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Sunday, January 26, 2020

posted Jan 26, 2020, 2:13 PM by Site Administrator   [ updated Jan 26, 2020, 6:21 PM ]

A GOOD OLD AGE, AN OLD MAN AND FULL OF YEARS

 

Genesis 25:1-34

Key Verses 25:7,8

 

Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.

 

First, A good old age, an old man and full of years (1-18). Verses 1 through 11 talks about Abraham’s later life. He took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore to him 6 sons. The statement in verse 6, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines (plural), shows that he had not just one concubine, but several concubines. But since Keturah was prosperous with many children, only she was mentioned hereHere, we are shocked and wonder why he should have concubines. Sarah died, when Abraham was 137 years old. 3 years later, when he was 140 years old, he established Isaac’s marriage. He would live 35 years more. But he didn’t know how long he would live. When he was 58 years old, Noah died at the age of 950. When he was 148 years old, Arphaxad died at the age of 438. Even after his death, Shem would live 35 years more, and then die at the age of 600. Also, after his death, Eber would live 64 years more, and then, die at the age of 464. In the eyes of ordinary people who lived about 100 years, these people who lived really long, looked mysterious and great like gods. In the ancient acupuncture bible, we see the Yellow Emperor and his teacher talk about those people who lived really long. The Yellow Emperor talks about the generations of people he had heard –the first generation of people lived really long and they did not die – they lived really long that in the eyes of people, they looked immortal like gods. After that, the next generation of people came up and lived really long, yet not as long as the first generation of people lived; after that, the next generation of people appeared and lived really long, but not as long as the second group of people lived; after that, the next generation of people appeared and lived very long, but not as long as the third generation of people lived. Abraham was living with these groups of people – Noah belonged to the first group, Shem to the second group, and Eber to the third group. So, since he was God’s covenant person, there was great possibility that he too would live really long, maybe, like Noah, or Shem, or Eber. It was very natural that after his wife’s death, several years later, he took another wife. Also, it was the custom in those days thatrich people, or mighty rulers like Abraham would take many concubines. 

 

The Midianites, the descendants of Midian, one of the sons Keturah bore to Abraham appear in Genesis 37:25-28 when Jacob’s sons sold their brother, Joseph to the Ishmaelites (vs. 25, 27); then, the Ishmaelites were described as the Midianites in verse 28, and in verse 36, showing that, since both the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Midian lived in the Gulf of Aqaba, they intermarried, thus, the Midianites were also called the Ishmaelites. Jethro – Moses’ father-in-law was the priest of Median. During the time of Gideon, the Midianites bothered Israel so much.

 

Dedanthe son of Jokshan, the son Keturah bore to Abramamwas prosperous and his sons became the Asshurites, the Letushites, and the Leummites. This description of Dedan’ssons shows that, as of the time when Genesis was written around 1430 B.C., already, Dedan’s sons were numerous, well known, occupying their lands in the Middle East. Dedan appears several times in the prophecies. Isaiah 21:13,14 An oracle concerning Arabia: You caravans of Dedanites, who camp in the thickets of Arabia, bring water for the thirsty; you who live in Tema (one of Ishmael’s sons), bring food for the fugitives. In Jeremiah 25:23, Dedan is mentioned in company with Tema and Buz as the object of God’s wrath. In Ezekiel 25:13, God’s judgment against Edom includes all the territories from Teman to DedanAlso in Ezekiel 38:10-14, Dedan is mentioned with Sheba (his brother)in a prophecy concerning Gog – the final war that will occur after the Millennium.

 

Basically, all the sons of Abraham’s descendants here became nations, playing their roles in human history. Indeed, as God promised, Abraham became a father of many nations, not only spiritually, but also physically. Abraham spent the majority of his life with God, pursuing God’s vision by focusing on one son, Isaac. Then, when God’s plan was fulfilled, God blessed him to enjoy life and prosperity freely – no conflict, no challenge, no anxiety, but smooth and wonderful life, and quickly, he became the father of many nationsBut Abraham, before his death, took care of all the matters properly so that Isaac would not be bothered. Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac. But while he was still living, he gave gifts to the sons of his concubines and sent them away from his son Isaac to the land of the east. Look at verses 7 and 8. Let’s read these verses together:

 

Altogether, Abraham lived a hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.

