and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan-aram and the sister of Laban the Aramean.
We are now entering a new stage of the sacred history, where we are looking less upon the development of one man's character than upon the unfolding purposes of Jehovah in the family with which he has made his covenant. Again we are in the region of -
1. Gracious interposition.
2. Supernatural assistance of human infirmity.
3. Prophetic announcements.
The atmosphere is that of the covenant. The children in the womb are two nations. The history of great peoples is anticipated. - R.
The intended mother of the promised seed was left for twenty years childless — to contend with the doubts, surmises, evil proposals, proud challengings of God, and murmurings, which must undoubtedly have arisen even in so bright and spirited a heart as Rebekah's. It was thus she was taught the seriousness of the possession she had chosen for herself, and gradually led to the implicit faith requisite for the discharge of its responsibilities. Many young persons have a similar experience. They seem to themselves to have chosen a wrong position, to have made a thorough mistake in life, and to have brought themselves into circumstances in which they only retard, or quite prevent the prosperity of those with whom they are connected. In proportion as Rebekah loved Isaac, and entered into his prospects, must she have been tempted to think she had far better have remained in Padanaram. It is a humbling thing to stand in-some other person's way; but if it is by no fault of ours, but in obedience to affection or conscience we are in this position, we must, in humility and patience, wait upon Providence as Rebekah did, and resist all morbid despondency. This second barrenness in the prospective mother of the promised seed was as needful to all concerned as the first was; for the people of God, no more than any others, can learn in one lesson. They must again be brought to a real dependence on God as the Giver of the heir. The prayer with which Isaac "entreated" the Lord for his wife "because she was barren" was a prayer of deeper intensity than he could have uttered had he merely remembered the story that had been told him of his own birth. God must be recognized again and again and throughout as the Giver of life to the promised line. Learn, therefore, that although God has given you means of working out His salvation, your Rebekah will be barren without His continued activity. On His own means you must re-invite His blessing, for without the continuance of His aid you will make nothing of the most beautiful and appropriate helps He has given you. It was by pain, anxiety, and almost dismay, that Rebekah received intimation that her prayer was answered. In this she is the type of many whom God hears. Inward strife, miserable forebodings, deep dejection, are often the first intimations that God is listening to our prayer and is beginning to work within us.
The generations of Isaac. 1.
God hath a special care to commend unto posterity the line of His Church, and His providences towards it.
2. The eminent line of the Church visible begins from Abraham (ver. 19).
3. The holy seed run not foolishly nor hastily into the marriage covenant, but in maturity and prudence.
4. God separates the mother of His Church from all superstitious relations. In calling any to His Church God separates them from corrupt relations (ver. 20).
In God's answer of prayer the greatest mercies may be given in, with the greatest temptation.
2. Hard temptations may sometimes cause gracious souls to be discontented with their mercies.
3. In such temptations gracious hearts make their resource to God to know His mind and do it (ver. 22).
Jehovah vouchsafes answers to His troubled petitioners suitable to their desires.
2. God hath by natural symptoms in some declared the two great parties of the world and of the Church.
3. God's oracle hath foretold heavy divisions between them.
4. God hath so ordered that the people of the world may be outwardly stronger than the Church.
5. It is God's oracle that the greatest in the world shall serve the least in the Church.
6. The preferring or undervaluing of creatures either for outward or inward, temporal or eternal good, depends wholly upon God's will (ver. 23).
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