Live to eat or eat to live?

Genesis 27:4, Make me savory food. Sometimes when a person is of extreme age and is, to one degree or another, physically incapacitated from performing the functions of a normal life that produce pleasure and fulfillment, eating becomes the high point of their daily life because of the pleasure it brings.

Perhaps this was the case with Isaac.

As such, the simple act of the consumption of food can even overshadow even one’s spiritual walk.

An older person must guard against this and maintain their spiritual relationship with Elohim to the very end as best they can.

 

Focus on Isaac and Rebekah—Who Were They?

Isaac—A Character Sketch

He was successful and blessed. (Gen 26:12)

He was obedient to his father.

  • At age 37 Abraham bound Isaac to the altar (in Heb. called the akeidah, Gen 22).
  • Isaac was obedient to marry Rebekah, his parents’ choice, unlike Esau who married a heathen girl.
  • He trusted and had faith in his parents even as he trusted his life with his father at the akeida.
  • He had deep and personal relationship with YHVH.
  • Here we learn that obedience to and faith in and love for parents leads to devotion to YHVH. Honoring one’s parents is the key to honoring YHVH and entering into relationship with him. That is why the fifth commandment to honor one’s parents is placed after the commands to love Elohim. In Genesis 24:63 and 25:21, (see The Stone Tanach rendering of this verse in addition, The ArtScroll Beresheis, p. 1048, which says Isaac prayed abundantly and urgingly, i.e. persistent prayer, a penetrating prayer or request), we see that Isaac had a deep and personal relationship with his Creator.

He had strong faith.

  • Though childless and barren, Isaac and Rebekah kept their faith in the promises of YHVH alive (Gen 25:19–26). In verse 21 we see Isaac seeking YHVH for the answers to life’s dilemmas and tough problems (he had a vibrant and abiding relationship with his Heavenly Father). The same can be said of Rebekah (v. 22).
  • He was a peacemaker with his neighbors to his own hurt in that he didn’t assert his personal (even legal) rights.
  • Though opposed in the digging of wells, he refused to feud over his legal rights to these wells. He avoided strife and quarreling with his neighbors. After digging the third well, YHVH brought comfort to Isaac’s weary soul (Matthew Henry’s Commentary, p. 38).
  • He was charitable toward his unsaved neighbors. Though Abimelech and his people had wronged Isaac, he did not rebuke them for stealing the first two wells. Was this a sign of Isaac’s meekness or weakness? Some biblical scholars say no (e.g., Matthew Henry) and some say yes (e.g., Gleanings in Genesis by Arthur Pink, p. 233).

What are some comparisons between the three patriarchs?

  • Abraham was the man of the altar. He built altars as a form of worship to YHVH. The altar is mentioned more times in connection with Abraham than the other two patriarchs.
  • Isaac was the man of the well. Wells are mentioned seven times in connection with Isaac.
  • Jacob was the man of the tent. ­The tent is mentioned more times in connection with Jacob.

What are the spiritual implications of the altar, the well and the tent?

The Abrahamic Covenant is the covenant of salvation (by grace through faith, see Rom 4). The spiritual significance of the altar, well and the tent are expressed in the layout of the Tabernacle (or tent) of Moses in the wilderness, which is a picture of the steps one must take to receive YHVH’s free gift of salvation or redemption from sin’s death penalty. In one’s Continue reading

 

Finding a Wife for Isaac—A Lesson in Faith and Obedience

Genesis 24:2, So Abraham said. In appointing Eliezer to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham was deputizing him to become the friend of the bridegroom, or the family representative in this important mission. (For more on this subject, see notes at John 3:29.)

Genesis 24:2, 9, Your hand under my thigh. (Heb. yarek; see also Gen 47:29) Abraham’s servant literally placed his hands on Abraham’s testicles swearing an oath on Abraham’s projected progeny, even as in modern times we place our hands on the Bible. Interestingly, the word testicle or teste derives from the Latin words testis meaning “testimony, testify and testament.” Yarek is the same word the KJV translates “hollow of his thigh” in Genesis 32:25 and 32, although, in this case, it seems to be referring to the tendon of the hip.

