The Scientific Method

May 26, 2010 at 9:26 am | Posted in Genesis | 12 Comments
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Rebekah and Jacob concocted a scheme to get Jacob the blessing of his father, Isaac, but they did not need to do this. God had already ordained that Jacob would receive it. Jacob’s name is complex. In Hebrew it is Yaaquob, which sounds like aqueb. Aqueb is the word for heel. Aqueb also sounds like aqab, which means “to supplant or sneak up from behind and overtake by surprise.” So, while the name “Jacob” actually means “may God protect,” it became a nickname for someone who is a trickster or a “heel-grabber.” Jacob, of course, came out of the womb grabbing Esau from behind, as though he were trying to overtake him. This paints Jacob in a bad light, but at least he wanted the spiritual blessings. The early bird may get the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese. God can deal with you to change your means if your motive (heart) desires Him.

Now, after that brief interlude about Jacob’s name and his birth, let’s go back to the narrative of Issac:

And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death. Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water.

Genesis 26:11-19

The old wells had living water.

And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him.

Genesis 26:20

Esek meant “contention.”

And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.

Genesis 26:21

Sitnah meant “hating” or “strife.”

And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.

Genesis 26:22

Rehoboth meant “enlargement.” Isaac wanted God to enlarge his territory not just to get more land – he wanted to enlarge his influence. The Philistines saw his tents and altars every time he moved. We should ask God to enlarge our sphere of influence for witnessing.

Once again, we see in Esau evidence of his lack of desire for spiritual things.

And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.

Genesis 26:34-35

In Chapter 27 Jacob’s trickery shows that his name was well-deserved. He attempts to supplant his brother by creeping around behind his back, although the scheme seems to be more of Rebekah’s idea.

And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me.

Genesis 27:19

Isaac is lying down, probably bedridden.

And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not.

Genesis 27:21

Apparently, he can’t see. He is blind both physically and spiritually. He has closed his eyes to God’s command. He should not have been wanting to give the blessing to Esau. God had commanded that Jacob was to get it, and, furthermore, Esau had evidenced a flesh-driven nature.

Little children, in elementary school, are commonly taught the “scientific method.” I know it’s more complicated than this, but, basically it boils down to teaching them to take matter and examine its properties, and learn about it, using their natural senses. Touch it. Look at it. Smell it. Taste it. I’m not opposed to children being taught that way, but think of the spiritual implications. In Genesis Chapter 27, Isaac employed a form of the scientific method with Jacob. Jacob and Rebekah plotted to deceive Isaac into thinking that Jacob was Esau. Isaac touched him. He listened to him. He couldn’t see him but, no doubt, he smelled him. And he came to the wrong conclusion! It would have been better for Isaac just to believe God’s promise by faith, that Jacob, although the younger, and not Esau, was to receive the blessing.

And Rebekah spake unto Jacob her son, saying, Behold, I heard thy father speak unto Esau thy brother, saying, Bring me venison, and make me savoury meat, that I may eat, and bless thee before the LORD before my death. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice according to that which I command thee. Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth: And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death.

Genesis 27:6-10

We are not told how Rebekah made goat meat taste like venison, but look at Jacob’s concern:

And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man: My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing.

Genesis 27:11-12

Jacob did not want to break the “11th Commandment:” Thou shalt not get caught.

Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Hebrews 12:16-17

Isaac trembled after being deceived, but Esau did not accept any of the blame. He sought the blessing “carefully” with many tears. Then, when Jacob was sent away to keep Esau from killing him, look at what Esau did:

When Esau saw that Isaac had blessed Jacob, and sent him away to Padanaram, to take him a wife from thence; and that as he blessed him he gave him a charge, saying, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan; And that Jacob obeyed his father and his mother, and was gone to Padanaram; And Esau seeing that the daughters of Canaan pleased not Isaac his father; Then went Esau unto Ishmael, and took unto the wives which he had Mahalath the daughter of Ishmael Abraham’s son, the sister of Nebajoth, to be his wife.

Genesis 28:6-9

He took a third wife from Uncle Ishmael’s family.

Just as a side note, Genesis 28:22 is the second mention of the practice of tithing in the Bible, the first being Abraham paying tithes to Melchizedek.

Spiritual Lessons Found in Historical Accounts

April 28, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Posted in Genesis | 7 Comments
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Genesis is a book of “firsts.” Genesis 23 contains the first mention of tears in the Bible.

And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.

Genesis 23:2

Abraham had grown greatly in faith. His internal faith had been there already, but by this time it had also transformed him on the outside.

I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

Genesis 23:4

Abraham was a pilgrim. He did not take Sarah’s body back to Ur of the Chaldees because by faith he knew that the land of Canaan was to be the inheritance of his descendants.

That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you.

Genesis 23:9

He didn’t haggle over the exorbitant price, or give offense, or try a scheme.

Genesis 24 gives us the account of the mission to find a bride for Isaac.

For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

Romans 15:4

The New Testament clarifies that the accounts of the Old Testament patriarchs are given to us for good and bad examples. But even in the bad examples we see the difference between believers and unbelievers – saved and lost. Abraham and Isaac both had an Abimelech to deal with – and they both tried to deceive him by pretending their wives were their sisters (Genesis 20 and 26). Abimelech showed integrity; Abraham and Isaac didn’t. The Bible does not hide the faults of its heroes. However, Abimelech was lost and Abraham and Isaac were saved. We should remember this when we start reading about Isaac and Jacob and some of their shenanigans, so that we are not tempted to try to find an excuse for everything they did.

