Creation—which seems a simple thing, but is not, and is only apprehended by faith; it is the first element of faith, spoken of in Hebrews 11. Then the formation of the earth, where God put the responsible man, the centre and lord of it, and in which all the principles of man’s relationships with God are to be developed.
The responsible man in the relationship in which God has set him to Himself, the world, the creatures, to his wife—Eve, in whom the church is typified. At the beginning of it is the rest of God, into which man never entered.
Man’s responsibility is tried by temptation, and his total failure. The judgment on Satan, and the promise of and to the seed of the woman; but the first man is driven out from the presence of God.
Adam becoming the head of a fallen race, though Eve hopes to get the promise through the flesh, man completes sin by killing his brother, and the “world “is set up without God. God gives an appointed seed in lieu of the slayer and the slain.
The genealogy of the race of Seth—the Lord being called upon; and in the midst of it one is seen walking with God, and translated to heaven.
The total corruption and wickedness of man, and the flood closing the history of the first world. Noah is preserved through it, and the animals. He founds the relationships of the new world by sacrifice, but fails entirely himself as governor. He gives in prophecy the history of the world in his three sons: his own history closes.
Chapters 10, 11.
The settling out of the world in nations and families, in these three sons, and that happening by the judgment of God on their setting up themselves independently of Him, to make themselves a name—Babel.
Abram is brought in, through Shem’s genealogy, as a “peg to hang it on.” An elect one is called out, and the promises given to him, to be the head of God’s race upon the earth.
He, having followed the call of God eventually, is in the place of promise, a stranger and a worshipper. But through pressure of circumstances he gets out of it, and into the power of the world, denies his wife, and has no worship.
His entire abnegation as to the world, and the full revelation to him of the sphere of promise.
His victory over the world, and the revelation of Melchisedec as priest, and millennial blessing brought in, after his conquering the kings, and God possessor of heaven and earth. This closes that part of the history.
The promise of the seed, with the covenant founded on death, and of the land. Righteousness is connected with faith; this, as the seed, has come in in any sense.
The attempt to get the promised seed by the efforts of the flesh.
The seed according to promise. God reveals Himself to Abraham by His dispensational name, and gives him the promise of the seed, with the seal of circumcision also. Abraham is to be the father of many nations, and the heir of the world.
Chapters 18, 19.
God visits Abraham, and confirms the promise as an immediate thing. Abraham on high in communion with God, and the world judged below in connection with Lot in Sodom, and the righteous one saved out of it. “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished,” 2 Pet. 2:9. [We had Enoch, the heavenly man, and Noah, the earthly remnant. Now we have had Abraham, the heavenly, and Lot, the earthly.]
Abraham failing in respect of faith, as to those who were externally within the place of promise—Abimelech and the Philistines—is delivered, and as prophet intercedes for them. (The church could not go on with these mixtures.) Then, having denied his wife, the rebuke is put upon Sarah—the church; or Israel, as the vessel of promise, as the case may be. The world knows very well what the church ought to be for Christ, and how to reprove her.
The son of promise is born, and the law cast out (Gal. 3, 4) —Hagar and Ishmael. And further, Abimelech and those Philistines who were in the place of promise—the son being born—become subservient to Abraham, who figuratively takes possession of the place of promise, planting a grove, and worships. He was only in a tent before.
Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac upon Mount Moriah; thereupon the promise is confirmed, not to Abraham, but to the seed, as before given in chapter 12. This leads to another principle: he had given up the promises according to life here; he gets them in resurrection, on the ground of the complete sacrifice offered to God.
As the heir died, so the old vessel of promise (Sarah) dies; thus Israel is set aside.
Abraham sends down Eliezer (who represents the Holy Ghost) to get a wife for the risen Isaac, who is in no condition to go back to his old country, all things being given to him as son and heir. The bride is taken out of the old land, gifts conferred upon her: she is brought to Isaac, and into the place of the vessel of promise—Sarah’s tent. The Jew had been the vessel of promise, the church now is. This closes Isaac’s history as the risen one.
We have now done with the first great principles of faith and the risen one—Isaac, and we come down to the earth and the heir of the earthly promises—Jacob, the Jew, who goes down and gets a wife there. Jacob, who values the promises that Esau despised who had the title to them, comes in by grace and election without title (Rom. 9). In point of fact it came by the profanity of Esau, but the means of getting it were evil; still God secures the result. We find the immense principle, that we have only to take care that the means employed are right in possessing ourselves of all that God has promised. God might have made Isaac cross his hands in the blessing, or the like, to secure the promises to Jacob.
