Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 73

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Foundational Themes in Genesis – Study 73

(Key verses: Gen 25:1-11)

Abraham is revealed to us in the scriptures as one of the main examples of what the faith of Christ causes in those few who are first called out to receive the spiritual inheritance – the “eklektos” are called out of the “klētos” (2Co 6:17; Rev 18:4):

Mat 22:14 For many are called [Greek: “klētos”], but few are chosen [Greek: eklektos].

Heb 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.
Heb 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:
Heb 11:10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

Abraham lived about thirty-eight years after the death of Sarah, and although his body was deemed as dead when Isaac was born, it seems that Isaac’s birth brought new zest for life in Abraham (Gen 17:17; Gen 21:5; Gen 23:1; Rom 4:19). The faith of Christ in us revitalises us as His indwelling spirit enable us “to present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service (Isa 26:19; Rom 12:1):

Rom 8:11 But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.
Rom 8:12 Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh.

Another woman in the life of Abraham is mentioned in Genesis 25 for the first time after the death of Sarah and the marriage of Isaac:

Gen 25:1 Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah.

Not much is known or written about Keturah directly in the scriptures, but through the sum of God’s word, we could form a picture of what Keturah typified (Psa 119:160). She is described as a concubine of Abraham in the scriptures by whom he fathered six sons, seven grandsons and three great-grandsons (Gen 25:6):

1Ch 1:32 Now the sons of Keturah, Abraham’s concubine: she bare Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And the sons of Jokshan; Sheba, and Dedan.

Gen 25:2 And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah.
Gen 25:3 And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim.
Gen 25:4 And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.

Gen 25:6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts….

That Keturah is called a concubine explains her position in relation to Sarah in Abraham’s heart. The theme of concubines appears regularly in the Old Testament and is connected to ordinary men as well as kings (Gen 4:19; Exo 21:10; Jdg 8:30-31; Jdg 19:1-30; 2Sa 3:7; 2Sa 5:13; 2Sa 16:21-22; Est 2:14; Son 6:8; Dan 5:2). In this part of the foundational theme of faith, we will briefly discuss this tradition of concubines and also its spiritual application in our own lives. In relation to this theme, we will also look at how Abraham protected his inheritance in Isaac from his offspring by the concubines in his life. The faith of Christ, which comes via the Word of God, empowers God’s true elect to clearly distinguish between the spirit of God and the spirit of this world (Rom 10:17):

Heb 4:12 MKJV For the Word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing apart of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

God’s will for any marriage from the beginning was that of a union between one man and one woman reflecting the union between the Father and His Son (Gen 1:27; Mat 19:4-6; 1Co 11:3; Eph 5:22-33; 1Ti 3:2):

Gen 2:24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Nevertheless, mankind was made subject to vanity with a heart that was hardened from the hand of the Potter. This creature, like the whole physical creation, is also being marred or made in ruin and in constant decay, physically and mentally, “by reason of Him” – but it is also given a hope of new spirit or eternal life (2Ti 3:13):

Rom 8:20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope,

Jer 18:4 And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.

God has one perfect plan for humanity by which He works His will to first establish a marred vessel of clay through which He will bring forth a new creation “as seemed good to the potter to make it” as new life comes through death (Joh 3:3; Joh 5:24; Joh 12:24; Rom 5:12-21; 1Co 15:22-28). This hardened heart in mankind is indeed God’s work, and through this stony heart of flesh we naturally do not fear God, as He also causes us to err from His righteous ways (Eze 36:26):

Isa 63:17 O LORD, why hast thou made us to err from thy ways, and hardened our heart from thy fear? Return for thy servants’ sake, the tribes of thine inheritance.