A Match Made in Heaven Part 2

March 6, 2009 at 10:29 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Genesis | 6 Comments
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I believe that there is a “type” or an illustration in Genesis 24 of the relationship between Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, and the New Covenant Church, which is His “bride.”

In a sense, Isaac is a type for Jesus Christ. Abraham is a type for God the Father. Isaac did not go out on his own looking for a wife. He waited obediently for his father, Abraham, to arrange his marriage. God wants, and is getting – to this day – a “bride” for His Son. Rebekah is a type for the Church – born-again believers.

Abraham’s servant is a type for the Holy Ghost. It is His job to go and convince sinners to come to Christ. Abraham’s servant convinced Rebekah that Isaac was a worthy husband, and he comforted her on the journey to meet him. The Holy Ghost does the same with New Testament believers.

Isaac, the type for Christ, is waiting and prepared for his bride. It was Abraham’s idea to get a bride for Isaac. Christians, by nature, are supposed to love what God loves. God loves seeing lost sinners brought to His Son. We should love to tell lost sinners about the Gospel, and to try to bring them to Jesus Christ.

Abraham’s servant wanted to take Isaac to search for a bride, but Abraham said no. This is a type of God, in a sense, saying, “I have already sent my Son once into the world. Today, He is available. He is not coming to live among men, as a man Himself, again. His bride must come to Him – she must be willing to say yes to the Holy Ghost.” This shows how important it is for us, as soul-winners, to be filled with the Holy Ghost.

Christians who want to lead others to Christ must place more emphasis on the filling of the Holy Spirit than on worldly manipulation or manufactured “outreaches.”

When we go to find a bride for Jesus Christ, God does not send us by ourselves. The Holy Ghost goes with us – or even leads us – every step of the way.

All believers will one day give an account to our Master for what we have done with the treasure of the Gospel message, which He has given us in trust. There is a picture of this accounting in Genesis 24.

For she had said unto the servant, What man is this that walketh in the field to meet us? And the servant had said, It is my master: therefore she took a vail, and covered herself. And the servant told Isaac all things that he had done.

Genesis 24:65-66

Abraham’s servant did not say, “We took your 10 camels loaded down with treasure, and we had a very good time, but we failed to get a bride.” He did not say, “We attracted many followers and hangers-on with your treasure, but we failed to get a bride.” He did not say, “We spread your treasure around doing many good works, but we failed to get a bride.” No, Abraham’s servant came back with a report of “Mission accomplished: I brought back a bride for the son!”

Let’s make sure that, whatever we do in our labors for the Lord, we stay focused on getting a bride for the Son.

A Match Made in Heaven Part 1

March 3, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Genesis | 10 Comments
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Abraham was God’s friend, because he could be trusted by God (Genesis 18:19). It is wonderful to be a servant of the King. It is even more wonderful to be the King’s friend.

Abraham wanted his son, Isaac, to fulfill God’s promise of having many heirs. But Isaac was unmarried at age 40. Genesis Chapter 23 tells us that Isaac’s mother, Sarah, had died. Chapter 24 focuses on how Isaac met the bride that God wanted him to have. It was truly a “match made in Heaven.”

And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh:

Genesis 24:2

Abraham made his servant promise to find Isaac a bride who was not a Canaanite.

And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac.

Genesis 24:3-4

Here is a principle we must use today: Christians should not marry non-Christians. A Christian who does marry a non-Christian will have problems with his/her father-in-law. That is because a Christian’s Father is God. A non-Christian’s spiritual father is the devil.

Abraham’s servant wanted to know if he could bring Isaac on his journey, so that he would have some help in convincing the prospective bride. But Abraham did not want Isaac going back to the place Abraham had left.

And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the goods of his master were in his hand: and he arose, and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor.

Genesis 24:10

Abraham’s servant loaded up 10 camels. This would probably be the modern-day equivalent of loading up ten U-Hauls with gold and jewels and perfumes. He did this because he wanted to be able to show the prospective bride and her family his master’s wealth.

Abraham’s servant seemed to be worried about doing well at this important task. He did what we should all do when we are worried about doing a good job on something: He prayed about it.

And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.

Genesis 24:12-14

It was a hard job to get water in those days – women would carry the water in big pitchers on their heads.

Abraham’s servant was still praying when Rebekah showed up. She did offer to water the camels. Remember, there were 10 of them.

And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold;

Genesis 24:22

I like to imagine the faces of Rebekah’s friends and family when she came home adorned with sparkling jewelery, and leading 10 U-Hauls full of treasure. Here’s where we meet ol’ Laban.

And Rebekah had a brother, and his name was Laban: and Laban ran out unto the man, unto the well. And it came to pass, when he saw the earring and bracelets upon his sister’s hands, and when he heard the words of Rebekah his sister, saying, Thus spake the man unto me; that he came unto the man; and, behold, he stood by the camels at the well. And he said, Come in, thou blessed of the LORD; wherefore standest thou without? for I have prepared the house, and room for the camels.

Genesis 24:29-31

Abraham’s servant was single-minded. He refused to eat until they had taken care of business. The result was that Rebekah agreed to go with him to marry Isaac.

Notice what Rebekah does the first time she sees Isaac.

And Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the eventide: and he lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, the camels were coming. And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel.

Genesis 24:63-64

I know it sounds like she fired up a cigarette (“she lighted off a camel”), but, trust me, this does not mean that it’s okay to smoke because “they did it in the Bible.”

Next time, we’ll try to see some more Biblical principles in this romantic account of match-making.

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