WHAT’S IN A NAME?
“And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, twins in her womb. The first came out red all over like an hairy robe and they called his name Esau. After that his brother came out and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel and his name was called Jacob.” (Gen. 25:24-26).
Isaac was 60 years old and without an heir. He had been made aware of the miraculous circumstances surrounding his birth to parents of advanced years. He knew that he was a child of promise from the Lord and that he was the true first born heir of his father’s house. The word of the Lord came to Abraham to hearken of Sarah and cast out the son of the bondswoman that neither he nor any of his children would be heirs with this child of promise, for, “in Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Gen. 21:12). Yet after taking a wife at 40 years of age and in hope of a fulfillment of God’s promise, God had sealed the womb of Rebekah and caused her to be barren. Another twenty years would elapse before all the actors, circumstances and conditions were in place exactly after the foreordained order of events. When the fullness of time had come for the birth of the seed, whom God loved with an everlasting love, Rebekah conceived and Jacob was born.
Solomon wrote, “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven” (Ecc. 3:1), but that does not make the waiting any easier. God’s timing is exact and His purpose is perfect. His way is not our way and His thoughts are not our thoughts; “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith Jehovah. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher then your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts” (Is. 55:8f). He does not seek the counsel or advice of any for He is Sovereign over all. He is not influenced or persuaded by any thought word or deed being sufficient to Himself.
When Isaac was born, his mother Sarah, was 99 years of age and his father, Abraham, was 100. Can we imagine the uncertainty, inability and sorrow that Sarah endured as she stood by the wayside and watched her life pass by for almost a century? Oh, how she wanted a child of her own. She had heard the word of the angel of Jehovah yet to no avail. She had tried to interpose her understanding and carnal methodology in order to ‘help’ bring this to pass, but instead she received grief and sorrow. Is it any wonder why she laughed when the Angel of Jehovah said that she would conceive and bare a son? Day after day, month after month, a daily diet of disappointment, garnished with sorrow followed by fear and doubt. Was there something wrong with her physically? Was God displeased with her? Had she committed some sin, perhaps an ‘unpardonable’ one that prevented God from performing His Word? (Just a brief note of reference to this subject; He in whom the Spirit of the Most High dwells cannot commit the unpardonable sin which is unto death. The Spirit is God and He cannot deny Himself. The Spirit is life and one who is born of the Spirit has eternal life and has passed from death unto life. Therefore a child of grace cannot blaspheme the Spirit of God and cannot die, “He that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever that liveth and believeth in Me shall never die” John 11:25.) Was God punishing her or had He withheld this blessing because of her disobedience, as the doctrine of ‘conditional time salvation’ affirms? So many thoughts must have perplexed her for those many years as she experienced the trying of her faith through diverse temptations and afflictions. How often she must have poured her heart out, pleading with the Lord for grace to understand His Word and patience to endure the wait. Even more, how often she must have experienced frustration and doubt which oft times lead to anger as the anguish of her soul perplexed her. Frequently, when reading the accounts of scripture, we tend to view these people as ‘saintly’ and do not take into consideration the ever present and formidable Adamic nature; the part of the child, while here in this habitation, which is of the earth. It loves, craves and thrives upon the things of this world. It evaluates all things after carnal abilities and temporal comprehensions. It is sustained by the weakness and frailties of nature and humanity and it wars against the inward man, daily manifesting the captivity of the law of sin. The entire race of Adam’s seed is subjugated to this infirmity, by the hand of the Divine Will, and shall be until this earthen vessel is returned to the dust from whence it came, “Lord I believe, help thou my unbelief” (Mk. 9:24). This conflict, between that which is seen and that which is hoped for, is what Sarah, Rebekah, Elisabeth and every child endures that no flesh should glory in His sight; “Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised. Therefore there sprang forth even of one, and him as good as dead, as the stars of the sky in multitude and as the sands of the sea shore innumerable” (Heb. 11:11f).
