Just Looking for a Home, Part 5 (The Covenant & the Cross #86)

Numbers 16:1-3: “Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, took men: And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown: And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?”

Today’s Covenant & the Cross quote about the Bible is from John Newton. He said: “I know not a better rule of reading the Scripture, than to read it through from beginning to end and when we have finished it once, to begin it again. We shall meet with many passages which we can make little improvement of, but not so many in the second reading as in the first, and fewer in the third than in the second: provided we pray to him who has the keys to open our understandings, and to anoint our eyes with His spiritual ointment.”

Our topic for today is titled “Just Looking for a Home (Part 5)” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb expressed sorrow at this state of affairs and tried to sway the people back to seeing God at work. But the people refused to listen and attempted to stone their leaders. At this point, God intervened, showing forth His glory from the tent of meeting. In front of the people, He told Moses to stand back so that He could destroy them, but Moses interceded on their behalf, pointing out that the issue was God’s honor. I am sure it was humiliating for the people to hear directly from God that the only reason He was not destroying them was that the leader they had just rejected had put in a good word for them. But the next words were even more sobering. Every adult in the camp who had observed God’s works and had refined to believe God’s words would indeed die in the desert. The only exceptions would be Joshua and Caleb.

Jacob and his Tribes, Part 2 (The Covenant & the Cross #56) #VA7

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 27:1-4 which reads: “And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim, so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son, and said unto him, My son: and he said unto him, Behold, here am I. And he said, Behold now, I am old, I know not the day of my death: Now therefore take, I pray thee, thy weapons, thy quiver and thy bow, and go out to the field, and take me some venison; And make me savoury meat, such as I love, and bring it to me, that I may eat; that my soul may bless thee before I die.”

Allow me to share with you some commentary on this passage from the Reformation Study Bible by Dr. R.C. Sproul:

The theme of family conflict, between the parents and between the twins, now becomes full-blown in pursuit of the patriarch’s blessing. Isaac depended on his fallible senses rather than divine guidance, and Rebekah used deception. Esau broke his oath and Jacob blasphemously lied. Though the blessing is passed on according to God’s good pleasure, the divine verdict on their actions is pronounced in the disastrous consequences: Esau resolved to murder Jacob and Jacob fled the land. Rebekah died without memorial, and Isaac lived on without significance.

Implicit here is a contrast between Abraham, who in faith provided for Isaac’s future according to God’s elective purposes, and Isaac, who seems to have made no attempt to find suitable wives for his sons, and who tried to thwart the divine election.

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Karl Paul Donfried. He said: “The one thing the New Testament forbids us to do is to treat it as a static document to be used as a set of proof-texts for instant solutions to complex and controversial contemporary problems. To misuse the New Testament in this way is to deny its dynamic character and to fail to realize that the Word has to be applied in a specific context. …A static interpretation of the New Testament is dependent on a frozen Christology.”

Our topic for today is titled “Jacob and his Tribes” (Part 2) from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin. And, I want to remind you to take advantage of our special offer. If you enjoy this podcast, please feel free to purchase a copy of this book — “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin. It is available on our website for just $20. You can make your purchase today at covenantandcrosspodcast.com.

He goes on to say…

Isaac blessing Jacob (Horst, Gerrit Willemsz)

Isaac blessing Jacob (Horst, Gerrit Willemsz)

Sometime later, Isaac, getting on in years, realized that he was nearing death. The text does not indicate how old he was at this point; however, by carefully piecing together other chronological data, we estimate his age to have been about 136. (According to Genesis 35:28, he would then live another forty-four years.) But the text also notes that he was blind, which may have contributed to his foreboding. He therefore planned to bless his favorite son, Esau. Before he did so, however, he asked Esau to go hunt for some wild game to make a savory dish. As the account unfolds, we find Rebekah scheming with Jacob to prepare similar food from a kid. She disguised Jacob as his older brother, using Esau’s clothes; she also used the hair from the kid to emulate Esau’s hairy skin. The charade succeeded, and Jacob received the blessing that was intended for Esau.

The relationship of the meal to the blessing is unclear. There is only one other instance of an aged father blessing his son before he dies, and that is the same Jacob later in this same book. In that case, there is no mention of a meal. In fact, Isaac’s blessing itself raises questions. Clearly, it is distinguished from the birthright. The issue is especially confusing when we see the content of the blessing. For the most part, what Isaac said to Jacob indicated a life of prosperity, a “blessing” that easily could have been given to Esau as well (with the caveat that he would, indeed, serve his brother). So why did Isaac assert to Esau that the blessing was gone?