The renewal of the promises to Isaac: he is forbidden to go down into Egypt—the world; he is to have nothing to do with it in his Isaac position. Follows his father’s example in denying his wife; but Abraham did it in the place of promise, Isaac on lower ground (decay in the place of promise). He has “contention “and “hatred “in the place of the world; but when he gives up the wells, and gets into his own limits— Beersheba—then he is owned by those who were there.
Esau and Jacob. Jacob gets the blessing as he had got the birthright, by deceit. He goes down to what represents the world to get his wife. Not as Isaac, who got a wife sent up. He looks for blessings and earthly promises, and vows tithes to God if God will take care of him. However, God does so. This is very low ground, but still there is faith. He uses duplicity towards man, and he is cheated himself— “paid in his own coin,” so to speak.
He gets Leah instead of Rachel. He has got the Gentiles looked at as on earth; still the Jews are loved—Rachel. He represents the Lord in His ways, not in his conduct: he loves Rachel. The Gentile, Leah, never loved like the Jews upon earth; but God blesses Leah.
God brings back Israel with his children, after having been a slave for twenty-one years, to his land.
The instruction we get is this: the Lord takes care of the believer, but he is cheated, and worried, and slaved, and reaps in discipline the fruit of his own ways. We mark a wretched state of faith in him: there was faith, but his was a dismal, earthly history—attempting to get his object in a carnal way, and he is chastened all through.
Esau comes, and again we find lies. God sends a host of angels, and he sees His hand, but nothing raises his faith, and we see the utter weakness of fleshly ways, and the spirit in which he walks—low and earthly. The Lord will not allow Esau to touch him, but takes him in hand Himself, and wrestles with him at Jabbok when he had sent all over. He will not reveal Himself, but makes him halt for life, giving him faith to overcome. You get a great deal more experience in one that walks badly than in a person that walks well. The man that walks with God has very little experience, but all he has is with God. “Enoch walked with God, and was not, for God took him “; that is all about him. Abraham has no wrestling, but is up on high, interceding calmly with God for others, in communion; Jacob is below, interceding for himself, and God wrestling with him, not he with God, who gives him power for the conflict, but will not reveal Himself. Jacob had asked Him, but He would not tell him His name.
Then he makes another blunder. He buys land (not a sepulchre, like Abraham), settles in the place, and builds an altar there, calling it El-elohe-Israel. He was this, but no revelation. Marriage proposed with his family there.
Now God says, Go up to Bethel; there He would appear to him. The moment he is to go and meet God he thinks of the idols, which he knew all about quite well before. There is no putting away of idols until we get into God’s presence; then they are put away. The first thing God now does, when the idols are buried, is to tell His name, which He did not at Penuel. The intercourse is short: no intercession for others; not the same bright blessing as with Abraham, but intercourse, talking with him. God goes up from him at this place.
This has brought us back to Rachel, Israel’s history in fact. She dies. She had had Joseph; now she has Benjamin. She calls him Ben-oni, the son of my sorrow; Jacob calls him Benjamin, the son of my right hand. This points to Christ at God’s right hand, who was the son of affliction also.
The world set up in power before God’s people are; Esau, with kings and dukes. This closes the history of Jacob.
Now the history of Joseph begins, with his dreams, and so on. He is despised, but he has the wisdom of God, as soon after the power of God. Rejected by his brethren, and sold to the Gentiles, he shews himself all through as the godly one in patience and lowliness. Then he passes to the right hand of power, and receives back his repentant brethren in that character, and puts them in the best of the world—Goshen.
[In the midst of this history Judah is going on in wickedness (chap. 38). Yet it is the Lord’s genealogy.]
Jacob could bless Pharaoh: the less is blessed of the better. He looks still to the land and asks to be buried there. Joseph gets the birthright. Jacob crosses his hands, and puts things in their place. (No one type runs into another.) Joseph thus steps into the place of the first-born; in Chronicles it is said so in terms. The birthright was his, and he gets the double portion.
Then you have the blessing of the tribes of Israel in a general view, prophetically, of their history. Reuben, Israel’s firstborn, fails; Simeon and Levi, corruption and violence, failure of those who seek to maintain their rights by nature’s force; Judah, strength and honour, but all goes on till failure is complete; then all is judgment till you come to Dan, in which you get the power of evil—apostasy—the serpent. (The Jews have a tradition that Antichrist will come of this tribe.) When Israel joins with the world, you get the serpent. Then there is turning to the Lord for salvation, and all is changed. “I have waited for thy salvation, O Jehovah.” Faith waits until God interferes. Gad, he is overcome, but overcomes at the last. In Asher we see blessings flow; in Naphtali, goodly words; in Joseph, a rejected Christ exalted. Benjamin is the son of God’s right hand, in victory over all His enemies.
Whatever power and magnificence Joseph had, his heart was in Israel, and he gives commands concerning his bones— they were to be carried to Canaan. He has faith as to Israel’s hope and portion.