Well if you thought that Abraham was old last time we met together in the previous chapter, you're right, he was old. He was 137 years old. He was an old guy but he's still going in this chapter. He has a few tricks up his sleeve. In fact, if you thought that was old, how about 175 years old when he finally kicks the proverbial bucket and is buried in the Cave of Machpelah next to his wife Sarah? That's what's in front of us. Abraham in his sunset years, the golden years. Now somebody once said that the great thing about being Abraham's age is that he didn't have much peer pressure. Well that would stand to reason because he wouldn't have many peers now, would he, who are that old. But though he is, and by the way just for those who may be new to this study, you hear those kind of numbers and you think, I don't know if I can believe in a book that has people living that long, and we explained that from a scientific perspective several weeks back when we talked about the conditions on the earth prior to the Great Flood, the antediluvian age limits then, and then after the flood how that constitutional change over the earth, the vapor canopy that would be burned off, that ages rapidly deteriorated but were still close enough to the original creation that even with the bombardment of ultra-violet light people lived to be 175 years of age. It's a lot less than 969 years, like Methuselah. So they're starting to taper down and they will taper down to the average age that is given to us in the book of Psalms which is 70 years. Per adventure the Lord will give you ten more, said the psalmist, great. But we see the age declining but we will see Abraham in this chapter is 175 years of age when he dies.
It's funny how people will talk about their future age and how old age scares people. I hear people talk about that. The really amazing thing is to discover you're already there when you really didn't know it. I'll never forget standing in line, I was buying something, and the lady did say, now I can give you a senior's discount. I wanted to choke her. I heard about two women who knew each other at church, they were elderly women, quite elderly, older than any of you, and one was talking to the other and she said, you know, the hard thing about getting to be our age is that you lose your memory. And she continued on and she said, I know that I've known you all my life but for the life of me I can't remember your name. What is it? And the other lady thought for a few minutes and she said, do I have to tell you right away? Both were struggling to remember. I've always liked this list that if you're wondering if you're old or not, it says, you know you're getting old when: all the names in your contacts book end in M.D. You know you're getting old when you get winded playing chess. You know you're getting old when you sink your teeth into a steak--and they stay there. Yeah. You know you're getting old when you try to straighten the wrinkles in your socks and you discover you're not wearing any socks. I'm not wearing any socks. You know you're getting old when your pacemaker accidentally opens the garage door. You know you're getting old when you bend over to tie your shoes and you wonder what else you could do while you're down here. Ok, back to the story. We never got to see Abraham in his early years. We don't know much about his upbringing. There's a snippet here and there in the Bible that describes what his home life was like, what the belief system was like, but not much. By the time we meet Abraham, he's already married in chapter 11 and God calls him out of where he's at to a new place. But we do have the advantage of seeing him in his latter years. And I believe that's important because how you start is not nearly as important as how you finish the race. You want to finish well, however you started, whatever. And whatever you've been through, whatever. But now, wherever you're at, finish it well. And I believe that through all of the foibles and mistakes and yeah, Abram made a bunch, he finished quite well.
Now it says in verse 1: "Abraham again took a wife". Let me just back up a little bit and say something that was on my heart and I sort of let it go, but I think I want to share it. We're going to see Abraham die and, and actually it's a good thing because when you're 175 years old, it's like, ok, you're done. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. Sometimes we feel that it is; it is not. The worst thing that can happen certainly is death and then eternally separated from God. That is the worst thing that can happen. But death in itself can be a blessing because it's a release. You see, there comes a time when this body is incapable of expressing adequately who I am. It's temporary. The Bible calls it a tent. A tent. Paul calls it that in 2 Corinthians chapter 5. It's a tent. Now tents are cool but they're temporary. If you go camping, the first night is great. You love it. You look at each other and you go, we should do this all the time! This is fun! Because you have the fire going and you cook the meal outside, you're under the stars, wow! But if you are in that tent say, five, six, seven, eight days later, it's not quite as fun. You start smelling rather ripe yourself. The sleeping bag and the little mattress you have underneath isn't nearly as nice as your soft bed at home. So here you are, in a campground, in a tent, it's temporary, it's fun, but you long for permanence and comfort. And so even the Bible says, Paul puts it this way, 2 Corinthians chapter 5 verse 1, 'For we know that when our earthly house, this tent, is destroyed we have a building with God not made with hands eternal in the heavens'. Now that's permanent. Jesus called it 'My Father's house'. Here you live in a tent; one day you're going home to your Father's house--something permanent. And we all realize that as we get older, no matter how much we try to keep ourselves in good shape and we all should, we exercise, we eat appropriately for the most part, but as time goes on, we recognize the limited nature and the temporary nature of the tent. The flaps get flappier, the poles wiggle loose, the edges are frayed. You notice it when you look in the mirror. So I'm glad when Paul wrote 2 Corinthians 5 he said, 'In this we earnestly groan,' that's something else that comes with age. Listen to yourself when you get up in the morning… that's ok, it's biblical. We groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed with our home, our habitation, as Paul said, that is from God.
