Think about the following Bible verse: What are some of its implications?
Isaiah 55:9 – For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
There may be several, at least one of these is the fact that God often works in and does unexpected things in our lives. Sometimes these may look like a complete blessing, other times these “surprises” may come in the form of a trial.
The questions is, What do we do when God throws us a curveball?
God keeps His promises, but at times He does so in ways we would least expect.
I. God’s promises are kept in unusual ways (Gen. 25:21-26)
21 And Isaac prayed to the Lord for his wife, because she was barren. And the Lord granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?” So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.”
24 When her days to give birth were completed, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first came out red, all his body like a hairy cloak, so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.
We see a common theme between Isaac’s father, Abraham, and Isaac himself. Infertility. Although this may simply be coincidental, perhaps God is seeking to build faith among these early patriarchs. Because much of the covenantal promise revolved around the descendants of Abraham, maybe God is drawing his followers closer to himself through the use of this trial.
Though Scripture here seems to pass over the issue of infertility quickly, Rebekah was barren for twenty years after marrying Isaac (see Gen. 25:20-26) – twenty years likely filled with heartache, confusion, doubt, and perhaps even anger.
Within this struggle we see a reminder that it is God who fulfills the promises of the covenant, not his people.
Within this birth narrative, we see a foreshadow of Jacob and Essau’s relationship. They struggled against one another. This struggle continued throughout their lives.
One of the most notable uses of this passage of scripture can be found in Paul’s letter to the Romans. Chapter 9. One of the most controversial passages of scripture in modern baptist circles.
Romans 9:6-13 – 6 But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring, but “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 8 This means that it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring.9 For this is what the promise said: “About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.” 10 And not only so, but also when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our forefather Isaac, 11 though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls— 12 she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” 13 As it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Paul is drawing a larger point within the context of chapter 9, but notice what he says in v. 6. God’s word does not fail. It may work itself out in peculiar ways, but it never fails.
II. God’s promises are given to unworthy people (Gen. 25:29-34)
29 Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted.30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) 31 Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” 32 Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” 33 Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.
If God chooses to work out his promises and display his grace through those with outstanding character, then He has obviously missed something here!
The name Jacob means, “trickster, or one who undermines others”. In these verses he’s living up to his name.
Essau tended to be more impulsive and unspiritual, while Jacob was calculative and deceptive. Essau worried more about his immediate needs, while Jacob tended to think long-term. In one of the worlds worst trades, Essau gives away his rights as the first born for a quick bowl of soup.
Although we may be quick to point a finger at Jacob, which of the two brothers were worthy of the promises of God? Neither. They were both unworthy sinners.
Consider Eph. 2:8,9 – 8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Rom. 3:27, 28 – 27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
Rom. 9:23-26;30-33 – 23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? 25 As indeed he says in Hosea,
“Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’
and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’”
26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’”…
30 What shall we say, then? That Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness have attained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith; 31 but that Israel who pursued a law that would lead to righteousness did not succeed in reaching that law. 32 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as if it were based on works. They have stumbled over the stumbling stone, 33 as it is written,
“Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
III. God’s promises are based on His unchanging faithfulness (Gen. 26.1-6)
Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. 2 And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.” 6 So Isaac settled in Gerar.
In these verses, God echoes his covenant with Abraham to his son Isaac.
God told Abraham to go to a land that he would make known to him. He tells Isaac to stay in that land.
Although it is noted that Abraham obeyed the voice of God, looking back over the book of Genesis, we see that it is largely an imperfect obedience. The same can be said of Issac. God’s covenant promise rest on His unchanging character, not ours. And that’s a good thing.
Why do you think it is important that God’s own faithfulness, and not ours, secures His promises and grace?
God’s unchanging nature is good news for Christians, for it guarantees that God does not change His mind or go back on His promises. Christians can find assurance and peace of mind in knowing that the God who brought them out of darkness will carry them through into eternity.
Not everyone believes that God doesn’t change. How is this shown in our contemporary setting? Why is God’s unchanging character important for us today?