As we have studied Genesis, we’ve been tracking several different storylines that God has been interweaving into history. Starting in Genesis 3, we’ve followed the promise of the one offspring of the woman that would crush the head of the serpent. We have watched the other promise that the offspring of the serpent would be at war with the offspring of Eve. When we read Abraham’s story we began pulling at a new part of the same thread. The covenant promises of Abraham were attached to the first promises and we have already seen that these promises were passed from Abraham to Isaac. Recently, we read through the story of how the promises were passing from Isaac on to his second-born son Jacob. In Genesis 27, Moses shows us that Isaac and his family were a mess. Isaac was trying to bless Esau against the word of God given before his birth that he would serve his younger brother. Esau was working to try to undo the earlier selling of his birthright and tried to earn his father’s approval but had no regard for God’s approval. Rebekah tried to follow the word of God but used deception and the undermining of her husband to accomplish it. Jacob wanted the blessing of God but was willing to throw everyone under the bus to get it. How easy has it been to identify with this family? They have been chosen by God. God has a plan for this family that he will work out in time. He will use their sinful choices and override them according to his will. God’s grace, mercy, and love for these people will direct their paths. In today’s passage, we start the story of Jacob’s journey from home. This is more than just a change of address for Jacob. He is about to embark on a spiritual bootcamp. God will take the one whose name means “cheat” and grow him into a man of God. Jacob will become Israel, the one who wrestles God. And by the end of this training the great El-Shaddai, the God of Abraham and Isaac, will be Jacob’s God. In Genesis 28:1-9, we will first see that Jacob is given the charge to leave home to go to Rebekah’s family and there find a wife. Then we will hear Isaac pronounce the covenant promises over Jacob as he leaves home. And finally, we’ll see the actions of Esau as he responds to his father.
Last time we looked at the beginning of Genesis chapter 27. We were given a front-row seat to the weaknesses of this family and the sovereignty of God. The weaknesses were obvious. First, you had Isaac the blessed of the Lord. A man who was trying to walk before God. And yet, he was a man with his own agenda. He was told by God before his children were born that the older would serve the younger. The covenant promises would not pass to his favorite son Esau but to Jacob. Isaac planned to bless Esau and to name him the stronger son. Esau, from the very start, has been a man that cared little for the family and taking leadership. He quickly traded away his birthright and knew that the blessing should go to his brother, but he believes that he is entitled to it and participates in Isaac’s foolishness. Rebekah, who also knows the covenant promises, plots with Jacob to usurp her husband’s authority. Instead of directly confronting the man she uses her son to try and get what she wants. And we found Jacob the heel-grabber. Always about the ROI or return on investment, gladly participates in his mother’s scheme once he knows that any loss that he could receive from this deception would fall to his mother. Like any good con man, Jacob layers his lies and preys upon the weakness of his father. Those that think that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament have never read the Old Testament. If you see God as merciful, gracious, and loving in the New Testament, how could you not see that here in these stories? The many sins of this family deserve eternal destruction. When we find Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in heaven it is only because of God choosing to have mercy on them and bestowing the riches of his grace upon them. If we arrive in heaven, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could say the same thing about us. In our passage before us today, we have the end of this scene in Isaac’s life. In an almost seemingly contradictory statement, the book of Hebrews describes this story in this way, “By faith, Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau.” Keep this in mind as we finish this story out. First, we are going to look at verses 30-36 which describes Esau’s return home from the hunt and the discovery of Jacob’s lies. In verses 37-41 we see the record of Esau’s remorse and grief in losing the blessing. Finally, in verses 42-46, we begin to see the consequences of the sins of the family.
Today, we finish looking at Genesis chapter 22. Remember what we looked at last time. We had the monumental event of Abraham’s life. God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac on the altar as a burnt offering. This whole situation was not for God, as if he needs anything, but it was planned for Abraham and us. We needed to learn about the great doctrine of substitution.
The doctrine of substitution says that Jesus Christ stood in our place, he took the punishment for us that we deserved. He became sin who knew no sin. James Smith said about this idea, “The scene on Mount Moriah, as typical of the greater scene on Mount Calvary, could scarcely have been perfect without the thought of substitution being made prominent. The figure now changes. The ram becomes the burnt-offering, and the submissive one goes free. You observe this sacrifice was provided by God. We have still Jesus before us, not as the Son now, but as the Substitute of one condemned to die. Man found a Cross for Christ, but it was God who found the Ransom…Ask Isaac, as he gazes on the ram burning in his stead if he believes in substitution.”
We also saw in that passage a picture of resurrection. Hebrews 11 explains. “[Abraham] considered that God was able even to raise [Isaac] from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.” Abraham knew what the promise was and he knew what God had also said. He did not consider that God contradicted himself. To the eyes of the flesh and the world, the commands of God seem to oppose each other, to the eyes of faith, there is beautiful harmony. Abraham knew that if he did kill Isaac, Isaac must rise from the dead to fulfill God’s promise. And so, figuratively speaking, Isaac was a good as dead but God’s substitution brought him back from the dead.
So, after learning some amazing truths about God’s plan of salvation or how the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head, we are now ready to hear the conclusion to this story.
The text we have before us naturally breaks down into two main parts. Verses 15-19 explain what happened immediately after Abraham sacrifices the ram that God provided in place of Isaac. The second section is verses 20-24 we are told of someone we haven’t talked about in a long time, Abraham’s brother Nahor.
The life of a follower of God is not always spent on the mountains of glory sometimes the path leads us into the valley of the shadow of death. This is one of those times that we find here in the life of Abram.