Jesus' Footprints

Archive for December 2011

God tests Abraham. He wants him to take Isaac, his beloved son and offer him as a sacrifice on one of the mountains.  Abraham, without any hesitation or objections, got up early in the morning, took Isaac and two of the men to the place which God told him of.  The journey took more than one day.

Only Abraham and Isaac went up to the mountain.  Noticing that they had everything except the sacrifice, Isaac asked his father, “Where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  Abraham’s reply was very interesting, prophetic.  “God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”  Instead of us sinners dying for our sins because we had broken the law, God provided in our place, Jesus.  Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away our sins.

When they got to the place which God told him about, Abraham built the altar and put Isaac on it.  One can’t help but wonder what was going through Isaac’s mind when he realized that he was the sacrifice–the lamb.  How do he feel when his father raised his hand  to slay him?  Was he relieved when the voice of heaven called out to Abraham saying, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him”?

Abraham himself was not worried about the outcome because he remembered the promise God had made to him that, “in Isaac shall thy seed be called .”  The author of Hebrews wrote that Abraham believed that God would raise Isaac from the dead.  He did, figuratively when a ram caught in a thicket by his horns materialized.  The ram was offered in Isaac’s place.

We see a lot of parallels here.  The ram died as a substitute for Isaac just as Jesus died as our substitute.  Abraham so loved God that he was willing to sacrifice his son.  God so loved the world that He sacrificed His only begotten Son so that whosoever believed in Jesus would not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).  Issac’s birth was promised just as Jesus’ was.

I was thinking about Jacob this morning and how much he was like his mother’s side of the family.  He tricked Esau into giving up his birthright.  His uncle Laban later tricked him into marrying Leah when he wanted to marry her sister Rachel.  Rachel stole her father’s idols and pretended that she couldn’t get up to greet him because she was sitting on them.  Rebekah encouraged Jacob to deceive his father.  This was a family who used deception and whatever means at their disposal to get what they wanted.  One commentator mentioned that Isaac was also scheming.  He was going to bless Esau despite the fact that God did not choose Esau.  And Esau had despised his birthright, selling it to Jacob for lentil stew.  He married pagan wives, grieving his parents.

Isaac was old and his eyesight was very poor.  He knew that it was only a matter of time before he died so he wanted to give his blessing to Esau, his firstborn and favorite son.  He asked Esau to go out and hunt some game for him and then prepare an appetizing meal that he would enjoy eating.  Rebekah overheard this exchange and she began to devise a plan of her own.  This reminds me of Sarah’s carnal plan to have a child instead of waiting on God to fulfill His plan.

After Esau left, Rebekah set her plan into motion.  She called Jacob and told him what she overheard.  Then she commanded him, “Go now to the flock, and from it bring me two good and suitable kids; and I will make them into appetizing meat for your father, such as he loves.  And you shall bring it to your father, that he may eat and declare his blessing upon you before his death.”

At first, Jacob is hesitant to go along with his mother’s plan but not because he didn’t like the idea of deceiving his father.  He didn’t refuse saying, “How could I do such a thing to my father?”  He was more worried about what would happen if it didn’t work.  He said to his mother, “Look, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth-skinned man.  Perhaps my father will feel me, and I shall seem to be a deceiver to him; and I shall bring a curse on myself and not a blessing.” Rebekah convinces him that the plan will work.  He takes the food she prepares to his father.

Jacob went to his father and when Isaac asked who it was, he lied and said, “I am Esau your firstborn; I have done what you told me to do. Now sit up and eat of my game, so that you may proceed to bless me.”  He was passing himself off as his brother and offering his father food which he did not prepare himself.  When his father asked him how he was able to prepare the meal so quickly, Jacob claimed, “Because the Lord your God caused it to come to me.” Jacob, the same person who was afraid that he would receive a curse rather than a blessing if he went through with the deception was now making God a participant.  He was inviting God’s displeasure.

Isaac was suspicious because he asked Jacob to go closer to him so that he could make sure that it was Esau he was talking to.  He felt Jacob’s arms and he believed that they were the hands are the hands of Esau even though the voice sounded like Jacob’s.”

The doubts lingered because he asked, “Are you really my son Esau?  Jacob had the opportunity to come clean but he didn’t.  He lied again and told his father that he was Esau.  So, Isaac believing that it was Esau he was talking to, told him to bring the game for him to eat it and bless him.  After Isaac ate the food and drank the wine, he asked Jacob to come near him so that he could kiss him.  He smelled the clothes Jacob was wearing–they belonged to Esau and convinced now that it was Esau, Isaac blessed him.

As soon as Isaac had finished blessing Jacob and Jacob was scarcely gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, Esau his brother came in from his hunting.  When Esau came in, he brought with him the savory food he himself had prepared.  He hunted for the game.  It wasn’t taken from the lifestock his father had nor was it prepared by someone else.  He did everything.  It seemed as if the blessing meant a lot to him–more than his birthright which he foolishly sold to his brother for a bowl of lentil stew.  However, this time he lost his blessing to Jacob over another meal.

