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Year 1, Week 5, Day 3

I have a brief observation for today’s reading of Genesis 25.

Today’s reading is somewhat of a miscellaneous collection of information. The chapter opens with Abraham’s new wife, Keturah, and subsequent children that they shared. Then, it notes Abraham’s death and burial, which is along side Sarah. Next, a genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham’s son from Sarah’s servant, Hagar, is provided. The chapter ends with an introduction to the twins sons of Isaac and Rebekah. 

What struck me from today’s reading is what it reveals about the outworking of God’s purposes concerning His covenant people. The interplay that we are introduced to between Esau and Jacob shows us something about how the LORD creates a people for Himself. The basis upon which God draws a people to Himself can seem confusing. The LORD uses the account of the birth of Rebekah’s twin boys to introduce us to how He draws people to Himself: “For the LORD has chosen Jacob for himself, Israel as his own possession.” (Psalm 135:4).

Isaac and Rebekah are childless. Isaac married Rebekah when he was forty and it would be twenty years before they has a child: “Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.” (Genesis 25:26b). Abraham’s servant prayed to the LORD to bring Isaac’s wife to him, the answer came before the prayer was finished (see Genesis 24:15). Isaac’s prayer for a child through Rebekah most likely continued for years: "And Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife, because she was barren. And the LORD granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.” (Genesis 25:21). Driven, like Abraham was, of the promise of a descendant, Isaac probably sought the LORD for an extended time.

It turns out that Rebekah is pregnant with not one child, but two; and she seeks the LORD as to why she feels a great struggle occurring within her: “The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:22-23). Rebekah is told that the struggle between the two boys is no mere sibling rivalry; but actually a fierce conflict between the heads of two peoples. Rebekah is carrying around two nations of peoples. Two nations who will not live in harmony with each other. Two nations in which the younger and weaker brother will have supremacy over the older and stronger brother. God states that He has ordained to carry out His Covenant relationship with Jacob. This decision was made apart from observing either the conventions of natural birth order or the virtue of human effort. The LORD decreed His selection without human enticement or solicitation: “And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” (Romans 9:10-13).

Moses will teach the nation Israel something about the basis upon which the LORD had called them to be His people: “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the LORD loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers” (Deuteronomy 7:6-8a). Neither Jacob, nor Israel, the nation that comes through him, were lovely. God’s love is not a response to the lovely; God’s love creates loveliness out of unloveliness. Ezekiel 16 graphically displays how it was the LORD’s love that established Israel as lovely. 

God loves His people in ways that are different from how we as humans love each other. We perceive that love is something that gets created in our hearts as a response to seeing someone we deem lovely or as a response to seeing something we deem lovely in someone. We might say, we find love. But God’s love for us is not because He found us lovely: “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8). God’s love for us is because He makes us lovely: "We love because he first loved us.” (1 John 4:19). Let’s be stunned, not by our own notions of loveliness, but by the God who loves us: “How precious is your steadfast love, O God!” (Psalm 36:7a).

What struck you in today’s reading? What questions were prompted from today’s reading?

Pastor Joe