The 70 Descendants of Jacob

Genesis 46:8-27

“Now these were the names of the children of Israel, Jacob and his sons, who went to Egypt: Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn. 9 The sons of Reuben were Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi. 10 The sons of Simeon were Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar, and Shaul, the son of a Canaanite woman.  11 The sons of Levi were Gershon, Kohath, and Merari. 12 The sons of Judah were Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez, and Zerah (but Er and Onan died in the land of Canaan). The sons of Perez were Hezron and Hamul. 13 The sons of Issachar were Tola, Puvah, Job, and Shimron. 14 The sons of Zebulun were Sered, Elon, and Jahleel. 15 These were the sons of Leah, whom she bore to Jacob in Padan Aram, with his daughter Dinah.  All the persons, his sons and his daughters, were thirty-three.

16 The sons of Gad were Ziphion, Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi, and Areli. 17 The sons of Asher were Jimnah, Ishuah, Isui, Beriah, and Serah, their sister. And the sons of Beriah were Heber and Malchiel. 18 These were the sons of Zilpah, whom Laban gave to Leah his daughter; and these she bore to Jacob: sixteen persons.

19 The sons of Rachel, Jacob’s wife, were Joseph and Benjamin. 20 And to Joseph in the land of Egypt were born Manasseh and Ephraim, whom Asenath, the daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On, bore to him. 21 The sons of Benjamin were Belah, Becher, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim, and Ard. 22 These were the sons of Rachel, who were born to Jacob: fourteen persons in all.

23 The son of Dan was Hushim.  24 The sons of Naphtali were Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, and Shillem.  25 These were the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to Rachel his daughter, and she bore these to Jacob: seven persons in all.

26 All the persons who went with Jacob to Egypt, who came from his body, besides Jacob’s sons’ wives, were sixty-six persons in all. 27 And the sons of Joseph who were born to him in Egypt were two persons. All the persons of the house of Jacob who went to Egypt were seventy.”  

As we read through the latter portions of Genesis, we are left to imagine a lot about what took place while Joseph was in Egypt.  Jasher 41-56 sheds some extra light on this subject that is worthy of reading (Joshua 10:13; 2 Sam. 1:18). 

As I’ve read the book of Jasher, I must say that I’ve become fascinated by how old (or young) people were at different stages of their lives– especially when they got married and had children.  I plan to show you at least one family member that married very young but first I want to recap a few things. 

According to Genesis 37:2, Joseph was 17 years old about the time he dreamed his brothers’ sheaves were bowing down to him.  By the time Joseph was 18 years old, he was working for Potiphar.  During the time he worked there, Potiphar’s wife, Zelicah tried to seduce him on a daily basis for a year. 

Zelicah was so obsessed with Joseph’s comeliness that she couldn’t stop tempting him despite his continual refusals.  On one occasion, Potiphar’s wife grabbed Joseph by his robe and begged him to lie with her.  As he fled from her, his robe tore in the front indicating his back was to her as he fled.  According to the book of Jasher, Joseph was later beaten and taken to the priests to be judged.  When the Egyptian priests examined his robe, they determined he was not guilty because it was torn in the front instead of the back.  Even so, he was still sent to jail despite his innocence.  That wasn’t the end of it because Zelicah continued pestering him while he was in jail even though her husband knew she had falsely accused him.  Jasher doesn’t say if Potiphar knew she continued to pursue Joseph or not but it is clear Zelicah should’ve been content in her own marriage.

During the first 13 years Joseph was in Egypt, his brothers were getting married and raising children.  

  • In the same year Joseph went to Egypt, Reuben married a Canaanite from Timnah named Eliuram.   
  • Simeon married his sister, Dinah and also married a Canaanitish woman named Bunah from Shechem.  
  • Judah married a Canaanite woman named Aliyath.  After her death, he eventually fathered twins by the widow of his first two sons whose name was Tamar. 
  • Levi married a woman from the east named Adinah. 
  • Issachar married Adinah’s sister, Aridah. 
  • Dan married a Moabitess named Aphlaleth. 
  • Gad and Naphtali married descendants of Nahor in Haran–Naphtali married Merimah.
  • Gad married Merimah’s younger sister, Uzith. 
  • Asher married Adon, a descendant of Ishmael but she died without any children.  After her death, Asher married a widow named Hadurah, a descendant of Eber, the son of Shem.  Hadurah had a three year old daughter named Serach from her first marriage that was raised in Jacob’s house. 
  • Zebulun married a Midianite named Merishah.
  • When Benjamin was 10 years old, his father Jacob obtained a descendant of Terah named Mechalia to marry Benjamin.  After having 5 sons with her, he married a descendant of Abraham named Aribath when he was eighteen years old and fathered another 5 sons.
  • It wasn’t until Joseph was 34 years old that his wife Osnath had Manasseh and Ephraim (Jasher 50:15).

Let’s go back and take a closer look at Benjamin since his situation is a bit fascinating.  Jacob was 91 years old when Joseph was born and he was 100 when Benjamin was conceived, so Benjamin was about 10 years younger than Joseph and he was approximately 7 years old when Joseph was sold into Egypt (Jasher 31:21; 36:8).  I was very surprised to read in the book of Jasher that Benjamin was given a wife when he was only 10 years old.  That’s just not done in our culture today!

If we continue to do our math, we can see that by the time Joseph stood before Pharaoh to interpret his dreams at the age of 30, Benjamin was only around 20 years old and had already fathered 10 children!  Some people believe this is completely impossible but if he had his first child when he was 11 or 12 years old, he could easily have had 10 by the time he was 20 without having twins or triplets!  If I had had 10 children by the time I was 20, I think I would have died from exhaustion!

If you think 11 or 12 years old is too young to father a child, you might find it interesting to see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_youngest_birth_mothers  and http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_old_was_the_youngest_person_to_ever_father_a_child

As you can see, Jacob’s twelve sons married women of various people groups within what is now known as the Middle East.  A few of them even actually married Canaanites, whereas previously Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had specifically avoided marrying them. 

In addition to these women, let’s not forget about Serach who was the little girl adopted into Asher’s family when he married the widow, Hadurah.  Jasher 45:17 describes her this way:  “And the damsel was of a comely appearance, and she went in the sanctified ways of the children of Jacob; she lacked nothing, and the Lord gave her wisdom and understanding.” 

These marriages and families seem to be prophetic of the fact that God chooses/marries/adopts and blesses both Jewish and Gentile people:

  • The Gentiles have been made “fellow heirs of the same body” (Eph 3:6).
  • They are united into one flock with the Jews (John 10:16).
  • They have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel (Rom. 11:11-27).
  • God’s people are blessed as they are obedient to terms of the Lord’s marriage covenant (Deut. 30:16).
  • Believers in Christ are blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit to minister to the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:7-12).

After Genesis 46 lists all of Jacob’s sons and grandsons, it tells us that there were a total of 70 members of Jacob’s house that went into Egypt.  This should catch our attention because it seems to parallel the 70 nations and/or languages that descended from Noah’s three sons: Japheth in Europe (14), Ham in Africa (30), and Shem in the Middle East (26).  It’s almost as if God was starting over again with Jacob’s family as He did with Noah’s except there was no flood to destroy the wicked.  The idea was that the wickedness of the 7 nations (Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites) would reach their fullness when it was time for Israel to take the Promised Land and they would be destroyed by God’s people at that time.  This will also be true when Jesus returns because there will ten kings that initially join the Beast but 3 of them will be put down by the Beast leaving seven that will be destroyed by Jesus and His army (Dan. 7:24; Rev. 17:12; 19:19-21).

You see, God has always desired to have a people set apart for Himself that would seek righteousness and reject wickedness like Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  These men weren’t perfect but God’s grace was upon them because they demonstrated their trust in Him.  Even in Jacob’s final days, he went to Egypt trusting that God would bring his family back to the Canaan – the Promised Land.