Ok. Now "Abraham again took a wife". The old geezer lives 38 more years after his first wife Sarah dies. Wow! 38 more years. It says, "Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah." Well if he lived to be 175, I suppose the mid-life crisis years for him would be around 95? Now I don't know if he had one, but they say most people do have some kind of reevaluation, at least once in their lives, around mid-life and it manifests in a number of different ways. I don't know if Abraham like wore gold chains and got a convertible camel or chariot and decided he was gonna act and look younger, but, at any rate, he's got a little wind left and he gets married a second time and her name is Keturah. It means scented one or perfumed one. Perfumed one. Now I have been in Bedouin tents and the idea of something smelling good inside of that tent would be welcome. So we hope that it fit her name and that she had nice perfume, that's what her name meant, Keturah meant scented one or perfumed one. Now you might be thinking, well now wait a minute. What would interest her in a guy that's 140 years of age? I mean, how interested could anybody be in a 140-year-old man? Well, we're not told what the circumstances were but do keep in mind he was very wealthy. He had 318 trained, paid servants, many flocks, many herds. That means whatever children were born would have a nice inheritance as we shall see and so she would be taken care of as well as her other children. Now we have a hint in the Bible. In 1 Chronicles chapter 1, don't need to turn there, but you can if you're taking notes, 1 Chronicles chapter 1 gives again the historical genealogy of Abraham and calls Keturah, Abraham's concubine which was very common in those days, to have not only a wife but concubines. It was prevalent in those cultures. So for her now to become his wife meant that she moves from concubine status to legal status, married status, the status changed, it's a permanent status now which includes the rights for inheritance.
And we should also say that it was more than just a legal contract. I'm sure that, I'm sure that Abraham loved Keturah and I'm sure that Keturah had a love for Abraham. You see, as one ages, his or her capacity to love or need to be loved does not diminish at all. Now we're living in a culture that is dealing more and more with age. They say that we are living longer. As an example, at the turn of the century last century, at the turn of the century being 1900, there was only 4% of the American population aged 65 and older. Today, 12% is aged 65 and older. So three times the amount in 100 years in our recent culture. There are, in America, just over 12,000 people over the age of 100 years old. I know one of them. I've met a few, but the one that I know is a beautiful man by the name of George Beverly Shea. He has been the singer for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Crusades for years. He's ten years older than Billy Graham but he looks amazingly spry and young. Back in 1976, his first wife died. He was 68 years old at the time. He married again in 1985 to a beautiful gal by the name of Carlene, I've known them both. Today, George Beverly Shea is 101 years old--and going on 102. Now I don't know that perhaps his second marriage had anything to do with that. You know, gave him a whole new lease on life, a whole new boost. But Abraham did the same thing, married again, her name was Keturah. It says "And she bore him," now we have a little genealogical record, watch these names, "She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah."
So he has six more sons, that's a total of eight sons altogether, seven grandsons, and three great-grandsons. That's not even to mention the gals in the family. They're keeping the genealogical records, which were male-dominant, the son of, the son of, the son of, keeping that down but he had several children. Now one of them notice is named Midian. So just a heads-up on Midian. You're gonna see that name come up because Midian will go to a place and it will become an area known as Midian, the area of Arabia, the desert. Later on, Moses will flee to Midian and he'll flee there because he kills an Egyptian and he's running for his life and living out in the desert for about 40 years out there, he marries a Midianite woman. So we're seeing how some of those records come together. Remarried, lots of kids, lots of grandkids, he's a very prolific man. I was reading this and I couldn't help but think of the text in Ephesians 3 that says, 'Now unto Him who his able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think'. So just go back in your mind and think about Abram, when he was Abram, and he couldn't have a child with his first wife, it was impossible. He's 75 and then 90 and he finally has his first child at age 100 with Sarah, that is. He had Ishmael first but with Sarah, age 100. And now all of these other children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren, God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.
