The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible (Part 1)
December 31st, 1961 @ 7:30 PM
THE SCARLET THREAD THROUGH THE BIBLE (PART 1)
Dr. W.A. Criswell
New Year’s Eve Sermon
12-31-61 7:30 p.m.-12:00a.m.
This sermon tonight is not like a message that is prepared in which the minister, within twenty or twenty-five minutes, will have presented his appeal and come to the climax of the sermon delivered. It is not that kind of a message. The sermon is as if a man stood on the top of a great height and looked over the whole creation of God. As Moses stood on the top of Mount Pisgah and saw from afar the Promised Land, so this message tonight. We are standing as it were on a great and lofty eminence. And we are looking over the entire story of human history from its beginning in the eternity of the eternities, in the unknown distant ages of the ageless past, and as it reaches forward to the great incomparable consummation of the ages of the ages that are yet to come.
Now we begin. Some time, before time was created, God – the Spirit, God, the Almighty Jehovah God – created His infinite heavenly hosts. He created them in angelic orders. Some of them are called angels; some of them are called seraphim; some of them are called cherubim; some of them are called archangels. But in the celestial, spiritual, heavenly world, God created a great and heavenly host. And in that host of God’s created angelic beings, living in the heaven of heavens where God lives, there was the great covering cherub, the ruling archangel that God named Lucifer, or the “Son of the Morning.” That was the first great creation of Almighty God in the timeless ages before time was.
The second thing that God Jehovah did was this: He created the physical universe. And when I hear ministers and preachers try so to spiritualize religion as to take the material and the physical out of it, they’re getting more religious than God. God likes materiality. He created it. God likes corporeality. He created it. God likes these planets and these rocks and seas and stars, and He likes people, and He likes eating. He created it. He likes living. He created it.
The second great creation of God was this material universe, and the Book opens in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning,” in the beginning of God’s material creative ability, producing this world that we see, “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” When that was, nobody could know. Mind could not extend itself to enter into it.
In the beginning of the beginnings, God flung these great universes out into space, placed them under His great almighty laws, and everything that God did was beautiful and perfect, filled with light and glory and gladness. His creation in the celestial world was beautiful and perfect. And His creation of the material world was beautiful and perfect; every orb according to the celestial ableness of Almighty God, everything beautiful.
Then sometime in that beginning, in the ages of the ages past, sometime before time was, there came into the heart of the great covering cherub in the celestial world, there came into the heart of the “Son of the Morning” what we call sin. I read it, first from the prophet Ezekiel. God describes him:
Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty.
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, the topaz, the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship prepared in thee was perfect and beautiful.
Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I says the Lord God have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God, and thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.
Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity, till sin was found in thee … Therefore, I will cast thee out as profane … Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by the reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee down … Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities. Therefore, will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, and it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes.
And the second passage describing Lucifer, the Son of the Morning, is in Isaiah 14:12: “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground … For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit upon the mount of the congregation … I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the Most High God” – taking God’s place. “Yet shalt thou be brought down to hell.”
Somewhere in the infinite, timeless ages of the past, sin was born in this covering cherub, this archangel of the Lord God Almighty, under whose care God had placed the heavenly hosts. And when Lucifer fell and when sin was found in him, one third of the angels of heaven fell also. And in the fall of Lucifer, God’s created, corporeal world fell apart.
Sin always destroys. Sin plows under. Sin wrecks. Sin grinds. Sin destroys. And somewhere in the timeless ages of the past, after God had created the heavenly hosts and after God had created the heavens and the earth, sin was found in Lucifer. He was cast out. One third of the angels were cast out with him, and in that sin and in that transgression, God’s great universe fell to pieces – the planets, the suns, the stars wracked with fire, with mists, with water, destroyed by the searing blast of wind. God’s beautiful world fell into emptiness, into a void, into formless mass, into ugliness and darkness.
And then God did a miraculous and a marvelous thing. In six days – in six days, a day with a morning and an evening, a day of twenty four hours – in six days, God recreated this planet and this universe, our sun and our planets, and this planet earth. In six days, God recreated it, bringing it out of its formless, empty void; out of its darkness and its mist and the watery grave; and God, in six days, recreated this universe. On the first day, God said, “Let the light penetrate it.” And God’s heavenly and celestial light poured into this formless void, when the earth was “without form and void, when darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” [Genesis 1:2]
“Preacher, how do you know all those things?” From the Bible. It says here in the Book: “And the earth became tohu wa bohu, translated here, “void and formless, empty and uninhabitable.” I turn over here to the prophet Isaiah, chapter 45, verse 18, and the great prophet saith: “For thus saith the Lord that bara – created out of nothing – the heavens and the earth; God himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not tohu or bohu.”
God never made this universe formless, and void, and empty, and dark, and destroyed. God made it beautiful and perfect. His material, corporeal creation, His physical universe was as perfect as His celestial universe was in glory. But sin destroyed it and plunged God’s universe into chaos and into formless darkness.