Now, in the fullness of time, Jehovah, in a magnificent display of His grace and power, returned the way of life to both Abraham and Sarah in fertility and vitality. He regenerated the virility of Abraham’s seed and Sarah’s egg. He altered the metabolism and physiology of Sarah’s body with all the required hormones and enzymes being in perfect balance enabling her to conceive; He prepared Sarah’s womb to receive the fetus; He caused the bones to form in the womb, having all of the members written in His book before the foundation of the world, (Ps. 139). He gave Sarah the strength to give birth, which is arduous even for a young woman, to nurse the infant and raise the child, through the stages of life with all their adversities and sorrows. He gave them both the patience and longsuffering to teach and train the child, instructing him in the disciplines of history, mathematics, rhetoric and the natural sciences, the traditions, customs and conduct of the law of God and the promises that God had made. (And all without the public education system; imagine that!)
As a young man, Isaac, accompanied his father to Mount Moriah where the angel of Jehovah revealed that his seed would be as the stars of the heavens and the sands of the sea shore and would possess the gates of his enemies (Gen. 22:17f). When he was about 37 years of age His mother dies. His father remarries a woman, Keturah, whose name means, ‘the smoke of incense’, and Isaac has six new brothers. He then takes his cousin to wife and, anticipating a family of his own finds, either his wife is barren or he is impotent for twenty long years.
Abraham was in a very similar situation when he was given a promise by the Word of God. He had been called to come out of his father’s house and leave his homeland and by faith he went out not knowing where he was going. He was again visited by the Word of Jehovah as he was told that the land he was walking in was to be the land of his seed as a nation before the Lord. He was separated from his nephew Lot and his household, protected by the power of God and still a great length of time passed without the manifestation of the promised child. Abraham became impatient, as every child of Adam does, and he takes matters into his own hands (or so he thinks). First he demonstrates that faith is not indigenous to the flesh as he encourages Sarai to agree to commit adultery with the prince of Pharaoh’s house so that Pharaoh would not kill him, (Gen. 12:10). He demonstrates that the natural man does not understand what God meant when He said, that when man leaves his mother and father and cleaves unto his wife that the two shall be one flesh, (2:24). The promise of God was not to Abram alone, for how could he conceive and bare a child? His wife was as essential to the matter as the bride (the church) is to the bridegroom (Messiah) in the establishment of the House of Jehovah, (Rev. 12). She is not independent of her husband. She has no power or will in and of herself. He is the one whom her SOUL loves. She is the apple of His eye and His desire is upon her. Abram in his frailty was willing to sacrifice his bride in order to save his life. Messiah, in the beauty of His strength, sacrificed His life in order to save His bride.
Then Abram thought to make Eliezer of Damascus, a steward born in his house, his heir, since God’s hand was not capable of performing what He had promised. But God told him again, “This is not thine heir but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir”, (15:4).
Sarai, as previously eluded to, thought she would lend a helping hand as she entreats her husband, when he was 86 years old, to take her Egyptian handmaid, Hagar, and raise up seed to her. The scriptures do not give us any indication that Abram objected to this creative collaboration and scheme. Rather it is recorded that he complied with Sarai’s wishes and Hagar conceives and bares Ishmael. When she had born the child Sarai said to Abram, “My wrong be upon thee” (16:5), for she knew that this was wrong and that he had not refused her demands. (Notice well brethren, she entreats him, he hearkens unto her and she gets mad at him and blames him for the situation! No offence intended dear sisters, this was a matter of group participation and there’s nothing new under the sun, is there?) God, according to His longsuffering, reiterated His promise and said, Sarai shall conceive and bear a son, for she shall be the mother of many nations and kings of people shall be of her (17:17). He also changed Abram’s name to Abraham for he was to be the exalted father of many.
Thus Abraham, the father of the faithful, demonstrates the dichotomous relationship between the impotence of the flesh and the glorious power of imputed faith. The flesh cannot receive, comprehend or perform the things of the Spirit for it is of the earth, earthly. The Spirit causes the chosen people of the Lord to walk and live by the imputed faith of Jehovah which is not by sight even though many years may elapse. “He that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Mark 10:22).