Now I need to show you why this is important and probably included in the text. Why are all these names given? Because a promise was made and go back to chapter 17. Go back to chapter 17 of Genesis and look at verse 4: "As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of" what? "Many nations". Not one--many. "No longer shall your name be called Abram," remember he has no children at this point, "But your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make many nations of you, and kings shall come from you." So I tell you what, what a great lesson about the fact that no matter what age you find yourself at, don't ever think that it's over. Well I'm in my sunset years, I can't really contribute much. Please banish that thought. Do you know that both in and out of Scripture some of people's greatest accomplishments were in the latter years of their life? Moses was 80 years old when he's finally called to get started in the ministry. Caleb was 85 years old. You're going to read a great story in the book of Joshua, I can't remember what chapter, chapter 14 I'm guessing, where Caleb is 85 years old, they cross over the Jordan River, they're in the land God promised them, and Caleb comes up to Joshua and he says, 'Now I want you to know something. I'm 85 years old today. It's my birthday today. I am as strong today as the day Moses sent me with you to spy out the land. Therefore, give me this mountain. I'm ready for more action. I'm ready to fight if need be. I'm 85.' But his greatest accomplishments were in his latter years. You can even look outside of Scripture. Michelangelo--89 years of age when he painted his most famous work. You can see it in the Sistine Chapel if you ever visit Rome. It occupies an entire wall of the Sistine Chapel. It's called The Last Judgment. Magnificent painting. He was 89 years old and he was about 90 years old when he was still on his back touching up things on the very ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. John Wesley, you've heard of him, the great preacher, he was 88 years old, he was still preaching, going strong, that is after having traveled some 250,000 miles by horseback, after preaching 4,000 sermons, after writing prolifically, he's 88 and he's still preaching strong. I don't know why he comes to mind, but J.C. Penney was 95 years of age, he was still keeping office hours, wearing his suit and tie, going into work. And then as I mentioned, George Beverly Shea. I heard him a couple years ago, he was 98 at the time. Maybe 99 and he stood up and he sang pretty great for his age. So some of people's greatest accomplishments can come in the latter years of their lives.
There's an old English saying that says, 'The older the fiddle, the sweeter the tune.' I like that. Verse 5 of chapter 25, I know we're moving rather slowly but again, what do we care? It'll be here next week if the Lord tarries and we're here. "And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac." Now watch this. Here's Abraham; he's wealthy. It's now time to get his house in order, to make a will and to dole out the property to his progeny. Isaac is first because he's the son of promise. And so the will is very simple. Here's Abraham's will: 'Isaac gets it all.' That's the will. However, it says, "But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east." I read somewhere that you could divide up the lifespan of a man into seven decades, since that's now like the average age. It's the seven decades of a man--and they all rhyme. Spills, drills, thrills, bills, ills, pills, and the last one? Wills. Abraham is at that last stage. It's time to make a will. And though he has already sent Ishmael and Hagar out with some kind of provision, though the Lord said, 'Let them go. I'll take care of them and make a great nation out of him.' and though he gives some to his concubines and the children who were born to him with Keturah, the inheritance, because the genealogy and I'm going to explain something very important called the law of primogeniture in just a minute, put that out of your mind, you'll get that in a minute. Isaac, the son of the promise, gets the bulk of it. So he gives all that he has to Isaac. Now did you notice that it says, "While he was still living he sent them eastward"? in other words, Abraham is taking the responsibility. He's older now, but he wants to make sure that his family is provided for and while he is clear and cognizant and cogent, he can make those decisions now. Because if he doesn't make those decisions, it's going to get very complicated when he is unable to make them and people would argue back and forth. Wherever there's a will, there's an argument. And Abraham knew that so he gets his house in order. Very important. I think that's a Scriptural principal. I believe in that. One of the best pieces of advice in the Bible is when the prophet Isaiah will come to King Hezekiah of Judah, in 2 Kings 20, and says, 'Get your house in order for you are going to die and you will not live any longer.' So he warned him. You're gonna die, your time is about up, you need to get your house in order, which to him meant, you better select somebody who is going to be your successor to the throne. Get all that in order now. Now the New Testament takes that principle and moves it up a notch. Listen to what Paul says in 1 Timothy. He says, um, 'If a man does not provide for his own relatives especially that of his own household he is worse than an infidel and has denied the faith.' In other words, as a man of the house you are called to take care of those in the immediate family. It's a calling of God. Get the house in order and do what you can, in advance, to provide for them. You will have to trust the Lord eventually but, do what you can now. And I believe we see that even in the life of Jesus. Remember He is on the cross and the last formal family declaration on the cross is when John is there and His mother Mary is there and even in His agony He wants to make provision for His mother and says, 'Son, behold your mother. Mother, behold your son.' That wasn't Jesus giving Mary to the whole human race as it has been misinterpreted. It's simple: 'John take care of My mother, treat her as your mother, she's your responsibility. Mom, you're going to go with him and he'll take care of you.' And that is what happened. History even bears that out.
