The Two Nations of Isaac

“And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.” Genesis 25:23

I. The Plan of God is now tightly focused (Genesis 35; 36). 

A. Abraham would be the father of “many nations” (Genesis 17:4-5).

1. Ishmael (the son of the Bondwoman) fathered many.

a. He fathered 12 “princes” of nations (Genesis 25:12-18).
b. His descendants number in the millions today.

2. Isaac (the son of Promise) had Jacob and Esau (Genesis 35:29).

a. Jacob is Israel (Romans 11:26).
b. Esau is Edom (Genesis 36:1).

3. The spiritual “children” of Abraham number in the billions (Galatians 3:7).

B. Jacob’s 12 sons became the tribes of Israel (Exodus 1:1-7).

1. Genesis 37 marks a change in the focus of Scripture.

2. Israel becomes the center of the record.

a. Prophecy focuses on Israel.
b. The Millennium gives Israel prominence.
c. Eternity establishes Israel in a permanent land.

C. Esau’s descendants are listed in Genesis 36.

1. Esau has 5 sons and 11 grandsons who become “chiefs” of nations.

2. Edomites and Horites (Seir) occupy the land south of the Dead Sea.

a. Horites were subjugated and absorbed into Edomites.
b. Edomites live by the sword.
1) This is the “blessing” of Isaac on Esau.
2) This is recorded in Genesis 27:40
c. Edomites are active in warfare against Israel and Judah.
1) Last successful rebellion under Jehoram (2 Chronicles 21:8)
2) United with Nebuchadnezzar to sack Israel (Psalm 137:7).

3. Identified with Idumeans in 1st Century B.C.

a. Josephus records Herod the Great as an Edomite.
b. Identified with Petra (southern Jordan)

II. Jacob refocuses his life and returns to Bethel (Genesis 35).

A. Jacob had become spiritually lax at Shechem (Genesis 33; 34).

1. Jacob permits too much freedom with his children.

2. Dinah becomes a casualty of the world.

3. Simeon and Levi plot and execute a wholesale massacre.

4. Jacob’s reputation is damaged and the family forced to leave.

B. God issues orders again to Jacob to bring correction into his life.

1. God “said” – (Genesis 35:1).

2. God “said” – many ways of communicating

a. “Word of the Lord” appears 269 times in Scripture.
b. Old Testament uses visions, dreams, personal appearances of heavenly messengers, prophets
c. New Testament stresses the teachings of Jesus and Apostles
d. Final focus is, of course, on the written Word.

3. The “orders” are simple – a repeat of what has already been said.

a. Go back to Bethel -- Dwell in that land.
b. Make an altar to God – a place to worship.

C. Jacob’s obedient response provides an excellent model for us to follow.

1. Correction of previous errors (Genesis 35:2-3)

a. Put away the strange gods (Proverbs 3:7; Psalm 37:27).
b. Be clean [purge yourselves] – (Psalm 51:2, 7; Prov. 29:6).
c. Change your garments (see 35:4; Revelation 3:4-5)
d. Arise and perform (35:3-4) – Attitude and Purpose

2. Conduct in obedience to God’s direction (Genesis 35:5-7)

a. They got rid of their “strange” gods and “earrings.”
b. They “journeyed” to where God wanted them.
c. Jacob brought everyone to Bethel and built the altar.

3. Confirmation from God brought encouragement and purpose.

a. God reaffirmed the promises (Genesis 35:9-13).
God “left” Jacob to “work out his salvation” (Philippians 2:12).

4. Confession of the commitmentis made openly and publicly.

a. Jacob’s open response is recorded in Genesis 35:14-15.
b. Jacob is now in the place that God wants him.
c. Jacob set up a “pillar” to commemorate and remember.
d. Jacob identifies his home as “God’s House”.
1) Matthew 10:32; Luke 12:8
2) Joshua 24:15
3) Psalm 119:111-112
4) Genesis 18:19
The Patriarchs
ch. 35-36


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