Well at the site of ancient Be’er Sheva
“Then he [Isaac] went up from there to Beersheba. And YHVH appeared to him the same night and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.’ So he built an altar there and called on the name of YHVH, and he pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.” (Genesis 26:23-25).
The readings for this week 4-10 November 2018 are called Toldot — “Generations”:
*Genesis 25:22. “The children struggled together within her, and she said, ‘If this is so, why then am I . . .?’ So she went to inquire of the LORD.” Please pray for believers in Israel…that when faced with the perplexity of inexplicable conflicts (of which there are many in Israel), we would be quick to “go to inquire of the LORD” rather than leaning to our own understandings as to how to respond.
*Genesis 25:22-23. “The children struggled together within her…And the LORD said to her: ‘Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger’.” The struggle between the descendants of these two children Jacob and Esau (whose name would also be Edom) would continue; it is a spiritual struggle. God’s hatred for the spirit working in Esau, which not only despised its own birthright, but also persisted in working violence against the lineage of God’s sovereign choosing, would be strongly expressed in the Book of Obadiah—“Behold, I will make you small among the nations; You shall be greatly despised. The pride of your heart has deceived you… For violence against your brother Jacob, shame shall cover you, and you shall be cut off forever” (Obadiah 2-3, 10).
God is a God of love and life—attributes which manifest in holy hatred against all which would seek to thwart His life-covenants with the Children of Adam. “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Malachi 1:2-3; Romans 9:13). “For the day of the LORD is near upon all the nations. As you have done, it shall be done to you; your deeds shall return on your own head. For as you have drunk on my holy mountain, so all the nations shall drink continually; they shall drink and swallow, and shall be as though they had never been” (Obadiah 15-16).
We see strong similarities between the spirit of Esau/Edom and that which fuels the religion of Islam today—a religion which despises and harasses Jacob (Israel), even as it “drinks” on God’s holy mountain (before the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem) and binds other nations throughout the world to drink from its lifeless spring. God hates the life-despising spirit and the system of death which it presently oversees. But He loves the millions bound under this system—calling them to come out of it into His covenant of Life.
*Genesis 25:26. “Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Ya’akov (Jacob).” The letters of the Hebrew word translated “heel” also form the root of a word meaning “deceiver”. Jeremiah 17:9 uses this same root, “The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick; who can know it?” Jacob’s life would be one of coming to know himself and the contents of His deceitful heart—and at the same time, of coming to know the God who nevertheless loved and had chosen him, the God who, after his coming to know himself, would grant to Jacob a new heart and a new name (Genesis 32:27-28).
Genesis 25:29-34. “Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.’ (therefore his name was called Edom), But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.’ And Esau said, ‘Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?’ Then Jacob said, ‘Swear to me as of this day.’ So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.”
Hebrews 12:14-17 (ESV). “Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no ‘root of bitterness’ springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled; that no one is sexually immoral or unholy like Esau, who sold his birthright for a single meal. For you know that afterward, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no chance to repent, though he sought it with tears.”
This passage from Hebrews suggests that Esau had come to be led by the desires of his fleshly appetites—placing those before the holy ‘right’ which had been bestowed on him by his birth. As we will see next week (Genesis 28:16-17; 31:42), even with his failings Jacob had learned and acquired a respect for holiness and the fear of the LORD from his parents.
*Genesis 26:2-5. “Then YHVH appeared to him and said: ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants (Hebrew: zera—“seed”) I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.’” The LORD twice here promises to give to Isaac’s physical seed “all these lands”. This shows that although all believers are “descendants of Abraham and heirs of the promises” by faith (Galations 3:7), the physical land would nevertheless be passed on through the physical descendants of his son Isaac.
It is interesting that while the promise of blessing through Abraham in Genesis 12:3 extends to “all families of the earth”, the promise in 22:18, and to his son Isaac here, is that in their seed “all the “nations of the land shall be blessed.” It is God’s desire not only to bring blessing to individuals but to communities and even nations through the life of the Holy One who would come through the seed of Abraham and Isaac! And by blessing the seed of Abraham and Isaac (see above), nations may themselves have a part in bringing God’s blessing on their lands and people.