So Abraham is alive, he's making decisions, he has to dole up his property, his money, and he does so and Isaac gets the bulk of it. "But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward," getting them settled, "away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east." Now I did tell you last week and the week before that Isaac is a beautiful type of Christ. It's very obvious when you get especially to chapter 22. But consider this: just as the father, Abraham, gave all that he had to his son Isaac, do you know the Bible says that God the Father has given everything into Jesus' hand? It's a beautiful corollary. Jesus even said, 'All that the Father has, He has put in My hand, My authority'. And when He prays in John chapter 17 verse 2, He says, 'As You have given Him authority,' that is the Father, giving Him, the Son of Man, the authority, 'That He may give eternal life to as many as You, the Father, has given to Him, the Son.' In other words, You have given Me these people, they're Mine, You gave them to Me, they're My people. They're followers of Me. I have that authority and I have the authority from You to give them eternal life to all those You have given to Me. Now here's a thought based on that. If we belong to Christ, if the Father has given us as a special gift to His Son Jesus Christ, and if we were to, as the Bible says, live our very lives for the glory of Jesus Christ. What if this thought sort of dominated our day? When you get up in the morning, you go, 'I belong to Jesus. I'm His. Jesus purchased me with His own life. The Father has given me into His authority. I want today to live for the One that the Father has given all things to.' Think how different your day would be. How different my day would be. You would see everything as a divine appointment rather than as a distraction or as a bother or why do I have to go through this--you would. Let's say you have a job that isn't so exciting to you anymore. Maybe you work for the post office and you deliver packages or for Federal Express or for UPS. What if you saw that as, I'm doing this by the will of God for the glory of Jesus, so that every house you stop at as you deliver that gift, you pray for those who are inside. God bless them! Somehow Lord, open up their hearts to Jesus Christ. And you prayed for every single person on your route. How radically different it would go for you during the day. Or if you work in a doctor's office or a dentist's office or you're a clerk somewhere. Every person you come in contact with, how can I be a blessing to them, how can I pray for them? Because I want to glorify the Lord. All things are for the Son. It's a thought--beautiful thought.
Verse 7: "This is the sum of the years of Abraham's life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years. Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age," I'll say, "an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people." So we're even given the reason for his death. Well what did Abraham die of? Years. He just had a lot of them. Too many. It was time to go. Now in my Bible and perhaps in yours too, the words 'of years' are italicized, are they? That's because in the Hebrew 'of years' isn't there. It's thought to be implied by the text. It simply says, 'Abraham died full.' Isn't that a great way to die? I'm full. I'm satisfied. And by the way, the term can sometimes carry a more than quantity but quality of life. He died full. God had blessed him. He was full; he was rich, enriched, satisfied. He had walked with the Lord! He had walked with the Lord for over 100 years in a relationship. Then he died full. And he was gathered together with his people. Years ago, I had the privilege of asking Dr. J. Vernon McGee, who's now in heaven, to speak here on a midweek service. He was in his 80's or around 80-something, feeble even then, he had battled cancer, but still preaching. And I remember him saying that night and he said many other times, he goes, 'The Lord is gonna have to retire me. I'm not gonna retire.' Well, um, here's God retiring Abraham. At a good old age. There's a beautiful proverb in Proverbs 16. I'll turn to it and just read it to you. Listen to this: 'The silver-haired head,' do we got any of those? We've got a few of them. I'm developing my own. That's why I like this verse. 'The silver-haired head is a crown of glory if it is found in the way of righteousness.' You see, old age is good if it's accompanied by the presence of God, the blessing of God.