When Isaac found out that he had been tricked, he was badly shaken up.  He told Esau, “Your brother came with crafty cunning and treacherous deceit and has taken your blessing.” Esau was reminded of Jacob’s past betrayal.  “Is he not rightly named Jacob [the supplanter]? For he has supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright, and now he has taken away my blessing!”  He wept when his father told him that he had made Jacob his lord and master and given all his brethren to him for servants.

Esau begged his father to bless him.  And Isaac said to him, “Your [blessing and] dwelling shall all come from the fruitfulness of the earth and from the dew of the heavens above; By your sword you shall live and serve your brother. But [the time shall come] when you will grow restive and break loose, and you shall tear his yoke from off your neck.”  Esau was filled with hatred toward Jacob and swore to kill him after his father died and he finished mourning for him.  Rebekah learned about this and made arrangements to get Jacob away from there fast.  She couldn’t risk losing both sons.  She sent her younger son to live with her family.  She never saw him again.  This was a steep price to pay for trying to manipulate a situation instead of leaving it in God’s hands.

Why did she encourage Jacob to deceive his father?  Well, no doubt it had to do what the Lord told her when she was pregnant with twins who were struggling together in her womb.  She wondered about this and sought the Lord for answers.  He told her, “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.”  When she heard that Esau was going to be blessed, she decided to take matters into her own hands instead of trusting God.  She decided that she would take Esau’s blessing for Jacob.  She got what she wanted but at a cost.

The moral of this story is that favoritism causes problems.  Esau was Isaac’s favorite which is why he insisted on blessing him despite what the Lord had said.  And the fact that he was blessing Esau in secret proves that he knew that what he was doing was wrong.  No one would have known about it if Rebekah hadn’t overheard Isaac’s conversation with Esau.  Rebekah resorted to treachery so that her favorite son would have the blessing.  As a result, Jacob had to be sent away in order to spare his life.  Favoritism causes strife.  Jacob’s favoritism of Joseph nearly cost Joseph his life.  Rachel never saw her son again.  She died believing that he was dead.  For many years, Jacob believed that his beloved son was dead.  Neither Isaac nor Rebekah should have gone to such lengths to secure the blessing for their favorite son.  They should have left this to God.  He is the One who blesses whom He chooses.  Since He did not choose Esau, Isaac blessing him would have been of no effect.  Jacob would have received the blessing but not through deception.

God is a God of order not confusion.  We must never take matters into our own hands.  We ought to let go and let God.  Let God work out His plan in your life in His way and in His time.  Isaac learned that he couldn’t succeed in thwarting God’s plan.  Hebrews 11:20 said, By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.  It was Isaac’s intention to bless Esau but according to the way things turned out, Jacob was put before Esau, as heir of the chief, namely, the spiritual blessing.  Ironically Isaac blessed in the flesh–he blessed whom he wanted to bless but ended up blessing the one whom God meant to be blessed.  He realized that God’s will had been done despite his efforts to do the contrary because he testified of Jacob, “I have blessed him—and indeed he shall be blessed.”  Indeed, Jacob was blessed with the birthright.   Jacob became Israel and was a stronger nation.  And Esau, the older was meant to serve the younger.  So, despite human interference and trickery, God’s plans for the twins came to pass just as He foretold while they were still in their mother’s womb.  God had chosen Jacob not Esau as explained in Malachi 1:2-3.  God chose Jacob to become the heir of the covenant of Abraham instead of Esau.  I personally think that Jacob showed more interest in the birthright than Esau.  He saw that it was important and went to great lengths to obtain it while Esau frivolously gave it away.

The author of Hebrews warns Christians not to become like Esau.  “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord:  looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;  lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.  For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears” (Hebrews 12:14-17).

We have a birthright–an inheritance as co-heirs with Christ.  Let us not give it away or treat it with contempt the way Esau did with his.  We are encouraged to exercise holy self-control, if we don’t wish to forfeit our spiritual rights like Esau did.  Don’t let the flesh control you but always strive to walk in the Spirit.

War breaks out between nations and Sodom and Gomorrah.  The kings of Sodom and Gomorrah were defeated and their goods along with Lot were taken by the victors.  When Abram heard about Lot’s captivity, he rounded up trained servants and embarked on a rescue mission.  He and his servants smote the enemy and brought back all the goods, Lot, his possessions, the women and the people.

When Abram returned from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer and the other kings, the king of Sodom went to meet him.  Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of God brought Abram bread and wine.  Bread symbolizes the body of Jesus and wine, His blood.  Bread and wine are used at the Lord’s Supper.  Here we see the connection between Abram and the Messiah.  Melchizedek means king of righteousness.  The author of Hebrews describes him as the king of peace who “without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually” (Hebrews 7:2, 3).  The order of Melchizedek is the order of the priesthood to which Christ belongs.  This is the man who blessed Abram, the man who would be the father of many nations and the man to whom the children of God would be identified with.