As Jacob was about to die, his sons gathered around him so he could bless them.  God used that brief moment in time in Genesis 49 to give Jacob’s sons a prophecy concerning their descendants in the last days.  Most notable is the fact that the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah and that the people of the earth will obey Him (Rev. 5:5; 19:15).  Jacob even alluded to the donkey and colt Jesus would ride into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:5) and also hinted that the Messiah will wash his clothes in the blood of the grapes of God’s wrath (Rev. 14:19).  I’m sure that what he said to the rest of his sons was just as prophetic as what he said to Judah.

The period of the patriarchs was about to come to an end but it was only a new transition for the 12 tribes of Israel.  They needed to learn to trust the Lord as their forefathers had done.  It would not be easy.  There would be difficult lessons ahead of them but God would be faithful to demonstrate His awesome power, deliver his people, and bring them back to the land as He had promised Abram in Genesis 15:13-14.

What about you?

Do you trust God as you pass through each stage of your life?

Do you flee from the temptations that constantly surround you like Joseph did?

Do you forgive those who have trespassed against you?

Are you daily choosing to focus on the Author and Finisher of your faith despite any turmoil that may encompass you?

Please know that God is faithful to keep His promises.  What has been prophesied will come to pass.  God wants to use you to bless the people around you.  Will you let Him?

BTW, if you are interested in learning more about the 70 descendants of Noah, see http://www.his-forever.com/table_of_nations.htm , http://www.ldolphin.org/ntable.html , and/or http://www.soundchristian.com/man/   

All quoted Scripture is from NKJV.

 

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Joseph — Dreamer and Interpreter of Dreams

In the beginning of Genesis 37, the Bible tells us that Jacob loved his son, Joseph because he was born to him in his old age.  Jacob demonstrated his favor toward Joseph by giving him a special robe or coat.  Some translators say it was a coat of many colors but it really may have been a long sleeved robe.   It is clear that Joseph’s brothers resented the fact that they were not as favored in their father’s eyes as Joseph was.

As the story unfolds we discover that there was also animosity between Joseph and his brothers because of his dreams.  In his first dream, the bundles of wheat that belonged to Joseph’s brothers bowed down to his.  Upon hearing Joseph’s dream, his brothers quickly understood its significance and were not pleased.  Joseph soon had another dream in which the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowed down to him.  If the first dream wasn’t bad enough, the second one made his brothers angrier because it confirmed the first dream.

Should we blame God for the hatred of Joseph’s brothers that was generated by Joseph’s dreams?  I don’t think so.  The hatred was not God’s fault but Joseph’s fault because he shared it at the wrong time with the wrong people.  It seems Joseph’s unwise decision to share his dream was used by God as the catalyst to bring God’s future plan for Joseph to pass despite their evil intentions.

Are dreams relevant for us today as they were in Joseph’s day?  Many assume that the dreams we have are a result of what we experience during the day or something else.  That may be partly true.  Actually, we have to learn to discern between various dream sources:

  • God speaking directly to us in simple dream language or in symbols.
  • The kingdom of darkness.
  • Other sources that produce junk which is meaningless.

In the last days, the Holy Spirit will be poured out again in a way similar to that of Acts 2:17.  Joel 2:28-31 prophesied that the Holy Spirit will be poured out on all flesh.  The Holy Spirit will cause our sons and daughters to prophesy and our old men to dream dreams.  Our young men will see visions.  This will happen before the second coming of the Lord.  Personally, I think this is happening to some degree already.  If you are already dreaming dreams and think you are alone, you are not!

I have not had many dreams and visions in the past but they have been happening with a little more frequency than before.  I think this is a result of asking God to reveal His secrets to me.  Normally, God reveals to me the patterns or secrets that are in His Word through careful analysis but lately I’ve been asking God to reveal other secrets to me.  I believe the only way He can do this is through dreams and visions.  I will have to take time to learn how to remember, record, and interpret my dreams because I’m certainly not skilled in this area of my life yet.

So far, I think I’ve already learned a valuable lesson from Joseph:  not all dreams and visions are meant to be shared with other people because of the way they may respond to their interpretation.  I’m convinced that some dreams and visions are meant to be shared with others but some are personal, not for others, and not for the corporate body.  Joseph should have had a little more discretion and kept his dreams to himself.  He should have waited until God showed him when and where to reveal them.  Holding back a dream or vision won’t change its prophetic significance but it may help to avoid bruised feelings and possible retaliation.  Remember, we must be careful not to throw our pearls before swine!

What else can we learn from dreams and visions?  The symbols seen in Joseph’s dreams were easy for his family members to properly interpret them.  Some symbols in dreams or visions are things you can personally relate to because God speaks to us through our current worldviews, family life, and skills of trade.

Daniel’s visions on the other hand were a little harder to figure out.  This may have been because these visions were not only for Daniel but for all of God’s people.  Fortunately, angels were able to help interpret his dreams.  I think the first place we can go to in order to properly interpret dreams and visions is the Bible.  We still have to be careful interpreting dreams and visions because some dream symbols can have multiple meanings.  It may also be useful to occasionally consult a dictionary of Christian dream symbols that is Biblically based.  Dream interpretation is obviously the weakest link in this form of communication between God and man so we must ask God to help us understand dreams and visions properly.

Even though Jacob scolded Joseph for the contents of his second dream, I think he did another wise thing – he “kept the matter in mind.”   Sometimes when we receive a dream or vision:

  • We may be completely clueless as to what it is all about.
  • When we do have an idea of what it’s about, we might not be sure if our interpretation is correct.
  • We might wonder how the prophetic significance of it could really come to pass.

That’s why we need to ponder them and record them.  If a dream is really of the Lord and not of the Enemy, or if the same theme happens twice, it will take place.  It’s hard for beginners to always properly interpret dreams or visions.  I imagine that even pros miss the mark from time to time.  If we’re not careful with our interpretation, we could end up being labeled a false prophet.

Joseph had no idea how his original dreams would come to pass.  Surely Jacob gave up hope of seeing Joseph’s dreams being fulfilled when he thought his son had been killed by a wild animal.

It’s a good thing Joseph didn’t know what would take place in his future before his dreams were fulfilled.  He would have been discouraged long before his trials began.  Joseph’s troubles began when he was put in a pit where he could’ve died by being bitten by snakes or scorpions but fortunately he was grateful to be pulled out of a death trap and set on solid ground.  It didn’t take long for things to go from bad to worse…

Jasher 42 – 45 describes how:

  • The Midianites originally bought Joseph first for 20 pieces of silver.
  • They sold him to the Ishmaelites for the same price.  This must be why Genesis 37:28 mentions both Midianites and Ishmaelites.
  • Then the Ishmaelites later sold him to the Medanim for 20 shekels when they came near Egypt.
  • The Medanim finally sold him to Potiphar for 400 pieces of silver.

Things were looking up for Joseph while he was working in Potiphar’s house except when he was tempted to sin day after day with Potiphar’s wife.  He remained faithful to the Lord but eventually, he was falsely accused and sent to prison.  It was there God gave Joseph the interpretation of the personal dreams of the cup bearer (butler) and the baker.   Here is another lesson for dream interpretation.  To be accurate, the interpretation should come from God and not from our human understanding because this can lead to a wrong interpretation.  Sometimes our dreams are prophetic warnings or delightful revelations.  The cup bearer was thrilled to hear he would be restored to his former position but the baker was devastated when he was forewarned of his impending death.

