Rebecca, Isaac’s wife for twenty long years of marriage, finally conceived, after Isaac had entreated the Lord to open her barren womb.  If we may momentarily skip over the parenthetical statement of verse 11, we will recall that Rebecca, experiencing difficulty with her pregnancy, went to the Lord to inquire of the reason of her problem.  God told her that two nations and manner of people were in her womb, and that the elder would serve the younger.

jacob-esau-450x351

This is God doing something He commonly does, overturning the established order, making the last first, and the first last.  By common practice, by the assumption of all, even by His own law, the birthright and blessing would be conferred upon the firstborn; but God had chosen Jacob, who chanced to be the younger of the twin sons, to be preferred above Esau, the firstborn who by nature was entitled to the birthright.

Advertisements

Modesty and the Seventh Commandment

The Westminster Catechism, and all older Christian writers and confessions, unite in agreeing that one way in which the 7th Commandment is violated is by immodest apparel.  This appears to be consistent with the biblical testimony, and is at least part of the reason why Paul admonished believing women to adorn themselves “in modest apparel.”  Paul and Peter unite in agreeing that the clothing and decoration Christian women should focus upon is their spiritual attainments.  Our clothing should never be a reflection of pride or sensuality.

6524a4994cbd58a51641ab7a2c50d088_f1192

All this is, of course, controversial in an age where even churches seem to have relegated modesty to the dust bin of history.  But, as this message seeks to make clear, from the garden of Eden forward, God has been concerned about how His people dressed.  Moreover, scripture is abundantly clear that we can sin in the way that we dress; particularly when we as men or women dress so as to reveal or accentuate our nakedness.

For the best treatise on the subject I am aware of, I highly recommend to any interested in Christian modesty to acquire Jeff Pollard’s booklet “Christian Modesty and the Public Undressing of America” for free from Chapel Library.

The promise of God is crucial here.  God’s promise to Abraham was that He would visit him and his family, and that Sarah would have a son.  Thus, Abraham’s other descendants were excluded from the covenant promises; they were for Isaac alone.  Abraham and Sarah received the promise because they had faith in what God had spoken.  The Jews of Paul’s day were not receiving God’s blessings in the gospel, not because God had gone back on His word of promise to the fathers, but because they did not believe those promises, and thus were falling short of them.

isaac__rebekah-marriage

Paul does not rest content in proving that all the seed of Abraham are not children of God, though surely this was enough to prove his point.  Nonetheless, he proceeds to add the equally interesting case of Isaac and Rebecca’s offspring.  I suspect that Dr. Lloyd-Jones is correct in his argument that Paul added this example, because he knew that some thoughtful opponent would respond that the case of Abraham was not a good argument, because Abraham’s other children came from different wives, and Isaac alone came from Sarah.  That might indeed be a plausible objection, if Abraham were the only proof Paul could bring forth for his argument.  But the objection loses all merit in the face of the history of Isaac and Rebecca.

Isaac, the son of Abraham, is of course one of the great patriarchs of the Israelite nation.  He was the child of promise, the one through whom God would carry forward His promises.  It must be through his offspring that God would fulfill His promise to bless all the nations of the earth.

Paul explains the point he is driving at in verse 8.  Those who are the children of the flesh, born according to natural propagation apart from any promise of supernatural intervention by God, are not the children of the promise; or, to use the apostle’s word here, “the children of God.”  The children of the promise alone are accounted the honored seed of Abraham.

KJV_Romans_9-8

Ishmael and Keturah’s sons sprang from the loins of Abraham fully as much as was Isaac.  But they were not inheritors of the promises, and therefore not counted among the children of God.  This is important to establishing Paul’s case.  Simply being a child of Abraham did not entitle one to inheritance of the promises and blessings of God.  Abraham had a numerous progeny, but only one of them was a son of promise.  When the scriptures speaks of “the seed of Abraham,” it has no reference to Ishmaelites, Midianites, Edomites, or any others save the Hebrews, those who were given to Abraham by promise, through his wife Sarah.  Thus, the unbelieving Jews in Paul’s day had no right to assume that they would inherit God’s blessings, simply because they were descended from Abraham.  If they did not believe God’s promises, then they were not the true seed of Abraham, who receive the promises by faith.

Not all the seed of Abraham, Paul reminds his Jewish kinsmen, are the children of God.  Abraham was the father not only of Isaac, the son of promise, only, but of many other children.  Most notably, several years before Isaac’s birth, he fathered Ishmael by Hagar his Egyptian bondmaid.  But Ishmael was not a child of promise, and ultimately was cast out of the household and from the promises of God.  Both the Ishmaelites, and the descendants of the sons Abraham fathered through Keturah, later become some of Israel’s fiercest enemies.

KJV_Romans_9-7

Isaac alone was the son of promise.  God promised Abraham a son through whom He would fulfill His promises, and that son must be born of his wife Sarah.  Abraham’s seed would be called in Isaac.  In other words, the promises of God, and the honor of the Abrahamic name, would be restrained to Isaac and his descendants alone.  Though Ishmael and the sons of Keturah certainly were part of God honoring His promise to give Abraham a seed as numerous as the stars of heaven, the redemptive promises of God were contained in the seed of Isaac alone.  This is what God meant when He told Abraham, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called.”

Jefferson Davis and Andrew Johnson

Last Friday, I posted an article by Professor Clyde Wilson comparing and contrasting the lives, characters, and careers of the presidents of the United States and Confederate States during the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis. From the perspective of Wilson (and my own) Davis comes out as a much more sympathetic character, more of a true humanitarian than Lincoln ever was.

I post this article by David E. Johnson as something of a supplement, because it deals with Davis and the man who succeeded Lincoln, Andrew Johnson. Ironically, Johnson was a Southerner from Tennessee, but a staunch Unionist, who became Lincoln’s running mate in 1864, and then his successor after Lincoln was assassinated. I found this article fascinating because I learned about the animosity that existed between Johnson and Davis going back to their days in Congress, which made Davis dread that Johnson would mistreat the South more than Lincoln ever would have done.

Andrew Johnson

Although he is widely reviled by modern historians, Johnson turned out to be a man of considerable courage who resisted the radicals of his own party who were intent on trampling and plundering the South, and although he early on talked about hanging traitors, he never lifted a finger to prosecute Davis or other Southern war leaders. Because he resisted the punitive Reconstruction measures of the Radical Republicans, Johnson came within 1 vote of being impeached. Surviving by the narrowest of margins, he rode out his term and was replaced by U.S. Grant in 1868, who allowed the vindictive Reconstruction policies of the radicals to proceed, and headed up perhaps the most corrupt administration in American history.

The Gift of Sight

This expository sermon deals with the healing of the man born blind.  After correcting His disciples’ misapprehension of why the man suffered, and stating His own eagerness to do the Father’s will, Christ healed the man in a unique way; wetting clay from the ground with His spittle, plastering it over the man’s eyes, and sending him to wash in the pool of Siloam.  After washing the clay from his eyes, the blind man for the first time could see with perfect clarity.

This sermon seeks to explain why Christ chose such an unusual method of healing, and makes application concerning the Lord’s often strange and diverse dealings in the lives of His people.