 

Abraham died at a good old age, an old man and full of years. This is the conclusion of his life: His life was full and good; with God’s blessing and care, he enjoyed a wonderful life. This is what it means to have a blessed life. Actually, this is what all humans desire. But we see rarely anyone who enjoys this kind of blessed life. Instead, most people finish their life in sorrows, in regrets, and in loneliness, and in fear; their life is empty and meaningless. Why? It was because they chose a wrong way of life. What a terrible moment it is that at the end of their life, they find that they have lived a wrong life! Full of regret, sorrows, and fear! That’s really terrible. Life is one timetransaction; no one can say, O, it was a mistake. Let me start all over again. Life is really a precious asset. We must not waste it. We must not make a mistake. Do you want to live a truly blessed life? Do you want to be blessed like Abraham? Then, live like Abraham, holding onto God’s vision and obeying God’s commands absolutely. Don’t be bothered by what others say, even what other Christians say. As you live like Abraham and while others live like Lot, sometimes you may be confused – you suffer loss and have pains. But don’t be bothered by what others do and how they live their life. The life of losing your life for Jesus and the gospel is the only right way of life. Just be like Abraham. In the end, you will find life. Live as God’s covenant people. Then, God himself will be your shield, protecting you from all dangers. Life comes with a lot of dangers – China virus, cancers, traffic accidents, shooting rampage, natural disasters, wars, terrorism, and the danger of doctorsCNBC reported on Feb. 22nd, 2018: Johns Hopkins study claims more than 250,000 people die in the Unites States of America every year from medical errors. Other reports claim the numbers to be as high as 400,000. Medical errors are the third-leading cause of death after heart disease and cancer. Indeed, we never know what may happen tomorrow. In this dangerous world, God is our shield when we live as his covenant people. This is the best insurance. So, live like Abraham, as God’s covenant people, and God becomes your shield, your very great reward, and you will enjoy a blessed life. Let’s pray that our life may be described in the same way, Roberto Flores died at a good old age, an old man and full of years.

 

Second, Ishmael’s family and Isaac’s family (12-21).Verses 12 through 18 is the record of the sons of Ishmael, Abraham’s concubine, Hagar bore to him. Verses 13 through 15 reads: These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, KedarAdbeelMibsamMishmaDumah, Massa, HadadTemaJeturNaphish and KedemahThese are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. Later, these people would form many nations and empires in the Middle East. Indeed, Abraham was the father of many nations. Among them, as we already mentioned about, Tema appears in the Bible in relation with DedanAlso two other sons’ names appear in the Bible several times – Nebaioth and Kedar. (Isa 21:16-17; 42:11; 60:7; Eze 27:21; Psa 120:5; Jer 2:10)

The Nabataeans (descendants of Nebaioth, the first son of Ishmael) spoke and wrote an early form of Arabic and thus they were often referred to as 'Arabs' by Greek and Roman historians.The Nabataeans and the Kedarites fought against the Assyrian Empire, so they appear in the Assyrian records as well. Previous to this, Assyrian records tell us of King Ashurbanipal (668-663 BC) who was fighting with the 'Nabaiateans of Arabia.' Then in 703 BC a group of Chaldaeans and neighboring tribes rebelled against Sennacherib, the Assyrian ruler. The ancient records of Tiglath Pilezeer III list, among the rebels, the Hagaranu(possibly the descendants of Hagar, the mother of Ishmael), the Nabatu (very possibly the descendants of Nebayoth, the eldest son of Ishmael) and the Kedarites (descendants of Ishmael's second son). According to the records, these tribes fled from Assyria into the Arabian Desert and could not be conquered.

The Assyrian kingdom eventually broke into two as two brothers began to rule, one the King of Babylonia and the other the King of Assyria. In 652 BC conflict broke out between these two brothers, and the Kedarites supported the Babylonian kingdom. Then, soon, the Kedarites faded from history and the Nabataeans came to the forefront. Later, when Judah was destroyed in 586 B.C., by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and the survivors were taken captives to Babylon, the Edomites moved into Judah – later, those Edomites that lived in Judah were called Idumeans; then, when the land of Edom was empty, the Nabateans in the Gulf of Aqaba moved into it – just about 80 miles from the gulf of Aqaba, thus occupying the land of Esau. In time, the Nabataeans built an impressive civilization based on merchant trade. Their capital was the city of Petra, located deep in the sandstone mountains of southern Jordan. (All these quotation is from the website: http://nabataea.net/nabajoth.html) Later, the Nabateans were in coalition with the Roman Empire, and under Pox Romana, they prospered, eventually, being absorbed into Rome, and losing their identity, thus disappearing from the surface of human history. Indeed, As God promised, Ishmael’s descendants were prosperous, forming many nations.

