We are back in Genesis chapter 26 as we look at the life of Isaac, a man who was blessed of the Lord. Last time we saw Isaac falter like his father Abraham because of his fear of the people. When he went to Gerar he was afraid that they would kill him which led him to lie about Rebekah. When he got caught, then he owned up to his sin and admitted that he lied to save his own skin. So Abimelech warned everyone in his kingdom to not lay a hand on Isaac or Rebekah. But this did not stop them from growing envious of Isaac as God blessed him with good crops, and growing flocks and herds and numerous servants. The envy became so great that Abimelech was forced to tell Isaac that he had to move. So Isaac left the city of Gerar and moved down into the valley. That brings us to where we will pick up the story in verse 18. If you have been keeping an eye on our culture you probably have seen a growing animosity toward God’s people. The culture that many of you grew up in has changed. I’m only 43, and the world that I grew up in has changed. Our culture was friendly to God’s people. It, in many ways, respected and acknowledged that Christians were blessed of God, but now, not so much. But is this surprising to us? Is this something new? No, as Ecclesiastes says there is nothing new under the sun. What we are experiencing today is what God’s people have always known. If we have been caught off guard it is only because we have been foolish to believe that the world was for us or at least okay with us. If we as the Church don’t understand what is happening in our country it is because we failed to learn the lessons of Scripture. We are afraid, of people, but not of God. We don’t know our Bible’s or worse, the church is full of worldlings, not Christians. So let’s take a look at this story of Isaac. First, we are reminded from his story that God’s people will struggle in this world as we see Isaac digging wells and having problems with the Philistines. Then we see that God is faithful to his promise as God appears to Isaac and reminds him of his promise. Then we’ll Isaac tries to live peaceably with his neighbors and finally will talk about God’s blessings and some of the family trials that come from following God.
Zechariah has more to say about the coming kingdom than any other minor prophet. The last three chapters of Zechariah describe in vivid detail the final days of the great tribulation and the first days of the millennial reign of Christ. Zechariah’s vision is of a future kingdom where everything, from the temple altar to the cooking pots to the bells on horses’ bridles, is holy.
As we begin Hosea chapter 4, you’ll notice that we have moved into a new section of this book. We have left behind the drama that is Hosea’s life and move into the rest of the book which is the word of the Lord given through Hosea. The first three chapters described God’s view of Israel through a picture: the marriage of a man to an evil and unfaithful wife. Even the children that resulted were used by God as a visible demonstration of the peoples’ guilt and shame, but also of God’s amazing love. Starting in chapter four until the end, we have recorded God’s message, mainly to Israel, the northern tribes, but also to a lesser degree to Judah. Judah will be called to look at their own sin and take warning in light of the sin and impending judgment upon Israel. As we work our way through the rest of the book we will be confronted with the sinfulness and depravity of the people but we will hear also of God’s love for his people and his mercy as he calls his people to return to him, to leave their evil ways and to come back to him.
Even though we were first introduced to Isaac back in chapter 21, much of what we learned about him was incidental to the story of Abraham. Even when Isaac was the one God asked Abraham to sacrifice, little was said about Isaac himself. That story focused on the faith and actions of Abraham. Isaac’s role in history, up unto chapter 24, was to be a tool in the hand of God to strengthen and grow the faith of Abraham. Then in chapter 24, we noticed the shift. Abraham was still alive and had years ahead of him but the narrative has shifted. We read the story of Abraham’s servant and his quest to find a wife for Isaac. We marveled at the providence of God and the appointment of Rebekah to be the next woman to play a part in the promise to Eve. That brought us to chapter 25 and the mention of Keturah. Those final years of Abraham were only given two paragraphs mention by Moses. Truly, the story and as we’ll see today, the covenant promises, had been passed on to Isaac. At the end of chapter 25, Moses gave us a preview of what is to come for the children of Isaac. We have been given a glimpse of the struggles that are within that family. Esau was a wild man not interested in the family or leadership and Jacob seems to be consumed by selfish ambition willing to deceive and prey upon weakness. The story then shifts back, here, in chapter 26 to our friend Isaac.
Now, at our church we believe and teach at the Bible is the authoritative, infallible, perfect word of God in all of its parts and words. There are intent and meaning that are inherent to Scripture. Our job is to mine the truth from Scripture and not to read our thoughts back into Scripture. This being true, the order of the narrative is not accidental. There is a reason why Moses shifted to Jacob and Esau for a moment. There is a reason why we had to learn about the two nations that come from Isaac. We needed to learn about how Esau would be so quick to sell his birthright and Jacob would be so conniving. Now we know what the next generation is like that is coming after Isaac. That sets us up for our story today.
We are going to break 1-17 down into three parts. The first part in 1-6 I’ve labeled The Transferable Covenant because mainly we read about God pronouncing the covenant blessings over Isaac. Next, we’ll see Isaac’s Fear in 7-11. The proverb, The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, will be proven here. And finally, will look at Blessing and Envy in verses 12-17. The world doesn’t like when God blesses his children, and we see that in the life of Isaac.
