When Abraham passes away the Lord showed himself to Isaac. See if you can notice where you have read this language before. Genesis 26:1-6 says:
Now there was a famine in the land, besides the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. So Isaac went to Gerar, to Abimelech king of the Philistines. The Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath, which I swore to your father Abraham. I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”
If your mind traveled back to Genesis 12 when God called Abraham or Genesis 15 when Abraham was promised the land then you are on the right track. Look again at the words I underlined. These are the exact same promises that God gave to Abraham. Thus, the Lord is establishing His covenant with Isaac. Remember how I said that the call of Abraham in Genesis 12 was something that needed to be starred? That is because God will continue to establish this covenant throughout the rest of the Old Testament. Let us also not forget God’s promise in Genesis 3:15 to bring a boy baby into the world who will destroy Satan. Therefore, Isaac is the next in line who will have a covenant with God so that God can continue to work out His plan on bringing the Messiah to the stage.
When Isaac grows up he has two sons; Jacob and Esau. This is an interesting story to read indeed but for the sake of our study we will not dive into the details. At this point what you need to know is that Jacob deceived his brother and father to receive a bigger inheritance. When he was discovered naturally he fled so that his brother would not kill him. As he is fleeing, on his way to live with his uncle Laban far away, he has a dream. Genesis 28:13-15 says:
And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie, I will give it to you and to your descendants. Your descendants will also be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and in you and in your descendants shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Did you notice the three-fold promise once again?
- The promise of a certain land area as an inheritance
- The multiplicity of descendants
- A Blessing to the world through his descendants.
These are the same promises given to Abraham and the same ones given to Isaac. You may be wondering why God would establish His covenant with a man who is running away because he deceived his family?!?
- Esau wasn’t the most holy man around. He married women who were outside of the covenant, showing he didn’t respect the covenant, and he is called an immoral man.
- God’s choice is always one that is by grace. Nobody deserves any promise from God. The Lord loves to choose the weak things of the world in order to show His power and grace (1st Corinthians 1:27-29).
We have seen that God deals with us through covenants. The Promised Land is going to be an important piece of our puzzle.
- As you read the Bible you will notice God constantly tells His people to dwell in the land and stay out of Egypt. Why is God so concerned with them being in this land? Because He wants a nation who will be a light for the rest of the world and the Promised Land is the intersection of the entire ancient world.
- Israel understood that the Promised Land was connected to the covenant promise. Therefore, if they were in the land and were blessed agriculturally and militarily then they knew God was with them. If they had times of famine or were defeated by their enemies they thought God was against them. Eventually when they go into exile they thought God abandoned His covenant (more on this later). We need to keep in mind the point of the Promised Land. It was a specific area for God’s chosen nation, Israel, to dwell because it was the intersection of the ancient world and God wanted them to be a light so that the rest of the world could come in contact with the promise of a Messiah. Therefore, once the Messiah came the Promised Land had fulfilled its function and God no longer worries whether Israel is dwelling in the land.
So when is God going to move from one man to a nation? Right now! While Jacob is living with his uncle Laban he ends up marrying two of his daughters (just because the Bible records it doesn’t mean it condones it.). The daughters began to compete for the husband’s affection so they gave their handmaids to Jacob in order to have children through. But God is able to work through mankind’s flawed decisions. It was through this episode that the Lord blessed Jacob with 12 sons. These boys would become to heads of 12 tribes that formed the Nation of Israel. This was the nation through whom God would bring the Messiah.