"By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones."
The Final Trial Of Abraham's Faith
"Hebrews chapter 11, we have journeyed through Abel and Noah, Enoch, Abraham, Sarah in regards to Abraham's call, and then the journey of those years in the land of promise without ever receiving that which they looked for, the city whose builder and maker was God. But in that fact that they looked for those things, declaring plainly that they've embraced them, they've seen them afar off, God not ashamed to be called their God. But verse 17 brings us to the final trial of Abraham's faith, and something tremendous of resurrection revealed there. And of course that then rides over into, well let's read verses 17 down to 22, "By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." or your translation may say "in a parable." By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come." when he thought he was passing away, "By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff. By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones." So we had a guy who thought he was dying, a guy who was dying, and a guy who died here. So, very specific this evening, after this record of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22, the next three men are held before us, each in one sentence, and it's in relation to them passing off this scene, and passing the baton to the next generation, very interesting. It begins of course with Genesis 22, Abraham there, settled down, Isaac born. Abraham evidently, we have no record, headed into Genesis 22 we have no record that Abraham had heard from God for nearly 25 years. At least we don't have any record of it. And he was the friend of God. You'd think if somebody didn't speak to you for 25 years, you wouldn't be friends. It's about 25 years. Isaac is about 30 years old at this point in time. And we have a remarkable chapter referred to here in Genesis chapter 22, because it's the first time in the Bible the word "tempt" is mentioned. It's the first time in the Bible the word "love" is mentioned, it's the first time in the Bible the word "worship" is mentioned. It's the first time in the Bible the word "lamb" is mentioned. Genesis chapter 22 is filled with remarkable truths in this challenge to Abraham, to take his son, his only begotten son, and it says it three times in that chapter. Ishmael was alive, but God didn't recognize the promises in Ishmael. 'Take thy son, thine only son, whom thou lovest, and take him to the land of Moriah, to a mountain that I will tell thee of.' And it said God said that, 'tempting him,' now the word is "testing." You know, after all of these years have gone by, Abraham, Sarah, settled, miraculous birth of Isaac, no doubt fellowshipping with the LORD, 25 wonderful years. And then the LORD speaks, and Abraham says, "Here am I," and God has a test now. Isn't it interesting, the greatest test of his life is the test that seems to defy human logic, it's the test that comes when we sit around and say 'This doesn't jibe, Lord, with your character, with your nature, you made this promise, we've waited all these years, this kid is finally born, we've loved him, we've cared for him, and now you're saying to take him and to offer him. This is what the Canaanites do with their children, this is what the heathen do, the idolatrous things that go on around us. And you're saying that I should do this? You told Noah that whoso shed's man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed, and you're telling me to do this thing?' And Abraham evidently wrestled with that. And I will flip back and forth between Genesis 22 and Hebrews 11, it's easier just to listen, you can follow if you want to. "And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest," first time in the Bible the word "love" is used, "and get thee into the land of Moriah;" Moriah means "Jehovah has shown" or "manifest," "and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of." (Genesis 22:1-2) 'I'm going to tell you something about that mountain.' "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him." (verse 3) So the verse before that he says, 'Abraham, I'm going to tell you something about this place,' I assume Abraham tossed and turned all night, because by the next morning, it was a place God had told him about. Abraham in his obedience, gets up early. You know now, I'm not sure, if I was, Abraham never read the chapter. Abraham's not saying to Isaac, 'Don't worry, this is one of the greatest chapters in the Old Testament, wait till you see it, it's going to blow your mind.' Ah, Abraham hadn't read this chapter, and I don't know if I'd have risen up early, I may have dilly-dallied a little, 'this is a day that God's telling me to offer my son as a burnt offering?' And the only thing I can think of is he wanted to get up and get out of there before Sarah woke up, and said 'Where you guys going?' 'Oh, I'm going to go offer Isaac as a burnt offering,' now he may have wanted to just get up there and get on his way, rose up early, got on his way. "Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off." (verse 4) That's the third time by the way in Genesis he lifted up his eyes. "And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass, and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you." (verse 5) And "come" is in the plural, "come again to you." Whatever God has done now in Abraham's heart, he's saying 'the lad and I, what we're going to do here,' God said "offer him as a burnt offering," he said 'we're going to go worship, and then come,' plural, 'we will come again.' What is in his heart? No wonder it's saying "by faith." And it tells us in Hebrews, Abraham is accounting if it was necessary, he, God, could raise Isaac from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). That had never happened. It's not like he had read in the Bible about Elijah raising the widow's son, it isn't like he read the Bible about Jesus raising the widow of Nain's son, or saying 'Talitha cumi,' to Jairus' daughter, it isn't like he read about Dorcas