The last few days one of our dear friends and pastors and staff, Dave Row, has been absent from here, he's down in Texas because his mother is dying, she's on her death bed and I know that feeling very well. He sent me a picture today of, his brother took on his cell phone, with Dave holding his mom's hand and his mom there with a beautiful white crown of hair, she looked so beautiful. She's looking at the portals of glory. And I thought of this verse. 'The silver-haired head is a crown of glory if it is found in the way of righteousness.' Now notice something about the text that we just read in Genesis 25. Notice it says in verse 9, oh, we didn't get there yet so let's get there. "And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah," remember that's the place he bought for his wife and buried Sarah in, "which is before Mamre, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth. There Abraham was buried, and Sarah his wife."
Notice that Ishmael and Isaac are together at the funeral. Right? Now they have been separated, haven't they, for a number of years? There's been a rift in the family--a division. Hagar was sent away with Ishmael, Sarah and Isaac raised their son, excuse me, Sarah and Abraham raised their son Isaac. So they haven't seen each other for awhile until the death. And this is, unfortunately, too often the case. You can almost be guaranteed that there's going to be a couple of times where families who've been split apart, broken apart, where there's been strained relationships, get together. Weddings. Funerals. But almost always funerals. It's always good to settle as many accounts relationally as you can before funerals so they don't get messy and weird as they often do. But they're together because a will has been pronounced and because he is their father. They bury him in the cave where their mother was buried.
Verse 12. Verse 11, excuse me: "And it came to pass, after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac dwelt at Beer Lahai Roi." Do you remember that place? Remember Hagar named that place? It's just a well in the middle of the nowhere, it's in the middle of the desert. But there she can conceived and she bore a son, Ishmael, and she called the name of the place Beer Lahai Roi which means in Hebrew, I believe, the well of the One who lives and sees. And that's where Isaac now dwelt, in the middle of nowhere, but there was water. "Now this is the genealogy," verse 12, "of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's maidservant, bore to Abraham." Ok you got to know something. If you haven't seen it yet and you probably have and so I'll just reiterate what you probably already know. When it comes to biblical genealogies there are some that included very briefly and then they pass away very quickly while others are highlighted, built upon, amplified, picked up later on. And that is because, though the authors want you to know in the Bible, the authors of the Bible, ultimately it's the Holy Spirit, wants you to know the genealogical records. They're giving you just enough information here with Ishmael and you see it with others, to let you know the history and the historicity but then it's done because there's only one genealogy the Bible is ultimately concerned with--Jesus Christ. The line that goes to the Redeemer to fulfill the promise of Genesis 3, the Seed of the woman will crush the head of the serpent. The Bible's all about unfolding who that is. And so we have the genealogy, it's very brief, and there's also many nations that come from Him fulfilling the promise of God to Abraham.
"And these were the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations," you ready for these names? I'll try to give them their more original pronunciation. "The firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah." Whew. "These were the sons of Ishmael and these were their names, by their towns and their settlements," notice, "twelve princes according to their nations. These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred and thirty-seven years". So he died at the same age that Abraham was when his wife Sarah died. That's trivial, it doesn't mean anything, it just came to mind. And he died, "And he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. (They dwelt from Havilah as far as Shur,)" you might read that and go, I don't know where that is, so the author wants you to know this: "which is east of Egypt as you go toward Assyria.)" That's helpful, isn't it? No, it's not. Because we don't know where that is. That's somewhere in the Sinai Peninsula--it's out in the desert regions in ancient Arabia. That's where it was. "He died in the presence of all his brethren."