These two dreams also seem to foreshadow the Vine (Cup Bearer) – Jesus Christ.  As a result of being falsely accused of blasphemy, He shed his blood to atone our sins so we could have eternal life.  This was accomplished when Jesus (Bread of Life) died on a cross while wearing a crown of thorns on His head (Bread-baker’s basket).  After 3 days of being buried in the grave, Jesus was given a new life.  Just as there was a great feast on Pharaoh’s birthday, there will be a celebration on the Feast on Tabernacles which is thought to be the time of Jesus’ birthday and also the time of the coming Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

Two years after the dreams of the cup bearer and the baker, Joseph was brought out of prison to interpret Pharaoh’s dreams of fat and skinny cows.  This time, dreams were the method of warning Pharaoh to prepare for a famine that would affect the corporate body of Egypt and the surrounding nations, including Joseph’s family.   It’s important to note that sometimes God also gives dreams to those outside the family of faith.   Pharaoh and King Nebuchadnezzar are two examples of this.  It also seems that we may not be able to change what’s going to happen but we may be able to change the extent of its effects on us based on our response.  For example, by stockpiling grain, Joseph was able to save many lives as the famine worsened and Nebuchadnezzar may have avoided 7 years of insanity if he had repented of his pride quicker (Dan. 4:27).

Much of the Old Testament’s historical accounts such as Joseph’s and prophecies such as Daniel’s are similar to dreams and visions because they are/were also shadows or patterns of what would/will take place in the future.  Even many of the Scriptures that pointed to Christ could not be seen clearly until after Christ returned to heaven.  That is how it can be with dreams and visions…sometimes we don’t know what they are really all about until after they have been fulfilled and we have the hindsight to see their clear meaning in our lives.

As a result of the 7-year famine and being elevated to a position of power, Joseph’s original dream was finally fulfilled when his brothers came to Egypt.  Actually, Joseph’s mother, Rachel had already died prior to Joseph’s dream.  As we ponder the reason for this, we should remember that this dream shares a prophetic pattern of the coming 7 year peace treaty between Israel and the Beast of Revelation, the final 3 ½ years of tribulation, and the 12 nations of Israel including Jesus’ mother, earthly adopted father, and siblings who will bow down to Jesus in the future.

What else can we say about our personal futures or that of our friends and churches?  Only God knows these secrets and only He can reveal them to us in dreams and visions.

Do you have or want to have dreams and visions?  Declare a fast and petition the Lord.  Explore this topic as the Lord leads.  Maybe the prophetic ministry or one involving the interpretation of dreams and visions is in your future.  Let me know how the Lord is working in this area of your spiritual life.  That’s one way for the glory to go to the Lord.

Esau and Jacob

Today, I want to summarize some information from Jasher 26-32 and Genesis 25-33.  I won’t cover all of the details today so we can come back and explore more of it on another day.  What simply amazes me is how old Esau and Jacob were at different points in their lives.  What seemed to occur quickly in the Bible was spread out over a much larger span of time than we have previously understood.   Finally, the animosity that was birthed between Esau and Jacob will eventually lead to God’s judgment of Esau’s descendants.

If you recall, Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah.  The writer of Jasher says Rebekah was 10 years old at that time (Jasher 24:40).  For many years Rebekah was barren but after seeking and pleading with the Lord, fraternal twins named Esau and Jacob were born when Isaac was 60 years old.  This means Rebekah was 30 years old when she finally gave birth to them.

Abraham died at 175 years old and was buried by Isaac and Ishmael.  Since Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old, Jacob and Esau were 15 years old when Abraham died. 

The book of Jasher tells us that Esau went hunting frequently after Abraham’s death.  Nimrod (Amraphel) observed him at this time because he was jealous of him.  Nimrod was also considered a mighty hunter so he may have been jealous of Esau’s hunting skills.  It’s hard to know for sure the exact reason for his jealousy but it’s could have been related to the prophecy that was given around Abraham’s birth.  If you recall from a previous post, Nimrod’s star gazers saw a shooting star that swallowed up stars from the four corners of the heavens and prophesied that Abraham and his descendants would kill the kings of the earth and inherit their lands forever (Jasher 8:1-11). 

On one of these hunting trips, Esau killed Nimrod by cutting off his head with his sword.  Esau also killed the 2 men who were with him and took Nimrod’s valuable garments that Cush had given him and hid them at his house.  These garments may be the same ones that God originally made for Adam, that had been passed down to Noah, stolen by Ham, and passed to Nimrod through Cush (Jasher 7:24-29; 27:10).  After Esau murdered Nimrod and his 2 men, he ran to his father’s house exhausted and hungry.  This is when he asked his brother Jacob to give him some red stew.  The writer of Jasher said Esau sold his birthright and his portion of the cave at Machpelah to Jacob because this was of the Lord, although most people assume it was because Jacob was simply being deceitful.  According to the book of Jasher, Jacob wrote this transaction in a book and had it witnessed.  Once Nimrod died, his kingdom was restored to its many rightful kings.

Famine was in the land after Abraham died.  Isaac planned to go to Egypt but God instructed him to go to Gerar until the famine was over.  At first, Isaac said Rebekah was his sister while they were in Gerar but after 3 years, Abimelech saw Isaac caressing Rebekah.  This is most likely the son of the original Abimelech who had been known as Benmalich.   Abimelech soon had them paraded before the people and warned everyone not to harm them.   

Fortunately, Isaac found favor in Abimelech’ sight who remembered the covenant between his father and Abraham.  According to Jasher 28:13-16, Abimelech told Isaac, “Behold the whole earth is before thee; dwell wherever it may seem good in thy sight until thou shalt return to thy land; and Abimelech gave Isaac fields and vineyards and the best part of the land of Gerar, to sow and reap and eat the fruits of the ground until the days of the famine should have passed by. 14 And Isaac sowed in that land, and received a hundred-fold in the same year, and the Lord blessed him. 15 And the man waxed great, and he had possession of flocks and possession of herds and great store of servants.  16 And when the days of the famine had passed away the Lord appeared to Isaac and said unto him, Rise up, go forth from this place and return to thy land, to the land of Canaan; and Isaac rose up and returned to Hebron which is in the land of Canaan, he and all belonging to him as the Lord commanded him.”  

Esau and Jacob were at least 18 years old at when they returned from Gerar to Canaan.  Isaac then sent Jacob to Shem and Eber for 32 years to learn the instructions of the Lord after which he returned to his father’s home.  Esau was not willing to go with Jacob to Eber’s but remained in his father’s house in Canaan.   Esau was deceitful; he continued to hunt beast as far as the field of Seir (Edom) and hunted the hearts of men by winning them over through flattery.

Esau took Jehudith [Judith] the daughter of Beeri, son of Epher from the families of Heth the son of Canaan when he was 40 years old (Jasher 28:22-23; Gen. 26:34).  Genesis says Esau also took Bosmath [Basemath], the daughter of Elon, the Hittite as his wife when he was 40 but Jasher says he did so after Jacob stole his blessing (Jasher 29:12).  

Jacob returned to his father in Hebron in Canaan when Noah’s son, Shem died at the age of 600 years.  Since Isaac was 110 years old at that time, Jacob and Esau were 50 years old.  If the years given in Jasher are correct, it seems there was a period of time between the age of 40 and 50 when Jacob had left Eber but didn’t live with his father in Hebron.    

When Jacob was 56 years old, Rebekah was told Laban’s wife and handmaids were barren.  The Lord remembered Laban’s wife, Adinah and she bore twin daughters – Leah and Rachel.  Rebecca was glad to hear this news (Jasher 28:28).

Years later, Issac sent Esau to hunt and get venison and planned to bless him when he returned.  Rebecca heard and called Jacob and told him to bring her 2 goats that she would prepare so Jacob could deceive Isaac and get Esau’s blessing.

Esau was very angry when he heard what his brother had done.  Since Jacob was afraid of Esau, he went to Eber, the son of Shem.  He was 63 years old when he went to Eber’s.  He stayed there 14 years and learned the ways of the Lord and his commandments (Jasher 29:11).