being raised up from the dead, there's no case-study for this. This is the first time in the human race, there is this possibility that's raised, and it says Abraham is just flying by this, saying 'Well, this is the son that God promised, and through this seed the nations are going to be blessed, so God already raised him from the dead, from my dead body and Sarah's dead body, I guess if necessary he can do this again.' And he says to the guys 'Stay here, I and the lad will go and worship, and we will come again.' Now, he sent them to Moriah. We know, today, Mount Moriah of course is where the Temple is built in Jerusalem. It's a mountain God says "I will tell thee of," (verse 2b) "on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off." (verse 4) In Abraham's day, where the sacrifice was always made was on the top of the mountain [both with God and with the pagans, worshipping Baal, that is why pagan worship sites were called "high places." There is a "high place," a temple dedicated to Baal in both Iberian Punic and Gaelic, in New Salem, New Hampshire, recently investigated during the lifetime of Barry Fell]. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is about halfway up the ridge of Moriah. If you follow that ridge to the top, there's a place where the Romans, not long before Christ, quarried a road around the northern end of Jerusalem, by today's Damascus Gate, and as they quarried the road, off the one side of rock that runs there, the rock fell away and created the place that looks like a skull, it's Golgotha. The top of this mountain is Golgotha, it's Calvary. God said 'This is a mountain I'm going to tell you something about, in the land of Moriah.' Moriah meaning "Jehovah displays" or "Jehovah shows." In fact, in the end of this story he's going to call it Jehovah-Jireh as it is called to this day, "The Mount of the Lord, It Shall Be Seen." And it tells us specifically that 'he received his son back from the dead in a figure.' So it is a picture, he's going, God is saying something to him. As they're journeying there he comes to the place where the servants are left behind. "Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, from whence also he received him in a figure." (verse 19) 'In that picture,' certainly God the Father, and God the Son were going to settle something on Golgotha, at Calvary, and all of the servants had to be left behind, that you and I could have nothing to do with it, it was settled exclusively there between the Father and the Son. They journey onward, 'I and the lad will go on and worship, we will come again to you.' "And Abraham" now, "took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son;" now Abraham's about 125 to 130 here, Isaac's about 30 years old, and it's a little bit of a suspicious scene, ah, Abraham says 'bend over,' puts the wood on his back, takes the fire in one hand, and he takes a knife in the other hand, and he says 'let's go.' "and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac" I don't know what he's thinking, "spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, "Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood:" he doesn't mention the knife, "but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?" (verse 7) That's the first time the word "lamb" is used in the Bible. Isn't it interesting? The first time "tempt" is used, the first time "love" is used, the first time "worship" is used, the first time "lamb" is used, this chapter if filled with a remarkable, remarkable picture. "And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together." (verse 8) Now your translation may say "God may provide for himself a lamb", I love the King James because it intimates, it says "God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering." "so they went both of them together." 'God's going to provide, Isaac.' "And they came to the place which God had told them of;" a specific place, "and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order," he put it a special way, "and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood." Isaac is 30 years old, he's in the prime of his life, he could easily have overpowered his ancient father, and he yields to this. And in that, again, it's a picture of the Son, willingly giving himself, by the eternal Spirit he offered himself, 'no man takes my life' Jesus says, 'but I lay it down of myself.' He built an altar there, he laid the wood in order, "and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son." (verses 9c-10) Now, this is unimaginable to me, considering how much I love my sons. To have them trust me to that degree, that they could overpower me, hasn't happened yet, but as the years go by, that they could overpower me, and yet so trusting my discernment with the Lord, that they yield, me standing there over them, not knowing what God's going to do, just knowing that he sent me here to show me something, with a knife in the air. And I look at this scene, and I wonder, whose heart is aching the most? Is it the heart of Abraham, as he looks at his son? Is it the heart of Isaac, as he looks up into the face of his father with the knife in his hand? Or is it the heart of our Father whose in heaven? And what depth of fellowship is there, between all three of them at this point in time, as this thing is being enacted? He lifts up his hand to slay his son, "And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I." and Isaac said, 'Wew!' "And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." (verses 11-12) And the idea in regards to reverence and fear is relative to obedience throughout the Bible. "And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son." (verse 13) I think Isaac just loved that ram, I'm sure. "And Abraham called the name of the place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen." (verse 14) looking forward to something that they enacted here at this place. Now isn't it interesting? "And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time," (verse 15) "the angel of the LORD" we know this is an Old Testament