Ok. What we just read, the names of these twelve princes, and then the thirteenth, the big kahuna, Ishmael, the early genealogies of Islam begin here. Islam regards Ishmael as a very important person. And though not every Muslim on earth can trace his physical genealogical heritage back to Ishmael, all Muslims can trace their spiritual heritage back to Ishmael. And that is because 12 times in the Koran his name is mentioned and he's mentioned as a very important person. In fact, in the Koran it's called Sura, or section, Sura 19 verse 54; it tells the reader that Ishmael was a prophet, a prophet. An apostle and a prophet, those two words are used. So he's very important and they trace a lot of their lineage back to Ishmael. Ok so keeping that in mind, I've got to take you back, if you don't mind, a couple of chapters. Go back to chapter 16 to see something, to be reminded of it. I think it will be helpful in the rest of the biblical future as well as even in modern times. Verse 8 of chapter 16: "He," the Lord, "said, "Hagar, Sarai's maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?" She said, "I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai." The Angel of the Lord said to her, "Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand." You see the word submit? Very important concept in Islam. The word Muslim means one who submits. A submissive one. And they even believe that Abraham was the one who coined the term Muslim. Submissive ones to the will of God. There is, in their tradition, this sentence that says, and Abraham called you Muslimmin, or the submitted ones. A very, very important concept. "Submit under her hand." According to Islamic tradition, Abraham and Ishmael traveled to Mecca and there they built a shrine called the Ka'abah. The Ka'abah is the holy shrine in Mecca where people go every year and make the pilgrimage. It is believed that Abraham and Ishmael are buried in Mecca, even though the Bible says Abraham is buried where? Hebron. The cave of Machpelah, Israel. His tomb is there even to this day. But according to Muslim tradition, Abraham and his son Ishmael are buried in Mecca. They found it; they built the Ka'abah, the sacred shrine.
Now just a note about the sacred shrine, the Ka'abah. It was once a shrine that housed 360 different idols representing 360 various gods that were worshiped by the various Arab tribes in the region. Allah was one of those gods, of the multiplicity of gods. Allah was the moon god. Mohammed took a special, should I say, liking to Allah? And claimed that he was the one true god. And he wanted to unify all of the tribes; he squelched all of the other gods, killed those who did not submit, and Islam was established. But isn't it interesting that was is called today one of the three great monotheistic religions of the world actually began as a polytheistic religion? Well you move on and it says in verse 12, notice what is the future of Ishmael, "He shall be a wild man". Now literally it's a wild donkey is the text. A wild donkey. The term wild donkey refers to an animal called the anager. It was not a slur, it was a compliment. You think, well, that's not very good. No it's very good. An anager was a fiercely independent animal of the desert and regarded and valued highly in that day. He's going to be fiercely independent is the idea. But notice this: "His hand shall be against every man". And it speaks of a state of war or a state of being at feud with other people. "And every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence [or literally, against] all of his brethren."
It's interesting prophecy because Mohammed himself is called the prophet of the sword and traces his lineage back to Ishmael. The prophet of the sword. His hand will be against every man--interesting prophecy. Especially interesting in that Islam itself divides the entire world up into two camps and two camps only. Camp number one: the house of Islam, the house of those who submit. Second-class for the whole world. The other one if you're not Muslim: house of war. You're either Muslim and of the house of Islam or the house of war. In the Koran there are 109 verses called war verses. One out of every 55 verses in the Koran is about making war, feuding against others, either in an inclusive statement or a call to arms. It's just interesting in light of the origins of Ishmael and the prediction made about him and those who would follow him. So "he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. (They dwelt from Havilah)" we already read that, verse 19. Let's see how far we can get; we may be able to make it. "This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham's son. Abraham begot Isaac. Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife," she was obviously much younger; he was forty. "The daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife," watch this. I love this. Here's a husband praying for his wife and here's why he's praying: because she was barren. She can't have children. "And the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived." Now children were always seen as a direct blessing of God. Psalm 127: children are a? Heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is his reward. Thus to have no children, to be barren, was as if you were left out or cursed. I'm not going to get into that theology but what I want you to understand is here's a husband praying for his wife. I love this. I know we live in an advanced age, a modern age, the age of fertilization; you can go to specialists and figure out all sorts of ways of getting pregnant. But please don't leave out the spiritual component where you say, Lord? How do you want us to plan our family? Who should be included? How many? We were able to have one son. He's better to me than ten. He's a wonderful, wonderful guy even with a broken tibia. But we would've had many more if we could. The Lord knows those things. Some people are not able to have children but they can adopt and, the interesting thing I find so often, story after story is, we were unable to conceive so we adopt two children, as soon as we did, my wife got pregnant. There's two more, etcetera. The Lord knows those things. Bring God into the family planning and submit that to the Lord. Verse 21: "Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, "If all is well, why am I like this?"