This erring process is also seen in the acquisition of multiple spouses as we all indulge in intimate unfulfilling physical attachments. This desire for multiple spouses all started right in the beginning, even through the generational line of Cain, the firstborn son of Adam and Eve, exposing the condition of the first Adam’s heart:

Gen 4:17 And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch.
Gen 4:18 And unto Enoch was born Irad: and Irad begat Mehujael: and Mehujael begat Methusael: and Methusael begat Lamech.
Gen 4:19 And Lamech took unto him two wives: the name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

During our time under the rulership of death and darkness, God’s elect also follow this concubine spirit, even as the king after God’s own heart, David, also typifies in his lust for another man’s wife (2Sa 11:1-5; Eph 2:2-3). We also naturally point the finger to others when we cannot see our own condition, and our own sin will find us out, as David indeed discovered (Num 32:23; Pro 6:12-15; Pro 20:6; Hos 4:4; Mat 7:1-5). Think about the son of Gideon, Abimelech, whom he fathered from one of his concubines in Shechem, and how much pain and death Abimelech brought to the family of Gideon (Jdg 8:30-31; Jdg 9). God actually reveals that He is the One who causes all these things as He sends all evil spirits also, for our painful learning and to fulfill His purposes (Heb 12:9; Jdg 9:23; 1Sa 16:14; 2Sa 12:7-8). God controls our hearts and brings the circumstances which our carnal lusts desire, although God Himself never tempts anyone:

Jas 1:13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:
Jas 1:14 But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

God uses His evil creations and agencies to test us, and in those trials the deepest hidden evils in our bottomless pit (our carnal heart) are brought to the surface for our information, not His (Gen 1:2; Gen 50:19-20; Pro 16:4; Deu 8:2; Psa 103:14). King David’s son with Bathsheba, Solomon, also had to learn this about his own carnal heart’s deceitful desires to also have multiple wives and concubines and why that happened:

1Ki 11:1 But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites;
1Ki 11:2 Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love.
1Ki 11:3 And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.
1Ki 11:4 For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father.

God’s laws reveal our hearts as we will do exactly what proceeds out of His mouth – both the restrictions and afterwards the right things (Rom 7:7-9; Mat 4:4). In the scriptures concubines are also seen as slaves of the master and his true primary wife, and they also fulfill roles of bringing forth an offspring if the wife is barren, as was in the case of Sarah. All humans are first made barren of the spirit life of God, and in that sense we all are given concubines to bring forth an offspring after the flesh to reveal our natural unfaithfulness:

Gen 16:1 Now Sarai Abram’s wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar.
Gen 16:2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
Gen 16:3 And Sarai Abram’s wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife.
Gen 16:4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

It is important to note that the concubine should be seen as an extension of the primary wife of the husband. She is intimately attached to the wife as the concubine must also report to the primary wife as ordained by the husband:

Gen 16:5 And Sarai said unto Abram, My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the LORD judge between me and thee.
Gen 16:6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

Jesus is the Father’s primary or preeminent creation, and the Father ordained that all in this creation come through Him and must report to Him (Col 1:15; Rev 1:8; Rev 1:11; Rev 3:14; Rom 14:10; 2Co 5:10; Php 2:9-11). Jesus attached Himself intimately to this physical creation through which He also works His grace and truth (Joh 1:1-4; Rom 11:36; 2Co 5:21; Heb 2:14-18):

Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

If the concubine bears children, it must be done “upon [the] knees” of the primary wife, which is an expression pointing again to this intimate unity between the primary wife and the concubine, but it also emphasizes the submission of the concubine to the primary wife. The children which the concubine bears are also reckoned as belonging to the primary wife:

Gen 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die.
Gen 30:2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, Am I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb?
Gen 30:3 And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her.

No other man shall have marriage privileges with her except the man with whom she is in union (Exo 21:7-10; Jdg 19:1-3; Jdg 20:4). No other party could interfere in this union because it was seen as a type of marriage. We know this also because one of Jacob’s sons, His eldest, Reuben, did wrong to sleep with his father’s concubine, Bilhah:

Gen 35:22 And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.

Gen 49:3 Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power:
Gen 49:4 Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.

