Christianity is an Abrahamic religion and key to Genesis and the Old Testament is the patriarchs – the founders of Israel; Abraham, his son Isaac, and Isaac’s son Jacob. In this, the third part of my look at Genesis I will examine each of the three main patriarchs, and the revelations God made to them.
God began creation with one man, and he began redemption with one man. This redemption begun with a covenant. This covenant is not a contract, but a promise and God does not break his promises. This promise God made with Abraham and is fulfilled through Jesus Christ. Not only did God promise the earth to Abraham’s descendants but also cemented the Jews calling to share God with everybody. This covenant is at the very heart of the Bible and is the basis upon which God said, ‘I will be your God and you will be my people’ a phrase which is repeated all the way through the Bible until the last page in Revelation.
Unfortunately not much is known about Isaac, but his role is critical in connecting his father Abraham and his son Jacob. And this role was one of obedience in faith in the promises that God made to his people. Isaac accepted God’s choice for a wife, staying in the land of Canaan when famine struck and leaving it to his son. His example, is one that Christians today can take a lesson from; to trust and follow God even when it is difficult.
Jacob is an interesting character, his family background is a dysfunctional one – the rivalry between Esau and Jacob is one that would continue down the generations to the birth of Jesus and the then King of the Jews Herod. Jacob is an impatient character who is eager to get on with the blessings that God was promised and not willing to wait. As a result his path to serving God is a complicated one, which starts with manipulation and betrayal – leading to his eventual exile. On his way back to the promised land he fights with God and continuously struggles with his calling. In this way Jacob is probably the most relatable of the Patriarchs. Unlike Abraham and Isaac who many times blindly follow God, Jacob struggles with his human failings, just as we do. However, God always keeps his promises, and the image of Jacob’s ladder is particularly fitting as the path to god can often be long and a steep climb.