The minor prophets offer numerous small glimpses into the future kingdom. Of these, Zechariah by far has the most to say. All twelve prophets agree that Israel will be blessed with a greatness it has never known before, when her appointed Ruler comes to claim his kingdom.
Hosea chapter 3 is the end of the narrative that we find in Hosea. As we have seen, the story of the prophet Hosea and his wife Gomer was a situation specifically created by God to teach a lesson. After all, a normal man would not choose to enter into such a relationship knowing what he was getting into unless a). he was very foolish, b). he hated himself, or c). he was directed to do it by God. There might be other reasons, but I dare say that none of them would be that Hosea really wanted a relationship like what he was going into. As I began to study chapter 3, I thought it would be easy to study just by looking at the length. However, as I looked at various commentaries, I noticed that many of the details were contested. Thankfully, for my sake, the overall meaning of the text, the main point, was strongly agreed upon. As we look at this short chapter, I will try to help you navigate through the details as we arrive at the goal: what is God’s main point in all this? I want to look at this chapter in three sections. In verses 1-2 we find God’s purchase, in verse 3 we find God’s prescript and in the second half of verses three through five we find God’s promise.
Three weeks ago we started to look at the story of Isaac with the servant searching for Isaac’s wife. The servant found success through the Lord’s leading and Isaac and Rebekah were married. Then came the passing of Abraham, the hero of the faith. The two brothers, Isaac and Ishmael, were brought together again by the death of their father and could have very well been the last time that they met. Isaac, the chosen son, the one that had received the promises of God, and Ishmael, the wild donkey of a man. Two nations separated by the actions of God. That leads us to the text we have before us. The passage falls easily into three parts. In the first, we find the Generations of Ishmael in verses 12-18. This is the account of the family of Ishmael. Moses writes this here as he just mentioned Ishmael being present at Abraham’s burial. It closes the book of Ishmael and opens the book of Isaac in verse 19. The book of Isaac opens with Isaac and Rebekah having the same struggles with infertility that Abraham and Sarah had. Again, we find the intervention of God and then the birth of twins which will become Two Peoples Divided. Finally, in verses 27-34 we get a little sneak peek at what is to come in the stories ahead. We get a short story of Jacob and Esau before the story returns to Isaac. In this story, we find a description of Jacob and Esau and it is not a pretty picture of either of them. We find that the twins though very different are very similar in one way; they’re both sinners.
The Millennium: The First Days of Forever – Lesson 8 The final chapters of Ezekiel describe a mysterious prince who will lead sacrifices and have authority in the land. We also see the geographic restructuring of the land for the building of a massive 640-acre temple. This temple has a river flowing out of it that replenishes the Dead Sea and the entire land with it. Finally, we see the reconstituted tribes of Israel living in the land. Not one of them is lost.
Hosea Chapter 2
Over the last couple of weeks, as we studied Genesis chapter 24, we saw a clear display of the providence of God. We also witnessed the rock-solid faith of Abraham and his servant in the providence and provision of God. God is sovereign and has a plan and so we should not be surprised when everything works out. Someone once told my wife that things always have an uncanny way of working out for our family. For us it is no surprise. I often stand amazed and am humbled by the blessings of God’s providence, but I am no longer surprised. God’s plan will unfold according to his will and nothing can thwart him. He has covenanted with his people and it will come to pass. Case closed. In the text before us, we have the closing of Abraham’s earthly life. And though it is the closing of this chapter, the story continues on. The thread of redemption and salvation will continue to be woven through the fabric of history. Consider what we have seen already. We have seen the beauty of God’s creation and his ultimate creation, humans. The humans rebelled against God, bringing corruption and death into the creation. But God promised to send one that would destroy the works of evil. Then came Abel. Would he be the one to crush the serpent’s head? We see the answer quickly as Cain kills Abel. Then another is born, Seth, who worshipped the Lord. Seth grew up and had children of his own. And then another generation came and another. Finally, sin had fully corrupted the hearts of most people. But God preserved Noah and his sons and so, the line to Salvation was preserved. Yet, sin was still in the hearts of the people and many gathered to defy God once again. But God confused the languages of the people and began scattering them across the earth. Generations pass and the line is preserved by God as it passes to Abraham’s generation. God shows to the world that the path to salvation remains as he chooses Abraham from all other’s of his generation to be the family through which the line would continue. There are some missteps by Abraham and some outside forces threaten the promises, but this is all in the plan. As Abraham’s life closes the torch is passed to Isaac who will have the privilege to pass it on to the next generation. As we say goodbye to Father Abraham, I want to point out three main things from the text. First, in verses 1-4 we see the promise gets closer. Remember, Abraham greets the promise from afar but yet with each step the promise gets closer and more clearly seen. Verses 5-6 should cause us to meditate on the free grace of God. And finally, we will consider Abraham’s race the that was well run.