Now with all of this rich and elaborate history, how do you suppose Isaac felt when after twenty years he did not have an heir? Do you think there may have been some doubt after the flesh as to the validity of what God had said? Or perhaps a question or two about what exactly did God say? The serpent, being more subtil than any beast of the field which Jehovah had made, asked this very question to Eve when he said, ‘truly hath God said?’ Doubt is a characteristic of the flesh and when it is dunged about with impatience and watered with ambition it sends forth a garden most rank and foul. Do you think that, like his father, Isaac may have attempted to help bring to fruition God’s promise with his logical, sentient reasoning and clever imagination? Well if you do not think these things than you have just elevated Isaac above every descendant of Adam, for, “there hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man:” (I Cor. 10:13). .
God’s Word is true and His promises do not fail. What He has said shall come to pass in the exact manner that He has ordained and in the fullness of time. It shall accomplish ALL that He intended for it and shall not return unto Him void, (Is. 55:11). The word, ‘all’, means All. Every aspect of things seen and things unseen, of things in the heavens, on the earth and below the earth; all thrones and principalities, dominions and powers; thoughts and intent of the heart and the actions of man, are completely and totally orchestrated by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of El Shaddiah. The promises of God come to pass every moment of every day as He teaches His children to wait upon the Lord, “Behold, as the eyes of the servants unto the hand of their masters, as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the Lord our God, until that he have mercy upon us” (Ps. 123:2).
Abraham waited 100 years for his son. Jehovah had appeared unto Abram and said, “unto thy seed will I give this land”. However the children of Israel had to wait 450 years to be delivered from the bondage of Egypt, then they had to wander 40 years in the wilderness before inheriting the land of promise. Jehovah told Abram that his seed would be a stranger in a land not their own and be afflicted for 400 years. When this came to pass, Moses was told that he was to be the deliverer of Israel from bondage but found himself waiting 40 years as he tended sheep in the University of the Wilderness of Midian where he was taught humility and patience.
Since God has ordained so great a cloud of witnesses be left unto us, being written aforetime for our learning that we through patience and comfort of scriptures might have hope, (Roms. 15:4), it should be quite evident that the child of grace is NOT a patient being after the flesh. It also appears quite evident that this impatience is in constant conflict with the Spirit within who knows the mind of God, being one with Him, and that the two do not and cannot be reconciled. “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise” (Heb. 10:36).
Now finally after twenty years of persistence and entreating God for a son, Rebekah was pregnant. Was it Isaac’s constant prayer that moved God? Was it his fortitude, his faithfulness or his obedience that caused the seed to fertilize the egg and the child to be formed in the womb? No, it was that the purpose of God might stand. It is not of him, (or her), who wants something bad enough, or that works hard enough to bring the matter to pass, but everything is of, by and for Him that worketh all things after the counsel of His own will, even the impotence of the seed or the bareness of the womb. Patience was wrought through the tribulation of time and frustration as Isaac and Rebekah were taught to wait upon the Lord; for it is He that has spoken and He that shall bring it to pass.
Rebekah has a problem though, or so she thinks, for the children struggled in her womb. She had no ‘Ob-gyn’ doctor to consult. She had no previous experience to draw upon nor had she anyone to go to, so, she was drawn, by the hand of God through the circumstances of her situation, to entreat the Lord and ask, ‘Why am I thus’? Can you imagine this young woman, with hopes and dreams of her own, having to wait 20 years while enduring the questions, aspersions and condemnation of kinsman and friends as month after month her natural cycle comes and goes and still she remains barren? What joy there must have been when the cycle was broken and her body began to change. (We say ‘broken’ as a reference to the interruption of the natural course. But this was the cycle that produced the exact egg that was to be fertilized by the exact seed to produce the resulting twins that had been predestinated of God before the world began.) She could feel the physical, metabolical and psychological changes as her entire being prepared for the arrival of her child. Then a struggle began in her bowels and concern overwhelms her mind. Is there something wrong? Is this the hand of God against me for some wrong I have done? “Why am I thus?”
Let us not be critical of Rebekah or chide her for her lack of faith. She stands as another in the long progression of examples of the weakness and temerity of the flesh. The thoughts that she had, as ordained of God, demonstrate that the natural man has no faith in and of himself, nor can he comprehend the heights, depths, length or breath of the wonders of the glory of God. Her doubts are the same as our doubts and her fears the same and as real as ours.
