Genesis 25:1-6 “Abraham Gave All He Had To Isaac”

Posted on January 30, 2011. Filed under: Genesis: Answers to Life's Crucial Questions |

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bryan E. Walker

 Read Genesis 25:1-11

Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. 2 She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 Jokshan fathered Sheba and Dedan. The sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. 4 The sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. 5 Abraham gave all he had to Isaac. 6 But to the sons of his concubines Abraham gave gifts, and while he was still living he sent them away from his son Isaac, eastward to the east country.

7 These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life, 175 years. 8 Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people. 9 Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, east of Mamre, 10 the field that Abraham purchased from the Hittites. There Abraham was buried, with Sarah his wife. 11 After the death of Abraham, God blessed Isaac his son. And Isaac settled at Beer-lahai-roi

Introduction:

Last week we began looking at this text and we ended up spending all our time discussing Keturah and her marriage with Abraham. We never got to the part about Abraham giving all his inheritance to Isaac and, in fact, we didn’t finish discussing the marriage issue. And I’m OK with not getting very far because I want this class to be text driven and have ample discussion; so instead of sticking to any outline I come up with, we will stick to the text and go as far as our discussion takes us.

Today I want us to pick back up where we left off in our discussion about the marriage of Abraham and Keturah, then we will finish up discussing Isaac’s inheritance. Again, the main points that the text brings out include: 1) God kept his word with Abraham as seen in the fruitfulness of Abraham and Keturah’s marriage; 2) Abraham successfully passed the blessings down to Isaac.

Our applications include looking at marriage today and where our society is headed, and seeking ways to pass our spiritual heritage down to the next generation.

Exposition:

  1. I.                   Abram to Abraham- Father of Many Nations, Vss.1-4
    1. A.                 Abraham took another wife, vs.1– Last week we covered the literary structure of the text and some of the issues the text brings up. Who was Keturah? In Luther’s day most commentators thought this was another name for Hagar because of their moral objection to the December-May wedding idea. Mathews adds that Jewish tradition identified Keturah with Hagar as well (p.352). When did the marriage take place? Before Sarah’s death or after Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah? Mathews writes, p.352, “This passage does not follow chronologically on the death of Sarah…leaving it uncertain when Abraham took this concubine and produced children. The name Keturah is related most likely to the word group meaning ‘smoke, incense’ (qtr; cf. qetora, ‘incense’ Deut. 33:10). This name and the tribes that are listed usually are related to the international spice trade centered in Arabia…” Calvin thinks it most probable the marriage took place while Sarah was still alive, and takes issue with Abraham for polygamy (pp.33-35). Calvin acknowledges the difficulty in determining when this marriage took place. R. Kent Hughes, p.324, believes that “Widowed Abraham also took a new wife. We do not know whether this was before or after Isaac’s marriage.”

10.  Is it immoral for Abraham to take another wife? There are three issues here: (1) did he take another wife while Sarah was alive? (2) Did he marry Keturah after Sarah’s death and why would some consider that immoral? (3) Is the huge age difference immoral? We have already discussed question 1 when we discussed chapter 16 and the Hagar episode. Abraham and Sarah acted according to the flesh, abiding by their culture’s mores instead of trusting in God. The Bible is clear in Gen. 1-4 that God’s intentions are for marriage to be between one man and one woman for life. This is not codified until Moses’ day, and even then, polygamy was allowed. Even today in some African countries, Christian men can have more than one wife. In America we allow for serial monogamy through multiple divorces and remarriages in a very sinful way. Those from a culture that allows for polygamy rightfully critique ours when they see people who have had 3,5,7 marriages.

11.  Luther mentions that some consider it adulterous if a widower remarries. Luther doesn’t mind that, however, as long as the man isn’t marrying for lascivious reasons. He focuses on Abraham’s longing to fulfill the promise of God for offspring and to be the father of nations, as his name implies.

12.  We see December-May weddings once in a while here, frequently with the Hollywood set. In the rural parts of our country not many decades ago it was not unusual for a man in his twenties or even thirties to marry a teenage girl. The great Scottish preacher, John Knox, married a 17 year old girl when he was 50. But I think that most of us feel this practice to be disgusting. It is common amongst muslims.

13.  It is a current and historical practice among muslims to marry young girls to older men. We do not know the age of Keturah so I am not implying at all that that is what Abraham did. But it is common for older men to marry girls who are young teens or even pre-teens in the muslim world.