appearance of Christ. "and said, By myself have I sworn," notice, "saith the LORD," now this is the angel of the Lord, that came to him and stopped his hand, it was Christ himself, because he was the Son that would die there, he was the Lamb. Isn't it interesting, the first time you have the word "lamb" in the Old Testament is here, where he (Isaac) says 'Where is the lamb?' The first time you have the word "lamb" in the New Testament is when John the Baptist says "Behold, the Lamb of God, that takes away the sin of the world." You have the question asked in the Old Testament, you have it answered in the New Testament. And he here, the angel of the LORD, this personage of God says, "By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies." (verses 16-17) And this is the God that had talked to him throughout his life, "El Shaddai, God Almighty," "the angel of the LORD," here is Christ himself talking to Abraham. [Comment: Except for Genesis 1, where God is Elohim, and referred to himself by saying "let us make man in our image", referring to both God the Son, Christ, and God the Father, in all other places in the Old Testament, the God of the Old Testament is Christ, as proven in Exodus 3:13-15 where God identifies himself to Moses as I AM, and then Christ tells the Jews in John 8:58 that he is the great I AM, and in verse 59 the Jews tried to stone him for the blasphemy of calling himself the great I AM, the God of Moses. So Jesus identifies himself here as the I AM, the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Moses, the God of the Old Testament, who appeared also to all of the prophets and David and Solomon. He's been on earth, with his people Israel almost all the time during the Old Testament. Then he came back as Jesus of Nazareth for 33.5 years, and finally 40 days after his death, burial and resurrection, he, finally, ascended back to the third heaven were he now resides at the right hand of God the Father, residing next to the Sea of Glass in the New Jerusalem.] Now I can't imagine this scene. I mean, it's easy for me to read through this. But I think in life, when those times, some time comes our way, when sometimes the most precious or the dearest thing to us in this world seems all of a sudden very frail or very vulnerable, or very mortal, sometimes when something seems to be being ripped away---and that's the exception, it's not the rule, God daily loadeth us with benefits, he bestows good things upon us and he blesses us---but there are those times in all of our lives when death will be in our face, when human frailty will be before us, when the temporariness of all earthly attachments becomes real, and somehow at that time, the love that the Father had for the Son is so important. The Father who loved his Son more than any of us will ever love another human in this world, and willing to give him in our place, to be the payment for our sin, and receiving him back [subject going back to Abraham now] it says in Hebrews 11, it says, "Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure." (verse 19) or in a parable, something came to him, and it clarified the promise. Jesus, when he was confronted with the Pharisees, and he said, 'You're not Abraham's seed, if you were Abraham's seed you would listen to me, because Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and he was glad. Abraham rejoiced to see my day, he saw it, and he was glad.' And there was no place in Abraham's life that he saw it more clearly than on Calvary, on Golgotha, [on Mount Moriah], when his only begotten son was laid in front of him, in worship, love, the lamb, God will provide for himself, on this place, Jehovah-jireh, God will provide, in the Mount of the LORD it shall be seen. Something no doubt that was, you know, on the other side of this, looking back, would Abraham have ever gone on without this experience? I don't think on the other side of it, because hindsight is always 20/20 when we look back and we say, 'Lord that was really difficult, but what you've invested in me, how you've touched my life, the things that I've gained from this, I'd never trade.' And of course the type rolls on, it's beautiful by the way. Because it tells us that Abraham comes back alone, Abraham sends he servant to Padam-Aram to get a wife for Isaac, the servant's name is Eliazar, it means "the comforter", and we don't see Isaac again until "the comforter" brings the bride, and then she jumps down off her horse, and then Isaac receives her, I mean, the type runs on in a very remarkable way. The son offering himself, then the next time you see the son is when he comes to the bride, it's a beautiful type that runs through all of this (Revelation 19:7-9). Abraham, what a remarkable man, and in the not-too-distant future, the Scripture says, we're going to sit down at the table with him, Isaac, and Jacob. So it's important for us to look at all of them here.
Isaac, In Relationship To The Things To Come, Blessed Jacob & Esau
"By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come." (Hebrews 11:20) Now notice, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph all at the point of death. And you know, long lives, but the pinnacle, the thing that God holds in front of us here as he looks at their faith, is the final issue of faith, that really is where faith defines itself. It defines itself all through our lives, in our trials and our difficulties, but there is a time at the end of our lives, when we're drawing our last breath, and when we're ready to pass out of this world, and what characterizes the way we pass at that moment is what our faith is really all about. And it says Isaac here, when he was ready to pass off the scene, he blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. Now, Isaac's an interesting character. The way this verse is really written, it is 'Isaac, by faith,' now it says, 'Isaac blessed,' the construction is 'by faith, and that in relationship with the things to come, blessed Jacob and Esau, by faith, in relationship to things to come.' "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." 