Copied from the sermon notes of Pastor Don Elmore
January 7, 2024
Scripture Reading: Genesis 17:4-6
4) “As for Me [LORD God], behold, My [LORD God] covenant is with thee [Abram], and thou [Abram] shalt be a father of many nations.
5) Neither shall thy [Abram] name any more be called Abram [exalted father], but thy [Abram] name shall be Abraham [father of many nations]; for a father of many nations have I [LORD God] made thee [Abram].
6) And I [LORD God] will make thee [Abram] exceeding fruitful, and I [LORD God] will make nations of thee [Abram], and kings shall come out of thee [Abram].”
Why is this subject almost never, if ever, talked about in most of the Christian churches of our day? The Bible is clear with the details of the people who are closely involved in this covenant and the ones that are put off to the side. The descendants of the objects of the covenant are very important because it is an everlasting covenant. It would be very important for the churches to study this most special event in the history of the world and see who is included and excluded.
Although it is not generally known, even among modern-day Christians, but God called unto Abraham out of heaven two times. The first time was with Abram and the second time was with the same man after his name was changed.
The great feature of this first time was the covenant that was made for a multiplicity of seed for a man who had been childless. And this multiplicity of people was to become, not one great nation, or simply a few nations, but a large plurality of nations, i.e., “many nations.”
But the promise to Abram that he would be the father of more than one nation is generally overlooked in the Christian world. Why is this? Because that would disqualify the Cainite/Canaanite/Rephaim/Edomite Jews from being the modern-day recipients of this promise as they are not “many nations.” They have been one nation only since 1948. The rest of their people live in almost all the other nations in the world (112 different countries).
And there is another disqualifying requirement that the Jews are not fulfilling. It is that there are “kings” that will come forth from Abraham. Who is the king of the Israelis? There hasn’t been a Jewish king over the Jewish people for many, many centuries.
And as a second witness, God reiterated the promises of His covenant to Sarai, the barren wife of Abraham, for He said:
Genesis 17:16b: “She [Sarai] shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.”
God changed Abram’s name (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many nations) and Sarai’s name (princess) to Sarah (princess, mother of nations). Abraham’s descendants were to become a great multitude and become “many nations” and have “kings” that would rule over them as well as having a place to live. The Promised Land was provided for them, which was occupied at that time by enemy forces known as the seven Canaanite nations. The place where Abraham was to go was called “the land of Canaan.”
This first time Abram was addressed out of heaven the promises were unconditional. That is, the LORD had promised, irrespective of the moral or spiritual character of the people themselves, to increase the posterity of the Abrahamic lineage. They would become all that the covenant promises said that they would be. God has assumed all responsibility, and to His integrity and faith alone is the basis for its fulfillment.
God was the only party who walked between the slain animals of a three-year-old heifer, a she goat of three-years-old, and a ram of three years old, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. The second party, Abram, was fast asleep when this occurred. If this covenant ever failed, if Abraham’s descendants ever miscegenated themselves out of existence, then God would take the blame.
God only made this unconditional covenant with one man and one woman and their son, and with the seed of one of their grandsons. Ishmael, whose mother was Hagar, the handmaid of Sarai, and the sons of Abraham and Keturah, after the death of Sarah, were not of this covenant, because they were of different wives.
It was the same story with one of their two grandsons, Esau. Although at first, the elder grandson was part of this covenant, but because he despised the covenant, and he showed his dislike when he interracially married into the Hittite (one of the seven Canaanites nations) line. Esau’s offspring were forever not part of this covenant. And his descendants became an enemy of God and His followers. So, the descendants of the covenant, to remain in the covenant’s promises, must remain pure.
The second time Abraham was given a message out of heaven was when God swore by Himself. It was made about two decades after the covenant God made with Abram. It also was unconditional. It was made at a time when Abraham was offering his only son, Isaac (that he had with Sarah), who was the first of the promised great population. If Isaac died, what about the promised “many nations”? There wouldn’t be any. The covenant would have ceased to exist, and the LORD God would have lied.