We find a key in the final phrase of the blessing: “May those who curse you be cursed and those who bless you be blessed.” The relationship of this phrase to the promise God gave Abraham in Genesis 12 suggests that perhaps what we are seeing is the insertion of this son into the line of the Abrahamic covenant. That would explain the distinction between blessing and birthright. It would also help explain why, after the death of Jacob, no blessings are recorded. After that time, all descendants of Jacob were included in the line of blessing, that is, the line of the Abrahamic covenant.

Jacob had no more than left his father’s tent after receiving the blessing when Esau showed up with a savory dish made from the game he had brought back. At that point, Isaac realized what had happened and acknowledged that Jacob had indeed been given the blessing. After tremendous protest, Esau talked his father into giving him a “blessing” also. This, like the blessing given to his brother, was really a prophetic declaration regarding his descendants. It had its positive aspects, but it pales in comparison to the promise that had been given to Jacob. Esau was furious. Suspecting that his father was on his deathbed (and certainly Jacob’s fraud would seem to hasten the event along), Esau let it be known that once Isaac was gone, Jacob would also be history. At that point, Rebekah intervened again.

Joseph in Egypt, Part 1 (The Covenant & the Cross #60) #VA3

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 39:2-4 which reads: “And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian. And his master saw that the Lord was with him, and that the Lord made all that he did to prosper in his hand. And Joseph found grace in his sight, and he served him: and he made him overseer over his house, and all that he had he put into his hand.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Napoleon Bonaparte. He said: “The Bible is no mere book, but a Living Creature, with a power that conquers all that oppose it.”

Our topic for today is titled “Joseph in Egypt” (Part 1) from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

Now the author returns to Joseph in Egypt. There are three phases of his life there. The first phase was his time as a slave in the house of Potiphar, the captain of Pharaoh’s guard. God caused Joseph to prosper while he was working in this household, so Potiphar gave everything into his hands, worrying only about what he would have for his next meal. After some time, Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce the young lad, who resisted her advances. Rejected, she accused him of attacking her, and Potiphar had Joseph put into prison.

The second phase of Joseph’s life in Egypt was the period he spent in prison. Even there he prospered and was put in charge of other prisoners. When Pharaoh’s chief butler and baker were cast into prison, they had dreams, which Joseph interpreted for them as prophetic. The interpretations were correct, and as Joseph predicted, the butler was returned to his office but the baker was executed. The butler promptly forgot his helper.

Two years later, Pharaoh had two dreams that paralleled each other. Pharaoh’s dream interpreters were totally baffled, and he was frustrated. However, the butler finally remembered Joseph, who was cleaned up and brought out of the prison. Through God’s guidance, Joseph interpreted the dreams as foretelling seven years of abundance followed by seven years of famine. He also gave advice on how to prepare the nation for these two events, and his advice was so sound that Pharaoh put him in charge of carrying out the preparations.

The Incubation of Israel (The Covenant & the Cross #61)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 48:3-5 which reads: “And Jacob said unto Joseph, God Almighty appeared unto me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and blessed me, And said unto me, Behold, I will make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, and I will make of thee a multitude of people; and will give this land to thy seed after thee for an everlasting possession. And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which were born unto thee in the land of Egypt before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Charles Haddon Spurgeon. He said: “The observant man recognizes many mysteries into which he can not pretend to see, and he remembers that the world is too wide for the eye of one man. But the modern sophists are sure of everything, especially if it contradicts the Bible.”

Our topic for today is titled “The Incubation of Israel” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

First, let’s take a closer look at the famine that caused Jacob and his family to seek aid in Egypt.

The fact that both Egypt and Canaan suffered famine suggests that it was divinely caused. Egyptian agricultural success is dependent on the flooding of the Nile River, which is a result of monsoon rainfall in central Africa. Agricultural success in Canaan, on the other hand, is dependent on rain that normally comes in from Europe via the Mediterranean Sea. The experience of Joseph stands in contrast to that of Abraham in Genesis 12, who went to Egypt because of a famine in Canaan.

Now, let us consider how Israel was incubated in the land of Egypt.