In chapter 24, we saw God establishing Isaac and Rebekah’s family. It was really amazing – how all the people that were involved in it trusted in God and entrusted their life in God’s hands, how they obeyed God’s will and submitted themselves to it. It was really blessed marriage. Then, how did it go after that? Usually, we expect that everything went well with them due to God’s blessing and that they lived happily ever after. But things did not go that way. They remained childless, because Rebekah was barren, even for 20 years! What an embarrassing moment for Isaac and Rebekah! Rebekah saw God’s guidance in her marriage matter, so with confidence, she said, I will go. She expected that everything would go well with her family. But she remained childless. She was confused; doubt about God’s will and God’s love smeared into her heart.Isaac’s half-brother, Ishmael was really fruitful – 12 sons, then, many grandchildren, forming 6 soccer teams, having Ishmael cup soccer league. Whenever she saw how fruitful Ishmael’s family was, she felt ashamed, thinking that something was wrong with her. She became very self-conscious. When she saw several servants talking and laughing, she felt condemned, thinking that they were talking about her. Her barrenness was indeed, a very serious problem for her. 

 

In this very difficult situation, Isaac supported her fully, dedicating himself to her completely, praying for her, even for 20 years! In that very challenging situation, how comforted Rebekah was, when her husband showed such complete trust and support, praying for her all the time. Because of her husband’s complete trust and support, she could deal with this very challenging situation in a proper way. Because of her husband’s complete dedication to her, she was confident about herself as the mistress in the household and told the servants what to do and what not to do. Isaac’s love and prayer for her was the source of comfort and strength to her. Indeed, Isaac was the best husband in the world. When husbands show this kind of complete support for their wives, wives are very comforted and strengthened. With their husband’s complete trust and support, these wives’ self-esteem is boosted that thebecome confident about themselves; then, such confidence is exposed in their relationship with others – how they talk and behave. So, such husbands are the best husbands in the world. Who can be so great as husbands like Isaac? Those who have faith in God and thereby, those who pray for their wives! Don’t look for a humanistic solution such as taking another concubine, but pray for your wife! I pray that all the brothers here may have absolute faith in God and pray for your wives.

 

God’s covenant family had such a great challenge, but it had such strength to deal with it because God was at the center of their marriage. Then, finally, after 20 years of Isaac’s prayer for Rebekah, God answered, and Rebekah became pregnant. Every family comes with a lot of challenges in life. But when husband and wife have faith in God and pray, such a family is strong and can withstand all kinds of challenges. 

 

When we think about these two families – Ishmael’s family and Isaac’s family, we are really shocked. It seemed that Ishmael was blessed, while Isaac was cursed. But certainly, it was not the case. Here, we learn that we should not judge anyone based on the present situation. Some people have great fruit, while others don’t. But, that’s not the sign of God’s blessing or God’s curse.We never know how things will turn out in the end. So, we don’t judge anyone. Instead, with humility and sincerity, each of us struggles to live for God alone, doing what God wants us to do with a fearful and trembling heart. Then, God will bless us greatly when his time comes.

 

Third, “Esau and Jacob” (22-34). Look at verse 22. Rebekah was pregnant. The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, Why is this happening to me? So she went to inquire of the LORD. The LORD said to her, Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger. The statement, the older will serve the younger, shows that God had a special plan for the younger, Jacob. When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau, which means red. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau's heel; so he was named Jacob, which means, He grasps, implying Jacob’s fighting spirit and never give up spirit. He had a wrestling match with his twin brother Esau in his mother’s womb, but he lost. Yet, he still did not give up; he was still fighting with him, grasping his heel. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. And Abraham was 160 years old. So, Esau and Jacob spent their youth with him. Maybe, Esau and Jacob visited Abraham, calling him, “Grandpa!” Maybe, Abraham told them about God and they had worship service together. Indeed, Esau and Jacob spent wonderful childhood with Abraham and Isaac. 

 

Verse 27 shows how they grew. It reads: The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents.They were twins, but they were really different in every aspect. Esau was hairy, but Jacob had smooth skin, without that much hair. Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country. In those days, all boys basically should be warriors, practicing martial arts, shooting arrows, swinging swords; that’s norm. Esau was excellent in this aspect, maybe, with huge muscles, with nice beard and mustache; in our terms, he was very athletic, being popular among his peers. But Jacob was a quiet man, not talking too much, staying among the tents, cooking; he was his mom’s favorite son – momma’s boy; he was not manly unlike his twin brother. In the eyes of people, something was wrong with him; he looked weird and weak. But he should not be judged by outward appearance.