14.  http://www.answeringmuslims.com/2010/04/another-yemeni-child-bride-hospitalized.html

15.  Application: It is here that theology and politics intersect. One of the problems with homosexual marriage is that it fundamentally altars the definition of marriage. Once that door is cracked open there is no logical reason for the American judicial system to refuse muslims in America to practice their culture which includes polygamy and child marriage. There are already forces in American culture that want to reduce the age of consent laws to 14 and others who want to call polyamory marriage. Combine those perversions with the muslim and homosexual perversions and you will get, within our lifetime, an America that allows anything and everything in marriage. While we must obviously pray, evangelize, and make disciples, it seems to me that we should also be engaged in the political process to make sure that some vestiges of our biblical view of marriage should remain. In my estimation, our society has already crossed the threshold as homosexual marriage has been legalized in some states. Mormons, muslims and polyamorists have already begun assaulting our legal system. Some lawmakers, including here in Texas, are seeking to pass laws that will prohibit sharia law from being used. http://www.americanindependent.com/165186/texas-rep-berman-files-resolution-to-ban-religious-or-cultural-law

These kinds of efforts can be stopped by the Federal courts, as the State of Oklahoma found out after their constitutional amendment banning sharia law specifically was thwarted. But if the laws are written like the one in Texas, then the problem can be that it can be used against the Christian foundations of our state too.

 

  1. B.                  Vss.2-4 Descendants through Keturah
    1. 1.      Some of these names are clearly linked to the Arabs later. But one of the internal attestations to the ancient nature of this text is that the name “Arab” is actually not used. That name came to be used in about 900BC. Furthermore, the name Midian is used and the Midianites did become enemies of Israel later. Keep in mind that when Moses fled Egypt he went to Midian and married the daughter of a Midianite priest, Jethro. It wasn’t until the Midianites joined with the Moabites in opposing Israel in the Exodus that there developed a problem. See Numbers 25.
    2. 2.      Dr. Baldwin writes, p.102-103, “The six sons of Keturah and the twelve sons of Ishmael became the ancestors of peoples who lived on the eastern borders of Israel’s territory, ‘over against them’, as the Hebrew idiom puts it, in more ways than one….The picture of Abraham as the father of nations is thus enlarged and defined….In salvation history Isaac, the child of Sarah, is the one to be reckoned with.”
    3. 3.      Mathews writes, p.349, “The inclusion of Keturah’s children does not diminish the miracle of Isaac’s birth, as von Rad contends. Rather, their birth testifies to the fulfilling of the promise that the patriarch will father many ‘nations’ (17:5-7). This evidence of blessing (i.e. posterity) joins with the prior attention on the patriarch’s wealth (24:1, 35, 53; 25:6); 25:1-6 further explains that ‘the LORD had blessed him [Abraham] in every way. (24:1)” Last week I read a quote from Bruce Waltke where he contended that it would diminish the miracle of the birth of Isaac.

 

  1. C.                 Vss.1-4  God Kept His Promise to Abraham
    1. 1.      These verses show clearly that the word from the LORD in 17:5-6 are being fulfilled. 5 No longer shall your name be called Abram,  but your name shall be Abraham,  for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. 6 I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make you into nations, and kings shall come from you.
    2. 2.      Application: When Jesus promises us eternal life in John 3:16 or in John 14:1-2 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?” We can trust the God of Abraham to keep his promise of giving us an inheritance!
    3. 3.      Gordon Wenham writes, P161 “Finally, as always in Genesis, the material draws attention to the divine promises. Abram’s name was changed to Abraham to assure him that he would be father of a multitude of nations (17:4-6). 25:2-4 lists some of the nations descended from Abraham; implicitly this list reminds us of the fulfillment of the promises. The point is made explicitly in v.11.

 

  1. II.                Vss.5-6 Abraham safeguards Isaac’s inheritance
    1. A.                 Abraham gave all he had to Isaac, v.5
      1. 1.      Ross writes p.425, “The safeguarding of the covenant is also evident here. Abraham acted responsibly to ensure that Isaac would receive the heritage of the promise. His other sons were thus awarded their inheritances and dismissed.”
      2. 2.      Gordon Wenham, p.129, writes, “In the ancient world, a man divided his estate among his sons before he died (Luke 15:12). Sons of full wives could expect a definite share…sons of concubines were completely dependent on their father’s goodwill; hence Abraham gives them simply ‘presents’, whereas Isaac received all the rest…”
      3. 3.      By sending his other sons away with gifts Abraham avoided any intra-family feuds over the Promised Land. We can look at the problems between Jacob and Esau for a small clue of what was possible, and we can look at how Joseph’s brothers treated the favorite son.
      4. 4.      Mathews writes, p.355, “To guarantee Isaac’s future position, Abraham dismissed all rival offspring to the east (v.6). The imagery of the terms ‘sent’ (salah) and ‘east’ (qedema, qedem) is reminiscent of the expulsion from Eden (3:23, 24; cp. Cain, 4:16).”

 

  1. B.                 Are We passing our Spiritual Heritage down to the Next Generation?
    1. 1.      Hughes writes, p.325, “We wonder about the spiritual destiny of the departed sons. Was there spiritual hope for them and their progeny? Yes, because as Kidner explains, ‘In God’s plan, these sons were sent away that there might be a true home, in the end, to return to.’ Indeed, their descendants’ return was joyfully prophesied by Isaiah as part of the future glory of Israel:”

60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come,
and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
2 For behold, darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but the Lord will arise upon you,
and his glory will be seen upon you.
And nations shall come to your light,
and kings to the brightness of your rising.