You know it's tight in there. There's two kids in there and watch this: "So she went to inquire of the Lord." What did she do? She prayed. "And the Lord said to her," now watch what God says. Talk about being startled--imagine this: "Two nations are in your womb". Yikes! Two nations! I just wanted a child and You're telling me I've got two nations? Well of course it meant two children that would give birth to nations. The two nations are Israel and Edom. The Edomites and the Israelites. "Two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger." Now I told you about a law called the law of primogeniture. Isn't that a fancy long word? The law of primogeniture was what we see happening with Isaac and what we see here. We see a reversal of that law here. Typically, that law stated in that culture that the firstborn son has privileges and rights. Number one, he becomes a head of the family. The authority of the family falls upon him; he is the new sheikh or the new head. Number two, he gets a double portion of the goods, the physical inheritance because the family line is being passed on to him. Now that will help you when you get to the whole story of the prophet Elijah and the other prophet Elisha, who is following Elijah around, following him around, following him around, and he finally said to Elijah, I want a double portion. What he's saying is, I want to inherit your ministry. I want to take your place, so to speak. I want to be the one who inherits this powerful ministry to the nation of Israel. But the law of primogeniture is turned around here. It's not the firstborn, it's the second born which is funny because it seems to be almost a biblical precedent all the way through. It wasn't Ishmael, it was Isaac. It's not going to be Esau; it's going to be Jacob. The Deliverer is going to be what the children of Israel didn't think of when Moses appears and says I'm the one God called to take you out of bondage. They didn't know what to do with Moses. And what about Joseph? He was the youngest at that time and scorned by his brothers. But he was the one God chose to be the prime minister of the Egypt and really of the known world. So it's a beautiful principle and here's the lesson for us. We make a grave mistake, and you'll see it here, when we start judging by appearances because when Esau is born, he's manly, he's hairy, it says. And they call him hairy because he's full of hair and his dad loved it, loved him, he was a man of the field, he was a hunter. Jacob was a mild man, he was a man inside the tent, he liked to cook with mama, he could make a killer red chile stew, but he was a mild man. And the Bible says, the Bible says Rebekah loved Jacob; Esau loved… excuse me. Isaac loved Esau. I should just read it and not have to tell it to you and then I won't get confused. "So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb." So you might say they were womb-mates. Well, they were--right? Were they? Ok. They were womb-mates. "And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment." I don't know what to do with that, it's just… he was like a hairy garment all over. So they called him hairy--that's what Esau means. Hairy; here comes hairy. "Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob," one who grasps the heel or heel-catcher. So we have hairy and heel-catcher, those are the kids' names. The original idea of Jacob is somebody is the idea, was the idea that God is at my heels protecting me or protecting my son. But because of the personality of Jacob, he seems to be one who grabs the heel to trip his brother up in life. It came to mean heel-catcher, somebody who connives and manipulates to trip other people up. That was his name.
And notice this: "Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them." So they had waited 20 years for children. "So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man," see? Mild man. "Dwelling in tents," what are we going to cook, mom? Nothing wrong with that today, I mean some of the best chefs are men but in those days? Just a little weird. "And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. And Esau said to Jacob, "Please feed me with that same red stew," so just a pot of red chile. Let's just kind of make it contemporary for our culture. Red chile on the stove. "For I am weary." Therefore his name was called Edom." Which means red and the country of Edom will come from Esau. Now before we finish the text and we'll set it up for the next time, Isaac loved his son Esau. He was a man's man. Hairy. Here's my kid: he's a man, he's hairy. He likes to hunt and kill things. And he favored him. And in those days, and you can see it, through his eyes and probably in the eyes of most men in many cultures, Esau was more attractive as a male specimen. More so than Jacob cooking meals with mom. So dad favored him. But here's the lesson: there's more than meets the eye. When we start judging on outward appearance, we can miss the boat totally because this was not God's favored one. Esau was the firstborn, but the second born as the prophecy said will get the inheritance and be the one that God chooses. In fact, what is God called throughout the Bible? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and? Jacob! So he's hugely important to the Jewish nation as one of the patriarchs. It's God's choice. So we often see this whole law of primogeniture or whatever it might be overturned. God says, no, forget that, that's outward, I've chosen someone else. Later on we're going to read of Samuel the prophet going to search for a new king of Israel and he goes to the house of Jesse and he sees the firstborn named Elieab; he's tall and he's handsome. He's good-looking; he's strong. And Samuel immediately judges by outward appearance. He says, surely this is the Lord's anointed. And God interrupts his thought process and said, nope, I've rejected him. For the Lord does not see as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart.