 

Verses 28 through 34 shows us how Jacob came to purchase the birthright from Esau. By the way, when did this episode of Jacob purchasing the birthright from Esau occur? One clue is verse 27. It reads: The boys grew up. They grew up – no longer little boys, but grown-ups, maybe, 30 or even 40years old. Another clue is found in 27:36. When Jacob deceived his father and took his blessing, he was 40 years old. At that time, Esau, in bitterness and anger said to Isaac, He has deceived me these two times: He took my birthright, and now he is taking my blessing! So, the scar of losing his birthright was still fresh to him. So, it was not long time ago; I think, those two events happened in the same year, or maybe, 3 years apart. Or, let’s say it happened 10 years ago. Then, it meant that Jacob was 30 years old. Yet, still he had not forgotten about the birthright. The birthright is not something you can get by struggling, but it is given by fate. But even 30 years later, Jacob was still thinking about it and pursuing it, trying to figure out a way to get it. While he looked weak, not saying too much, while he looked innocent, he was thinking about all those things, trying to figure out the way to get what he wanted – for the past 30 years, that’s what he had been doing, while cooking quietlyHe was really die-hard. Once he found something valuable, he sought it all the way. By the way, what was the birthright? The birthright was given to the firstborn son in the family, and it was a token that, once his father passed away, he would inherit everything. He would be the rightful heir of all his father’s estate, while other sons would go out and pioneer their own life. Right at the moment, the birthright did not give him any benefit, but in the end, it would give him everything. Jacob knew its value and pursued it for the past 30 years, even though he had lost it by fate. Then, when a chance came, he boldly offered a deal to purchase it. Let’s say, since Isaac was rich, the birthright would bring him $10,000,000.00 maybe 30 years later. Then, in order to purchase it, how much did Jacob offer? A bowl of lentil stew, maybe, $5.00 value! Usually, ordinary people cannot think this way, but Jacob thought it would be possible. He tried, and it worked. He purchased the birthright from Esau. 

 

Esau, on the contrary, did not consider the birthright that highly. When he was hungry, he valued a bowl of lentil stew more highly than the birthright. When the deal was suggested, he said, Look, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me? Actually, even if he was famished, certainly he would not die because of that in the next two hours. If he did not get something from Jacob, then, surely his mom would give him something to eat – just about one hour later. He just exaggerated his condition. He made such a big deal out of nothing, and sold his birthright at a bowl of lentil stew. About this, the Bible conclusively talks about Esau, saying, So Esau despised the birthright. Hebrews 12:16,17 talks about him, saying, See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears. Who are godless people? Those who despise their birthright are godless people. We must not be godless like Esau. How? By valuing our birthright in Jesus highly and securing it by any means! 

 

What can be the birthright for us? The birthright is a token for future glory. God’s calling for us is God’s vision for us; that much is what God wants us to do – that much is what God wants us to get – so God’s calling is actually God’s promise for us. Right now, it may not give you that much benefit, but in the future, in the end, it will turn out to be your glory – it will bring glory, honor and eternal inheritance when Jesus comes again. Even if you suffer because of God’s calling, certainly you will not die. So, don’t panic or exaggerate your suffering too much. Just endure it, and certainly, God will not be late to help you. We must hold onto God’s calling and secure it firmly by any means. The apostle Peter says, Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2Pe 1:10-11)

 

Some people hold onto God’s calling for a while, servingGod’s work. But when a desirable job offer comes, they quickly accept it. What about God’s calling, God’s will upon their life? They toss off God’s calling freely. Simply, when a big bowl of lentil stew is offered, they quickly jump into it, selling their birthright. Such people are godless. Also, some people, at a temptation of a desirable looking marriage candidate, quickly give up God’s grace, God’s calling upon their life so that they may secure that person. When better looking lentil stew is offered, they quickly choose it, tossing off God’s grace, God’s calling upon their life. Such people are godless. Don’t be godless like Esau. There is no better lentil stew. Lentil stew is lentil stew – no more or no less. Also, even if you have a big bowl of lentil stew, even Olympic pool size lentil stew, still you cannot eat it all. Later, they come to their senses and realize what they have done, but too late. Even if they plead with God for his blessing with tears, nothing will be given to them. Faith in God’s calling, that complete confidence in God’s calling, that complete confidence in God’s will and purpose for you, is not something you can get anytime you want. It is from God; faith is a gift of God; it is more precious than gold. Secure it by any means. Don’t be godless like Esau. But be like Jacob! By any means, secure the birthright, because it is really valuable – a token for your future eternal glory.

 

One Word:A Good Old Age, An Old Man And Full Of Years

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