Esau took his first wife, Judith and went to Seir and took Bosmath [Basemath], the daughter of Elon the Hittite as his wife but he called her Adah.  Six months after leaving his parents, he returned to them with his wives who committed idolatry by worshipping the Baalim.  This greatly bothered Isaac and Rebekah.  Esau’s wife, Adah bore a son named Eliphaz when he was 65 years old.

After Jacob had lived with Eber for 14 years, he returned to his parents.  While Jacob had been gone, Esau had forgotten what Jacob had done to him but quickly remembered when he saw him and desired to kill him.  Rebecca heard about his plans and warned Jacob to flee to Laban’s place in Haran.  Jacob told Isaac not to take a wife from Canaan but to go to Laban in Haran.  Isaac warned Jacob not to forsake the Lord while he was there and to find a wife that was good and upright in the ways of the Lord.  He blessed him and sent him on his way.  Based on my calculations, Jacob was 77 years old when he went to Laban’s in Padan-aram and Rachel and Leah would have been 21 years old. 

Esau sent his 13 year old son, Eliphaz to pursue and kill Jacob and bring back his things.  Jacob convinced Eliphaz and his men not to kill him but to take all his things instead.  Esau was not happy with that but when he heard his parents didn’t want Jacob to marry a Canaanite, he married Ishmael’s daughter, Machlath [Mahalath] (Gen. 28:9; Jasher 29:43).

Jacob came to Mt. Moriah near Luz.  The Lord promised him many descendants, his enemies to fall before him, and to bring his back to Canaan with children and riches.  He named the place Bethel.

After finally arriving in Padan-aram, Jacob told Laban what Esau and Eliphaz had done to him.  After one month, Jacob said he would work 7 years for Rachel.  In the 2nd year he was in Haran, Jacob mourned when he heard about the death of Eber.  In the 3rd year, Esau and Bosmath [Basemath] had a son named Reuel.  In the 4th year, Laban’s wife gave birth to 3 sons because of Joseph.  In the 5th year, Esau’s wife Jehudith [Judith] died.  After she died, Esau went to hunt as usual in Seir.  In the 6th year, Esau took another wife, Ahlibamah [Aholibamah] and they had 3 sons.  Esau’s herdsmen quarreled with the inhabitants of Canaan because his cattle and goods were too abundant so he took his family and possessions and moved to Seir.  In the 7th year, Jacob married Leah and worked 7 more years for Rachel. 

Jacob was/would have been:

  • 79 years old when Eber died (Jasher 30:15).
  • 85 years old in the 7th year.
  • 91 years old when Joseph was born (Jasher 31:21).
  • 92 years old in the 14th year.
  • 98 years old when the Lord told him to go home after serving Laban his final 6 years.
  • 108 years old when Joseph went to Egypt because Joseph was 17 when he was sold into Egypt (Gen. 37:2).
  • 121 years old when his son, Joseph stood before Pharaoh.  Joseph was 30 at that time (Gen. 41:46; Jasher 49:38).
  • 130 years old when he came to Egypt during the famine (Gen. 47:9).
  • 147 years old when he died (Gen. 47:28; Jasher 56:1).

As Jacob’s family prepared to go to Canaan, Rebecca took the household gods so Laban couldn’t know where they had gone but Laban ended up inquiring of their whereabouts from some other images before pursuing them (Jasher 31:44-45).  After seeing his daughters and grandchildren and sending them away, Laban sent word to Esau that Jacob was returning home.  Esau was angry at the news and got ready to take revenge.  Laban’s messengers went ahead to Rebekah and Isaac to tell them Esau was getting ready to go against Jacob.  Rebecca quickly sent messengers to warn Jacob that Esau was coming and recommend that he conceal nothing from Esau and honor him with gifts.  In addition, the Lord sent 3 angels to come against Esau and his men in order to turn Esau’s anger to kindness. 

We tend to think this was a happy ending to the saga of Jacob and Esau but those who’ve read the book of Obadiah know there is more of the story.  Obadiah begins with a vision in which a messenger was being sent among the nations to attack the proud people of Edom (Esau’s descendants) to deceive and set a trap for them.  Obadiah 10 says this will be done to Edom for the violence that was done to their kinsman, Jacob and that they would be cut off forever because they failed to help when lots were cast for Jerusalem and strangers took their treasure and foreigners entered their gates.  Instead of helping the descendants of Jacob, they handed over their survivors to their enemies.  This passage parallels Jeremiah 49:14-22.   If you carefully read the surrounding chapters of Jeremiah, you will notice that this is part of God’s plan for the future judgment of the nations in the latter days.

When the Day of the Lord’s return comes, there will be a remnant of Jacob that will repossess their rightful inheritance.  The house of Jacob will be a flame that will completely consume the stubble of the house of Esau and the Lord will be King.

The Search for Isaac’s Wife

Today’s post is about the search for Isaac’s wife and is based on Genesis 24, Jasher 24, and John 4:1-42.

After the death and burial of Sarah, Abraham sent Isaac away so he could go to stay with Shem and Eber to learn the way of the Lord and His instructions for 3 years.  After that he returned to Beersheba.

Next, Abimelech [father of the king] died and was replaced by his son Benmalich [son of the king] who was renamed Abimelech.  Lot, the son of Haran – Abraham’s nephew also died in those days when Isaac was 39 years old.  The following year, Nahor, the son of Terah who was also the brother of Abraham died.  With all these people dying, Abraham probably started thinking about the possibility of his own death and the fact that Isaac didn’t have a wife yet.

When Isaac was 40 years old, Abraham sent his servant, Eliezer to Haran to find a wife for Isaac from his brother’s family (Jasher 24:27-30).  Eliezer was concerned that if he found a woman for Isaac, she wouldn’t come home with him and wondered if he should take Isaac back there.  Abraham insisted that Isaac must stay in the land of Canaan and not marry a Canaanite.

Eliezer left with his master’s goods and went toward the city of Nahor in Mesopotamia and stopped at a well outside the city when it was evening.  Meanwhile, Isaac returned to his father’s home in Beersheba.  Since Eliezer wanted to find the right girl [na’arah = a girl from infancy to adolescence] for Isaac, he prayed asking for God to confirm who she was by asking that whoever she was would give him water and also provide some for all his camels.  A young girl named Rebekah came and gave Eliezer water at his request and then she offered to draw water for his camels too.  When her task was complete, he gave her a golden nose ring and two bracelets weighing ten shekels of gold.  Rebekah then went to tell her family what had happened.  I was quite shocked to read in Jasher 24:29 that Rebekah was 10 years old at this time but this certainly fits the definition of a na’arah!   

Rebekah’s brother, Laban came out to greet him and told him a place was prepared for the camels and to come to the house.  Once the camels were unloaded and fed, Eliezer’s feet and those of the men with him were washed.  Rebakah’s family offered Eliezer food but he didn’t want to eat until he:

  • Explained the reason for his visit.
  • Said how he was sure Rebekah was the girl that should be Isaac’s wife.
  • Asked if they would agree to his marriage proposal. 

Since Laban and Bethuel were sure this was of the Lord, they agreed to allow Rebekah to marry Isaac.  Upon hearing their answer, Eliezer gave Rebekah gold and silver jewelry and clothing.  He then bowed his head and worshiped the Lord who led him in the way of truth.  He later gave precious things to her family most likely as a bride price. 

Eliezer wanted to leave with Rebekah the next morning but her family wanted her to stay 10 days longer.  At Eliezer’s insistence, they let Rebekah decide.   When Rebekah agreed to leave that day, they sent her away with a nurse, servants, and a blessing that she may become the mother of thousands of ten thousands and that her descendants would possess the gates of their enemies. 

After traveling almost all the way to her new home, she finally saw Isaac from a distance and covered her face.  After Eliezer told Isaac everything that had happened, Isaac took Rebekah into his mother’s tent and she became his wife.  So after all this time, Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

As I pondered all of this information, God showed me a few similarities between the account of Eliezer choosing Rebekah to be Isaac’s wife and Jesus meeting the woman who came to the well in Sychar, Samaria.  