Melchizedek is a type of Christ.  Like Jesus, he represents righteousness.  Jesus was baptized not because He was sinless but to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15).  Melchizedek was a Priest of God.  Jesus is a High Priest “who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners and made higher than the Heavens” (Hebrews 7:26). Tithes belong to the Lord.  Abram gave a tenth of his goods to Melchizedek.  The writer of Hebrews said of this, “Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils” (Hebrews 7:4).

Like Jesus, Melchizedek had no beginning nor end and like Jesus, he represents peace.  Melchizedek blessed Abram.  He referred to him as Abram of the most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth.  Here is a reference to the fourth commandment which speaks of God’s creation.  Abram is seen as a child of God, the Creator.  God is also seen as a Deliverer of His people.  He delivered Abram’s enemies into his hands.  Later He will deliver His people from their enemies.

Abram does not take what the king of Sodom offers him, i.e worldly possessions.  He knows that only God could make him rich.  God is His Provider.  He doesn’t want to accept anything from the king, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’—” (Genesis 14:23).  Ellen G. White comments comments on this.

By the usage of war, the spoils belonged to the conquerors; but Abraham had undertaken this expedition with no purpose of gain, and he refused to take advantage of the unfortunate, only stipulating that his confederates should receive the portion to which they entitled.

Few, if subjected to such a test, would have shown themselves as noble as did Abraham. Few would have resisted the temptation [p. 136] to secure so rich a booty. His example is a rebuke to self-seeking, mercenary spirits. Abraham regarded the claims of justice and humanity. His conduct illustrates the inspired maxim, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” Leviticus 19:18, “I have lifted up my hand,” he said, “unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoe latchet, and that I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich.” He would give them no occasion to think that he had engaged in warfare for the sake of gain, or to attribute his prosperity to their gifts or favor. God had promised to bless Abraham, and to Him the glory should be ascribed – Patriarchs And Prophets-pp-12

Rather than take riches from the king of Sodom, Abraham chose rather to give a tenth of his  spoils to Melchizedek, the high priest king of Salem.  Salem means “peace” which commentators affirm is the same as Jerusalem.   It is interesting to note that the name of king of Sodom was Bera which means “son of evil” and Sodom means “burning”.  It was a Canaanite city.

Abram brings home the message that only God can give us what we have.  He is our Provider.  Whenever we receive good things, we ought to give Him the thanks and glory He deserves.

Lot was not supposed to accompany Abram because going back to chapter 12, it says that God told Abram to get out of his country and from his kindred.  God knew what would happen if Lot went with Abram.  They could not live together because they each had many possessions–there was not enough land to contain them both.  And on top of that there was strife between their herdsmen.  So, Abram finally had to come up with a solution.  They had to separate.  Abram gave him the first choice which shows us how generous and unselfish he was.  He was flexible for he said, “If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left” (Genesis 13:9).  Abram wanted there to be peace between them as Paul said to the Romans, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).

So Lot made his choice based on his sight.  He saw that the plain of Jordan was well watered everywhere, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.  It was pleasing to Lot and he chose Jordan.  He and Abram separated.  Abram lived in the land of Canaan–the promised land while Lot lived in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent towards Sodom.  However, the men of Sodom were wicked and sinned exceedingly before the Lord.

The beautiful land Lot chose was not unspoiled.  Its tranquility and promise of a good life hid the ugliness of sin just as the beauty of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil and its fruit hid the wages of sin which is death.  Lot was drawn to the land because it appealed to his senses just as Eve was drawn to the tree because it appealed to her senses.  Both were misled by their eyes.  The eyes could lead to worldliness, e.g. David and Bathsheba.  John said, “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16).

Behind the beautiful facade of both the land and the Tree of knowledge of good and evil dwelt sin and destruction.  Just as life on earth was destroyed in a flood because of sin and so will Sodom later be destroyed.  Had Abram not taken Lot with him the tragic events that are about to unfold would not have taken place.  This is why it is important that we fully obey commandments–not partially.

It is amazing how one decision could affect the course of life.  Eve, in eating of the Tree of knowledge of good and evil brought sin into the world.  It spread to Adam, then their offspring and then to the world and death was the result.  Abram, in bringing Lot with him, there was strife.  To end it, Lot chose Sodom for his home and in doing so he became the unwilling father of the Moabites and Ammonites, Israel’s enemies.

After Abram and Lot separated, God showed Abram all the land that would belong to him and his seed forever.  Abram pitched his tent in Hebron where he built an altar to the Lord. It is interesting to note that Hebron means “alliance”.  Abram chose Hebron to avoid strife with his nephew.


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