Thursday, July 10, 2014

Thursday, July 10 ~ Miriam

Today's passage from the Bible In a Year Reading Plan is 1 Corinthians 4; Psalm 119:145-152; 2 Chronicles 9-10.
Today's scripture focus is Genesis 25

Abraham’s Death
25 Now Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore to him Zimran and Jokshan and Medan and Midian and Ishbak and Shuah. 3 Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim and Letushim and Leummim. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah and Epher and Hanoch and Abida and Eldaah. All these were the sons of Keturah. 5 Now Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac; 6 but to the sons of his concubines, Abraham gave gifts while he was still living, and sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the east.

7 These are all the years of Abraham’s life that he lived, one hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people. 9 Then his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, facing Mamre, 10 the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth; there Abraham was buried with Sarah his wife. 11 It came about after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac lived by Beer-lahai-roi.

Descendants of Ishmael
12 Now these are the records of the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maid, bore to Abraham; 13 and these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, in the order of their birth: Nebaioth, the firstborn of Ishmael, and Kedar and Adbeel and Mibsam 14 and Mishma and Dumah and Massa, 15 Hadad and Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16 These are the sons of Ishmael and these are their names, by their villages, and by their camps; twelve princes according to their tribes. 17 These are the years of the life of Ishmael, one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. 18 They settled from Havilah to Shur which is east of Egypt as one goes toward Assyria; he settled in defiance of all his relatives.

Isaac’s Sons
19 Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Isaac; 20 and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Aramean, to be his wife. 21 Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If it is so, why then am I this way?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 The Lord said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb;
And two peoples will be separated from your body;
And one people shall be stronger than the other;
And the older shall serve the younger.”
24 When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them.

27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents. 28 Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. 29 When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; 30 and Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.” Therefore his name was called Edom. 31 But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” 32 Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?” 33 And Jacob said, “First swear to me”; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank, and rose and went on his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

The first thing I want to mention is verse 8:  Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people.

Doesn't that sound great?  Satisfied with life.  I hope to die at a ripe old age, satisfied with life.  I don't know whether or not that is what is in store for me, as no one knows ahead of time how or when death will come, only that it comes for everyone sooner or later.  I hope that I will be satisfied with life.  That doesn't mean life is always good.  We know it is not.  Everyone goes through hard times.  Abraham had some very hard times.  He made some big mistakes.  His faith wasn't always strong.  But I think if one can be satisfied with life overall at the end of his or her days, then they have been blessed indeed.

Moving on, we're now talking about Esau and Jacob.  Fraternal twins, obviously.  I found this excerpt from Bob Deffinbaugh VERY interesting:

Without all the sophisticated medical tests employed today, God informed Rebekah that she was to give birth to twins. Each of the children would be the father of a nation of people. Of these two nations, one would prevail over the other. Of these two sons, the older would not, as was the custom, become preeminent. Normally, the first-born son would have been the heir through whom the covenant blessings would have passed. While the father could designate a younger son to be the owner of the birthright (cf. Genesis 48:13-20), this was the exception, not the rule. Also, the oldest son could sell his birthright, as Esau did.

This prophecy is a very significant revelation not only for Rebekah but also for Christians in our age because it indicates the principle of divine election. Before the birth of the children God determined that it would be the younger child who would possess the birthright and thus be the heir of Isaac so far as the covenant promises were concerned.

In Romans 9 the Apostle Paul referred to this incident as an illustration of the principle of election:

And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac, for though the twins were not yet born, and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger’ (Romans 9:10-12).

While we must acknowledge that God in His omniscience knew all of the deeds of both these sons from eternity past, Paul says that the choice of Jacob over Esau had nothing to do with their works. Jacob was chosen in the womb and without regard to the works he would do in the future. In other words, God’s election was not based upon “foreknowledge” as it is sometimes taught. God’s choice was determined by His will, not by man’s works. Personally, I think that Esau was the more likeable of the two. (At least Isaac would agree with me on this point.)

The events surrounding the birth of the twins gave further evidence to the truth of the words of the Lord spoken to Rebekah before their birth:

When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau. And afterward his brother came forth with his hand holding on to Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob; and Isaac was sixty years old when she gave birth to them (Genesis 25:24-26).

Esau was born first, and he came from the womb red and hairy. The Hebrew word to describe the color of Esau sounded similar to Edom and may have prepared the way for his nickname as it was decided in verse 30. The name Esau somewhat resembles the sound of the word meaning ‘hairy.’

Jacob came forth from the womb grasping the heel of his brother Esau. Jacob’s name was suggested by the Hebrew word for ‘heel.’ Later events, such as the barter of the birthright in verses 27-34, indicate that the name, taken in its negative sense, referred to Jacob’s grasping and conniving nature.

God’s choice is not determined by His knowledge of the good works that the chosen will later accomplish. Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob all had very visible faults. Their conduct often was not any more sterling than that of any other person. At times others even appeared more righteous than they (cf. Abimelech in Genesis 20). While we are chosen “unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10), it is not because of our good works that we are chosen. Jacob was chosen before his birth without regard to future deeds (Romans 9:11). In theological terminology, God elects men and women unconditionally without regard to that which they will do. That is pure grace.

Some conclude from this fact that those who are not among the elect are forever lost because God did not choose them. There is, of course, truth in this statement (cf. Proverbs 16:4; Revelation 17:8; I Peter 2:6). While election to salvation is never on account of works, election to eternal damnation is. The emphasis of the Word of God is not that men go to Hell because God did not choose them, but that men suffer eternally because they have not chosen God.

That truth is precisely what Moses stressed in this chapter. Throughout these verses the principle of election is evident. And yet, at the conclusion of the account Moses did not report that Esau sold his birthright because God had predetermined this to happen, but because Esau “despised his birthright” (verse 34).

Election is unconditional. God chooses men because of His love and grace, not because of man’s future good deeds. While good works do not give us the reason for a man’s election to a place of blessing in God’s program, a man’s evil deeds are adequate reason for his rejection by God.

I don't know about you, but that gives me something to think about.  Election is a difficult subject, both because it evokes strong emotional responses but also because it is simply very difficult for our limited brains to grasp.  However, I have heard the argument that God elects based on future acts because He knows everything we will do.  This message says the opposite, but I can't find fault with the argument.  Interesting.  I'd be interested to hear your thoughts, from either side.  Comments?

Tomorrow's scripture focus: Genesis 26
Tomorrow's Bible In a Year Passage passage:  1 Corinthians 5; Psalm 119:153-160; 2 Chronicles 11-12


TammyIsBlessed said...

The argument that God elects based on future acts, in my opinion, makes less of God. I think Deffinbaugh explained it well and I would tend to agree with him. It is such a difficult concept for our limited finite brains to grasp. The Bible clearly teaches both election and personal responsibility, so I believe both, even when it doesn't quite all make sense.

Miriam said...

I feel the same way.