Today’s Q&A is a very special one for my wife and me. We just found out our wonderful mentor and father in the Word was diagnosed with lymphoma. With great care and great diligence in the Scriptures, Stan Linder was used to mature Che and me to think and act more like Christ. God worked through his efforts to bring us where we are today. We love you, Stan, and we are grateful for all you have poured into us.
Steve H. asks about Gen 26:1-31
I assume this could be a different Abimelech than Abraham made a covenant with in Genesis 21. While it is a little hard to get the timeline, your timeline would seem to indicate that this could be as much as a 100 years after Abraham’s covenant with Abimelech. I know people lived long lives but if this is a different Abimelech, then it would seem more feasible that he would believe Isaac when he tells him that Rebekah is his sister. Otherwise, it seems odd that he would fall for that same trick again. Not to sound too disrespectful, but the whole ‘she’s my sister’ thing feels like Moses had a Biden moment and forgot he already told that same story.
Of course I love the line “…and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife.” The Genesis way of saying it was public display of affection. Or, if you are big enough fan of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, another way of saying, “so that’s how it is in that family.”
How about the saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me!” The identity of Abimelech, in this passage, is debated. Some believe that the “Abimelech” referred to in this chapter is the son of the “Abimelech” in relation to Abraham. Other scholars believe “Abimelech” may be a title for Philistine kings similar to the use of Pharaoh referencing the Egyptian kings. Abimelech means “father of the king.”
The latter option seems to enjoy more evidence. As a title, some Philistine kings were called “Abimelech.” Examples include the Philistine king of Gerar, in Genesis 20:2, who took Sarah into his harem. Of course this is also the title of the Philistine king of Gerar during Isaac’s visit. The Philistine king of Gath, where David pretended to be insane, also bore this title in Psalm 34, but this same king’s actual name, Achish, is given in 1 Samuel 21:11.
Of course, when not used regarding Philistine kings, Abimelech is used as actual names of individuals, where “Abimelech” is the name of the son of a priest during the time of David (1 Chron 18:16) and the name of Gideon’s evil son (Jgs 8:30-31).
Todd B. asks about Gen 27:20
What can be said about Jacob’s relationship with God when he says to Isaac, “the LORD your God?”
We see God’s covenant name, Yahweh (or LORD in all caps), is used in Genesis 27:20; so let’s think of this verse in terms of the covenant relationship YHWH entered into with Abraham. This was an unconditional covenant that meant God alone would be responsible for fulfilling the covenant terms (Gen 15:9-21). For the covenant recipients, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Israel, they could either live in obedience with the covenant promises from God, or they could rebel against those promises by taking matters into their own hands. Obedience would lead to great blessings; while disobedience leads to destruction.
Abram and Sarai did not trust God’s promise of a miraculous son, and they took matters into their own hands to bring about Abram’s son, Ishmael. The destruction that followed was not only the hardships brought onto Ishmael and his mother, but the tension and violence between the descendants of Ishmael and the descendants of Jacob up to the present time.
Regarding the verse in question, Jacob is lacking respect of the covenant relationship with YHWH that was handed down to from his grandfather, to his father, and would be given to him. While God would have miraculously given the younger son, Jacob, the birthright and blessing anyways, Rebekah and Jacob took matters into their own hands to make it happen.
In his lie to his father, Jacob uses God’s covenant name, Yahweh, and refers to Yahweh as his father’s God, not yet his own. As we follow Jacob’s life after this, we will see that Jacob had to learn many hard lessons before he finally began to stop trusting in himself and put all of his trust in what would become his covenant God (see Gen 28:21; 32:22-32).
While the story of Jacob’s life ends well, and his family, therefore God’s covenant, is secured by Joseph’s hand in Egypt, he experienced much destruction throughout his life. Jacob will relate this sentiment to Pharaoh when he says, “The days of the years of my pilgrimage are one hundred and thirty years; few and evil have been the days of the years of my life, and they have not attained to the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. (Gen 47:9)”
Today, we Christians are also under a blood covenant with God through Jesus. Are we going to be doers of the Word putting our individual trust and hope that God will work all things together for our good, or will we live according to our eyes taking our life matters into our own hands and reaping the hardships that follow?
Corporately, many churches also take matters in their own hands by how worship is done. Many churches these days direct their worship service as an attempt to appeal to the unregenerate community and immature believers as a means for church growth. This is diametrically opposed to the notion that the Holy Spirit builds the church and adds the members to the body. It is always God who miraculously adds heirs and descendants into His covenant promises. Our job is only to make disciples, enjoy the blessings from His promises, and allow God to do the rest.