Torah Portion for 8th Novermber - 14th November
Torah portion Genesis 25 : 19 to 28 : 9
Haftarah portion Malachi 1 : 1 to 2 : 7
Our ways are not God’s ways
Last week we noted the care with which Abraham sought a wife for Isaac, who incidentally was 40 years old at that time!
In our frail humanity, it is somewhat difficult to understand why Almighty God, in his infinite love, mercy and grace, so perfectly provided the beautiful Rebekah as a wife for Isaac the son of promise, through whom all the nations of the earth are to be blessed, and through whom God intended to produce a people for Himself, His own special treasure, whose numbers were to be counted as the ‘stars of heaven’. Then the ‘bombshell’, Rebekah was infertile. Barren is the word used in the Scriptures.(Genesis 25:21) . The nearest fertility clinic was thousands of years away !!
Did you know that there are at least six women in the Scriptures who were mightily used by God, having also been described as ‘barren’ initially? I’ll provide the names, you do the investigation !!
Sarah (mother of Isaac), Rebekah (mother of Jacob), Rachel (mother of Joseph and Benjamin), Manoah’s wife (mother of Samson), Hannah (mother of Samuel), Elizabeth (mother of John the Baptizer)
It seems that God, in order to fulfil His purposes in them, required that these ladies be completely dependent on Him for the gift of children. They had to call on him in prayer, anguished prayer, committed prayer, believing prayer .. because there was NO other way.
Do we have a lesson for ourselves here? Do we want God to use us to fulfil His purposes in us? Read the paragraph above again, take out the words “gift of children”, and substitute that which you are seeking from God.
There is yet another parallel feature common to these ladies. God alone miraculously made it possible for these ladies to bear children, all of which had life changing work to fulfil in His Name. So too with our Messiah Yeshua. God alone was able to bring His birth to fruition, but this time in a quite unique intervention in the life of the virgin Miriam (Mary).
Chapter 26 opens with the news of famine in the land. Abraham had earlier found much favour with Abimelech, the King of the Philistines, in the region called Gerar. Isaac went to Gerar (the region of the Northern Negev today alongside Gaza) where Abraham had found water and dug wells. Later in a dispute over the water wells, Isaac moved a little further north and found more water at Beersheva.
Some years ago, I visited Kibbutz Nir Am which had been established in the 1930’s close to the Gaza border where there was a ‘water museum’. It was a barren area where there appeared to be a good supply of ground water and a reservoir. “How did you find water here?” I asked innocently. “We found it by reading the Bible” was the quick reply!! It is, of course, the site of Biblical Gerar.
Gerar is also the place where Both Abraham and Isaac tried to pass off their wives as their “sisters”.
The ‘history’ in this week’s parashah continues with an event which has caused conflict for Israel ever since. In chapter 25 we read about the birth of the twins Esau and Jacob. The Lord had told Rebekah that the ‘older would serve the younger’. Very soon we also read that Esau had sold his firstborn birthright to Jacob. In Genesis 26 : 34,35 we have more sad news that Esau had married two Hittite women and this was “a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah”. (He later also married a daughter of Ishmael. There’s a combination for you!! (Genesis 28:9))
This was possibly ‘the last straw’ for Rebekah, and in her grief she conspired with Jacob (Genesis 27) to deceive Isaac into giving the ‘firstborn’ blessing to Jacob. Once given, it could not be retracted.
There are many people today who have no understanding of the implications of that event. Initially, Jacob fled from his home and went to live with Rebekah’s family. But Esau’s resentment continues to this day in the offspring which have been born down through the centuries. Our modern day relational conflicts with Islam are shaped by it.
God’s purposes are being fulfilled, but as is so often the case, not always in ways we might have planned things ourselves. The history is most interesting, but we need to remember, that God’s purposes will be fulfilled, with us, or in spite of us. God’s ways are not our ways.