The Cloud of Witnesses (cont)
The entire letter to the Hebrews is addressed to those who knew of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I hear the writer, the Spirit also, encouraging the readers, and us, to move past knowledge about them, and join with them in seeking that city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. As we have recently written, the entire cloud of witnesses are near to us for encouragement. We can learn, and experience, something of the Lord Himself through each of them.
Abraham, knew the voice of God calling him out singularly. When he was one God called him and others of his family began to move with him. He is as a father of faith for us, as he knew the voice of our heavenly Father. Jesus said that he saw Jesus’ day and was glad. When he brought Isaac to the point of literal sacrifice, and God intervened, Abraham experienced the heart of our Father in offering the Son of promise. Have you been led to offer something, a person in close relationship, that you later received back, as it were in resurrection? Abraham’s testimony, his witness to us is like this.
And what of Isaac? Isaac was the son and saw God’s provision. He was in the place of the Son, Jesus, who was offered up for us all. God was giving a foretaste of what was coming with Christ Himself. See how the Father, and the Son, like Abraham, and Isaac, moved together in the place of sacrifice and they both saw God’s provision. The Lord will provide for Himself the Lamb. They both saw the provision of God, the ram caught in the thicket at the exact moment needed. In the fulness of time, God sent His son. At the right time, Christ died for the ungodly.
Isaac goes on to receive a wife from the land of his fathers. Rebekah is brought by the servant, a type of the Spirit. Here is a picture of Christ waiting for the Bride that the Spirit is yet preparing and bringing to Himself. The Father alone knows the day and the hour, but the Son patiently, and expectantly, waits for her. Are you waiting for deep and lasting relationships? Jesus is so waiting for us to come to Him, to be brought to Him. Like Rebekah, we need to say “Yes, I will go with this man.” Like Isaac, Jesus will bring us into His tent, His dwelling place, (Ps 91& Song of Songs) to know us intimately. Rebekah never returns home but stays with her Isaac. We need to continue with Jesus and not turn back. Again, this is the message to the Hebrews.
Sarah had to wait until she was almost 100 years old for a son. Not so for Rebekah. For she soon bears twins. The Lord later says, “Jacob I loved, Esau I hated.” Those are His words. Simply, the Spirit differentiated the spiritual from the earthly life. Jacob wanted the full promise of God, Esau, a type of our fleshly, earthly life settled for a hot meal. By the life of Christ with us, and in us, we are led by His Spirit and learn to not yield to the earthly pulls. For me, this has been a progressive but uneven lesson. Like Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, I am on my way and learned not to turn back. He is worth it all.
Now as for Jacob, his story is long and eventful. It is wrapped with the story of Joseph who bears with jealousy, betrayal, waiting, forgiveness and ultimate reconciliation. Jacob, like our heavenly Father, loses his son. Jacob’s loss is deep and takes a long time for the seemingly impossible to happen. He finds Joseph is alive. For many of us our story is more like Jacob’s. We lose hope only to find it restored later. The church is as dysfunctional as Jacob’s sons. Reread the story of Dinah. Such “evangelism” by Jacob’s sons to “avenge” the honor of their sister. A “foreigner” had wanted their sister as a wife. So the sons of Jacob, less Joseph, deceive and slay them all. And Jacob is made odious to the inhabitants of the land. Self-righteousness results in unrighteousness, and the testimony of Christ is dirtied.
The end of Jacob’s story is a beautiful picture of reconciliation and the end of the age. Joseph is sent ahead, a type of Christ, preparing a place for the family. He forgives the ones, his brothers, who had betrayed Him. Consider Christ Jesus and His relationship with Peter, and then later how Christ captured Saul on that man’s way to do harm to His body, His people. When Jacob’s family is brought together in Egypt with Joseph, all is forgiven and reconciliation is real and complete in that family. As his time draws to a close, Jacob prays prophetically over each son concerning each life and destiny. I see a glimpse of the end of the age, when all God’s children will come before and hear the Father’s declaration over our lives. Reconciliation complete and each one receiving reward according to what each of us has done, as Jesus said.