Gen. 25:12-18  Promise to Ishmael

            Gen. 25:12 "Now these are the generations of Ishmael, Abraham's son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah's handmaid, bare unto Abraham: 13 And these are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; and Kedar, and Adbeel, and Mibsam, 14 And Mishma, and Dumah, and Massa, 15 Hadar, and Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah: 16 These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. 17 And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. 18 And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur, that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria: and he died in the presence of all his brethren." 

            The above passage is the fulfillment of the promise that God made unto Abraham concerning Ishmael: Gen. 17:18 "And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! 19 And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 20 And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation."  Thus, according to God's promise to Abraham, Ishmael did become a great nation and he did beget twelve princes.  God's providence and blessings were upon Ishmael and the establishment of the nation and twelve princes that came forth from him.  However, Ishmael and that nation were not favored nearly as much as Isaac and the nation of Israel that would come forth from him. 

            Moreover, God promised concerning Ishmael that he would dwell in the presence of his brethren: Gen. 16:12 "And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man's hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren."  According to our passage above this promise was also fulfilled. 

            God always fulfills his promises.


Gen. 25:19-21 Rebekah Conceives

            Gen. 25:19 "And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac: 20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. 21 And Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived."

            The importance of prayer is illustrated above.  Isaac entreated the LORD for Rebekah his wife who was barren.  The LORD answered Isaac's prayer and blessed Rebekah to have twins.  Isaac and Rebekah had been married for twenty years before that Rebekah conceived.  Now we know that Isaac and Rebekah were going to have a son based on the promise that God had made unto Abraham.  However, God used the occasion of Isaac's prayer to bring forth the conception. 

            Rebekah was the second of seven barren women in the scriptures who later had a son.  Each of these women were blessed to bring forth a son who was greatly favored in the eyes of God to perform some important deed or function.  These seven barren women, their sons name, and the important deed or function are listed below:

                        1.  Sarah – Isaac- he was the son of promise and his birth is used to illustrate to us the miracle of the new or spiritual birth.  (Gal. 4:28)

                        2.  Rebekah – Esau and Jacob – These twins are used to illustrate God's sovereign election of a people to be his chosen people. (Rom. 9:10-13)

                        3.  Rachel – Joseph – One of the strongest types of Christ in the bible.

                        4.  Wife of Manoah – Samson – Nazarite.

                        5.  Hannah – Samuel – Great prophet.

                        6.  Great woman who lodged Elisha the prophet – her son – raised from the dead.

                        7.  Elizabeth – John the Baptist – forerunner of Christ.


Gen. 25:22, 23  Two Nations

            Gen. 25:22 "And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger." 

            Often in the scriptures the Lord uses two individuals by comparison and contrast to illustrate great spiritual lessons.  We saw this previously with Cain and Abel and Ishmael and Isaac.  Now we have Esau and Jacob who are twin brothers that the Lord uses to illustrate another great spiritual lesson.  The lesson that these two illustrate is the doctrine of God's election of a people to be his people. 

            Again, we see the name God uses in this passage is the word, LORD, which as we have previously pointed out refers to God as the covenant making – covenant keeping God.  This passage of scripture centers on the subject of God's covenant.  In the covenant of redemption in Rom. 8:29, 30 we read: "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.  Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."  The first part of this covenant is the statement that God foreknew a people.  In Eph. 1:4-6 we read of God's choice of a people: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:  Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved." 

            God chose a people in Christ before the foundation of the world.  Jacob and Esau are set forth as an example of God's election of a people.  We read in Rom. 9:10-13: "And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;)  It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.  As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."  This tells us that God through his sovereignty made choice between two unborn boys that had done neither good nor evil.  Thus God's choice was not based on works at all.  There was nothing that either boy had done to warrant God's choice.  Yet, God chose and loved Jacob and did not choose and hated Esau. 

            This is exactly how God's purpose according to election stands.  The choice of a people to be God's covenant people in the covenant of redemption is strictly made by the sovereign act of God and is solely by the grace of God.  This principle of grace in election is stated in Rom. 11:5, 6 "Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.  And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." 

            Moreover, the choice was made by God and not by the boys.  Nor was it made for the boys by their parents.  God in his sovereignty did the choosing.  In like fashion God in his sovereignty does the choosing in the covenant of redemption.

            "Two nations are in thy womb…"  We know that according to biblical history, both the descendents of Esau and Jacob became nations.  Esau became Edom and Jacob became Israel. 

            "Two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels…"  Both Esau and Jacob were sinners.  They were sinners by nature and both sinned.  Then we must ask ourselves since both boys were sinners, then how were they two manner of people?  The answer is that Jacob was a sinner justified by the atoning blood of Christ and Esau was a sinner unjustified.  Every man in the earth fits one of those descriptions.

            "And the one people shall be stronger than the other people…"  This can be taken one of two ways.  It can be said that Israel as a nation was stronger than Edom as a nation and that is true.  It can also be said that God's elect people are stronger than those who are not his elect people.  In the eyes of God, those whom he chose have faith and therefore have more strength with God that God has given them.  This also is correct. 

            "And the elder shall serve the younger."  This seems to be a direct reference that Edom was prophesied to serve Israel.  This is exactly what happened according to the history of the Old Testament scriptures.