Genesis 24:4, Take a wife for my son Isaac. Some Bible students see in Abraham’s sending Eliezer his servant an allegory of our Heavenly Father choosing a bride for Yeshua, his Son with the help of the Set-Apart Spirit. The analogy goes like this: When speaking to Abraham, YHVH refers to Isaac as “your only son…whom you love” (Gen 22:2). In this statement, it’s hard to miss the similarity with the well-known John 3:16 passage where Yeshua refers to himself as the only begotten Son whom his Father in heaven loves. Isaac is an obvious prophetic picture of Yeshua in that Abraham sacrificed a ram in place of his only son whom he loved on the very spot where, one thousand years later, the Temple of Continue reading

 

The “Sacrifice” of Isaac at Mount Moriah and Yeshua the Messiah

Genesis 22:13, A ram caught in a thicket by his horns. YHVH credited to Abraham’s spiritual account his willingness to sacrifice Isaac as if he had actually done so. In fact, there is an ancient rabbinical tradition that states Isaac actually died and was resurrected as the midrash comments on this passage: “As the knife reached his throat, Isaac’s soul flew away and left [e.g., he died]. But when a voice went forth from between the angels saying, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad’ (Genesis 22:12), his soul returned to his body” (Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer 31 as quoted in The ArtScroll Davis Edition Baal HaTurim Chumash Bamidbar, p. 1417) (bracketed comments are in the original). The Jewish sages also note that Scripture states that both Abraham and Isaac ascended the mountain, but that it is recorded that only Abraham descended (Gen 22:19). Isaac’s absence from the Genesis narrative until many years latter (Gen 24:62) has given rise to much speculation on the part of the sages as to Isaac’s whereabouts in the interim (The ArtScroll Bereishis Vol. 1a, pp. 812–813). 

Regardless of the rabbinic interpretations, does Scripture leave Isaac out of the narrative as if to highlight his absence, and to give the impression (albeit a prophetic allegorical one) that he was actually sacrificed? After all, what was the ram caught in the thorn bush thicket (wearing a crown of thorns) by its two horns all about? That ram is understood by many to be a substitute sacrifice prophetically picturing Yeshua the Messiah much later dying on the cross while wearing a crown of thorns. 

Moreover, who was it that commanded Abraham to lay down the knife and slaughter the ram instead? It was the Messenger (Heb. malak) of YHVH (verses 11–12, 15), who was none other than the pre-incarnate YHVH-Yeshua, the Word or Messenger of Elohim (John 1:1, 14), whose audible voice Abraham heard some 1900 years before his appearance as the Messiah in human form on earth as the Lamb of Elohim slain from the foundation of the earth.

 The Messenger of YHVH at the Binding of Isaac

In Genesis 22:11, 15–17 we read the following,

11 And the Messenger/Malak of YHVH called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I … 15 And the Messenger/Malak of YHVH called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith YHVH, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven.

In this passage, there is no mention of the Messenger of YHVH visibly appearing to Abraham in some bodily form, but only his voice calling from heaven. What we want to emphasize in this passage is that the Messenger of YHVH is equating himself with YHVH (verse 16). The biblical passages where the Malak of YHVH equates himself with YHVH while appearing in human form have perennially defied reasonable explanation by the Jewish sages.

Notwithstanding, the ancient Targum Jerusalem (the pre-Christian Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) equates the Malak of YHVH with “the Word of Elohim” in verse eight implying that YHVH and the Word of YHVH are in some way different from each other:

And Abraham said, The Word of Elohim will prepare for me a lamb; and if not, then thou art the offering, my son! And they went both of them together with a contrite heart.

Some Jewish sages asserts that “the angel speaks in God’s name, in first person” while others maintain that it was “God Himself who opened the Continue reading

 

More Prophetic Allusions to Yeshua and the Ruach

Genesis 24:4, Take a wife for my son Isaac. Some Bible students see in Abraham’s sending Eliezer his servant an allegory of our Heavenly Father choosing a bride for Yeshua, his Son with the help of the Set-Apart Spirit or Ruach haKadosh.