This was a major crisis. If he died, what about the promise of the covenant that the descendants of Abraham and Sarah would become so many that it would eventually be “many nation”? Therefore, this was a foreshadowing of Christ’s resurrection, with Abraham representing God the Father, and Isaac being a type or prefiguring God the Son.
The exact age of Isaac at the time of his sacrifice is not given in the Scriptures, but he had to be old enough to carry the wood given for his own “sacrifice.” He couldn’t be over thirty-seven years old as that was the age that he was when his mother, Sarah died, and she was alive when Abraham took him to be sacrificed. Maybe he was the same age as Christ when he died, that is thirty-three. I don’t know, but it is possible.
15) “And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time.
16) And said, By Myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, 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, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
18) And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
But Abraham had eight sons, not one. He had the eight sons with three different women (Hager, Sarah, and Keturah). But Isaac was the only son that he had with his first wife, Sarah. And Sarah was too old to bear children when she gave birth to him. So, how is it that Sarah had a child?
God had said to Abraham that the “many nations” which he had formerly promised him should come through Isaac. But, before the birth of this miracle-born son, Abraham was anxious that Ishmael, his son by Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah, should be used for this purpose. Ishmael was his first son and was about thirteen years old when Abraham thought that this was the son who would be part of the covenant. Abraham loved Ishmael.
Abraham exclaimed in Genesis 17:18b: “O that Ishmael might live before thee!”
To this appeal the Lord was not indifferent and promised that He would bless Ishmael. But He would reject Ishmael as the covenant inheritor and would make His covenant with a son who should be a child of Sarah, as well as of Abraham. The Lord was inflexible and unchangeable.
Genesis 17:20, 21:
20) “And as for Ishmael, I [the LORD God] have heard thee: [Abraham], Behold, I [LORD God] have blessed him [Ishmael], and will make him [Ishmael] fruitful, and will multiply him [Ishmael] exceedingly; twelve princes shall he [Ishmael] beget, and I [LORD God] will make him [Ishmael] a great nation.”
21) But My covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee [Abraham] at this set time in the next year.”
This is a racial statement that God the Father made. It would be Isaac, who was not even born at the time that this prophecy was given, who was chosen to be the son who would be granted the covenant.
It would not be Ishmael, who was a young teenager, the future father of the Arabs. Abraham loved Ishmael. He wanted him to be the son of the covenant. The Arabs were blessed, however they were not the sons of the covenant.
Hebrews 11:17, 18:
17) “By faith Abraham, when he [Abraham] was tried, offered up Isaac: and he [Abraham] that had received the promises offered up his [Abraham] only begotten son [Isaac],
18) Of whom it was said, That in ISAAC SHALL THY [Abraham] SEED BE CALLED:”
So, God created a miracle, when Sarah, the mother who was as good as dead as far as reproduction was concerned, and produced a son, Isaac. When Isaac was older and was not married and was still childless, Abraham was told by God to sacrifice his only son through whom that promise could be fulfilled. Abraham, being strong in faith, offered Isaac up to be sacrificed.
But there was a problem. If Abraham slew Isaac, then what would happen to the covenant promises. The unconditional covenant would be broken unless Isaac was raised from dead. This was what was foreshadowed. How could there be descendants that would become so numerous that they would eventually become “many nations” if there were no children in the beginning?
The seven other sons of Abraham were not part of this covenant unless they remained pure in their seed line and married into it. Abraham, a type of God the Father, and Isaac, a type of God the Son, acted out the future great sacrifice of Christ which saved the Adamic people. The bottom line was that Isaac had to have children for the unconditional promise of the covenant to be fulfilled.