4 Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
they all gather together, they come to you;
your sons shall come from afar,
and your daughters shall be carried on the hip.
Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and exult, 
because the abundance of the sea shall be turned to you,
the wealth of the nations shall come to you.
A multitude of camels shall cover you,
the young camels of Midian and Ephah;
all those from Sheba shall come.
They shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall bring good news, the praises of the Lord.
All the flocks of Kedar shall be gathered to you;
the rams of Nebaioth shall minister to you;
they shall come up with acceptance on my altar,
and I will beautify my beautiful house.

 

 

  1. 2.      Growing up in the church with a large number of my peers also being in church, I got to see first hand how kids did not keep the faith of their fathers. This aspect of my youth has always troubled me and I have sought to find answers for several decades. Besides my personal experience I have looked at our country and wondered how a nation that was forged in a Christian worldview has now become so pagan. The bottom line is that I believe the churches, for about 3 generations at least, maybe 5 or even 6, compromised the Word of God and allowed false doctrine to seep into the seminaries, pulpits and pews. The church failed to look at the trends and philosophies of the world in each generation and fully engage those false beliefs with the gospel. The church failed to make disciples of the next generation and the world stole our spiritual fruit.
  2. 3.      When our faith is formalized and fossilized we become hypocritical to those who know us best: our children. We must keep our walk with Jesus a precious and vibrant thing, firmly planted in the Word of God but lived out with joy, vigor and courage. We cannot allow our heritage to be diluted and misspent.
  3. 4.      On the one hand it is discouraging to look at all of Abraham’s children and realize perhaps they were all lost, save for Isaac. On the other hand, we can praise the Lord because not even Isaac deserved it; he too was saved by God’s grace for God’s glory. Not one of us deserves to have our children saved, for them to carry the torch forward. But we should all work unceasingly towards that end and trust in God’s sovereignty for the results.
  4. 5.      I believe it may already be too late for our nation to repent and turn around before it experiences the judgment of God, but our preparations with the younger generation today may ensure that from the ashes, a new, biblical people can arise, if the Lord tarries.
  5. 6.      What practical steps should we be taking to pass down our faith to the next generation? Are we modeling Christ-like behaviour in the home? Are we deliberately teaching the Word, speaking the Gospel to our kids? Are we discipling our children? Are we aggressively countering the worldly lies that are bombarding our family every day from the world? Are we training them in evangelism and missions? Are we raising them in the Church? Are we giving them a Christian worldview of things like history, politics, economics, literature and the arts?

 

   

Bibliography:

Archer, Gleason L. Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Zondervan Publishing House: Grand Rapids, MI. 1982 (pp.98-99).

Baldwin, Joyce G. The Message of Genesis 12-50 From Abraham to Joseph in The Bible Speaks Today commentary series. Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, England 1986 (pp. 102-103).

Boice,  James  Montgomery.  Genesis,  An  Expositional  Commentary,  Volume  2. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI. 1985 (pp. 252-257).

Calvin, John. Genesis. The Geneva Series of Commentaries. Banner of Truth Trust: Edinburgh 1965, originally 1554, (vol.2, pp.30-36).

Francisco, Clyde T. “Genesis” in Broadman Bible Commentary, vol.1 Revised. Broadman Press: Nashville, TN 1969 (pp.197-199).

Kaiser, Walter C., Jr. More Hard Sayings of the Old Testament. Inter-Varsity Press: Downers Grove, IL. 1992 (pp.57-60).

Luther, Martin. Luther’s Works, Volume 4, Lectures on Genesis Chapters 21-25, edited by Jaroslav Pelikan and translated by George V. Schick. Concordia Publishing House: Saint Louis, MO.1964, (pp.300-331).

Mathews, Kenneth A. The New American Commentary, Volume 1B, Genesis 11:27-50:26. Broadman&Holman Publishers: Nashville, TN 2005 (pp.348-356).

Meyer, F.B. Abraham. Christian Literature Crusade: Fort Washington, PA 1979 (pp.155-160).

Ross, Allen P. Creation & Blessing: A Guide to the Study and Exposition of Genesis.  Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, MI. 1998 (pp.424-427)

Sailhamer, John H. “Genesis” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, volume 2. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI. 1990 (pp. -).

Sailhamer, John H. NIV Compact Bible Commentary. Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI 1994 (p.38).

Waltke,  Bruce  K.  Genesis:  A  Commentary.  Zondervan:  Grand  Rapids,  MI.  2001 (pp.334-341).

Walton, John H. and Matthews, Victor H. The IVP Bible Background Commentary, Genesis-Deuteronomy. InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove, Ill. 1997 (pp.53-54).

Wenham, Gordon. Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 2: Genesis 16-50. Word Books: Dallas, TX 1994 (pp.155-161).

Wiersbe,  Warren  W.  Be  Obedient:  Learning  the  Secret  of  Living  by  Faith.  SP Publications: Wheaton, Ill. 1991 (pp.133-137).

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This country truly has a long way to go to get back to righteousness,surely not all will make it but I pray a revival will sweep over this land


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