The analogy goes like this: When speaking to Abraham, YHVH refers to Isaac as “your only son…whom you love” (Gen 22:2). In this statement, it’s hard to miss the similarity with the well-known John 3:16 passage where Yeshua refers to himself as the only begotten Son whom his Father in heaven loves. Isaac is an obvious prophetic picture of Yeshua in that Abraham sacrificed a ram in place of his only son whom he loved on the very spot where, one thousand years later, the Temple of Solomon would be built and where sacrifices were made to atone for men’s sin. This is the same spot later on where Yeshua himself was condemned to death and not far from there became the Lamb of Elohim who was sacrificed to atone for men’s sins.

In addition, the name Eliezer means “my El helps,” which many see as an allusion to the Set-Apart Spirit who helps or comforts us, and to which Yeshua refers to as the Comforter or Helper (e.g. John 14:16). It is the Set-Apart Spirit that is choosing and preparing a bride from among called and redeemed Israelites for Yeshua the Messiah, the Son of Elohim.

 

The “Sacrifice” of Isaac at Mount Moriah. 

Genesis 22:13, A ram caught in a thicket by his horns.

YHVH credited to Abraham’s spiritual account his willingness to sacrifice Isaac as if he had actually done so. In fact, there is an ancient rabbinical tradition that states Isaac actually died and was resurrected as the midrash comments on this passage: “As the knife reached his throat, Isaac’s soul flew away and left [e.g., he died]. But when a voice went forth from between the angels saying, ‘Do not stretch out your hand against the lad’ (Genesis 22:12), his soul returned to his body” (Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer 31 as quoted in The ArtScroll Davis Edition Baal HaTurim Chumash Bamidbar, p. 1417) (bracketed comments are in the original).

The Jewish sages also note that Scripture states that both Abraham and Isaac ascended the mountain, but that it is recorded that only Abraham descended (22:19). Isaac’s absence from the Genesis narrative until many years latter (Gen 24:62) has given rise to much speculation on the part of the sages as to Isaac’s whereabouts in the interim (The ArtScroll Bereishis Vol. 1a, pp. 812–813).

Regardless of the rabbinic interpretations, does Scripture leave Isaac out of the narrative as if to highlight his absence, and to give the impression (albeit a prophetic allegorical one) that he was actually sacrificed? After all, what was the ram caught in the thorn bush thicket (wearing a crown of thorns) by its two horns all about? That ram was a substitute sacrifice picturing Yeshua the Messiah dying on the cross while wearing a crown of thorns. And who was it that commanded Abraham to lay down the knife and slaughter the ram instead? It was the Malak or Messenger of YHVH (verse 11–12) who was none other than a pre-incarnate appearance of YHVH-Yeshua some 1900 years before his appearance as the Messiah in human form on earth as the Lamb of Elohim slain from the foundation of the earth.

The Three Trumpets

The first and last trumpets relate to the two horns of the ram caught in the thicket on Mount Moriah. The ram represents Yeshua the Sacrificial Lamb. The thicket represents human sinfulness. Humanity is entangled in the thicket of sin from which it needs to be freed. Yeshua the Messiah is the Lamb (or ram) slain from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8), who, while hanging on the cross, wore a crown of thorns. Is this not a picture of the “ram caught in the thicket” (Gen 22:13) of the man’s sins? After all, the Scriptures say that the sins of man were laid upon Yeshua (Isa 53:6). The crown of thorns is a picture of this. Furthermore, in Matthew 13, in Yeshua’s Parable of the Sower, we see that some of the seed was cast into the thorns, which Yeshua explained represents the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches that choke out the word of YHVH. These references to thorns and thicket are a picture of sin. The wages of sin is death.

In Genesis 22, Isaac was about to die, but the ram caught in the thicket that YHVH provided was a prophetic picture of Yeshua (a Hebrew word meaning “salvation”) that became a substitute sacrifice for Isaac. Isaac was set free and the ram was sacrificed instead. This ram was a prophetic picture of Yeshua’s death on the cross for man’s sins.

In Hebraic thought and prophetically-speaking, the left horn of the ram signifies mercy and grace. This is also a picture of the left (or weaker) hand of YHVH, which symbolizes grace, or the feminine side of Elohim. Furthermore, the left horn of the redemptive ram signifies the purpose of the first coming of Messiah Yeshua as the Suffering Savior, as one bringing mercy and grace, and who refused to quench a smoking flax or breaking a bruised reed as a meek and quiet lamb going to its slaughter (Matt 12:20; John 12:47; Isa 53:7).