A MAJOR OBSTACLE
Eliezar, the eldest servant of Abraham’s house, was his steward. He was the one who would have inherited most of what Abraham had when he died since Abraham had no heir. But that was nullified when Abraham had an heir by giving birth to a son with Sarah. Eliezar was the one who would help the covenant people keep the promises made.
After Abraham’s and Sarah’s son was born and had grown into a man, he was eligible to have a wife. But who was Isaac to marry? Eliezar was the one that Abraham made swear that he would make sure that Isaac would not take a wife of the Canaanites.
Genesis 24:3: “And I [Abraham] will make thee [Eliezar] swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou [Eliezar] shalt not take a wife unto my [Abraham] son [Isaac] of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I [Abraham] dwell.”
Now why was that so important that Abraham made his servant swear that he would not let that happen? Isaac was not to take a wife of the Canaanites. The Canaanites had seven nations of people who were living in the land where Abaham finally settled. They were surrounded by the enemy who worshipped another god. And it was forbidden by Almighty God for anyone of His people to marry one of these young Canaanite women. The Canaanites were not His sheep.
Abraham had gone from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran, which is in modern-day Syria. After spending some time in Syria, they made their trip to Palestine, the land of Canaan (Genesis 11:31) then they spent some time in Egypt, then returned to the land of Canaan. Abraham, Sarah, Lot, Abraham’s nephew, Lot, 318 trained men lived in a land surrounded by the nations of Canaanites.
The Canaanites had intermarried with the Kenites (descendants of Cain) and had the poisonous blood of the serpent in their veins. To marry any woman of the Canaanites, would ruin their offspring forever. They were the physical, genetic enemy who were always against God’s people.
But the Canaanites lived where Abraham, his wife and son lived. Abraham’s family was the minority, for they had immigrated into a land of racial strangers. The first possible choice for a wife for Isaac was a Canaanite wife, but this was forbidden by his God.
It would have been a lot easier for Isaac to find a bride where he lived, but that would have ruined the covenant seed before it began. But the alternative was almost an impossible job. For Isaac was to remain home, and his father’s servant was told to go about five hundred miles to Abraham’s racial family and find a wife for Isaac. How do you find a needle in a haystack?
Genesis 24:4: “But thou [Eliezar] shalt go unto my [Abraham’s] country [modern-day Syria], and to my [Abraham] kindred, and take a wife unto my [Abraham] son Isaac.”
This is another proof that the covenant was racial, not universal. Isaac, the first member of the covenant blessings, had to marry someone of his own race, not someone who was a racial stranger to his people.
Look at the oath that Eliezar, the person who was originally to receive Abraham’s inheritance before God answered Abraham’s prayer, had to say when he was to look for a wife for
Abraham’ son, Isaac:
Genesis 24:5, 6:
5) “And the servant said unto him [Abraham], Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me [Eliezar] unto this land: must I [Eliezar] needs bring thy [Abraham] son again unto the land from whence thou [Abraham] camest?
6) And Abraham said unto him [Eliezar], Beware thou [Eliezar] that thou [Eliezar] bring not my [Abraham] son thither again.”
What a job the servant of Abraham was taking an oath to do! The man was to go to modern-day Syria, find one of Abraham’s relatives, pick out an unmarried woman, ask her if she would marry Isaac, a man she had never seen! How hard would it be to find such a woman, let alone one who was single, was willing to travel a long distance, probably never see her parents and friends again, and who was of the family of Abraham? Now that is really taking on quite a task.
Let’s put that in today’s world. What cities are about five hundred miles away from our church? There are Des Moines, Iowa; Hilton Head Island, South Carolina; Little Rock, Arkansas; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. If you had to go to one of these cities; you couldn’t take an airplane, you couldn’t take a train, you couldn’t take a bus, you couldn’t take an automobile—you had to either walk or ride a camel. That would be quite a journey that would take well over one month. Who would like to walk all the way to Hilton Head, South Carolina and back?