The sons which a man also fathered through another woman besides his primary wife, and this includes concubines, were also seen as his heirs, but not on the same level as the sons born from the true primary wife (Deu 21:15-17). This we also see in the case of Abraham, firstly in terms of Ishmael, Abraham’s son from Hagar. Ishmael was not even permitted to live in the same house as Isaac:

Gen 21:10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

The true sons of God in Christ do not share the same spiritual house as the world (Heb 3:6; 2Jn 1:10; 1Pe 2:5; 1Pe 4:17). This is also seen in how Abraham distributed His inheritance among his offspring from these different women he was involved with. The six sons of Keturah, for example, could not inherit in the same manner as Isaac:

Gen 25:5 And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac.
Gen 25:6a But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts….

Isaac was the son born “by promise” as he was a type of Christ and those belonging to His house (Gal 3:16; Gal 3:29). The Father gave to Jesus the fullness of His “house”:

Col 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell.

Joh 16:15 All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

Jesus promised this inheritance, the fullness of God’s spirit, also to all, but first to His elected church who are keeping His Word and are faithful to it until the end (Joh 14:1-4; Mat 24:13; Mar 13:13). Jesus is not providing the spiritual needs of the world at this stage, but only the spiritual needs of His church, even now in downpayment form (Eph 1:13-14):

Joh 17:9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
Joh 17:10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.

To protect this spiritual inheritance, we are strongly admonished not to throw our pearls before the swine (Mat 7:6). Abraham helps us to see how this is also done when he did a few things with his inheritance and his offspring. Everything he had he gave to Isaac, the son born through his true, primary wife, Sarah. To the other sons of his concubines he dealt differently in this respect:

Gen 24:6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country.

Firstly, Abraham gave only gifts to his sons from his concubines. As Isaac was the apple of Abraham’s eye, so God shows us that He also distinguishes among, and surely has favorites among His children, to the dismay and disgust of His enemies:

Rom 9:7 Neither, because they [physical Israel] are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.
Rom 9:8 That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.

The true children of God are only those He has chosen to be in Christ, as typified by Isaac. All in the first Adam are indeed God’s offspring because He made them of one blood and gave gifts to all men to serve one another in the natural:

Act 17:26 And He has made all nations of men of one blood to dwell on all the face of the earth, ordaining fore-appointed seasons and boundaries of their dwelling,
Act 17:27 to seek the Lord, if perhaps they might feel after Him and find Him, though indeed He is not far from each one of us.
Act 17:28 For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also certain of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring.

Every day we see how carnal man rather boasts and is puffed up in his display of these natural gifts from God, claiming these gifts after his own abilities and efforts. Natural man uses his talents and gifts for selfish purposes (to get rich and to control others) and to elevate himself above others. Jealousy and competitiveness rule the natural heart, and it can be openly seen in behavioural patterns. The same spirit is seen in the application of the spiritual gifts of God, even in those who are being called by God to walk in a closer relationship with Him through Christ Jesus. There is still ignorance for the reasons these gifts are given. The gifts of the spirit, which also include ministries and the operations of faith, hope and love, are given to “every man” to serve the body of Christ here in the now, in humility (Joh 13:3-17; 1Co 12:28; 1Co 13:13; 2Jn 5:1-2):

1Co 12:1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
1Co 12:2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
1Co 12:3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.
1Co 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
1Co 12:5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.
1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.
1Co 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.

Within this application of these spiritual gifts, the concubine spirit of carnality is revealed to us, from which we need to separate (2Co 6:17). This carnal application of the gifts of the spirit of God was also witnessed by the apostle Paul in the church in Corinth. The church in Corinth was enriched in speech and knowledge of Christ and His Word, and they had all these gifts of the spirit of God (1Co 1:5-7). However, this offspring of God only applied the gifts to an outward carnal show as they had no proof of growth or maturing in the fruit of the spirit in their own lives (Gal 5:22-23). The outward demonstration of spiritual gifts is determined and valued by the inward maturity of the fruit of the spirit within that person – the character of the Father (Joh 15:8). Jesus described this spiritual principle as follows:

Mat 23:26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.

