A few days ago I brought up Isaac’s son Esau, and how he was different from his twin, Jacob. Somehow, the Lord either saw something different between the two before they were even born, or He simply knew they would travel different paths. Either way, He followed a pattern He created many years before of selecting, electing and dividing.
But all that got me thinking about how all of this resulted in our Salvation. I know, that may seem to be an odd way around, but actually it isn’t. Let me explain. It will take me a little of explanation, but we are going to discover some important patterns that the Lord created, to finally bring us into a relationship with the God of Creation.
Okay, I am going to put on the robes of a teacher and take you back to a man called Abraham. If you remember, Yahweh has approached this man Abraham and made a deal which began with him separating himself from his family. Now this is important because we need to understand that the moment Yahweh called Abraham to leave his country and his immediate family, the process of divine dividing the world into two groups of people began: His people and everybody else. Yeah, yeah. I realize that sine teach that all of humanity are God’s children, but will not support for that anywhere in Scripture. Yes, in a very general sense that is true, but He clearly began creating two sets of people.
But once Abraham obeyed and moved to the land of Canaan, Yahweh was essentially dividing the Hebrews on the one hand, and every one else on the other. It was solely the decision by Abraham, and a declaration by his God that made Abraham different from all other human beings.
Then Abraham’s son Isaac, represents the next step in the evolution of these “called out,” Hebrew, people. Isaac was in fact, the firstborn Hebrew! Let me explain that. In the case of Abraham, he was declared a Hebrew, but Isaac was a Hebrew by birth. But even then, there was still a declaration of God involved. I say that because Abraham had two sons, Ishma’el, who Abraham believed was going to carry on the covenants Yahweh had made with Abraham because he was the firstborn.
What I am saying is that as far as Abraham was concerned, Ishma’el was a Hebrew. I know this will mess with your head a little bit, but hang in with me and you will understand. You see, a time came when Yahweh told Abraham, “Not so fast Abe; the same way that I divided you away from your father and brother, I am going to divide Ishma’el away from his father and brother.” What that means is that Ishma’el was no longer a Hebrew — but Isaac was.
Okay, so here is the $64,000 question: if Ishma’el and Isaac both had a Hebrew father — Abraham — how come only the one, Isaac, is considered a Hebrew? Why isn’t Ishma’el just another branch of Hebrews? How come we don‘t think of Ishma’el and all of his descendants — the ones we refer to as Arabs — Hebrews, as well? Well, this is where an important principle gets established. This is a principle that every Jew and every gentile needs to pay close attention to.
Okay, so put down your pen and quit staring out the window . . . while birthright (that is, genealogy, your physical bloodlines) establishes your physical identity, it is the election and declaration of The Lord that establishes your spiritual identity! Ooh, I just saw your eyes glass over . . . hmm.
Let me explain it this way: even though Isaac was physically from the right stock to be a Hebrew, it still took an act of Yahweh, an election of Yahweh, for Isaac to be declared a Hebrew. Think about it: Ishma’el was also physically of the right stock to be a Hebrew, but Yahweh did not grant Ishma’el the necessary spiritual status to be a Hebrew. So, we have with the election of Isaac, and the rejection of Ishmael, an enormous fork in the road. One direction led to the Hebrews, the other away from the Hebrews.
Now, Isaac had been separated out from the rest of the world, and he had to sons: Jacob and Esau, who were twins. Once again, you see this process and principle repeated. The issue of who will be chosen to inherit the covenant given to Abraham is settled. Put another way, between Jacob and Esau, God declared His choice to be Hebrew. Both Jacob and Esau were, by all physical evidence (they were born from their Hebrew father, Isaac) born into the same family. By birth, if one went purely by physical definition, then it would seem that they were both Hebrews. But, no: Yahweh again, by declaration, divided them. Now you can think that was quite unfair, but as I pointed out of the beginning, He knew something about both boys, and He chose one over the other.
