A Systematic Expository Study of the Word of God
THE PROPHETIC LANGUAGE OF FAITH
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Today’s text refers to the faith of three men: Isaac, Jacob and
Joseph. These three men are frequently and favourably mentioned in
Scripture. Their faith, especially at the hour of death, is presented to us
as a model. They had believed God, the God of Abraham, from childhood, they
walked with God, through many tests, troubles and trials by faith and they
all exhibited strong faith in God at the end of their earthly pilgrimage. At
the end of the life of each of them, the greatest thing each one passed on
to the children was the promise of God, not material things.
The record in Genesis reveals much on the lives of Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob and Joseph. Of these four men, Isaac lived the longest. Yet, less is
recorded about him than any of the others. Chapters 12 to 25 are devoted to
the life of Abraham, chapters 25-27 devoted to the life of Isaac, chapters
28-35 devoted to the life of Jacob while chapters 37-50 are devoted to the
biography of Joseph. 13˝ chapters for Abraham, 2˝ for Isaac, 8 for Jacob and
14 for Joseph. Yet, one common thing with them is their faith in God – faith
at the beginning, faith during their long fruitful lives, faith at the end
of their lives, permitting them to enter into eternal fellowship with their
The presence of God was real with each of the men whose faith we
are studying today. To Isaac, God said, “I will be with thee, and will
bless thee” (Genesis 26:3,4). To Jacob, God said, “Behold, I
am with thee... I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have
spoken to thee of” (Genesis 28:15). Concerning Joseph, we read, “And
the LORD was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:2). Their faith held on firmly
to the Word and promise of God.
DOMINION THROUGH FAITH
Hebrews 11:20; Genesis 25:20,21,28; 27:21,22,26-29, 30-40; 28:1,3,4,13-15;
Proverbs 19:21; Psalm 33:10-15; Jeremiah 18:9,10.
Jacob the younger was blessed above Esau the elder. Jacob had dominion
through faith. Isaac actually thought of pronouncing the blessing of Abraham
on Esau. When he learnt of what Jacob had done, how he had received the
blessing instead of Esau. “Isaac trembled very exceedingly”
(Genesis 27:33). Then he said, “I have blessed him, yea, and he shall
be blessed” (Genesis 27:33). The spirit had dominion over the flesh.
Isaac allowed God’s will (Genesis 25:22,23) to have dominion over his
natural desires and affection for Esau. Isaac had dominion through faith.
The Lord had spoken to Rebekah and she believed. However, when she learnt
that “the blessing” was to be mistakenly given to Esau, she planned a scheme
of deception to accomplish God’s purpose! God does not need our deception to
fulfil His purpose. He could easily have put the right word in Isaac’s mouth
(Exodus 4:12; Numbers 22:28; Deuteronomy
23:5; John 11:49-52; Acts 5:34-39). Their sin and deception did not
go unpunished, but God intervened to confirm the birthright on Jacob. Isaac
said, “I have blessed him, yea, and he shall be blessed”.
That was the language of faith
overcoming his natural partiality for Esau. Though “there are
many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that
shall stand” (Proverbs 19:21). Even the tears of Esau could not move
or change the mind of Isaac. Now that Isaac remembered the Word and the plan
of God, he was as firm as a rock. The blessing of Abraham was given to
Jacob. God was to be known as “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac,
and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:15; Matthew 22:32).
DECREE OF FAITH
Hebrews 11:21; Genesis 48:5,13-21; Proverbs 16:9,10; 1 Chronicles 5:1;
Deuteronomy 21:17; Psalm 75:6,7; Job 22:27,28; Lamentations 3:37.
While the three verses, (Hebrews 11:20,21,22) have faith, dynamic faith, in
common, the case of Isaac shows dying faith triumphing over the affections
of the flesh; that of Jacob teaches dying faith overcoming the interference
of man; while that of Joseph reveals dying faith exalting the promised land
above Egypt and the world. “By faith Jacob, when he was a dying...”
(Hebrews 11:21). To manifest faith at the point of death, we must have been
exercising faith continually, while we are still alive. The leading feature
of the faith of dying Jacob is seen in the blessing of Joseph’s two sons.
When Joseph brought his two sons before Jacob to receive his final blessing,
he placed Manasseh the elder, to his right hand, and Ephraim the younger to
his left. His reason was that Manasseh would receive the greater blessing.
Crossing his hands, he gave the greater blessing to Ephraim the younger.
When Joseph desired a change, Jacob maintained what he had done. “And
his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it” (Genesis
48:19). By faith, he refused the desire or demand of a loved one. What a
great lesson for us. There are times that our faith has to cross or refuse
the wish and will of a loved one. The final word concerning Jacob in
Scripture shows him full of faith and dedicated in worship. “By faith
Jacob... blessed... and worshipped” (Hebrews 11:21). What a happy
ending on earth!
DEPARTING IN FAITH
Hebrews 11:22; Genesis 50:24,25; 15:13,14,16; 39:2-4,9,23; Psalm 105:17-22;
Genesis 50:19-25; Habakkuk 2:3; Psalm 16:8.
At the early age of seventeen, Joseph was sold in a
foreign country into a heathen land. For many
years, he was surrounded by idol-worshippers. There was no contact with a
single true believer. There was no fellowship for spiritual encouragement.
Yet, he kept the faith! He believed the Word from the Lord which he had
received as a teenager. He was faithful to God, he resisted temptation, he
was patient under affliction, he witnessed to others concerning the love and
power of God, he overcame evil with good – all because of his faith in God.
The initial loneliness in Egypt, the prosperity in Potiphar’s house, the
exalted position in the prison, the honour from Pharaoh did not destroy his
faith. His heart was fixed on higher things than the perishing babbles of
Joseph was looking forward to the time when God would visit Israel and take
the nation to the Promised Land (Genesis 50:24). There was no doubt in his
heart. He was fully assured that God cannot lie and that He would surely
fulfil His Word. Canaan, not Egypt, was on Joseph’s heart while dying. True
faith in his heart was engaged, not only with the safety of his soul, but
with the future happiness of God’s people. Faith not only believes the
promises which God has given to His children individually, but also lays
hold of those given to the church collectively.
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