'Isaac, in relationship to the things to come, blessed Jacob and Esau.' Isaac's an interesting character, he's more obscure than Abraham and Jacob. Both of them get way more press than Isaac, except all through the Bible God calls himself "the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob." So Isaac, there, he lives in solitude. Interesting, you've got a character named "Laughter" who lives alone all the time, lives in solitude. And Isaac is an interesting man, the LORD will appear to Isaac twice. He appears to Abraham seven times, he appears to Isaac twice, he will appear to Jacob five times, we'll talk about that. But he only appears to Isaac twice. And Isaac is a man whose content to live in the desert, in the quiet area, seven times we find him opening wells, they're opening the wells of his father Abraham, and of course there's a beautiful spiritual picture there in regards to Isaac. But Isaac is a quiet man. Isaac is a yielded man. Now I don't know how much of that is relative to growing up under Abraham and going through the things that he went through. Isaac knows for sure, by this point in time, that he can trust his dad, that his dad hears God, he knew that for sure when he heard the voice say 'Touch not the lad!' Up until then he's probably thinking 'Are you sure, dad? Are you sure you heard God when he saidÉ?' And he knew his father's God was indeed the Provider, that could provide everything he needed, he lived through the most remarkable scene we can imagine. He didn't resist, he was the promised seed. You know as he gets older, he lived without seeing the promise, and he was yielded. It's interesting, after Genesis 22, Sarah dies, so Abraham sends to Padam-Aram to get a bride for Isaac, and Isaac, we don't hear anything, I mean, he's not contending, he's not arguing, he flows with the whole process. Jacob would have been conniving (we'll come to Jacob), he would have done it a much different way. And this bride comes. He takes her then, Genesis, I'll read some verses to kind of characterize this man's life. It tells us that Isaac, "And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well of Lahairoi." (Genesis 25:11) that's down in the desert, it's where Hagar had been preserved by God, and she named it Bier Lahairoi, it's "The well of the God who liveth and seeth me." We always find Isaac by a well. And here he's living by "the well of the God who liveth and seeth me." He's content there, he's content to live in that place. His wife finally becoming pregnant, Rebekah. As she's pregnant, it's a rough pregnancy, she's in her third trimester, she says 'LORD, if this is you, you promised, what's the deal? What kind of a pregnancy is this, for a God who promised a lineage?' And God says to her, 'Well the reason that you're having such a rough pregnancy is because there are two nations in your womb.' Now that always produces a tough pregnancy. And it was Jacob and Esau, wrestling in there, and fighting to come out, you know the whole story, and the boys are born. Isaac favours Esau, Isaac favours Esau. He's hairy, I'm assuming that they're not identical, they're paternal twins, because it seems that there are some differences in appearance. And Esau's the hunter, and it says Isaac loves his stew that he makes, when he comes in from the field, he loves the smell of the field. You know, because he's kind of a quiet, sedate guy, so he loves that kind of a son. [If there were Jocks back then, manly man, Esau was one of these, "great white hunter," man of the field and stream.] There was no football then, so he had to love a son who was out hunting, and doing those things. And Jacob hung with his mom, Rebekah. But they knew from the birth that God has said that the elder shall serve the younger. That the blessing in fact was to be upon Jacob. [Comment: What was this "Blessing" anyway? It was a blessing of national greatness, and as it got passed down by God through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph it took on a particular shape. The one seed that would become the Messiah was to come through Judah, son of Jacob (Genesis 49:8-12). But the blessings of national greatness and wealth went to Joseph's two sons, "the Blessing" promised by God to these four men, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, and that blessing is what Ephraim and Manasseh inherited from the dying Jacob. See, Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 13:14-15; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:1-8; Genesis 22:15-18; Genesis 24:60; Genesis 26:1-5; Genesis 27:28-29; Genesis 28:1-4, 12-14; Genesis 35:9-12 (the defining promise that gives an astounding identifying clue as to who two major tribes of Israel will be); Genesis 41:50-54; Genesis 48:1-6, 13-20, a nation and a company of nations, brother nations, both possessing the "gates" or military choke points "of their enemies." Now what two brother nations do you think that would be in today's modern world, from the 1800s to present?] As they think that Isaac's dying, and his life is not easy, he's the son of promise, he becomes blind, he's struggling with his health, they think that he's close to death, that's how sick he is, and he lived to be 180, going way beyond that, but imagine spending all of those years kind of decrepit. So, they think he's dying, so Rebekah talks to Jacob, 'You've gotta get the Blessing, he's sent out Esau, he's going to bring back the venison, he's going to make him some stew, and Isaac's going to bless him. God said the Blessing's going to be on you, so the Bible says 'God helps them who help themselves,' but Jacob in your life it's God helps those who help God [God's little helper, as if God needs little helpers],' So they come up with this scheme, and of course he goes out and makes this venison, and then she takes goat skins and puts it on Jacob [over his hands and neck] and Isaac says, 'Come on in my son, let me smell you, you smell like the field, let me feel you,' and he's covered with goat skins, and his father feels him and says 'Oh