Cloud of Witnesses III

February 26, 2007

Genesis 21:10-13  “Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.  And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son.  And God said unto Abraham, let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of the bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.  And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.”

Abraham gained some important understanding with these instructions from the Ancient of Days.  He understood that it would be through Isaac that his seed would be called.  He also learned that in Ishmael a nation would also come forth.  In other words, neither of his sons were going to be cut off.  He could turn the situation concerning Hagar and Ishmael over to Sarah knowing that everything would be alright.  I bring this up because Abraham was grieved over Sarahs demands and God eleviated this grief by promising that a nation would come from Ishmael.  Abrahams simple trust in the words of the Lord were soon to be put to a test that the natural mind cannot begin to fathom.

Hebrews 11:17-19  “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac; and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,  Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:  Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”

Abraham believed God.  He trusted the words of God over all of the physical evidence to the contrary.  He truly believed that in Isaac would his seed be called and as such, believed that God would even raise him from the dead; had the trial of his faith lasted a couple of seconds longer.  The testimony of Abraham is one that we’ve read and heard teaching on countless times, but as I was reading this earlier, it really began to dawn on me just how profound it is.  No ten step program on how to increase your faith.  No formulas, no correspondance courses, and no indication that Abraham had ever seen a person rise from the dead.  It was a venture into that which was contrary to all earthly recollections and offered no physical evidence of having happened before. 

Genesis 15:6  “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

Noah, Abraham, Job, Elijah, Joshua, Daniel, any of these guys.  If one were to go up to them and ask “what’s your secret?’  The reply would be along the lines of “there’s no secret.  God said thus and therefore, thus is true.  Gods word has more authority than the laws of physics and the continual repeating of historical patterns.  This is something that we all must get into our heart of hearts as our faith will be tested in ways that we may well not expect.  A favorite example is “suppose a spacecraft lands on the white house lawn and a bunch of Pleiadians emerge?”  Will our faith stand up in the face of something that seems to be in such contrast to the biblical account of creation?” 

Hebrews 11:20  “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.”

The story of Jacob and Esau is a complicated one to discuss and I feel woefully inadequate in doing so.  It brings with it questions of predestination in the minds of some.  Romans 9:11-15 discusses this; verse fifteen explaining that the Lord will have mercy upon whom he will.  This is a complex subject indeed as we also know that God isn’t willing that any should perish.  I’m convinced that the biggest problem with Esau was when he sold his birthright for sustaeance in this life.  This is kind of drifting off topic but the following passage is very enlightening.  It also serves as a warning that we should keep our hearts with all diligence.

Hebrews 12:16-17  “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.  For ye know that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no space of repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.”

Venturing into a few of the “scary verses” this morning.  Esaus problem was “Esau” as is evidenced by the preceeding passage.  Just like Cains problem was “Cain”  I’m compelled to bring up the passage in Genesis where God explains things to Cain. 

Genesis 4:6-7  “And the LORD said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?  If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door.  And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

One thing that taking on a portion of scripture such as Hebrews chapter 11 is that, if you go verse by verse, it forces topics that normally you may neglect to tackle.  Jacob and Esau is such a topic.  In the natural, it really appears sneaky for rebecca to have Jacob pose as Esau in order to receive the blessing. Then when Isaac asks him how he found the venison so fast, Jacob replies “Because the LORD thy God brought it to me.”  Nonetheless, such is how things transpired.  One more verse before moving on. 

John 2:23-25  “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.  But Jesus did not commit himself to them, because he knew all men,  And needed not that any should testify of man:  for he knew what was in man.”

The simple truth is that God knows every thought and every intent in every heart of every person who ever has walked the earth, walks the earth now, or will walk the earth in the future.  That’s an unimaginable amount of information that God has and as such he sees the “whole picture.”  His ways really are past our finding out by folks who pass through this life as a vapor that quickly vanishes away.  This offers us a glimpse into the awesomeness of God and the incredible salvation that we have in Jesus.  

Hebrews 11:21  “By faith Jacob, when he was a-dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.”

Genesis 48:20-21  “And he blessed them that day, saying, God make thee as ephraim and as Manasseh:  and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.  And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again into the land of your fathers.”

An expected end; the expected end that all who love the Lord look to.  Jacob looking not just till the days of famine were past, but into the future when they would leave Egypt altogether.  I’m going to leave this for now and post it; probably before I should as I really haven’t gone through it as I would like to yet.  I have to run around this morning and I don’t know how much time I’ll have here.  This is forcing me to ponder things as going through scripture should always do; no matter how many times we may have read a certain portion.  It never gets old; it only gets deeper and sweeter. 

Well I’ll publish it and see what happens.  If I have typed error in anything, please bring it up.  One thing about dialogue of this nature is that it provides a means of discussion with folks who like to discuss things. 



  1. funny how you should have brought this up as I have been pondering on Hebrews 12:16-17 and am rather disturbed by it. does it mean that God doesn’t care about our repentence? i’d love to comments to this.

  2. Inhisgrace, this would not be my understanding of this passage at all, nor could you generalize such a conclusion from this one text. No single passage stands alone from the rest of scripture, indeed all scripture ins interpreted and understood by the rest of scripture. So, to generalize from this specific text that God doesn’t care about our repentance is not true.

    However, it is true that we can do things, that no matter what, that we cannot take it back. The warning here is simply that we can reject the grace of God, as did Esau and find that after it is too late, no matter how much we want to get back what we have lost, we cannot. As was true for Esau becomes also true for such a one.