Jesus had left Judea and was passing through Samaria on His way to Galilee when He stopped at Jacob’s well and asked a woman to give Him a drink of water.  Instead of responding like Rebekah did to Eliezer, the Samaritan woman expressed surprise at Jesus’ request because He was a Jew and she was a Samaritan.  Normally, the Jews looked down upon Samaritans because they were descendants of the northern kingdom who had intermarried with foreigners and because their religion was an unholy mixture of Judaism and idolatry.  This would be comparable to the numerous people who’ve practiced Christianity synchretised with paganism for centuries.  

Instead of giving the Samaritan woman gifts of gold and silver, Jesus told her that if she knew the gift of God and who He was, He would have given her Living Water.  She couldn’t see how Jesus could physically give her living water and didn’t realize He was offering Himself to her.  This was a little different from Rebekah who could see the physical abundance that Eliezer had brought with him before she knew he had come in search of a wife for Isaac. 

Just as Eliezer told her family the purpose of his journey, Jesus explained to the woman of Sychar that His Living Water would become a fountain of water that would spring up into everlasting life.  Upon hearing this, she desired this Living Water to keep her from thirsting.  Then Jesus told her to bring her earthly husband to Him but she’d already had several and the one living with her wasn’t really her husband.   By this time, she perceived that Jesus was a prophet and started to change the focus of their conversation by stating the difference between her peoples’ belief concerning the proper place of worship and that of the Jews.  Jesus explained that true worshipers would worship the Father in spirit and truth because that is the kind of worshipers (brides) God seeks.  Finally, she said that she knew the Messiah was coming and Jesus revealed to her that He was the Messiah. 

When Eliezer was sure he found the right wife for Isaac, he was so pleased that he blessed the Lord.  Once the woman was pretty sure she had met the Messiah, she was obviously excited when she left to tell the people of the town about Him when His disciples came back and urged Him to eat.  At the same time, they were surprised Jesus had been talking with a Samaritan woman.  This was most likely because of the reasons previously mentioned. 

If you recall, Eliezer didn’t want to eat until he explained to Rebekah’s family the reason for his journey but  Jesus did not want to eat earthly food His disciples had brought Him because He was interested in telling them about the task of reaping the spiritual harvest or inviting people to accept His marriage proposal.  When the people of the city heard the woman’s testimony, they accepted her invitation to come meet Jesus.   Once they met and heard Jesus for themselves, they believed He was the Christ. 

Jesus gave His life as a bride price for whoever’s willing to accept His marriage proposal and returned to His Father’s home in heaven to prepare a place for His bride.  Since that time, Jesus’ servants have been commanded to search for those who might be willing to become the Bride of Christ in all the nations and make disciples of them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). 

People should not be hindered but encouraged to come to Jesus as a little child much like the na’arah, Rebekah who was willing to become Isaac’s wife (Luke 18:17).  For now, the Jews are being hindered by a veil over their closed heart when they read or hear Torah.  All they can see is their sin in the mirror of Torah.  As Jews turn to the Lord, that veil changes so they can see Jesus more clearly in Torah as if they are looking at Him through a window.  By walking in the Spirit, they will conform to the Living Torah or glory of the Lord.  Hopefully as the last days approach, the Jews no longer be hindered but will come to the Messiah in mass numbers. 

When people accept Christ’s proposal, they:

  • Should repent – leave the false spiritual husband they’ve been united with so they can become engaged with their new Bridegroom, Jesus Christ.  Their response should be like Rebekah’s – immediate and not delayed.
  • Are covered by the blood of Jesus who is the veil between the heavenly Father and them. 
  • Become the temple of the Holy Spirit.  This means the question of the proper place of worship by the Samaritan woman is a non-issue until Christ’s return because the Holy Spirit dwells within all believers.   
  • Should be discipled in the way of pure truth so they can be presented to Christ clean and holy instead of adulterated or synchretized with something pagan. 

The sovereign Father who no one has ever seen holds the title: the King of kings (1 Tim. 6:15).  At the appointed time [moed = feast] in the future, the Father will tell Jesus to return to gather His bride.  This will probably take place on the Day of Trumpets in a year of Jubilee.  Jesus, the Son of God who is also known as the Lamb of God will be like Benmalich [son of the king] whose name was changed to Abimelech [father of the king] because in Revelation 17:14 and 19:16, Jesus is also known by His Father’s title:  the King of Kings.  Those who have accepted Jesus’ wedding proposal and were faithful to Him will be clothed in a robe of righteousness and will be ready when the Feast of Tabernacles takes place several days later.  At that time, Jesus will take His bride into His bridal chamber where the wedding will be finalized or consumated and the Wedding Supper of the Lamb will take place.  His people will be comforted and will soon forget the pain and suffering caused by their enemies.      

The Binding of Isaac

Again today, we will consider the book of Jasher that’s been mentioned twice in the Bible in addition to the Genesis account concerning the binding of Isaac [also known as “The Akeidah”].

Jasher 22 tells us that Abraham had been raising Isaac to know the Lord as we would expect him to do. One day, Ishmael was with Isaac and boasted to him about the day he had been circumcised and how he had given his soul to the Lord at that time. Isaac didn’t think Ishmael’s circumcision was such a big deal and in response voiced his willingness to die as an offering to the Lord if God ever asked Abraham to do so. Despite what many may have imagined, Isaac was 37 years old at the time this took place. Isaac’s age can be confirmed because the Bible says Sarah was 90 when he was born and 127 when she died (Gen. 17:17; 23:1).

The writer of Jasher said that God heard Isaac and Ishmael’s conversation that day and thought about testing Abraham in this matter. Later, a scene takes place in Jasher 22 that sounds strangely similar to that of the opening chapter of the book of Job. God asked Satan if He has considered His servant Abraham and told Satan that if He asked Abraham to offer his son Isaac as an offering to Him, Abraham would do so. Satan responded by basically asking God to prove it.

Jasher 23 opens similarly to Genesis 22 with God commanding Abraham to take Isaac, the son he loves to Mount Moriah and offer him as a whole burnt offering. Abraham seemed intent to do this but his main concern was how to separate Sarah from Isaac. He decided to explain to Sarah that he needed to take Isaac to study the service of his God with Shem and Eber. Sarah loved Isaac very much but agreed to allow him to go. Jasher says her soul was so bound to Isaac’s that she cried all night before he left and gave many instructions concerning him. It goes on to describe how she dressed Isaac in a robe that Abimelech had given her, put a turban on his head, and enclosed a special stone in the top of his turban before they left. It also tells us she was worried she would never see Isaac again.

According to Genesis 22, Abraham took two servants with them. Jasher 23:21 identifies them as Eliezer and Ishmael, Hagar’s son. The writer of Jasher continues by saying Ishmael told Eliezer that Isaac would be sacrificed and that after Isaac was dead, Abraham would give him an inheritance. Eliezer reminded Ishmael that he’d been cast out of the house and that he wasn’t going to inherit anything.

Along the way, Satan appeared in various forms to them in order to convince them not to obey the Lord but Abraham perceived who it was and rebuked him on three occasions. According to both Jasher and Genesis, it took 3 days before they could see Mount Moriah in the distance. Eliezer and Ishmael were asked to stay with the donkey and wait for their return. Jasher explains that both Abraham and Isaac could see a pillar of fire and a cloud with the glory of the Lord upon it on the mountain but Ishmael and Eliezer could not so they had to stay behind.