And once you had gotten there, you had to find a single woman who was a relative of your master. Do you think that the servant would have any success in finding such a woman? Talk about a planned marriage! How many women today would take the opportunity of marrying a person that they had no knowledge of except the information that she gained from his father’s servant? And remember, she probably would never see her family and friends again.
Wouldn’t the woman have questions that couldn’t really be answered? Is she going to love him? Is he going to love her? What does he look like? Is he handsome? Is he intelligent? What is her future husband like? Will she be happy living with him as his wife? What if she didn’t like him, how would she be able to return to her parents? And she would be living amid the dreaded Canaanites.
Do you think that the servant foresaw the difficulties of such a thing? What a beginning of the covenant race!
First, was the miraculous birth of Isaac. Second, was an equal problem. Finding a wife for Isaac.
And what about Isaac, the future groom? Don’t you think that he was anxious about who would be his wife. He had no idea who his wife was going to be or if he was going to have one. But he had to have a wife, eventually. For he was part of the covenant promises and he had to have a wife to have children.
I learned of an experience which was very similar to Isaac’s when I was in my twenties. This story took place over fifty-five years ago. I was an adult leader at a Boy Scout camp in the summer. One of the other leaders was a young man from India. He was a little bit older than I was and he was very nervous because of what was happening in his life.
As soon as the eight-week camp was over, he was to go to Canada, where some of his relatives were living, and marry his bride who was flying in from India. They had never met or talked to each other; the only thing that they knew about each other was a picture that each of them was given. Remember, this was fifty-five years ago.
His parents and her parents, both who lived in India, had arranged the marriage for them both. The first time that he would see her would be the day that he married her. He was very, very nervous about this planned marriage. He asked some of the same questions that Isaac would have asked. I would imagine that he was feeling the same kind of anxious thoughts that Isaac and Rebekah had.
MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE JOURNEY
But there was one more bit of information that had not been revealed that would be of help to the servant who was to make this difficult journey. It was:
7) “The LORD God of heaven, which took me [Abraham] from my [Abraham] father’s house, and from the land of my [Abraham] kindred, and which spake unto me [Abraham], and that sware unto me [Abraham], saying, Unto thy [Abraham] seed will I [LORD God] give this land; He [the LORD God] shall send his [LORD God] angel before thee [Eliezar], and thou [Eliezar] shalt take a wife unto my [Abraham] son from thence.
8) And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee [Eliezar], then thou [Eliezar] shalt be clear from this my [Abraham] oath: only bring not my [Abraham] son thither again.
9) And the servant put his [Eliezar] hand under the thigh of Abraham his [Eliezar] master, and sware to him [Abraham] concerning that matter.”
God’s angel would go before the servant and would help him find Isaac’s bride. The servant would not be alone. And if the angel failed, the servant would be released from this oath. Isaac was required to stay at home and was not to go with him. After all these requirements were explained, the servant made the oath with Abraham.
The rest of this longest chapter in the book of Genesis tells the story of how the servant found Rebekah, daughter of Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham’s brother. He found Rebekah at the watering well and she said the words that were the key that she was the one he was looking for.
She invited him to stay with her family and a short time later she was asked if she would go to be Isaac’s wife and she agreed. The servant gave the many gifts that Abraham had sent and gave them to Rebekah’s family. Afterwards, they made their journey all the way back to meet Rebekah’s husband for the first time.
What do you think was the future bride and groom’s reaction, both Rebekah and Isaac, when they first saw each other. Do you think it was love at first sight? What if they didn’t like each other? What if they had different beliefs? What if their personalities didn’t match? Rebekah had her nurse that came and made the journey with her, but, other than that, she was all alone with her future husband and his family.
The scriptures tell us in Genesis 24:67 that: “And Isaac brought her [Rebekah] into his [Isaac] mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she [Rebekah] became his [Isaac] wife; and he [Isaac] loved her:”
So, the second parents of the Abrahamic covenant were Isaac and his wife Rebekah. They were part of a planned marriage. And Isaac loved Rebekah. They were to have a multiplicity of children which was to eventually become “many nations” for “Thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies.”