The right horn of the ram caught in the thicket represents judgment picturing Elohim’s stronger right hand of power, might and judgment (Ps 89:10,13–14). Thus, this horn represents the second coming of Messiah, who is seated at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:32–33), and who will come this time in power as King of kings to rule with a rod of iron and to judge the living and the dead, and to destroy all his enemies (Rev 17:14; 19:15).

That is why the first trumpet (representing the left horn of the ram) is sounded on Shavuot representing YHVH’s grace and mercy upon his people from Abraham until the Yeshua’s second coming—a time for his people to repent and return to him.

Genesis 22:4 says that Abraham saw the “place” (i.e. Mount Moriah) afar off “on the third day”. This is scriptural prophetic code for something significant. Mount Moriah was the place of Messiah’s crucifixion. Abraham saw—by faith—the place and work of Yeshua’s death afar off. “On the third day” signifies two things. First, a day in Scripture and in Jewish thought, in this instance, symbolizes 1000 years (2 Pet 3:8), and so it may represent the third one-thousand-year period from the time of Abraham (ca. 1872 B.C.). Messiah would come as the sacrificial Lamb in three days or in the third millennia from Abraham’s time. Yeshua was born and died in the first millennia A.D., or the third millennia from Abraham. Second, the phrase, “third day” can represent the time or millennia of Messiah’s second coming as well, as we shall see.

 The Messenger of YHVH at the Binding of Isaac

In Genesis 22:11, 15–17 we read the following,

11 And the Messenger/Malak of YHVH called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I … 15 And the Messenger/Malak of YHVH called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, 16 And said, By myself have I sworn, saith YHVH, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: 17 That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven.

In this passage, there is no mention of the Messenger of YHVH appearing to Abraham in some bodily form, only his voice calling from heaven. What we want to emphasize in this passage is that the Messenger of YHVH is equating himself with YHVH (verse 16). The biblical passages where the Malak of YHVH equates himself with YHVH while appearing in human form have perennially defied reasonable explanation by the Jewish sages.

Notwithstanding, the ancient Targum Jerusalem (the pre-Christian Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Scriptures) equates the Malak of YHVH with “the Word of Elohim” in verse eight implying that YHVH and the Word of YHVH are in some way different from each other:

And Abraham said, The Word of Elohim will prepare for me a lamb; and if not, then thou art the offering, my son! And they went both of them together with a contrite heart.

Some Jewish sages asserts that “the angel speaks in God’s name, in first person” while others maintain that it was “God Himself who opened the heavens and addressed Abraham’ (The ArtScroll Bereishis/Genesis Commentary, p. 808). If the latter is true, than the Malak of Elohim/YHVH here is none other than Elohim himself. And logically, if he is Elohim here, then he must be Elohim/YHVH in the other passages where he is mentioned. And if Elohim can appear in human form, speak to men and eat with them (as in Genesis 18) then the question must be asked: why can’t YHVH appear in human form as the Messiah; namely, Yeshua the Messiah? After all, in Proverbs 30:4 (a passage we will discuss at length later) we read,

Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the ends of the earth? what is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell? (KJV) (emphasis added)

Additionally, in Isaiah 53, a passage recognized by both Jewish and Christian scholars as referring to Messiah verse one states,

Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of YHVH revealed?

Here, the Messiah is called “the Arm of YHVH.” Is the Malak of YHVH/Elohim this “Arm of YHVH” who does the earthly bidding of the One in heaven and who acts as the intermediary between Elohim and man? We believe so.

Genesis 22:15, YHVH called to Abraham. When Abraham was willing to deny himself and to follow YHVH no matter the cost even to the point of sacrificing of his son, it was only then that heaven opened up, Elohim revealed himself to Abraham and blessed him. It is when we’re willing to lose our lives for YHVH, deny ourself and pick up our cross and follow Yeshua that the life of the Spirit is revealed to us and the blessings of heaven open up before us. Abraham a man who had died to himself, realized that nothing he possessed was his, for he was wholly surrendered and obedient to YHVH’s will. Abraham was materially rich and had everything, yet he possessed nothing. At this point, the riches of heaven were opened up to him. For him, the real treasures were inward and eternal.