A proof of this is found in the following rebuke by Paul that they could only see Christ as the crucified one. They could not see themselves following Christ in that respect, being humbled by taking up their own cross (Mat 10:38-39):

1Co 2:1 And I, brothers, when I came to you, did not come with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring to you the testimony of God.
1Co 2:2 For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Paul’s preaching to them to take up their own cross was openly viewed as foolishness as they indulged in haughtiness and lusts of the flesh in full view of the world (1Co 5:1-2; 1Co 5:11; 1Co 6:6; 1Co 6:15; 1Co 8:1; 1Co 10:12; 1Co 12:1):

1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is foolishness to those being lost, but to us being saved, it is the power of God.

Other fleshly signs which further witnessed to their spiritual immaturity included the strife and divisions in them and among the congregation. Not only did they individually follow certain leaders and acknowledge them only, they also had contentions and competitions among each other, which is typical of the concubine spirit:

1Co 1:10 Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.
1Co 1:11 For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

1Co 3:1 And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual ones, but as to fleshly, as to babes in Christ.
1Co 3:2 I have fed you with milk and not with solid food, for you were not yet able to bear it; nor are you able even now.
1Co 3:3 For you are yet carnal. For in that there is among you envyings and strife and divisions, are you not carnal, and do you not walk according to men?
1Co 3:4 For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal?

This is why Abraham protected his inheritance in Isaac. Let’s read verse 6 of Genesis 24 again:

Gen 24:6 But unto the sons of the concubines, which Abraham had, Abraham gave gifts, and sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, unto the east country [Hebrew: “erets” = land, earth, wilderness].

Abraham brought separation between Isaac and the children of the concubine. They were sent eastward, in the direction of the land of the Chaldees or Babylon from where he came. He knows what is going on there – he lived there for many years. We learn from Abraham that we need to take heed of ourselves to firstly judge inwardly (and also separate ourselves from those who openly show their carnal intentions) before our own dogs turn on us and rend us (Mat 7:1-6). This condition and behaviour is what the concubine also represents spiritually. She is not the true wife, and she despises the true wife. In this process, she overcompensates and exalts herself, which brings the disdain and rejection from the true wife, which the concubine then deems as unloving. The example of Sarah and Hagar is repeated here:

Gen 16:4 And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes.

Gen 16:6 But Abram said unto Sarai, Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee. And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face.

Those with the concubine spirit are under the illusion that they are better than others while they are merely walking “according to men” and their standards (1Co 3:3; 2Co 10:12). These are also seen in the sons of the concubine who are puffed up by their own way of engaging with these gifts of God and not by what is written in God’s Word. This Paul also found out when the Corinthians even compared and questioned Paul’s apostolic ministry as a chosen vessel of God:

1Co 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

Through Isaac, however, the true example of sonship is given to us. Abraham prepared Isaac, his son “by promise”, to handle his inheritance according to the commandments of God, and this decision to trust all to Isaac brought peace to Abraham because of his faith in God’s provisions (Gal 3:6-9):

Gen 25:7 And these are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived, an hundred threescore and fifteen years.
Gen 25:8 Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years; and was gathered to his people [with those who are dead and in the grave (Ecc 9:5-6; Ecc 3:19; 1Co 15:22a)].
Gen 25:9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre;
Gen 25:10 The field which Abraham purchased of the sons of Heth: there was Abraham buried, and Sarah his wife.

Isaac went to live by the well of Lahairoi, which means “the well of the Living One seeing me” because Isaac knew that God was the One whom he must please and obey above all else, as taught to him by his father Abraham. God is the only ‘Well of living waters’ from whom true spirit life and spiritual insight comes, as we are being separated from the concubine and her sons (Luk 8:17; Act 17:28; 2Co 6:17; Eph 1:3-12; Heb 4:12-13; Rev 18:4).

Gen 25:11 And it came to pass after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac; and Isaac dwelt by the well Lahairoi.


Detailed studies and emails relating to these foundational themes in Scripture are available on the website, including these topics and links:

Ecclesiastes 1:1-11 All Is Vanity
Gathered Unto His People
What Is The Fate of The Dead?
How to Discern an Idol of The Heart
Gifts, Ministeries and Operations

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