A second witness is given by the wife of Isaac in Genesis 24:60: “And they [Rebekah’s brother and mother] blessed Rebekah, and said unto her [Rebekah], Thou art our [Rebekah’s brother] sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions [billions], and let thy [Rebekah] seed possess the gate of those [enemies] who hate them [Rebekah’s descendants].”
So, here is a small clue. Rebekah’s brother and mother must have been told about the covenant that was made to Isaac’s father and passed down to his son. Rebekah must have learned about the covenant that God had made with her future husband’s father and had granted its promises to her future husband. The covenant, then, could have been one of the main reasons that Rebekah had agreed to this usual marriage.
THE RESULT OF THIS MARRIAGE
God had told Abram that he would have a son, not a daughter. And that he would have a great multitude of descendants. So many, that his descendants would become “many nations.” Who are these nations today? They are to possess the gate of their enemies, so they can’t be all the nations of the world as they have enemies. He would also have kings. So, the descendants of Abraham would eventually be “many nations,” mostly ruled by kings.
God made unconditional promises, on two different occasions, one with Abram, the other with Abraham. The unconditional covenant said that the descendants of Abraham would eventually be “many nations.” And that these nations would possess the gates of their national enemies.
This unconditional covenant stands on the integrity of our LORD God. Those that believe that the promises of God are never broken will be helped and encouraged when proof, full and abundant, shall be given the promise concerning the many nations. The many nations cannot be all the nations of the world, as the modern-day church teaches, but they are the “many nations” of the Abrahamic people.
Some of these “many nations” today would be:
- Isle of Man,
- New Zealand,
- United States,
- South Africa,
Although many of these nations are becoming composed of fewer and less Israelite peoples as more non-Adamic people are becoming their inhabitants. Many of the population are mixed seed as their ancestors have interracially married. The number of pure Israelites is becoming fewer and fewer. The same as it was in Judaea when Jesus had His ministry.
God when he set the territorial bounds for other nations, He remembered Israel, and either restricted the boundaries of other nations or enlarged those divisions of country intended for Israel, which would be needed by that immense multitude of people when they would have fulfilled their appointed destiny of developing into many nations.
The nations of the covenant were a racial choice. It was not the Arabs, or the sons of Esau, or the sons of the Negroid, or the sons of the Orientals. It was the son of Abraham and Sarah—Isaac and from his twin sons, Jacob, and Esau. Esau became rejected after he married forbidden wives, and it went to Jacob/Israel and his sons.
This is why God called Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at least a dozen times in the Bible. This makes the covenant important. For it is an:
- Everlasting covenant,
- Unconditional covenant, and a
- Racial covenant.
We must bear in mind that the posterity of Abraham is a natural seed, according to the flesh, and that each special nation of the many must have a place in which to dwell.
We have Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, Shuah, Esau and Jacob. Which ones are to receive the covenant blessings. Who are the “Children of the Promise” and who are the “Children of the Flesh?” (Romans 9:8).
ISAAC HAS TWO CHILDREN
Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as his wife. His father Abraham soon died, and both Ishmael and Isaac buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which Abraham purchased. Eventually his wife Sarah, his son Isaac and his wife, Rebekah, and his grandson Jacob and one of his wives, Leah, are buried in this same burial cave.
But for twenty years, Isaac and Rebekah had no children. The covenant was at a crisis once again. How could there be “many nations” if they are childless? The seed line would just die. There would be no branches from this part of the tree trunk.
Isaac entreated the LORD because of this situation, and the LORD answered his prayer and brought forth to them twin sons, Esau, and Jacob. But the story gets even stranger. For Isaac loved Esau, and Rebekah loved Jacob.