yea, that's Esau,' Esau must have looked like the Werewolf or something, can you imagine being blind and touching your kid's arm, it's covered with goat's skin, and saying 'That's my boy.' [laughter] 'That's him, that's my boy, old hairy.' And he blesses him, let me find it here. "And he came near, and kissed him: and he smelled the smell of his raiment, and blessed him, and said, See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed: therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee. And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting." (Genesis 27:27-30) Now wait a minute, it says back here in Hebrews that in faith, Isaac, in reference to things to come, blessed Jacob and Esau. Was that in faith? Because he had determined to bless Esau, not Jacob. I don't know about that first blessing. [God honored it, because God had already determined whom he was going to bless before they were born, as it says in Scripture elsewhere. God knew Esau's heart, and he knew Jacob's heart, ultimately.] But what happens is then Esau comes in, and he realizes what's going on and he says 'My brother did this, he came in subtly, he stole my blessing,' he says, 'Father, don't you have any blessing left for me? Don't you have anything to say to me?' and Esau said to his father, "Hast thou but one blessing, my father?...And Esau lifted up his voice and wept. And Isaac his father answered and said unto him," now I believe by this second blessing Isaac knows that he had made a mistake, that his blessing should have been willingly upon Jacob, and I believe in faith he says "Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be [implied: "away from"] the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck. And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him:" (verses 38-40) The next chapter begins like this, "And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him," because he knew Esau wanted to kill him. Now he's repented now, this is the blessing of faith. [the other blessing was still given to Jacob too, as it totally fits what was given to Abraham before and by God to Jacob afterward, and passed onto Ephraim and Manasseh by Jacob just before he died]. "Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan." I wonder where he learned that? That's what Abraham had done in his life. "Arise, go to Padam-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham." (Genesis 28:1-4) So, there was that initial contest. Isaac finishes well. There's none of that told to us in Hebrews 11. You know, this family, and I want to talk about it, if I can, ya, is so human, and fraught with so many problems. And yet as we get to the book of Hebrews, it gives us the end snap-shot of each one of them, and God honouring what they did there in faith. Here at least he finishes well, and of course it tells us in chapter 35, much longer after this when he dies, it says "And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years. And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died, and was gathered unto his people, being old and full of days: and his sons Esau and Jacob" reconciled by then, "buried him." (Genesis 35:28-29) Isaac, man of faith.
The Final Faith Of Jacob
Jacob, he's the guy I like here, because there's enough Jacob in me that makes me fond of Jacob. When we read of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or sometimes you just read of the God of Abraham, the most often repeated title in the Old Testament, believe it or not is, "the God of Jacob," more than "the God of Abraham," when they're singled out, the God of Jacob. And Jacob is a conniver. It tells us two things in Hebrews in regards to Jacob, "by faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff." (Hebrews 11:21) Now the Greek says "he blessed each of the sons" Manasseh and Ephraim, the two of them separately, he had a blessing for each one of them [and this blessing was the blessing God bestowed on Jacob in Genesis 35:9-12, divided up between the two boys], "and worshipped leaning upon the top of his staff." Jacob, blessing these boys. After a long, remarkable life, you know the story of Joseph, how Jacob ends up in Egypt, finding that Joseph had been alive, Joseph sustaining his family. "And it came to pass after these things, that one told Joseph, Behold, thy father is sick: and he took with him his two sons, Manasseh and Ephraim. And one told Jacob, and said, Behold, thy son Joseph cometh unto thee: and Israel strengthened himself, and sat upon the bed." evidently this is with the staff now that he sits up on the edge of the bed, and he's blind by this point in time, like his father Isaac. "And Jacob said to 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." He's claiming them, 'as my first two born back in the land of Canaan, now your two sons will be as my firstborn here,' and he takes them to himself [adopted for the purpose of passing on the inheritance of The Blessing onto these two boys and not upon the rest of his sons of Jacob, except in the collective sense when all 12 tribes were together. This "Promise" is called "the Birthright" in 1st Chronicles 5:1-2, read those two verses, they're quite revealing]. Now this is Jacob, there's faith here. These are two sons that are half Egyptian, they have an Egyptian mom, their homeland is Egypt, and he's saying 'I'm going to pronounce the blessing upon them that will give them a different land and a different legacy in the final analysis.' And he promises that blessing to them, verse 15 he does this, and it's interesting, "And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day," now he does something interesting here, the King James says "which fed me all my life long", your translation might say "which shepherded me", it's Jehovah-ra, it's the first time "shepherd" is used in the Bible. He's saying, 'not only is he the covenant-God, not only is he the God of the Promise, he was my personal God all of my life,' and when this character looks back over his life, he's got a spotted history. And he says, 'But this God shepherded me my entire