Thus the disciples asked Jesus the question when confronted with an infirmed, imperfect, blind man who obviously had the hand of judgment against him, “master, who did sin, this man or his parents that he was born blind?” (John 9:2). Surely this could not be a righteous man for why else would God curse one save that he is a sinner? Or perhaps a member of his family has offended the gods that they should take vengeance upon him? Or perhaps someone of his ancestry brought this curse for even the scriptures record that God visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate Him (Deut. 5:9)?
The ‘friends’ of Job used this same logic as they tried to convince him that he, or his children, must have done something wrong to warrant the hand of God against him, by saying, “Behold, God will not cast away a perfect man, neither will he help evildoers” (Job 8:19). This false pretence and superstition forms the very foundation of the house built upon the sands of the logic of man which give rise to such traditions of man that teach obedience is the conduit to blessing and disobedience is the basis for judgment.
“For the children being not yet born, neither having done good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand not of works but of Him that calleth;” (Roms. 9:11). Rebekah is in the condition that she is in, just as are her children are, not in retribution or reward but according to the purpose of God which He purposed in Himself, which caused her to be brought to the time and place where, “she went to inquire of Jehovah”. Many others could have given her advice based upon science (falsely called), family tradition or ‘old wives’ fables but only He, who causes all things to come to pass, could answer her as He did. Rebekah heard the voice of God as He spoke to her, not only confirming that all was transpiring according to His will but, that He was fulfilling His promise in a way that no one could ever imagine.
“Two nations are in your womb,”
The fulfillment of His word had resulted in two lives forming in her womb that would be born successfully and grow up to not only have children of their own, but to have children that would become a nation of people in their own right. Isaac and Rebekah were to become parents, grandparents and great grandparents to a vast host of people. The children would not die at birth. They could not perish due to childhood diseases or maladies. No accidents would deprive them of their lives. No unforeseen marauder, robber, terrorist (or any other government official), enraged postal worker or child who brought his daddy’s gun to the school yard had any power over the time of their habitation or the limits thereof. And since our God is immutable and His Word shall not return unto Him void but SHALL accomplish all that He had ordained, are things any different today? Does one sparrow fall to the earth without the Heavenly Father knowing, ordaining and causing it to come to pass?
“And two manner of people shall be separated from your bowels;”
The two young fetuses which struggled together in the womb were already two distinct manner of people who were separated before they were born. Each had a life span assigned to them with each and every moment precisely orchestrated and interwoven into the fabric of creation that the purpose of God according to election might stand. Each child being unique to himself yet necessary to the whole of creation has been equipped and endowed (outfitted) with all essentials in mental aptitude, physical prowess, emotional stability (or instability), personal preferences and emotions for one to become a man of the field, a cunning hunter whom his father loved and the other to be a simple man who dwelled in tents whom his mother loved. They each would grow into a people and then a nation. One of these people shall be stronger than the other and his nation shall be stronger than the other nation, but, contrary to public opinion and patriarchal tradition, the elder shall serve the younger.
In accordance with the natural world, these pronouncements by God must have given the proud parents to be much to rejoice in. As the days past and the time of birth approached we are certain that the expecting father waited with great anticipation for the arrival of his sons. God did not say that one was strong while the other would be weak. He said one would be stronger than the other. Imagine, two strapping young boys to teach, to train and to nurture as they grow up to be fine men; men of distinction, of wealth and fame; men that would be respected by others and whose houses would be filled with children. Oh what joy and hopeful anticipation! What a blessing from God! The mouth of the Lord had spoken it!
But there was another distinction which no one could see for one of these children possessed the eternal love of God while the other was equally hated. One was a child of grace who inhabited an earthen vessel afore prepared unto glory for whom the Son would shed His blood to cleanse him from all unrighteousness. The other, though he would seek it with tears, could never influence the immutable God to change that eternal hatred and have mercy upon him for he was of the wicked one, created by God and reserved unto judgment. In the midst of the jubilation of the conception and impending birth flowed that second river of the land of Shinar once again.
(To be continued Lord willing)
(Elder) Chet Dirkes
March 5, 2010
Welsh Tract Church
Banner Of Hope
Volume 4, No. 1