But Esau despised the covenant that God made with his grandfather and his father. But Esau had to know of the story of how his father first saw his wife after she came over five hundred miles to be his wife. He had to know that their marriage was a planned marriage. He had to know that they had never seen one another or even knew anything about each other until they were married. He had to know that it was wrong to marry the Canaanites.
His grandfather made sure that his son, Esau’s father, married his own race. But Esau didn’t want to go through this. It was too hard. He wanted the simple way.
So, Esau married a couple of Hittite wives who lived close to where he grew-up, which became a grief of mind unto his parents. Why was it such grief to them. They hadn’t married a Canaanite; they married someone who was of the same race as they were. They were in love with each other. Why didn’t Esau follow in their footsteps? The covenant race stood as a couple of elderly people with no children to carry it on. Would the covenant seed line die off?
Moreover, Rebekah, Isaac’s wife, convinces Isaac to send Jacob to her family in Padan-Aram (in Mesopotamia) to preclude his marrying a Hittite woman when in fact she wants him to escape a vindictive Esau, too (Genesis 27:41--46; 28:1–5). Rebekah will never see her beloved son again. She will die before he returns after being gone for twenty years.
Jacob was to go where his grandfather sent his elderly servant, to the family of his mother’s brother. But there was one difference. He was to go and look for his wife. He was to find himself a wife of his own race. He was not to find a wife from the local Canaanites, like his brother did.
Jacob obeyed his father and mother, went to the homeland of his mother, found his wife, was tricked by his father-in-law on his wedding night, served another seven years for the wife that he loved, and produced twelve sons and one daughter which was the beginning of the covenant race.
The Biblical text is clear about God’s intention to have Jacob continue the lineage. Rebekah, Jacob’s mother, carried out God’s will. As a resourceful trickster, Rebekah serves God and preserves the ancestral lineage.
Rebekah is a very special person in the Bible narrative. One highly unusual circumstance is that she is said to have a nurse (Genesis 35:8). The dramatic story of her going five hundred miles away to marry a man she had never met signifies the important role of the woman in a family household. In addition, the phrase given as her home as being “his mother Sarah’s tent” for Isaac’s home is an indication of this.
The beginning of the kingdom of God was not smooth. It had many “bumps in the road.” God pointed out several times that it was only one seed of Abraham, i.e. the one seed with Abraham and Sarah that was the recipient of the covenant. Then there was the miracle when they found a suitable wife for Isaac who had to agree to marrying a man she had never met. And the covenant passed to only one of Isaac’s sons, for one of the twins had married into the forbidden line of the Canaanites.
But there were many other difficulties that were to occur. There were jealousies, sibling rivalries, wives envying other wives, father-in-law deceiving his son-in-law on his wedding night, wife lying to her husband, one brother attempting to kill another brother, two brothers slew a couple of cities on behalf of their defiled sister, and on and on it went.
One brother became the priests, another brother became the royalty, another brother gained the birthright. Many of the brothers tried to murder their youngest brother and lie to their father saying that he was killed by a wild animal. One brother, who was the first legal inheritor of the birthright lost it because he behaved in a bad sexual way.
The call of Abraham and the giving of the promises to him were supernatural. For God had appeared unto him and talked with him. The production of Isaac was also supernatural. There was no human possibility. And that was only the first of the supernatural. They just kept on occurring as the kingdom of God was growing to be first, one nation, then two kingdoms, then “many nations.” Eventually, this kingdom will be the one that will never die, it is an everlasting kingdom which will once again have the LORD God as its King.
This is the story that the Bible tells us about. The story of the beginning of the “mustard seed” kingdom, its ruination, the making of everlasting covenants, its growth, the miscegenation, the failures, the usurping of God as their king and the substitution of men as the king, the successes, the failures, the salvation, the growth into “many nations,” the overcoming, the survivor of the remnant, the victory, and the reestablishment of the kingdom of God on the earth, forever and forever. Blessed be the LORD God of Rebekah.
Blessed be the LORD God of Israel.