life, all of my days.' the "Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them [i.e. the name of Israel was to be on the two lads as a title], and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac [Saxons, sons of Isaac, as some believe]; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. And when Joseph saw that his father had laid his right hand" which was the hand of blessing, "upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. [as it says in Genesis 35:9-12, a great nation and a company of nations, two brother nations here] And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh. And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers." (Genesis 48:1-5, 15-21) Ah, interesting scene, because "he" it says, his hands guided by the LORD, when he goes to bless the two sons, he crosses his hands, and he puts his right hand (and he's blind), he puts his right hand on the younger son, Ephraim, whose going to have the major blessing [a company of nations], and his left hand on Manasseh [one great nation]. No doubt he is thinking back to when his father was blind, and fought against the truth of God's direction, now he yielded to the LORD, worshipping, worshipping, pronounces the blessing on the younger. Five times God appeared to Jacob in his life. Every time the appearance was corrective. He appeared to him at Bethel, when he was running and hiding. And he said, 'Alright, you're going to go, but you're going to return to this place, and when you return to this place I'm going to bless you.' And Jacob of course, wanted to make a deal, 'ok, you get me back here safe and sound, I'll give you ten percent,' like God's going, 'Boy, that's good, 4 percent is good, but 10 percent interest on the dollar.' You know, he appears to him there in a corrective sense, he appears to him in Padam-aram, because Jacob's getting settled, his flocks are outgrowing the flocks of Laban, and God has to appear to him again and say, 'Jacob, it's time to go!' because Laban's planning to kill him. [Jacob learned a lesson from his uncle Laban, who was also his father-in-law, uncle Laban was a worse or better conniver, however you want to look at it, than Jacob, and Jacob learned what it was like to work under a master-conniver.] He has to send him back to the land. He appears to him again, and wrestles with him at Jabok, because Jacob's conniving again. He escaped from uncle Laban, he gets back to the land, now uncle Harry's there, uncle Esau, and he's afraid he's going to kill him, so he comes up with this scheme, and says 'God bless it,' and he sends the cattle, and the camels, and the goats, and he sends the women and children ahead first, just in case he's in a really bad mood, he can kill them first, and he stays behind. And God wrestles with him there, and his hip goes out of joint, and of course God changes his name to Israel. God will wrestle with him again at Shechem, because Esau comes, Esau cries, 'I mean you no harm,' he says, 'oh great,' they hug and make up, and Esau says, 'Come on, come on, come down to the southern part of the country with me, I got plenty, I'll bless you.' And Jacob says, 'Yea, I'd love to, but you know the kids are tired, (and you didn't kill them, so that's ok) and my wives are tired, and the sheep are tired, you go on ahead of me, I've got plenty, I've got plenty of armed servants, and we will catch up with you, we'll be down there.' And Esau goes, and as soon as Esau gets out of sight, he turns and he heads in another direction, and he goes to Shechem. When he gets to Shechem his daughter Dina is raped, God told him to come back to Bethel (Genesis 34-35), not Shechem. His sons are so mad (Simeon and Levi) that they go to the men of Shechem and say "you know, we want to do business with you, but we have a problem. You're heathen, and we can't do business with anybody whose not circumcised. So, we'd love to do business with your town, but of course what would have to happen is all the men in town would have to be circumcised.' And the men of Shechem are saying, 'No problem.' [laughter] So, they all circumcised themselves, and on the third day, when fever and infection sets in, Simeon and Levi and some of the brothers come in and slaughter the town. And God says 'Get outa here!' the fourth time, corrective, 'Get back to Bethel.' (Genesis 35:1) And finally the 5th time God appears to Jacob is in Bethel, and says 'Now stay here! This is where you were supposed to be in the first place.' He's human, filled with problems. He learned about favouritism from his father, no doubt Abraham favoured ultimately Isaac over Ishmael, Isaac favoured Esau, and it caused all kinds of problems in his family. He understood deceit (conniving), Jacob, because he deceived his father, he was deceived by Laban [uncle Laban had a Master's degree in deceit and conniving]. He had multiple problems. He had four wives and twelve kids (13 if you include Dina). That can never work [jealousy, folks?]. Murder, rape, all of these things, Joseph he thought was dead for 20 years. And at the end of his life, he says, 'God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, who shepherded me, fed me, and cared for me, all the days of my life, give the blessing now to your sons.' And he stood there worshipping on his staff. It was the same staff that he had, it says when he came back from Padam-aram, he prayed to God and said, 'When I left, I left with nothing but this staff, and you've made me into two companies.' It's the same staff after he wrestled with God he limped on for the rest of his life, and it's the same staff he leans on at the end of his life, he pulled himself up on his bed, he blessed his sons, if you read through Genesis chapter 49, it said when he was done prophesying over them, he pulled up his feet into the bed, and gave up the ghost. That's the way I want to go, if God tarries. I want to get filled with the Holy Ghost right at the end, I want to prophesy over all my kids, and I want to pull up my feet and blast off. That is the way to go. And it says 'in faith, in faith.'