And you find this principle, by the way, all throughout the Bible. And I want you to know how good that is. We fit into it. We even find in the New Testament Jesus was called Jesus of? Nazareth. And remember when Nathaniel heard about that and said, can anything good come out of Nazareth? Uh… yeah. Like the Messiah. The Savior. Now here's the principle. I'll call it the Nazareth principle. As soon as people say can anything good come from that town or can anything good come from that person, it's like God is waiting to show the world what God can do through that town or that person. He is. That's a biblical principle. It's like, oh really? Can anything good come from that person or that place? Watch! Watch what I can do! Now when we get to 1 Corinthians chapter 1 Paul says you see your calling brethren, not many mighty, not many noble after the flesh are called, but God has called the foolish things of this world to confound the wise. And the weak things of this world to put to shame the things that are mighty, that no flesh would glory in His presence. So here's the principle. Mighty God chooses pretty lame instruments to work through. God doesn't look for the most-educated and the mighty and the this and the that. He looks for just like broken people, beat-up people, people that the world would trash and say, can anything good come from that person? God says, oh yeah! Watch this! And here's why He does it: that no flesh would glory in His presence. You know what it's like? If there was a surgeon in a modern surgical suite with all of the latest gizmos and gadgets to be able to perform a surgery. If he could do it or she could do it under those conditions that would be expected. But if that same surgeon was in the middle of the jungle and only had a Swiss army knife and some yarn to sew the person up, if he could or she could successfully perform that operation under those conditions, that person would be greatly applauded as somebody who's above and beyond. Why? Because they're confined to meager tools. So God chooses meager tools so that He gets the glory, so that when God does something, it's all about Him and not about the tool. We go, well that was a pretty cool tool, no wonder God used that person. He's so smart or she's so this or… it's like, I don't get it. I don't know why God used that person. Can anything good come from that person? Do you see what God's all about? That's God's style. That's why when I first read that verse in first Corinthians, I went yeah! That's my life verse from now on because I know the truth about me and those who know me well also know the truth about me. And so I love it and you should love it because God will choose what the world does not choose or looks over or ill regards.
So Jacob, verse 31, we'll close as we take it to verse 34: "Jacob said, "Sell me your birthright as of this day." And Esau said, "Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?" It's just a promise. I can't eat a promise--I'm hungry. "Jacob said, "Swear to me as of this day." So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils," a little red chile on the side, "then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright." Now we'll explain more of that as we get into this story later on. I have a question. In light of the fact of a person making the birthright, which was a spiritual, not just a physical, heritage, but a spiritual one, despising it, could it be that some here are despising, so to speak, their birthright? You're not valuing what is most valuable in life, that is a spiritual inheritance, spiritual life, spiritual things? You know we read a couple times in this chapter, so and so died and was gathered together with his people. and this guy died and he was gathered together with his people. one day you're going to die. One day the local newspaper wherever you end up dying will have your obituary in it. You will be gathered to your people. Now if your people happen to be God's people you're going to be surrounded with God's people the moment you die and in the presence of God. If your people are the worldly people and you didn't care about the birthright, spiritual things, you'll be gathered to your people. The best time to start a godly life is while you're young. And then you develop a habit and a practice; it becomes the fabric of your life. Oh yeah, you could wait till your deathbed to receive Christ, but I love what Solomon says, seek now your Creator in the days of your? Youth! Best choice a young person can make is to give their lives to Christ. Best choice a middle-aged person can make. Best choice an older person can make. But don't leave earth without a relationship with the Author of life through Jesus Christ.