Jacob finally arrived in the land of the eastern People and met few shepherds who were waiting to water their sheep near a well. This could have very well been the same well where Eliezer, Abraham’s servant met Rebecca almost a century ago….
Jacob did not know God or the plans He had for him. Maybe that is why he was afraid of the dream he saw. The only way to know the heart of God is to have regular fellowship with Him. That was missing in Jacob’s life and truth be told, in most of our lives today.
The the chosen family became the fractured family where none of the four (Isaac, Rebecca, Esau & Jacob) trusted God to carry out his will but rather tried to intervene in every possible way to ensure their own will be accomplished. That might as we be the summary of our own walk with Jesus.
The age old saying that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree holds true as we see Isaac introducing Rebekah as his sister to Abimelek.
The two brothers who could not be more different from each other. One was a ladies’ man while the other was a lady like man. Esau was a hairy individual who loved the outdoors while Jacob was content managing the household chores. But Jacob was chosen by God to continue the lineage leading to Jesus while Esau had to be content with his bowl of soup.
Rebecca replaces Sarah as the leading lady of this story and we see God leading this family even while they are making seemingly arbitrary choices, regarding a burial site and perhaps a not so arbitrary choice in finding a life partner for Isaac.
Abraham saw a ram caught in a thicket and that ram replaced his son as the burnt offering. Just like that ram replaced Isaac on the alter, Jesus replaced all of us when he died for our transgressions. Perhaps this was the symbolic gesture that God was giving us through this example of a father sacrificing his son.
We saw in the last chapter that God had enabled everyone in Abimelek’s household to conceive again but Sarah was still kept barren. Abraham had laughed at the very thought of Isaac being born to Sarah, Sarah now has joyous laughter that God came through for her despite her disbelief and then there is Ishmael who is mocking his new younger brother. The Hebrew texts quite aptly say that Ishmael was laughing at Isaac. That captures the sentiment of everyone involved in this saga.
After experiencing close communion with God (Chapter 18) and seeing the destruction of the twin cities (Chapter 19), one would assume that Abraham would definitely be closer to God than ever before. But he was in fact back to his old ways. Moving to a land without God’s leading, we don’t see him building any altars or even praying to God, giving Sarah to be married to the ruler of that land by letting everyone believe they are siblings again and in the end profiting off of the ruler’s guilt, again!
It’s D day for Lot as the two angels reached the entrance of the twin cites. They are met by Abraham’s nephew lot at the city gate who much like his uncle, insists that they stay with him. But unlike with Abraham the Angels refused to stay with lot and would rather spend the night in the town square. Reluctantly they went with Lot but were greeted by the town welcoming committee in the most horrific manner.
God lets Abraham in on his plan to destroy the twin cities of Sodom and Gomorrah resulting in Abraham blatantly pleading for his nephew Lot. The pleading turns into negotiations with God agreeing to all of Abraham’s changes to the clauses but Abraham himself knew that his negotiations will not be able to save his nephew.
So we can finally start calling Abram as Abraham, as in this chapter, God renames Abram (exalted father) to Abraham (father of many). Seems like a cruel joke to rename a guy who is about to turn 100 and whose wife is on the verge of turning 90. But when God renames someone, it is far from a joke, but rather an assurance of the fulfillment of the promise he had made to Abram almost a quarter of a century ago.