The Faith Of Joseph, He Takes Away All Our Excuses
What do we do with Joseph? Joseph we can do quickly, I just know it, here in Hebrews 11. Joseph says this, now there's two interesting different words, in verse 21 when Jacob's dying it says "when he was a dying" that word literally means "to become a corpse," he's passing away. It says "Joseph, when he died," that word means "when he finished his course." It's a different word. 'By faith Joseph, when he died" 'when he finished his course' "he made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones." (Hebrews 11:22) Back in the 50th chapter of Genesis it says "And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence." (Genesis 50:24-25) 'I'm going to sleep in Egypt, but I'm going to wake up in Canaan.' [No, actually, he's going to wake up in the land of Israel, with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Jacob, in the cave of Machpelah and blast off in the 1st resurrection to immortality with the rest of us, headed up to the Sea of Glass and the great Wedding Feast of the Lamb (cf. Revelation 19:7-9; 1st Corinthians 15:49-56). That's what he's saying. 'I am going to sleep here, but I want to wake up where the Messiah is going to be there when I get out of bed in the morning. You will carry up my bones from hence,' "So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt." (Genesis 50:26) and that coffin laid there for hundreds of years, until one night when Moses pulled it out and loaded it up, and they started to carry it out on the Passover night, and they headed out of Egypt, fleeing. This kid, now here's the interesting thing with Joseph, and the faith of Joseph. God appeared to Abraham seven times, God appeared to Isaac twice, God appeared to Jacob five times, God never appeared to Joseph. And you have to think about this kid's life, he takes away every one of our excuses. If he goes back to his earliest memories, talking about the ridiculous idea of healing through memories, this is a little kid whose born in Padam-aram, and his first recollections of life is being in a family with four moms, and his dad, and they're all cheating back and forth about whose going to be [sleep] with the dad, and whose kids get the preference, and dad one day packs up and says 'We gotta get outa here,' and they're fleeing from uncle Laban. I don't know what kind of an impression it makes on a little kid. It wasn't a drive in a car, it was probably months as they traveled on foot. When they get to the land, Laban catches up to them, and his mom is hiding the family idols, she's sitting on them, there's idolatry involved, and Laban finally leaves, and dad says 'Ok, one problem's over with, Uncle Harry now, Esau, he wanted to kill me when I left,' 'Whose Esau?' 'Oh, he's your uncle. He's my twin brother, but we're not identical twins, I'm a good looking guy, he's big and hairy, and he's mad, he wants to kill me. So I'm going to do this, I'm going to send you guys ahead, tell him I said 'Hi.' You know, what kind of an impression does this make on a little kid? Joseph, he gets sent ahead, and that works out, and his father connives, lies to Esau, they go to Shechem, Joseph's sister Dina gets raped there. His older brothers slaughter the town, there's murder, killing everybody in the town. They flee from there, and as they're running from there to go back to Bethel, his mother Rachel dies on the side of the road, this is a small boy watching his mother die giving birth to Benjamin on the side of the road. Think of his life, think of his life. I have record in my office, they found it in an inscription in Saudi Arabia of a wealthy princess, who said "I sent my servants to Egypt, there's a dearth, everyone's starving, to buy grain from Joseph." This is an inscription they found. "And they sent them back empty." So she said, "I sent all my gold." She sends them all of her jewels and treasure, and they come back without grain, and she at the end says "What does all the wealth in the world mean, I don't even have grain, life is more important than all." But it's an archeological record of the fact that Joseph was there in Egypt. He had ten older brothers that hate him. God gives him a dream, he's an upright kid. He tells the dream to his brothers, they say 'Great,' then they take him, they throw him into a pit, they sit around and eat, say grace, have lunch, while he's down in the pit. 'Should we kill him? Nah, let's not kill him, let's sell him, we'll sell him to the Midianites,' he goes down to Egypt, he gets put on an auction block in the slave market, and they're bidding on him. 'I don't know, look how pale he is. I don't know, does it look like he can work? He ain't worth much.' You know, what does that do to a kid? And someone buys him, Potipher buys him and he comes to Potipher's house. He loves God, he doesn't turn away from God. This is a kid with every excuse, but no reason to turn away from God. This is a kid whose got a million excuses, like people all over our culture, because something's gone wrong in their life, and they turn away from God, he's got a million excuses, but he doesn't have a single reason, and he worships God in Potipher's house, and God blesses all of Potipher's house so that everything he owns is put into the care of Joseph. And Potipher's wife is after Joseph. 