Abraham put the wood on Isaac’s back and he carried his knife and fire for the offering. Even though Ishmael seemed to perceive that Isaac would be a burnt offering, Isaac did not know it until they had left the others. Jasher and Genesis differ on Abraham’s answer when Isaac asked about the whereabouts of the animal for sacrifice. In Genesis 22:8, Abraham answered, “My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.” (NKJV) Eventually, Abraham had to tell Isaac that he was to be the lamb to be sacrificed. Jasher admits this is the case from the time Isaac made his inquiry. Jasher 23:51-57 then says, “And Isaac said unto his father, I will do all that the Lord spoke to thee with joy and cheerfulness of heart. 53 And Abraham again said unto Isaac his son, Is there in thy heart any thought or counsel concerning this, which is not proper? tell me my son, I pray thee, O my son conceal it not from me. 54 And Isaac answered his father Abraham and said unto him, O my father, as the Lord liveth and as thy soul liveth, there is nothing in my heart to cause me to deviate either to the right or to the left from the word that he has spoken to thee. 55 Neither limb nor muscle has moved or stirred at this, nor is there in my heart any thought or evil counsel concerning this. 56 But I am of joyful and cheerful heart in this matter, and I say, Blessed is the Lord who has this day chosen me to be a burnt offering before Him. 57 And Abraham greatly rejoiced at the words of Isaac, and they went on and came together to that place that the Lord had spoken of.”

Genesis leaves out much of the dialogue that took place between father and son that day. It goes on to say that Abraham built the altar, bound Isaac, and was ready to slay him with his knife when the Angel of the Lord stopped him.

Jasher 23:61-64 says, “And Isaac said to his father, Bind me securely and then place me upon the altar lest I should turn and move, and break loose from the force of the knife upon my flesh and thereof profane the burnt offering; and Abraham did so. 62 And Isaac still said to his father, O my father, when thou shalt have slain me and burnt me for an offering, take with thee that which shall remain of my ashes to bring to Sarah my mother, and say to her, This is the sweet smelling savor of Isaac; but do not tell her this if she should sit near a well or upon any high place, lest she should cast her soul after me and die. 63 And Abraham heard the words of Isaac, and he lifted up his voice and wept when Isaac spake these words; and Abraham’s tears gushed down upon Isaac his son, and Isaac wept bitterly, and he said to his father, Hasten thou, O my father, and do with me the will of the Lord our God as He has commanded thee. 64 And the hearts of Abraham and Isaac rejoiced at this thing which the Lord had commanded them; but the eye wept bitterly whilst the heart rejoiced.”

Jasher continues by saying the angels of mercy came and interceded for Isaac before the Lord stopped Abraham from slaying him and gave him a ram that had been prepared from that day to be burned instead. It explains that Satan hindered this ram from approaching Abraham but that Abraham was able to take it and offer it in place of Isaac. Satan didn’t stop there because he appeared in yet another form to Sarah and convinced her Abraham had killed Isaac.

Sarah and her servants made inquiries about them in Hebron but did not find him. Satan appeared to her again later and confessed he had lied to her. She was so overcome with joy from this news that she died at the age of 127 which is the same age given in Genesis 23:1.

Abraham, Isaac, Ishmael, and Eliezer came home after Abraham and Isaac worshipped the Lord. Soon after, they heard about Sarah and arrangements were made to buy a place of burial for her.

If we fast forward in time to Jesus’ final days we can see similarities exist between Jesus and Isaac:

  • Jesus and Isaac were described as “only sons” and were loved by their fathers.
  • The number 3 is present in the narratives. It took 3 days to get from Abraham’s home until they could see Mount Moriah. Jesus was in the grave 3 days and 3 nights after dying on the cross at what many refer to as Mount Calvary.
  • Intercession took place. Jesus’ disciples interceded for Him. Angels of mercy interceded for Isaac.
  • The mothers of Jesus and Isaac loved their sons very much. I’m sure Mary cried and worried all night just like Sarah.
  • They had servants with them. Ishmael and Eliezer were with Abraham and Isaac. Jesus’ disciples were with Him.
  • Satan tried to prevent God’s will from being accomplished and was rebuked. Abraham rebuked Satan who appeared to him in different forms. Jesus rebuked Peter in Matthew 16:23 for rebuking Him and later Peter cut off the ear of the servant of the High Priest in an attempt to stop the inevitable (Luke 22:50; John 18:26).
  • Jesus and Isaac carried the wood of their sacrifice on their backs.
  • They were beautifully dressed in clothes from the father of the king. Isaac wore the clothes of Abimelech (father of the king). After Jesus’ resurrection, He was clothed by His Heavenly Father and left the grave clothes behind.
  • Tears were shed. Sarah cried at home. Abraham and Isaac wept together as their sacrifice was being prepared. Jesus shed tears over the city of Jerusalem before entering it for His final days (Luke 19:41). Peter cried bitterly after denying Jesus three times (Luke 22:62).
  • Satan and Ishmael had both been cast out of their original homes and did not get the inheritance they expected.
  • A substitutionary sacrifice took place. A knife was used to kill the ram that was offered in place of Isaac and Jesus was pierced with a spear after He died in place of those who would trust in the atonement of His blood.
  • Women experienced joy at the news of life. Sarah was full of joy when she found out Isaac was really alive and not dead. The women who came to Jesus’ tomb were thrilled to find out Jesus had risen from the dead.
  • Servants searched for Jesus, Abraham, and Isaac. When Sarah came to Hebron, she asked if anyone had seen Abraham and Isaac. Her servants helped her search for Abraham and Isaac. After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples searched the tomb where Jesus had lain.
  • Abraham and Isaac went home but Jesus returned to heaven.

There are still a couple of things we can speculate about and consider:

  1. I’m sure Satan thought he would inherit everything that belonged to Jesus once He was dead just like Ishmael thought he would inherit what belonged to Isaac. Even today Satan takes various forms to deceive and keep us from walking the path that has been set before us. We must be keen enough to perceive when he is at work around us so we won’t be deterred from the goal that has been set before us.
  2. It’s hard to know exactly what Jesus said to His Father while He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane the night before His death. He certainly said, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matt 26:39; NKJV) I’m sure Jesus was concerned about how His mother would deal with His death and the news of His resurrection too. Even today we often think about how our parents might respond to decisions we make in our lives as we walk the path God has laid out for us. Pray for their understanding and support as you remain focused on doing the will of the Lord.

 

 

Isaac and Ishmael

Genesis 21 tells us that Sarah and Abraham were still dwelling in the Philistine city of Gerar when Isaac was born.  Since Sarah was ninety years old when Isaac was born, Abraham would have been 100 years old at that time.   Jasher 21:11 reveals Ishmael was 14 years old when Isaac was born.

Eight days after Isaac was born, he was circumcised according to God’s commandment.  Isaac grew and the day Isaac was weaned, Abraham had a great feast for him. The book of Jasher tells us that many people came to celebrate this event including Shem, Eber, Abimelech, Terah, Nahor, and many others. According to Rashi, this took place when Isaac was 24 months old. [1]

Next, Genesis 21:9 says Sarah saw Ishmael mocking Isaac.  I always assumed Ishmael mocked Isaac during the great feast for Isaac’s weaning but Jasher 21:13 indicates Isaac was 5 years old at the time this took place.  We tend to think that Ishmael was laughing or making fun of something that Isaac did but this is not the case.

According to Strong’s concordance, “tsachaq” can mean to laugh, mock, play, or make sport.  Rashi indicates this can be: an expression of idolatry, illicit sexual relations, or of murder.[2]  This may seem very odd to us but Jasher 21:13 confirms one of Rashi’s expressions by indicating that Ishmael sat across from Isaac, pointed his bow and arrow at him, and intended to kill him.  Ishmael literall made sport of Isaac as if he were wild game!  By this time, Ishmael would have been 19 years old and would have known exactly what he was doing.  This was not foolish child’s play.  It’s no wonder Sarah told Abraham to throw them out!

