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History Guided by 1


History Guided by a Promise

Julie C. Moon

Grand Canyon University

History of the Old Testament


October 02, 2009

History Guided by a Promise

The beginning of Genesis tells the story of man’s fall from the will of God and the result

of their disobedience. Throughout the stories of Adam, Eve, Cain, Abel, and Noah, we see

God’s ultimate desire for man tarnished by sin. Although the pattern of sin ultimately leads to

punishment, there is also redemption. The redemption of man, also begins in Genesis. The

covenant that God made with Abraham impacted the lives of all of his descendents. Abraham

fathered Isaac, Isaac fathered Jacob, and Jacob fathered Joseph. Through Abraham’s family tree,

Jesus Christ was born to save us.

Abraham – “Father of Many”

In Genesis 12:1-3, God made a covenant with Abraham. God promised Abraham that he

would father a great nation and that it would be blessed. For Abraham to receive all these

blessings, he had to follow and do what God wanted him to do. Abraham had to leave his home

and friends and travel to a new land. Although God made a covenant with Abraham, his life still

had many struggles. One of those struggles was that he and his wife, Sarah, were unable to have

children, therefore Sarah let her maiden, Hagar, sleep with her husband and they produced a

child, Ishmael. (Gen 16:1-12) (Life Application Study Bible) The birth of this child cause great

strife between Sarah and Hagar. God continued his covenant with Abraham by changing his

name from Abram to Abraham and by changing Sarai to Sarah. Another part of God’s covenant

with Abraham was for him to circumcise all male children in his household. (Gen 17:10) God

also granted Sarah’s desire for a child, giving her a son, Isaac. (Gen 21:1-3) Abraham obeyed

God and became the father of a great nation.

Isaac – “He Laughs”

God continued to fulfill His promise to Abraham by giving him a son, Isaac, with

Sarah. Sarah laughed at the idea that she could produce a child in her old age of 90, thus Isaac’s

name sounds like laugh in Hebrew (Bible Gateway, n.d.). God tested Abraham’s faith by

instructing him to sacrifice Isaac as an offering (Merrill, 1991, p. 83). Abraham obeyed God’s

request and prepared to sacrifice his son, however God provided a substitute. Abraham’s faith in

God was proven and remains an example for generations (Saint Luke’s Church, 2009).

Shortly after Abraham and Isaac returned from offering the sacrifice, Sarah died.

Abraham was committed to arranging a marriage for Isaac before he died to ensure that God’s

covenant would continue. Abraham sent one of his servants to find a bride for Isaac from his

native country of Ur. The servant asked for God’s guidance in this very important task and he

brought back Rebekah to marry Isaac. Abraham soon died and Isaac inherited everything from

his father including God’s promise.

Isaac prayed to God for children. Soon after this, Rebekah gave birth to twin sons, Jacob

and Esau. In the womb, the brothers fought, symbolic of the fighting of two nations (Gen 25:22-

23). Isaac’s sons, both heirs to the promise of their grandfather, Abraham, became enemies as a

result of their rivalry for their father’s blessing. On Isaac’s deathbed, he called for Esau to bring

forth a meal so that he could give him his blessing, but Rebekah tricked him to giving his

blessing to his son Jacob. The brothers separated after Isaac gave his blessing to Jacob.

Jacob – “He Grasp the Heal” - Israel

After receiving his father’s blessing, Jacob was forced to go into hiding at his Uncle

Laban’s house because Esau threatened to kill him. It was at Laban’s house the Jacob met and
fell in love with Laban’s daughter, Rachel. Jacob agreed to work for Laban for seven years in

return for Rachel’s hand in marriage (Merrill, 1991, p. 86). Much like the trickery used in

obtaining the blessing from his father, Jacob was tricked into marrying Rachel’s sister, Leah.

Jacob was very angry. After confronting Laban, Laban offered him Rachel also, but required

him to work an additional seven years in exchange.

Jacob wanted children. Although Rachel had difficulty conceiving, Leah had Jacob many

children. Rachel continued to pray to God to have a child and eventually, God answered her

prayers. Rachel had a son and named him Joseph. God then spoke to Jacob and instructed him

to return to land of his father (Gen 31:3). Jacob’s return home included a reunion with his

brother, Esau (Gen 31:1-21). Jacob was unsure of how Esau was going to accept him so he sent

ahead gifts in hopes of buying his favor. After having a nocturnal wrestle with a strange visitor,

he was blessed. Jacob was then told by an angel that God was with him and that his name was

changed to Israel (Merrill, 1991, p. 89). The next day Esau welcomed his brother with kindness.

Joseph – “The Favored Son”

Joseph was Jacob’s second youngest son, born to him by his beloved Rachel. He was

also Jacob’s favorite son. Joseph was sold into slavery by his ten brothers who conspired against

him. His brothers concealed their crime by taking Joseph’s coat, smeared with goat’s blood, to

Jacob and deceived their father. Through being sold in slavery, placed in prison, and many other

evils, Joseph remained self-assured, confident, and faithful to God (Gen 39:1-23 ). Joseph

survived and prospered with great integrity and sensitivity.


Bible Gateway (n.d.). Genesis Footnotes. Retrieved October 2, 2009, from


Merrill, E. H. (1991). An historical survey of the Old Testament (2nd ed.). Grand Rapides, MI:

Baker Academic.

Saint Luke’s Church (2009). Biblical Big Shots-Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. Retrieved

October1, 2009, from http://www/saint-lukes.com

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