'Come lie with me, let's have sex while my husband's gone,' tempting Joseph. She was not ugly, or it wouldn't have been a temptation. Powerful men don't marry ugly women. Look at some of the politicians and some of the millionaires in the world, you know, they comb their hair over their bald spot, you know they're seventy years old and they have this beautiful thing hanging off their arm. This is Potipher, he's wealthy, he's powerful. And Joseph runs out of the house, he refuses to sin against God, and for that he get's thrown in prison. And he's there for years, and then the baker and the cup-bearer have a dream, he interprets their dreams, 'Just when you get out of here, remember to tell Pharaoh,' and they forget him for two more years. This life that he lived. And finally he's brought out. And of course becomes the most powerful man in the world, next to Pharaoh, saves the known world, saves Israel, saves his family. Now they come down to Egypt, and he forgives them, and he says 'you meant it for evil, God meant it for good.' He takes away all of our excuses. These people are very human. Look, we see the traits in the family passed down, Abraham, godly man, but human. He made his wife lie. We see he isn't perfect, as we read through the Book of Genesis. He favoured Isaac over Ishmael, so when Isaac has sons, he favours Esau over Jacob, Jacob has to flee, conniving, stealing the blessing from his father [and Esau], Jacob flees, has a dream at Bethel, and because of the dream goes to Padam-aram, he works for Laban for seven years to get Rachel because he loves Rachel, goes to bed at night, get's half pickled and wakes up in the morning, and 'Aaahh!' it's Leah, it's not Rachel. And Laban says, 'Ah, didn't I tell you the custom? I didn't mention the custom, we have a custom, you got to marry the older one first.' [ah, Jacob the conniver get's connived.] Works seven more years to get Rachel. He comes back to the land, wrestles with God at Jabok, God breaks him finally, and changes his name to Israel, "governed by God." And as an old man, he raises a young boy on his knee named Joseph, human family. Somewhere along the line he says, 'Joseph, you know, God first spoke to me through a dream, and it was in the course of that dream he sent me to Padam-aram, and I worked there honourably for seven years, and then I was deceived, and seven more years, before God appeared to me again.' What would happen to Joseph? Joseph would have a dream, and through his dreams, he would be sent to Egypt, he would work for years in Potipher's house, then be deceived and go to prison. And he would be there for years, before God would bail him out, and God would bless him. And what part of the puzzle could be taken away from their humanness that had not lent itself to God's divine plan for the lives of this family? The question is, how did they finish? God takes note of how all of the remarkable things that happened in Joseph's life, God says Joseph, when he was ready to be buried, gave commandment concerning his bones. That was the final analysis of his faith, and that's how it's really measured in all of our lives. I read about this tombstone that had this inscription on it, it said, "Remember, friend, while passing by, that as you are, so once was I, as I am now soon you will be, prepare for death and follow me." What a thing to put on a tombstone. But scratched under it on the tombstone, somebody had scratched this, "To follow you, I'm not content, until I know which way you went." [loud laughter] When it comes time for you to draw your last breath, what frame of mind are you going to be in? Because you will, if God tarries. For every 100 people born, 100 people die, and I'll tell you this, life goes by like this snap! it's like a dream, it's like a vapour. Anybody in this room whose 60, 70, 80 years old will attest to that, it flies by. And yours will too, and maybe faster than we think, with all of the terrorism, all of the stuff we see on the news right now. You know, it says in the final analysis, when faith matters the most, when you are ready to step out of this world, and cast yourself into the darkness, you're ready to take your last breath, and it's at that point where you say "Jesus, I've believed in you, I've trusted in you, I've given my life to you, you've died on the cross for me, yes I was human, yes there were mistakes in my life, yes, but you were faithful,' can you worship then, and say, 'You shepherded me all through my life, all through my mistakes, you were there, you kept me, you led me, and now Lord as I draw my last breath, I am in faith,' the ultimate expression of faith, 'going to cast myself into the darkness, and I'm going to believe Lord Jesus that you're going to catch me, that underneath it are the everlasting arms, and you're going to carry me to glory. I'm going to walk in heaven, washed and cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ.' What will be your last thought? That's what it's all about. Everything else is trite compared to that. Yeah, we have struggles and we get hurt, and we go through things with family, and we make mistakes, and we hurt other people, and we go through all of this stuff, and we mark out our territories and our little kingdoms, and we stake claim to stuff. But in the final analysis, you're there alone, in the final analysis you take the last breath, and in the final analysis God takes note of the faith that is exercised there. Abraham received back his son in a type, because he knew if it was necessary God could raise him from the dead, and he learned something about resurrection. He passed it on to Isaac, so that when Isaac was dying, he could bless his sons, and pass the blessing along. Though he hadn't seen it or experienced it in this world, he believed in it, so much so that it was passed to Jacob, and then when Jacob was dying, Jacob could bless the sons of Joseph, so much so that when Joseph was dying, he wasn't content with having a pyramid built with his name on it, what did he say? 'No, no, you're coming out of here, God told Abraham in 400 years you were coming back to the land.' Exodus 13:19 says that Moses took the body of Joseph and carried it up. Joshua chapter 4 tells us that Joshua took the remains of Joseph and buried them at Shechem. And Joseph was there waiting for the Promise to be realized. Joseph died in Egypt, but he's getting up in Canaan [Israel, the land of Israel]. That's the final issue of all of our faith, that's the final issue. What a great thing to know that Christ loves you, what a great thing to have that hope. I can't imagine facing death without the knowledge of the Saviour. Our hope is in an empty tomb in Jerusalem. Jesus Christ rose on the third day, and the Bible says 'if the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, he will also quicken your mortal bodies.' (Romans 8) [transcript of a connective expository sermon on Hebrews 11:17-22, given by Pastor Joe Focht, Calvary Chapel of Philadelphia, 13500 Philmont Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19116]