The Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did to Sarah as he had promised. And Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age at the time of which God had
spoken to him. Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him,
whom Sarah bore him, Isaac.
– Genesis 21:1-3

We learn in Genesis 12 that Abraham was 75 years old when God first gave His promises to Abraham. In Genesis 15, the promise is again made that Abraham will have a son to be his heir and begin the promised great Nation. Genesis 16 tells us that Abraham is 86 years old when Ishmael is born. However, he would not be the promised son from God. Finally in Genesis 22, at the age of 100, Isaac is born to Sarah and Abraham. The long-ago promised heir has been born.

Think about the life of Isaac. He was the fulfillment of a promise made 25 years before, his birth. There was great joy and excitement in the family with the birth of Isaac. However, in the next chapter, God puts Abraham to the test. He tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to God. We do not get much reaction from Isaac in this story. He questions where the sacrifice is, not realizing it’s him. He is lying on the altar with his father holding a knife over top of him. Talk about a traumatic experience! Yet, Isaac will see the Lord protect him and provide a sacrifice.

Isaac grows and marries Rebekah. Isaac, while being a man of faith, also had his failures. Much like his father, Abraham, Isaac lied about his wife Rebekah and told Abimelech she was his sister, to protect himself. Drama always seems to follow this family. Isaac and Rebekah have twin boys, Jacob and Esau. Similar to the relationship between Isaac and his brother Ishmael, Jacob and Esau didn’t have the healthiest relationship. It didn’t help that Isaac had his favorite, Esau, and Rebekah had her favorite, Jacob. The drama goes on and Esau gives up his birthright as the first born to Jacob because he is hungry and trades his birthright to Jacob for soup. Then Rebekah and Jacob plot against Esau and Isaac, and get Isaac to give his blessing to Jacob instead of Esau. Isaac lived a life that would give any screen writer plenty of material to write about!

Yet through all this, God is working out his plan of providing a great Nation and the family line into which Jesus will enter the world in. Through it all, God is preparing salvation for His people in the long-awaited Messiah. The call of Abraham to sacrifice Isaac is a preview of the sacrifice that God will later make of His one and only Son, Jesus. This is the story that Genesis continues to build toward.

The Genealogy of….

“This is the account of Shem…” – Genesis 11:10

“This is the account of Terah…” – Genesis 11:27

“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the Son of David,
the son of Abraham.”
– Matthew 1:1

As you are reading Scripture, there are numerous times in which you will come across a passage like the ones found above. If you are like me, many times you probably skip over them or just read through them very fast. However, these family trees help develop the themes that go through the entire Bible.

One negative theme is the struggles Israel has with the nations surrounding them. The family line of Noah’s son Ham grows into some of Israel’s greatest enemies of the Old Testament; these nations will cause many problems for the nation of Israel. The family trees show the beginning of many of the struggles in the Old Testament. One of the more famous divisions within a family tree is Ishmael and Isaac, the sons of Abraham. The nation of Israel traces its roots back to Isaac, while the Islamic faith traces its line back to Ishmael. That is a division, though, that cannot be discussed in a brief devotional.

However, there is also a positive encouragement that comes through understanding the family trees. The theme of redemption that flows through Scripture began in the Garden with the promise that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the snake. The Old Testament focuses on this seed, Adam and Eve to Abraham, the man to whom God promises a great Nation.  The Old Testament is continually reminding its readers where it is within this family line. Often for the nation of Israel there were times of great struggle and pain, but there was always hope – hope in a family tree that would provide salvation and ultimate victory. A line that goes from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Jacob to David and eventually to our Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the seed that was promised to come to destroy the power of sin in our lives. As you read those family trees, think about the hand of God protecting and providing hope when it seemed like there was none.

Tower of Babel

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” – Genesis 11:4

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. – Acts 2:5-6

In Genesis 11 there is an odd story that at first might seem out of place, considering the other stories around it. This event takes place many years after the flood, since the earth has been repopulated. However, the people again have turned their backs on God. This is a theme presented throughout Genesis and the Bible: man’s failure. In this account, mankind has not spread out over the earth as God wanted. They have settled in an area and decided to make a great name for themselves (not God). They are going to build a great city and a great tower that reaches to the heavens. This city would become Babylon, a city which causes great problems for God’s people.

God is not pleased with the building of this city and tower, so He comes down and confuses their languages. Now they are unable to communicate with each other, and their projects fail. The earth now has different languages and the people gather with those who speak a similar language to theirs. The world becomes divided by nations and languages.

However, just as the theme of man’s failure runs through Scripture, so does the theme of God’s redemption. In Acts chapter 2 the nations and languages are gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Weeks, also known as Pentecost. The Disciples are gathered and the Holy Spirit comes upon them and they begin speaking in other languages as the Spirit enables them. The Disciples begin to preach the Gospel – the Good News about Jesus Christ – to all nations, and thousands are saved. The message of the cross is unifying the division that goes back to Genesis 11. Revelation 7 looks toward the future and describes every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before Christ and worshipping Him. What an amazing story of redemption this is!