The Patriarchs (part 2)

OT and Pentateuch  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  17:50
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Isaac was Abraham’s son to whom God’s promises would be repeated. The story of the way Abraham provided a bride for Isaac (Gen. 24) is fascinating and exciting. The account contains numerous lessons in the way God guided Abraham’s servant through prayer. Finally he was able to take Rebekah back to the land of patriarchal promise to be Isaac’s wife.
The Scriptures tell us little about him. His life was uneventful in comparison to that of his father and his sons. He lived most of his life in southern Canaan in the vicinity of Gerar, Rehoboth, and Beersheba. Isaac was a necessary link in the process of fulfilling God’s promises to Abraham. From the record (27:27–33) we recognize him as a man of faith who invoked future blessings upon his sons (cf. Heb. 11:20).
The family of Isaac
Genesis 25:18–34
Rebekah—the mother of twins
Esau and Jacob exchange birthrights
Isaac established in Canaan
The covenant confirmed to Isaac
Troubles with Abimelech
God’s blessing in Isaac
The patriarchal blessing
Isaac favors Esau
Blessing stolen—immediate consequences
Abraham had other sons. The best known of these were Ishmael, the father of the Arabs, and Midian, the father of the Midianites. To each of these other sons Abraham gave gifts as they went out from Canaan, leaving the territory to Isaac, the heir of all of Abraham’s possessions.


A study of the lives of Isaac’s two sons, Esau and Jacob, is both intriguing and disappointing. Jacob took advantage of Esau in buying the birthright—the right of the firstborn to preeminence in the tribe—and connived with his mother Rebekah to deceive Isaac and steal the blessing. On the other hand, Esau lacked faith in God, a true sense of values, and appreciation for his birthright (25:29–34). Later he disregarded the ideals of his parents and married a Hittite woman (26:34). The author of Hebrews calls him “profane” or “irreligious.” The history of Esau’s descendants, the Edomites, deserves separate study.

Jacob’s adventure with Laban Genesis 28:10–32:2

The dream at Bethel
Family and wealth
Parting with Laban
Jacob returns to Canaan
Esau and Jacob reconciled
Troubles at Shechem
Worship at Bethel
Rachel buried at Bethlehem
Descendants of Isaac
The sons of Jacob
Burial of Isaac
Esau and his claim in Edom

Jacob’s adventures

Although Jacob left Canaan with his father’s blessing, he passed through many hard experiences before he became a man of faith. He was afraid that Esau would seek revenge. His parents, hoping to keep him from marrying a Hittite woman, sent him to Mesopotamia. On the way, while he slept at Bethel, Jacob had a dream and responded to God with a tentative commitment. Jacob prospered greatly while he worked for Laban, acquiring not only a large family, but great wealth in flocks.

Back to Canaan

Conscious now of God’s direction, Jacob made plans to return to Canaan. A strained relationship had developed between Jacob and Laban, and Jacob took the opportunity to depart while Laban was on a sheep-shearing mission. Laban pursued him quickly, but since Jacob had a three-day advantage, he reached the hill country of Gilead before Laban overtook him.
Laban claimed that his household gods had been taken. The teraphim, which Rachel hid beneath her skirts, undoubtedly had more than mere religious significance for Laban. According to Nuzu law, a son-in-law who possessed the household gods might claim the family inheritance in court. Though Laban could not find the idol, he nullified any advantage that might accrue to Jacob by means of a covenant between Jacob and himself, barring Jacob from the land.
At the Jabbok River Jacob learned that Esau was coming against him with 400 men. In order to appease Esau, he sent his possessions and family, with gifts for his brother, ahead of him. Through the night he wrestled with an assailant whom he sensed to be God Himself. In that encounter his name was changed from “Jacob” to “Israel,” meaning “he who strives with God.” The blessing implied in the new name expressed a new relationship. Hereafter Jacob would not be the deceiver; instead, he would have victory with God.
After being reconciled with his brother, Jacob moved southward to Shechem. There Levi and Simeon aroused the enmity of the community through scandal and treachery (34:1–31). As Jacob separated to move to Bethel, where he had previously made a commitment to God, he removed the remaining idolatry from his household. At Bethel he built an altar, and in response God renewed His covenant, assuring him that a company of nations and kings should emanate from Israel (35:9–15).
Eventually Jacob settled in Hebron, the home of his father Isaac. While they were on the way, Rachel died and was buried in the vicinity of Bethlehem. Later when Isaac died, Esau came from Seir where he had settled, to accompany his brother Jacob at the burial of their father.


