. But as we got to their entrances, there was so much snow on the ground, we decided we’d better not. As I reflected on this I thought, I would want the Lord to prevent me going down ‘roads’ that are not of His choosing. I may be drawn to them; it might be my intention to travel them, but I find comfort in knowing God can prevent my progress. I would always want Him to put a roadblock in our way if it’s going to take us out of His will. This chapter opens with Isaac intending to go to Egypt, or so it seems. But he’s got it wrong, and the Lord lets him know. It is important that we should always ‘’live in the land’’ He appoints for us (2,3)


’Direct, control, suggest this day All I design, or do, or say; That all my powers with all their might for your sole glory may unite.’ Thomas Ken.

Genesis 25:22-34: Getting into a stew over nothing

“22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, ‘Why is this happening to me?’ So she went to enquire of the Lord.23 The Lord said to her,‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other,and the elder will serve the younger.’24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them.27 The boys grew up, and Esau became a skilful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was content to stay at home among the tents. 28 Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob.29 Once when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, ‘Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!’ (That is why he was also called Edom. 31 Jacob replied, ‘First sell me your birthright.’32 ‘Look, I am about to die,’ Esau said. ‘What good is the birthright to me?’33 But Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore an oath to him, selling his birthright to Jacob.34 Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and some lentil stew. He ate and drank, and then got up and left.So Esau despised his birthright.” NIV

The jostling babies (22a)

Whenever I read this, it causes me to think about that inner tussle between the sinful nature and the Holy Spirit which is the experience of every Christian (Galatians 5:17). It is an unpleasant and uncomfortable reality, and we will face it until we leave this world. It doesn’t get any easier just because we become older, but it may manifest itself in different ways – although not necessarily. Thankfully, although the battle is real, the ‘flesh’ can ‘’serve’’(23) the Spirit. The Spirit can have the upper-hand (Gal.5:24,25), but not a day will pass when we can relax our guard. We must stay alert and be vigilant.

The seeking mum (22b)

Prayer is not just asking for things. One aspect entails asking about things. It is confessing ignorance and requesting information. It is reaching out to God for insight, revelation, understanding. It is going ‘’to enquire of the LORD’’. It’s intentional. There is something I don’t know that I need to know, but this I do know – God can help me with it if He so chooses. If He has a reason for not telling me (at least in the short term) that is His business. He knows best. I can have no argument with Him over it. But from where I sit, I do know that the Lord encourages me to come to Him in all humility and faith and ask for the much-needed wisdom (James 1:5-8). God does speak.

The fleshly man (24-34)

It is always a cause for wonder how two children born to the same parents, and part of the same family, can be so different. Jacob and Esau were (and each one was favoured by a different parent v.28 – never a good idea. It tends to lead to unwanted consequences). Here we see Esau as a fleshly man, dominated by his appetite. He can’t delay gratification, and throws away something precious for a bowl of stew. It still happens of course, over and over again. But the contents of the bowl may differ. Like Esau, we may find that an appetite is temporarily satisfied, but the inner longing isn’t. We have exchanged something that really matters for…NOTHING!

Genesis 25:19-21: Prayer changes things

“19 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Isaac.Abraham became the father of Isaac, 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean.21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.” NIV

Imagine becoming the father of twins at the age of 60!  Warren Wiersbe makes this helpful point: ‘Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah. For twenty years, they waited for a family that did not come. God blessed Isaac in everything but the thing he wanted most. He and Rebekah knew that God had promised descendants (Gen. 15:5), so Isaac laid hold of the promise and prayed. True prayer lays hold of God’s Word (John 15:7) and seeks to accomplish God’s purposes.’ ‘With the Word’, p.33.

‘The fulfilment of God’s promise is always sure, yet it is often slow. The faith of believers is tried, their patience exercised, and mercies long waited for are more welcome when they come. Isaac and Rebekah kept in view the promise of all nations being blessed in their posterity, therefore were not only desirous of children, but anxious concerning every thing which seemed to mark their future character.’ Matthew Henry.

Prayer changes things. Let us believe God and pray on. It is not the case that we can have just anything we want. But if our request is in line with God’s Word, if we are standing on His promises, we can have great boldness and confidence in our prayers.

God didn’t merely give Isaac what He asked; He gave Him more. He so regularly does.

‘’Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.’’ (Ephesians 3:20,21).

PRAYER: Lord, increase our faith.

Genesis 25:1-18: The ultimate statistic

“Abraham had taken another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak and Shuah. Jokshan was the father of Sheba and Dedan; the descendants of Dedan were the Ashurites, the Letushites and the Leummites. The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanok, Abida and Eldaah. All these were descendants of Keturah.Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east.Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field Abraham had bought from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried with his wife Sarah. 11 After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who then lived near Beer Lahai Roi.12 This is the account of the family line of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Sarah’s slave, Hagar the Egyptian, bore to Abraham.13 These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16 These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. 17 Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people. 18 His descendants settled in the area from Havilah to Shur, near the eastern border of Egypt, as you go towards Ashur. And they lived in hostility towards all the tribes related to them.”NIV

‘’Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people’’ (17).

When Ishmael was my age he still had more than half his life ahead of him. Nevertheless, he died. Even when life is long it is short. After writing yesterday’s thought, I laughed out loud when I read a letter from a Cheltenham vicar in ‘the Spectator’. He wrote: ‘’As a vicar, I’ve been the recipient of many a missive signed off with…flair. My collection moves from the solid ‘In Him’, through the invigorating ‘In His Grip’ to the faintly troubling ‘Under Aslan’s Paw’, and many besides. I’ve always enjoyed working with one particular funeral director, who ends his emails ‘Yours eventually’.’’

Many a true word…!

By the time we reach verse 18 of this chapter two major figures, Abraham and Ishmael are both dead. I am reminded that, as someone observed, ‘Death is the ultimate statistic. One out of one dies.’

Mention of the ‘’hostility’’ of the Ishmaelites ‘’towards all their brothers’’ (18) makes (9) seem all the more poignant and touching: ‘’His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him…’’ As has been observed, death is a human experience which binds all people together in spite of natural differences.

(P.S. You may have noticed that already I am lingering longer in chapter 25 than I originally intended. But I am noticing features in the Biblical landscape I feel I need to point out. So I will apply the break a little).

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