Genesis 21:14-18 tells us that Hagar and Ishmael wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba once they left Abraham’s dwelling. As the Bible describes Ishmael during this time, it uses the Hebrew word “yeled” which is translated as “boy” or “lad.”  This word can also be translated as “young man;” therefore, the use of this word does not contradict the idea that Ishmael was 19 years old when they left Abraham’s home. 

Some unknown time later, Ishmael and Hagar began to dwell in the wilderness of Paran.  At that time Hagar took a wife for him from Egypt and eventually Ishmael fathered 12 nations as the Lord had promised.

It was a good thing that Ishmael did not kill Isaac with his bow and arrow many years ago.  Because Isaac was spared, God was able to bring Jesus from his lineage.  Even though Jesus died on a cross with nails in his hands and feet and a spear rammed through his side, He rose from the dead, is alive today in heaven, and is interceding on our behalf.  

We, who are the Bride of Christ, currently find ourselves wandering in the wilderness of this world and fighting against principalities and unseen spiritual forces of darkness while trying to raise families that are devoted to the Lord. 

Be assured, Jesus will eventually return to Jerusalem to defend His people from the Ishmaelites, Edomites, and Israel’s other enemies who already desire to kill them but they will be destroyed and cast out.    

God’s people who wander and dwell throughout the earth will be brought together for an awesome wedding feast with prominent people like Adam, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, all the prophets, apostles, and many others in attendance. What a day that will be!

Sarai Will Be Called Sarah

Today, I want to look at Genesis 16 -20 to see it in its original context and to see how it relates thematically to Jesus and His people both past, present, and future.  You may be surprised it encapsulates the New Testament from beginning to end.  This post will be longer than most because I did not want to divide it.  Our Biblical summary from Genesis will be in black and my comments will be in blue.  Having said that, let’s begin.

In Genesis 16, Abram’s wife, Sarai was barren so she took things into her own hands by giving her Egyptian servant, Hagar to Abram in order to bring about God’s promise of descendants from Abram.

Several godly women in the Bible, including Sarai were originally unable to conceive children but later conceived one or more children.  They were all shadows of the virgin, Mary who miraculously gave birth to Jesus.  God was always capable of making an unfruitful womb fruitful no matter what was causing infertility. 

Mary was engaged to a man named Joseph and was surprised when Gabriel told her she had been chosen to bear Jesus, the Messiah.  She was willing but didn’t fully understand how she could do so when she was still a virgin.  Gabriel explained to her that God planned to do this miraculously through the power of the Holy Spirit instead of through natural human means. 

Once Hagar became pregnant, she looked on Sarai with contempt.  Sarah was most likely jealous and responded to Hagar’s contempt by mistreating her.   Eventually, Hagar left because of Sarai’s harsh treatment but later, the Lord found Hagar by a spring and made her return and submit to Sarai’s authority.

When Jesus finally began His ministry, the Jewish religious leaders shared similarities with Hagar’s attitude by looking on Jesus with contempt and rejecting Him even though He had not led anyone away from Torah.  When the religious leaders saw Jesus’ miracles, they were jealous of Him, tested Him, and did not repent of their lawlessness or believe He was the Promised One.   

After Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, non-believing Jews also shared similarities with Hagar by persecuting those who believed in Jesus, the Messiah.  According to Paul, God intended non-believing Jews to become jealous of the Gentiles in order to change their attitude and to bring them to Himself (Rom. 11:11-15).

At some point during the days of the early church, believing Gentiles behaved like Hagar, the Egyptian slave woman because they left and separated themselves from the believing and non-believing Jews who descended from Sarai.  Unfortunately, the early Christian church became syncretised with paganism. 

Now the time has come for the Gentiles to come out of the syncretised church in order to return and completely submit to the terms of the marriage covenant (Torah) as Hagar returned to submit to Sarai.  At this point, not all Christians want to submit to the terms of the marriage covenant.  They must understand that Jesus never led people away from the commandments of God or established a new religion as many believe.  It is time for God’s people to keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Christ (Rev. 12:17; 14:12; 18:4).  Please note these verses say “the commandments of God,” not “the commandments of Christ.”  Obeying God’s commandments and faith are important because obedience is proof of faith.  James 2:26 says it this way, “faith without works is dead.”  As believers in Christ obey God’s commandments, I believe we will see even more non-believing Jews come to know Jesus (Yeshua) as the promised Messiah. 

God assured Hagar that He would increase her descendants.  He told Hagar that she would have a son that would be called Ishmael (which means God pays attention) because God saw her misery.   God explained that Ishmael would be blessed, be a great nation, and be the father of 12 princes.  He would also be wild, against everyone, everyone would be against him, and he would live at odds with all his kinsmen.  At that time, Hagar named God El Ro’i (God of Seeing) – the one who lives and sees.

The description of Ishmael applies to many who practice Islam but I think this can also apply to the animosity that exists between some Gentile and Jewish Messianic believers who are at odds with each other and the persecution and mockery of believers by non-believers.  Those who profess faith in Christ must stand up for their beliefs and be united throughout the world despite mockery, persecution, and possible martyrdom.  During this time we must remember that God sees what we’re going through.

Genesis 17 continues by telling us that God visited Abram and commanded him to walk in His presence and be pure-hearted.  He changed Abram’s name which means “exalted father” to Abraham which means “father of many” and promised to give the land of Canaan to his descendants.

God has promised to give His people a new name and to give them (except the descendants of Zadok and the Levites) the land of Canaan as their inheritance (Ex. 6:8; Ezek. 36:8-12; 44:15-28; Rev. 2:17).  The Lord will be the inheritance of the sons of Zadok and the Levites.  The Jews will have a portion of land assigned to them according to their tribes and the foreigners (Gentiles) will also be assigned a portion in the territory of the tribe with whom they are living (Ezek. 47:21-23; Matt. 5:5).

Jesus lived in obedience to Torah and humbled Himself even unto death.  Because of this, He was highly exalted by God and given the name that is above all names.  In fact, at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, no matter where they are, and bring glory to God the Father by confessing Jesus is Lord  because He is the King of many kings and Lord of many lords (Phil. 2:8-11; Rev. 19:16)!

The covenant of circumcision was then given to Abraham for all males in his household including both those born in his house and foreigners whom he would buy with a price.

During the millennial reign of Christ, all males including foreigners who enter the sanctuary of the Lord must be circumcised both in the heart and in the flesh (Ezek. 44:9).   Many believers do not realize this.  All believers including Gentiles are much like the foreigners who were members of Abraham’s household because they have been bought with a price (1 Cor. 6:20).  They should be circumcised in the heart and flesh because they have been made members of the household of faith (Rom. 2:28-29; 11:17).  Although physical circumcision is not required in order to be saved, Paul told us that the real Jew (or a Gentile grafted into the olive tree of Israel) is not just one outwardly but also inwardly—that circumcision is not just physical but also spiritual (Rom. 2:28-29).  Both are important.  Paul said that men should remain in the condition in which they were called but he also said what’s important is obeying God’s commandments (1 Cor. 7:18-20).  I think another reason many Gentiles are not circumcised today is because this fits the pattern of the second generation of the Exodus who were not circumcised in the wilderness.  We must not forget that they had to be circumcised prior to entering the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership!

God changed Sarai’s name which means “mockery” to Sarah which means “princess.”

The Bride of Christ is like Sarai because she is often mocked but in the future, she will be like Sarah–she will be the Princess of the Prince of Peace during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ (Isaiah 9:5; Ezek. 34:24).

In Genesis 18, three men visited Abraham and one of them (the Lord) promised a son to Sarah and Abraham by the next year but Sarah laughed at the news because she was past the age of child-bearing.  The Lord stayed and spoke with Abraham while the other two men set out for Sodom and Gomorrah.  During their conversation, Abraham interceded for the righteous that were living in Sodom and Gomorrah when the Lord revealed His plans to destroy these cities.