*Genesis 26. Here, even with God’s promise of care and blessing (above), Isaac succumbs to the deceptive weakness of his father Abraham in pretending that Rebekah is his sister. Yet the Lord who is patiently mentoring both of these men into maturity in their faith, mercifully protects both them and their wives as He has promised.
*Genesis 26:18. “And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them.” Isaac’s life is much associated with “wells”—From when his future wife Rebekah was revealed at one (24:45) and he, shortly thereafter, came himself from another to meet her (24:62), to the reopening of old wells and the digging of new ones recorded here in chapter 26.
PLEASE PRAY for the reopening of “wells”—of ancient sources of truth and blessing and song in returned Israel—as well as discovery of new reservoirs of understanding reserved for latter days (Daniel 12:9). Pray for rediscovery and proper identification of the well of “Righteousness through Faith” (Genesis 15:6); Pray that Israel will find and open again her true “Well of Salvation”…and come to know His Name.
*Genesis 26:19-22. “Also Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found a well of running water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled…so he called the name of the well ESEK (“Exploited”, “deprived of”). Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also, so he called its name SITNAH (“Sataned”, “Accusation”, “Enmity”, “Adversary”). And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name REHOBOTH (“space”, “wideness’s”), because he said, ‘For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.’”
For over a hundred years the returned Hebrews have faced quarreling, exploitation, and deprivation over the land God has promised to them. As they have attempted to become rooted, and to re-dig the “wells” of their ancient homeland, they have continued to be accused by the world and to be surrounded by enemies and adversaries.
PLEASE PRAY that more and more of returned Israel will come to realize that we will never “make room for ourselves” in this Land. By ourselves, we have no idea how to come into such a relationship with those already dwelling in the land as will quell the quarreling. We must turn in faith to our LORD, Who alone will “make room for us” (and those yet to come) to become permanently rooted and “fruitful in the Land”.
Genesis 26:23-24; 26-29. “Then he went up from there to Beersheba. And the YHVH (the LORD) appeared to him the same night and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.” So he built an altar there and called on the name of the YHVH, and He pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.”
Isaac has consistently given all the glory for his success (26:22, 25) to YVHV, the God taught to him by his father Abraham. His and his father’s testimony of this God have made a lasting impression on the Philistine king Abimelech:
“Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar… “We have certainly seen that YHVH is with you…You are now the blessed of YHVH” (Genesis 26:26-29).
*Genesis 27. Rebekah attempts (as had her mother-in-law before her) to assist the “word of the Lord” spoken over her sons, and enters into a deceitful plan with Jacob to get the blessing of birthright placed upon him instead of Esau. Yet it is God’s sovereign grace which will work out His purposes, in the process, bringing out of both of these sons a revelation of their motives and that in which they have trusted. Isaac will bless them both 27:27-29 and 27:39-40, but the blessing of birthright which Esau had despised will be taken from him forever.
*Malachi 1:11. “’For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, my name shall be great among the Nations; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the Nations,’ Says YHVH of Armies.” There is no clearer declaration of God’s great love for all nations. His ultimate purpose in choosing Abraham and making of him a “great nation” (Genesis 12:2), was that One would come through that nation in Whom All the World would be saved!
*Malachi 2:7. “For the lips of a priest should preserve and guard knowledge, and people should seek the law from his mouth; for he is the messenger of the LORD of Armies.” Revelation 1:6 says that the One who loves us and washed us from our sins in His own blood has made us into a kingdom of priests. As such, our mouths are of exceptional importance—guarding knowledge for release to those seekers with whom God will bring us into contact. The Hebrew word for “messenger” here is exactly the same as that often translated “angel”. Angels, as part of their services in the Armies of the LORD, are heavenly messengers sent to “minister to those who will inherit Salvation”. As priests before God we are often called to work hand in hand with these supernatural beings.
PLEASE PRAY for a keen understanding of our responsibility as priestly messengers of God to His people (and that in the power of the Holy Spirit we move in step with His heavenly messengers, the angels), while keeping a close guard on our tongues.
– Your Friends in Jerusalem
[The readings for next week (11-17 November 2018) are called VaYetzeh—“And He Went Out”. TORAH: Genesis 28:10—32:2; HAFTARAH: Hosea 12:12—14:9.]