While the reunion of the estranged brothers is the obvious climax to the story, the writer of Genesis has a few loose ends to tie up, showing that there is much more to the account. We need to recall that this section relates “what became of” Jacob. In this sense, there are two key aspects: first, what became of Jacob personally, and second, what became of the line of Jacob, the descendants of Israel.

Jacob, personally, was finishing his spiritual pilgrimage. Once more he was about to leave the land, but the circumstances were much different from those related in chapter 28, when he was fleeing Esau. Now it was under God’s direction, and God appeared to him before he left the land to give him an assurance that what he was doing was correct. So Jacob and his family, seventy strong, arrived in Egypt. Jacob and five of the brothers were introduced to Pharaoh and then moved to the land of Goshen.

From Jacob to Joseph (The Covenant & the Cross #59)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 37:3-5 which reads: “Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him. And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren: and they hated him yet the more.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Isaac Newton. He said: “There are more sure marks of authenticity in the Bible than in any profane history.”

Our topic for today is titled “From Jacob to Joseph” from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

After giving the account of Isaac’s death, the author turns to Jacob’s brother. Esau had a number of sons who became leaders of the Edomites. For the Israelites at Mount Sinai, this information would be important for several reasons. Edom would eventually be a neighbor, one they would dominate (as indicated in the “blessing” Isaac gave Jacob). There would be animosity between the two nations, and the toledot sections of Isaac and Esau explain why. Moreover, although the Israelites did not yet know it, those under the age of twenty and their children would have to go around Edom to get into the Promised Land, and they would not be allowed to interact with the Edomites during the journey.

The last toledot section in the book of Genesis is that of Jacob, even though we have been told about him for a number of chapters. Further, as soon as we read in Genesis 37:2, “This is the account of Jacob,” the text focuses attention on his son Joseph. Clearly, Joseph was critical to what happened to Jacob.

Francesco Hayez: Esau and Jacob reconcile (1844)

Jacob and his Tribes, Part 4 (The Covenant & the Cross #58)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 31:9-11 which reads: “And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands. Deliver me, I pray thee, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau: for I fear him, lest he will come and smite me, and the mother with the children.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Bruce Barton. He said: “The Bible rose to the place it now occupies because it deserved to rise to that place, and not because God sent anybody with a box of tricks to prove its divine authority.”

Francesco Hayez: Esau and Jacob reconcile (1844)

Francesco Hayez: Esau and Jacob reconcile (1844)

Our topic for today is titled “Jacob and his Tribes” (Part 4) from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

“Even after twenty years, Jacob feared returning to meet his brother. He divided his property to make it less of a target and sent bribes on ahead to placate Esau, only to find that his brother had mellowed and become prosperous in his own right. En route, Jacob wrestled with God and was given the new name Israel, ‘One who strives with God.’ It would seem that it was only after this event that Jacob really became a man of faith, albeit a faith that wavered (perhaps up to the point when he learned that Joseph was alive in Egypt).”

Jacob and his Tribes, Part 3 (The Covenant & the Cross #57)

Today’s passage of Scripture is Genesis 28:10-12 which reads: “And Jacob went out from Beersheba, and went toward Haran. And he lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, because the sun was set; and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it.”

Today’s quote about the Bible is from Robert Murray McCheyn. He said: “When you are reading a book in a dark room, and come to a difficult part, you take it to a window to get more light. So take your Bibles to Christ.”

Our topic for today is titled “Jacob and his Tribes” (Part 3) from the book, “The Promise and the Blessing” by Dr. Michael A. Harbin.

Jacob Encountering Rachel with her Father's Herds (Joseph von Führich, 1836, Oil on canvas, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna)

Jacob Encountering Rachel with her Father’s Herds (Joseph von Führich, 1836, Oil on canvas, Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna)

“Using the undesirable character of Esau’s wives (who were both Hittites) as an excuse, Rebekah persuaded her husband to send Jacob to Haran to get a wife from among their relatives. Thus, Jacob fled the wrath of Esau, but he really left home with nothing and did not know when he would return. While en route, Jacob had an interesting encounter with God at Bethel. There he received from God the promise that Abraham and Isaac had also been given—the land, many descendants, and a future worldwide blessing. His response to this revelation suggests that his spiritual state was very open to question. After the vision, he promised that if God were to be with him during the journey, and bring him back safely, then he would make Him his God.”