 

Isaac was well-off with wells. How is you well-being?

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Genesis 26:1–29, There was a famine in the land. At the well of Lachai-roi (or “the well of the Living One seeing me,” Gen 24:62), Isaac was fruitful. There he met his wife while in communion with YHVH (Gen 24:62–64). Isaac also dwelt there for 20 years, and there he entreated YHVH because of Rebekah’s barrenness (Gen 25:21), and YHVH answered Isaac’s prayer and Rebekah gave birth to twins (Gen 25:22).

But because of famine in the land, Isaac felt compelled to leave Canaan to seek relief in Egypt following the earlier footsteps of his father, Abraham. Is it wise to rely on “Egypt” (a metaphor for the world) for our sustenance instead of trusting YHVH and believing that where he has planted us and blessed us is where we should stay? While en route to Egypt, YHVH gracefully redirected Isaac away from Egypt instructing him rather to sojourn in Gerar (temporarily) where he would continue to bless him and his posterity (Gen 26:2–4). Isaac obeyed YHVH—more or less. Isaac ended up in Gerar located on the border between Canaan and Egypt and dwelt there a long time (not temporarily as YHVH had instructed him, Gen 26:6, 8).

Instead of fully obeying YHVH, it was as if Isaac was hedging his bet between faith and fear, between Canaan, the land of promise, and Egypt, the land of comfort for the flesh man. How often do we halt between two opinions and compromise between YHVH’s will and our own in matters where he has given us clear direction? This place of spiritual indecision and weakness put Isaac in a compromising situation (Gen 26:7). He felt compelled to lie about his wife, thus repeating the sin of his father (Gen 20:1–2).

Compromised obedience puts us in compromising situations where in order to “save our skin” we often have to compromise our values. Though Isaac was out of YHVH’s will, YHVH was still faithful to keep his promises he had made to Isaac earlier (Gen 26:3–4). Isaac was blessed one hundred fold in his wealth (Gen 26:12–14).

Despite YHVH’s blessings, Isaac’s labors were not without difficulty and opposition from an enemy who was intent upon stealing his water wells, which were rightfully his (Gen 26:12–15).

In the arid regions of the Holy Land, wells are essential for survival and prosperity. Wells are a spiritual metaphor for salvation, life, abundance and truth—things the enemy is intent on taking from us (in this light, consider Isa 12:3; 55:1–3; Ps 36:9; John 4:7–14; 7:37–39; 10:10).

Genesis 26:18–22, And Isaac dug again. Isaac redug the wells that belonged to his father in the land YHVH promised to him, yet the world opposed him and stole from him what was rightfully his.

The wells’ names were Contention and Strife. How easy it is to allow fleshly or demonically motivated people to oppose and deter us from our divine destiny. What was Isaac’s response? He took the high road of peace refusing to be embroiled in carnal battles. His faith in YHVH was undaunted and at the third well he found, which he named spaciousness (Heb. Rehoboth) and contained a vast supply of water.

Are you striving and contending with the spiritual Philistines in your life? Are they keeping you from moving onward spiritually into a place of fruitfulness where the river of life from YHVH’s throne flows?

Following the example of Isaac, choose your battles carefully. It is not necessary to engage the enemy at every point of conflict. Sometimes we need to walk away. There is a time to walk away and a time to fight. Be led by the Spirit of Elohim. When you choose to fight, let YHVH fight your battles and you will progress onward and upward in your faith-walk.

Genesis 26:23–25, He went up…to Beersheba. Upon retracing the steps of his father, Abraham, back into the land of promise in redigging the ancient wells ending up in Beer-sheba (well of the covenant or seven-fold oath) did YHVH bless Isaac?

The moment Isaac returned back to the heart of Canaan, the heart and center of YHVH’s will for his life, what happened? (See verse 4.)

Is YHVH calling you back to the ancient wells of salvation? Is he calling you to retrace the steps of your father Abraham, the father of faith, to return to the ancient paths where a special blessing awaits you? (Read Mal 4:4–6 and Jer 6:16, 19; 18:15.)