During the second half of the tribulation, two witnesses will preach the need for repentance, of Jesus’ return, and the coming judgment.  Initially, people will probably laugh at these men for prophesying.  Eventually, they will hate them for the authority the witnesses will have and for destroying those who try to harm them yet the people will rejoice when these prophets are killed by the beast that comes up out of the abyss.  Meanwhile, we must emulate Abraham by interceding for the righteous people who are in Jerusalem, which is spiritually Sodom and Egypt (Rev. 11:3-10).  As I see it, the rest of the world is also spiritually like Sodom and Egypt too so we might as well intercede for all of the righteous people to be spared.

After the Lord’s two companions entered Sodom in the evening, Lot found them and convinced them to stay at his home.   He prepared a meal for them and later when it was time to sleep, the men of the town who had heard of their arrival came and surrounded Lot’s house.  These men desired to have homosexual relations with the two godly visitors.  Lot offered his virgins daughters to them but they were only interested in satisfying their homosexual desires.  They accused Lot of judging them for their sexual preferences and threatened to harm Lot worse than the two visitors because of it.  As they attempted to reach Lot, the visitors brought him into the house and struck the men with blindness so they couldn’t find Lot’s door.  They warned Lot’s family of the coming destruction and told them to get their family together and leave.  Lot’s sons-in-law did not think they were serious and refused to go.  Not long afterwards, Lot and his family came out of Sodom and Gomorrah prior to their destruction.  Lot’s wife became a pillar of salt because she looked back but Lot and his daughters were delivered.

If the pattern presented in Genesis 16-18 is any indication of what we can expect in the future, the time of Christ’s judgment is near because of the growing openness of homosexual activity in our midst today.  It is not surprising that explaining to anyone that the Bible says homosexuality is a “sin” or “immoral” is considered “judging” or “hate” and is met with anger or threats to punish them for hate-crimes or force Christians to be re-educated or to conform to the world’s definition of tolerance.  Homosexuals have become blind to the fact that Jesus is the door – the only way of salvation.  Unless they repent of their sin, they will never truly find Him.  Instead, they will share the fate of the Sodomites.  The Bible makes it clear that those who practice homosexuality will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9; Rev. 22:15).

As Lot’s family was warned to leave Sodom, God’s people have been warned to come out of Babylon the Great.  It is referred to as:

  • The great city (Rev. 11:8; 18:10)
  • Jerusalem; the city where Jesus was executed; spiritual Egypt and Sodom  (Rev. 11:8)
  • A source of economic resources (Rev. 18:11-13)

We should be particularly concerned with the spiritual aspect of this city and examine our own spiritual condition and the city we live in.  We should examine our worldviews, beliefs, and the origins of our traditions including various Christian denominational beliefs and practices that have been syncretised with ancient Babylonian idolatrous practices.   We need to do this because many Christian traditions are not necessarily Biblical.  We should not worship God using pagan idolatrous forms (1 Kings 12:26-33).  We must avoid partial obedience and forsake traditions and/or forms of worship that God has not commanded instead of justifying participation in idolatrous forms for the purpose of worshipping God (2 Chron. 33:15-17; Deut. 12:29-32, 1 Sam. 15). 

Coming out of our own smaller spiritual “Babylons” requires change that we might not be comfortable with.  In order to prepare for the coming tribulation period, we should consider changing our lifestyles so we can live within our economic means.  We also need to abandon unhealthy relationships.  Both of these may require planning, downsizing, and/or moving.  If you feel you need to move away from sinful influences, ask God to lead you to a place of purity where you can stay for a long time. 

New churches with a focus on Hebraic roots are slowly popping up in various places because people are trying to come out of churches that are synchretized with pagan traditions that are associated with the ancient mystery Babylonian religions.  Unfortunately, some of them are struggling to properly interpret the Word of God.  Before new leaders can properly lead people who desire to embrace a Torah lifestyle, they need to take time to:

  • Understand the doctrinal errors of mainline Christian denominations taught by churches, Bible schools, and/or seminaries. 
  • Understand that there are some differences in Scripture interpretation among Messianic congregations.  Try to be aware of any debates Messianic Jews have over the proper interpretation of Scripture.
  • Learn what you can about the culture and history of the Jews.
  • Be engrossed in Torah and test all interpretations of Scripture against it.
  • Know and/or be willing to learn what the Bible teaches as a whole about a particular topic.
  • Live a Torah lifestyle. 

I am very much aware that coming out of a synchretized church is very hard to do when other family members want to stay and/or don’t agree with you.  Spouses need to make a decision to remain together or go to separate churches.  When there is division in the home, you have to decide what holidays to observe and how to do so to obey God’s commandments.  Some people may need to stay where they are already worshipping so they can carefully lay a Torah foundation for others around them as long as God leads them to do so.  Your church may or may not welcome your input.  Staying where you are may temporarily be a better option if there are no Messianic groups open to receiving Gentiles in your area or if new churches embracing their Hebraic roots in your area are selectively choosing parts of Torah to embrace and other parts not to not embrace.  No matter how you look at it, unless your whole family comes out of a synchretized church at the same time, you’re in a bad situation.

Be prepared to be accused of apostasy by family and friends for choosing to leave some of your pagan- Christian traditions behind even though you are really drawing closer to God.  The sword of truth can cause painful division in families so you need to be forewarned (Matt. 10:34-36). 

Once you leave the spiritual Babylon you are in, please try not to look back as Lot’s wife did.  As you obey God’s commandments, you may be helping your family to avoid judgment as the time of the tribulation approaches.

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Lot’s daughters thought they were the only ones left alive on the earth so they had sex with their father in order to have descendants.  Each daughter had a son.  One became the father of the Moabites and the other became the father of the Ammonites.

Once Babylon the Great is destroyed, there will still be two primary groups of people left—those who served the Lord and those who did not.   Jesus will still need to deal with Israel’s enemies.

In Genesis 20, Abraham and Sarah traveled to Gerar, a Philistine city which was between Kadesh and Shur and lived there.  Once again Abraham told the people living in the area that Sarah was his sister because he was afraid they would kill him.  You would think he would have learned his lesson with the Pharaoh of Egypt but this time, Abimelech (whose name means “father of the king”), the king of Gerar took Sarah as his wife.  Fortunately, the Lord warned him in a dream that he was a dead man before he had ever touched her and commanded Abimelech to release her to the prophet, Abraham.  Abimelech was momentarily worried that God would destroy his righteous nation and quickly released Sarah to Abraham and gave him gifts of oxen, sheep, servants, and silver.  Abraham prayed for Abimelech’s wife and female servants to be healed of the infertility that resulted from taking Sarah.

Today the land of Israel is also referred to by many throughout the world as Palestine where the Palestinians are believed to be none other than the Philistines.  The Bible teaches that Israel’s enemies will form a confederacy against them to take the land (Ps. 83:1-8).  These people include the Ishmaelites, the Edomites, the Philistines, and others of the Middle East.  The primary thing they have in common is the fact they serve the god of Islam—a god unknown to their ancestors during Biblical times (Daniel 11:38).

Just as Abraham kept trying to hide the identity of Sarah from the wicked people around him, many members of the Bride of Christ may try to hide their identity from the Antichrist and his minions as the last days approach in order to avoid being killed.  Eventually, the Father of the King – our heavenly Father will take the Bride that has been gathered from throughout the earth and give her to His Son, Jesus Christ.  She will be holy, blameless, and above reproach. 

There is a river described in Ezekiel 47 that will have trees growing on its riverbanks during the seventh millennium whose leaves will have healing properties and the water of that river will heal the waters that will become contaminated during the tribulation.  This river and these trees are similar to the Tree of Life and the River of the Water of Life that will be in the New Jerusalem that is described in Revelation 22.  The leaves of the Tree of Life will be used to heal the nations.

I find it comforting to know the end from the beginning.  As life gets harder, we can focus on the fact that we who are called Sarai will one day be called Sarah.  May you be blessed!