Joseph, Rachel’s older son, was Jacob’s pride and joy. Jacob made him a full-length tunic which, according to the Septuagint and the Targum Jonathan, was “a coat of many colors.” It seems that such a coat was the distinctive mark of a tribal chief. Josepholder brothers already hated him because he reported their evil conduct to Jacob. Now they hated him all the more. And when Joseph’s dreams indicated that he would be exalted over them, they sold him to Ishmaelite and Midianite traders who were passing by their camp at Dothan. When Joseph was taken into Egypt, his brothers never expected to see him again. They led Jacob to believe that Joseph had been torn to pieces by wild animals.
Joseph, the favorite son
Genesis 37
Hated by his brothers
Sold to Egypt
Judah and Tamar
Joseph—a slave and a ruler
Joseph demoted to prison
Interpreting dreams
Ruler next to pharaoh
Joseph and his brothers
First trip—Simeon kept as hostage
Second trip includes Benjamin—
Joseph identifies himself
Joseph’s family established in Egypt
Goshen allotted to the Israelites
The patriarchal blessings
Jacob’s burial in Canaan
Joseph’s hope for Israel

A Slave in Egypt

Whether in adversity and suffering or success, over the years that Joseph spent in Egypt, he continually honored God. Because he did not want to sin against God nor against his master, he would not yield to the temptation put before him by Potiphar’s wife (39:9). When he was asked to interpret dreams, Joseph gave God the credit for the ability to do so (40:8). He also acknowledged God before pharaoh, boldly asserting that, through pharaoh’s dream, God was revealing that a specific number of years of plenty and famine were to follow (41:14–36). In naming his son Manasseh (which means “forgetting,” 41:51), he testified that God had helped him to forget his sorrow. When he revealed his identity to his brothers, he acknowledged that God had brought him to Egypt. After Jacob’s death Joseph reassured them that God had ordered the events of history for the good of all and that they should not fear him as though he were in God’s place (50:15–21).

Savior of His Family

Joseph’s recognition of God and his trust in Him through many difficulties was rewarded by his promotion. In Potiphar’s house he was so trustworthy that he was made the overseer. Later, though imprisoned on false charges, he soon became the warden and was able to use his position to help his fellow prisoners. A butler, who for two years had forgotten Joseph’s help, suddenly remembered and arranged to have Joseph brought before pharaoh to interpret his dreams. This was an opportune moment—pharaoh needed the help of a man of wisdom such as Joseph. Now as chief administrator for pharaoh, Joseph guided Egypt through the crucial years of plenty and famine and incidentally saved his own family from starvation. His position of power enabled him to allot the broad pasturelands of Goshen to the Israelites when they migrated to Egypt. There they were able to tend their flocks and those of pharaoh as well.
Jacob’s words of blessing provide a fitting conclusion to the patriarchal age. We may regard his deathbed pronouncements as his last will and testament. Though he was in Egypt, his oral blessing would be legal and binding. And in keeping with God’s promises, Jacob’s blessing was also prophetic.
Before Joseph died in Egypt, he voiced his confidence in the covenant that God had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The promises had been faithfully conveyed to each generation, and Joseph believed that God would fulfill them in bringing the Israelites back to the land that had been promised to them (cf. Gen. 15:1–21; 50:24–26).
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