What does it say?

Besides Sarah, Abraham had another wife named Keturah (Gen 25) that gives Abraham six sons. Before Abraham dies, he protects Isaac’s inheritance of the covenant by sending Keturah’s sons east toward Arabia. God keeps his promise to bless Ishmael (born of Abraham and Hagar), who fathers 12 tribal leaders.

Isaac’s wife Rebekah is barren. God opens her womb just as he did Sarah’s, and she bears twins. God names Jacob as heir to the promise, though Esau is the firstborn (25:23). Jacob’s name means “manipulator.” Rather than rest in God’s promise, he manipulates father and brother to gain the birthright by his own effort.

Isaac is a well digger, not insignificant in the semi-arid climate of Canaan. He repeats his father’s pattern of turning to the Philistines in time of famine, and passes his wife off as his sister (Gen 26). As Abraham was before him, he is greatly blessed because of God’s promise (12:1-3).

What does it mean?

God’s story continues as Abraham and family interact with neighboring peoples. The Hebrews and many of the tribes of the Arabian Peninsula share a common origin in Abraham. God keeps his promise to bless Abraham’s line, but rather than being a blessing to the nations, conflict often results. Sadly, war and conflict still reign.

As the world shrinks, God is now bringing the nations to us. Am I just as oblivious to God’s mission as Abraham, Isaac and Jacob appear to be at times?

God chooses Jacob over firstborn Esau for no reason apparent to us, just as he chose Abram, an idolater at the time, to be blessed to bless the nations. God does not choose people according to one’s merit or performance, but according to His plan.

How will I respond?

I naturally seek out people like me; God blesses me to also bless people not like me. Think broadly. Differences between others and me can be ethnic, linguistic, generational, social and educational. How will I reach out to people not like me? Short answer: show interest in them. If they speak a different language, I can ask them to teach me a few key phrases in their native tongue, or how to cook an ethnic dish. I can cross generations by asking someone much older to share military service experiences, or simply talk about how life used to be when they were my age.

I don’t have to wait to be good enough or trained enough to serve God or have a flawless life. God’s plan moves forward. All I have to do is engage and he’ll continue to grow me up along the way.