    There are and yet will be, many voices in Hell crying out for repentance, but the time for such a cry, of and for repentance, will have come and gone, never to be reclaimed again. This is the warning that lies herein this text. Do not refuse the work of God’s grace now, allowing the root (apostate) of bitterness springing up and defiling one with that which is profane.

    I had written much more but it is suddenly was gone. What is going on with the comments section of WordPress?

    Anyway, I pray this is a little help here. It is a sobering passage for sure, but it does not in anyway reveal that the Lord does not care about genuine repentance.

    Great post timbob!

    Blessings in Christ Jesus!

  3. This is a verse that used to really scare me. In the case of Esau, he sold his birthright. I look at it like selling something and then later wishing that you had held on to it. The ownership of the item is now out of your control.
    I think, however, that if a person reaches a point where they “cannot repent” they wont desire to do so any longer. The hardening of ones heart isn’t Gods will but happens when they reject truth over and over. II Peter 3:9 tells us that God desires for “all” to come to repentance.
    There are verses that really make us ponder and this is one of them. I told this in a comment a few days ago, but about three weeks after becoming a christian, I made a light-hearted comment and later thought that I had commited the unpardonable sin. The sense of depression that came about took years to gain victory over and I found myself repenting continuously over it; unable to shake the fear. Finally freedom came in Mark 3:30. The light-hearted comment that I had made didn’t line up with what Mark 3:30 states is the unpardonable sin. The ordeal was a valuable lesson as I learned to watch my words a lot better. To this day strive to be very careful of what I say and what I say it about; keeping my comments within the confines of scripture. I pray that this is helpful and that others would weigh in as well. Thanks for sharing a concern that I know many have had before and may be experiencing now.

  4. Greetings Phil. I think that we were simultaneously commenting. Sorry. Thanks for commenting on this also. Hebrews has a number of “scary verses” that serve to keep us diligent. I know that Esau “willfully” sold his birthright for material gain. Even though the material gain meant that he would live another day, it showed where his heart was at.
    You also mention the danger of taking a single verse and building around it without going precept upon precept. I call them “one verse wonders.” Not to be divisive, but it’s a real danger when you take a verse, build a doctrine around that one verse, and then cater all of your teaching to fit into that doctrine. (I’ll delete the the two verses that came to mind concerning this from my comment. I re-read it and it was like hitting a bee hive with a stick) Studying to show ourselves approved unto God is imperative.

  5. Phil; I have to clarify my previous statement. I was not implying that you are a one-verse wonder. Quite the contrary, I know you to be one who is very well grounded in scriptural truth. I apolagize for not being more clear.

  6. Another great post. I never cease to be amazed as I go through God’s word, how I grow each time in the Lord.

  7. Good morning timbob, I have been in Hebrews a lot lately getting ready to post on the same chapters…
    The verse inisgrace refers to and Phil replied well to, is sobering indeed and one I’ve given much thought to over the years. Our hope is in the One who gave His life for us and is seated at the right hand of the Father interceding for us, our Faithful high priest Christ Jesus.
    But we all need to walk circumspectly with a healthy fear of the Lord that we do not despise our birthright and trade it in for the things of this world!

    The secret to obedience? ” God said thus and therefore, thus is true.” That is the bottom line then isn’t it!
    Thanks for another good post Timbob!
    Jesus love and blessings to you!

    Phil, my comments were eaten up earlier…been some glitches with wordpress lately it seems.

  8. timbob, this is such a thought provoking post and equally so for the comments! This type of obedience exhibited by Abraham is unfathonable to me but we know it can only flow from a heart that trusts in God and His promises. The kind of faith that takes God at His Word, that knows that God cannot lie, that God is who He says He is.

    Lord, increase our faith, to be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we cannot see! Amen.

    Do you think in the case of Esau that his tears were for true unselfish repentance for selling his birthright (and therefore rejecting God’s will) or because he selfishly coveted the blessings bestowed upon Jacob? He clearly wanted the blessings but did he clearly long for God? We know that God looks at the heart and that God’s ways are just. I tend to view this passage as saying that Esau was still not right in his heart towards God and therefore was not given a second chance. We can’t undo the things we have done in the past, but we can come to the Lord in true repentant faith and trust that as far as the east is from the west, so far have our transgressions been removed for us.

    God Bless!

  9. That was a thought provoking post, Timbob and the comments too.
    The book of Hebrews contains some deep truths and lessons that we need to learn.
    Thanks for sharing!


  10. Greetings Scotti. I hadn’t thought of that concerning Esau. As you read the account, he definately wanted blessing and that of a physical nature for the most part. This shows where his heart was. Thanks for the observation.

  11. Thanks Martin for stopping by. The whole book of Hebrews is deep as you have observed. One of my favorite verses is where Jesus is able to save us to the uttermost. I need his uttermost every day. Thanks for stopping by.

  12. Thanks totaltransformation and Faithwalk also for stopping in. I’m on break at work and break is about to end, but I wanted to acknowledge you before going back to work. I appreciate you along with all whom I blog with. (blog with?) Have a great evening in Christ.

  13. The scriptures dealing with Ishmael and Hagar wandering around, lost in the desert without water or hope, always get to me.

    Ishmael is the father of the Arab people. God saved and made provision for him, knowing all along that it would lead to centuries of bloodshed between the Arabs and Jews.

    For the sake of one little boy, God, in His infinite love, mercy and compassion, heard his cry and answered.

  14. That really is something to ponder cumby, I have thought about this very thing….

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