Now when it came to a choice between Isaac and Ishma’el, that is easy to see. Ishma’el came through the efforts of man (Abraham had sex with his wife’s hand-maiden), where as Isaac came as a miraculous work of God. He promised Abraham a son, but Abraham couldn’t understand how this God of his could do such a thing (because both he and his wife were too old to have children), so he took things into his own hands and started to rationalize his actions because “obviously God didn’t actually mean what He said. What He actually meant was for me to do this . . .” Does that sound familiar?
Look, you continually see this same process of Yahweh making a promise and men trying to presume that He didn’t mean that, He meant this . . . we humans can be fickle little fools, can’t we? But contrary to what you hear from many preachers, the Lord is not seeking unity. He is continually separating light from dark; truth from lies; clean from unclean; His people and the world. The exact opposite of unity!
Just because we can see some physical and genealogical differences between Isaac and Ishma’el (I mean, they had different mothers from two different nationalities, so they were technically half-brothers) it was entirely different for Jacob and Esau. They had the same mother and father! Jacob and Esau were twins! But by declaration alone, Jacob was chosen to be a Hebrew and Esau was not. It was Yahweh‘s sovereign decision, alone. The only difference between Jacob and Esau was the spiritual difference, and that was brought about purely by the declaration of Yahweh because long before they were born, He knew what they would become.
Based solely on Yahweh‘s covenants with Abraham, He has divided the world into two groups: Hebrews and all other human beings. Abraham established the line of covenant promise and his father and brother were excluded. Abraham‘s son Isaac continued the line of covenant promise, and Ishma’el was excluded. All by a declaration of Yahweh. Isaac‘s son Jacob continued the line of covenant promise and Isaac‘s other son, Esau was excluded. Once again, by Yahweh’s sole declaration.
What is interesting, though. Beginning with Jacob‘s offspring, they were a Hebrew by law. If someone was physically born to a Hebrew, that person was a Hebrew. Period. If someone was not born a Hebrew, they were a gentile. However, now get this, they could become a Hebrew! Huh? That’s right! If they would follow some rules, some laws, that had been set down by Yahweh, they could become Hebrew. Not, like a Hebrew, but fully Hebrew!
Ooh boy, this is getting good so I hope you understand what I just said. Yes, it has taken a little to describe some of the details, and I admit I left some of it out, but all of it sets up the pattern for how you can become part of Yahweh‘s people.
How someone becomes part of Yahweh‘s set-apart people, the Hebrews, who eventually came to be called the Israelites, occurred through a number of sequential forks-in-the road. It started with the Abraham fork, then the Isaac fork, and then the Jacob fork. And, it stayed that way for about 1800 years.
That’s right! 18-centuries after Jacob, we find another fork in the road. It is called the new covenant. And, the new covenant is an Old Testament prophecy about a time when all of the physical covenants and laws of the Hebrews, called the Torah, would be written, spiritually, on the hearts of certain men.
I highlighted that because this doesn’t happen on the the hearts of all men, just those who are elected and declared by God to be His. And, how do they become elected and declared to belong to Yahweh? Is it because they were born in a particular city? Nope. Is it because of the color of their skin? Nope. Is it because of their education level or how much they can contribute to His work? Nope. It is soley through the work of a Messiah.
This new fork-in-the-road brings us full circle. This fork brings to fruition a promise of the Abrahamic Covenant that “all the families of the Earth will blessed” in Abraham.
All does not mean gentiles and not Jews. All also does not mean Jews and not gentiles. All means all. Further, just who is included under the covenants of the Hebrews once again involves God‘s election and declaration — and, the key to all this, is the Messiah.
I told you at the beginning that because Abraham chose to believe and obey Yahweh, Yahweh declared him to be accepted. That same applies to your Salvation today. If you are willing to accept the offer of Salvation and Redemption, it is available to you. And Yahweh will declared you as part of His Kingdom! But if you choose not to accept this invitation, which is completely in your hands — you will not be considered a member of Yahweh’s family and, in fact, an enemy to His family. See, it is still your choice. But He told the Israelites: I place before you, life and death; blessing and cursing. (But just in case you are still struggling with it, choose life, so that you, and your children can live).
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With these Morning Messages, I take you on guided tours to, as Bunyan described, the Celestial City. At times we linger at corners familiar and unseen. And explore the depths of our faith along the way.
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