And Isaiah the prophet says God did not create it that way. Satan did that. Sin did that. Iniquity did that. Transgression did that. And now, God is recreating His universe. And on the first day, He pierces it with the glory of His light. God said by fiat, “Let there be light.”
Some people come along and say, “Well, that’s an eon of five hundred thousand billion years.” Listen. That’s by fiat. God said, “Let there be light,” and the first day, God’s light penetrated the dark mass of this lost and chaotic and watery, buried world. Then on that second day, He created the firmament. He raised the waters above from the waters beneath.
And then on the third day, He created on the third day – a day like your day – on the third day, He created the seas, put the waters together and the dry land appeared. And then on the fourth day, God made the marvel of the sunset. Why a sunset? That’s the most extraneous, useless piece of work that I know of. God loves things that are beautiful and colorful.
And on the fourth day, God cleared out the darkness and cleared out the mist and took away the clouds, and God made the beautiful sunset and the sunrise on the fourth day, and the moon appeared to shine by night. They’d been created in the beginning. That wasn’t when God created the sun and the moon and the stars. This is the recreation of God, when God kicked away the chaotic darkness into which this earth was plunged. And He made the phenomena that you call sunset, sunrise, and the moon that shines and glows, the queen of heaven by night.
Then on the fifth day, He created animal life. All of the things that we see living in this earth, He did it in a day – in a day, not in a million thousand trillion years, but by fiat; God created them by His spoken word. And on the sixth day, He created the man and his wife. Let us, Elohim, plural, "let us make man in our image after our likeness, and let him rule over the seas and the dry land and the earth and all of the things God has placed in this universe; let him rule over them." [Genesis 1:26]
Every once in a while, I’ll meet somebody who looks with great theological askance upon a trip to the moon. Why, man, that’s part of God’s universe He’s given into the hands of the man to have dominion over. If anybody is smart enough – and we’re getting to be – to find our way to the moon, and if they’ll promise me a safe return, I’m ready to go on the first ship. I’d like the experience. I’d like it.
All of God’s creation – the fowls of the air, and we can out-fly them; the fish of the sea, and we can out-swim them; and everything that God has made, did He create this man to have dominion over it, and to rule over it, and to be God’s son as the highest regent under the Almighty, ruling over God’s dominion.
Then in the Garden of Eden where He placed the man – and the Garden of Eden is located in the southern part of the Mesopotamian Valley. I know that because, in the naming of the four rivers that poured through that beautiful garden, one of them is named the Euphrates, and the other is named Hiddekel or the Tigris River. Those two rivers flowed through the beautiful Garden of Eden, and there God began anew and again with His recreated world.
Now, the serpent – the serpent, the serpent, you know him after he was cursed, crawling on his belly, licking up the dust of the ground. But the serpent was the most beautiful, the most beautifully adorned, the most gifted of all of the things that God had made in this world except the man. And the serpent lent himself, whatever he looked like and whatever abilities he had, the serpent lent himself to Satan.
Satan is spirit. And a spirit has not body or corporeality. Spirits get into people. “Ah,” you say, “that’s medieval, old fogy, theological baggage, preacher.” Listen, I see evil spirits enter into the hearts of people – the spirit of lying, the spirit of deception, the spirit of violence, murder, meanness, iniquity, all kinds of things enter into the hearts of people.
And Satan chose this most beautiful and gifted of all of God’s creation outside of the man and his wife. And in that serpent, he did a phenomenal and amazing thing. He began to speak in language to the beautiful woman – perfect, glorious, fashioned by the hand of God out of these sides. You have it translated “ribs.” The only place that word is translated “rib” in the entire Hebrew Old Testament is right there. Everywhere else it’s the “side,” the “side” of the ark.
You wouldn’t say “the ‘rib’ of the ark”; the “side of the ark,” “the side of the tabernacle.” Out of Adam’s side God took Eve. And He looked upon her and said, “This is bone of my bone, and this is flesh of my flesh,” [Genesis 2:23] and he loved her and took her unto his heart.
And Satan saw it. And Satan began to speak to that beautiful woman. Now you have the great conflict of the ages. What is it? Well, it must be the conflict, the struggle unto death between the freedom of our democracies and the tyranny of ideological totalitarianism. Before that, it was the wars that swirled around Germany. Before that, it was the awful campaigns that wracked Europe under Napoleon, under the Caesars. And before that, it was the awful wars of the Mesopotamian and Nile Valleys. Through the ages – no – the great conflict is in the heart of Satan and the mind and love of God. For you see, in glory, Lucifer looked upon the pre-existent Lord God Christ. And Satan said in his heart, “I would be first. I would reign. I would rule.”
And he hated Jehovah Jesus Lord Christ in heaven and decided to supplant Him and to destroy Him. You see, heaven loved the Lord Jesus. It’s hard to say these things because He was only Jesus in His incarnation, but in the beginning of the beginning, before time, before the ages, there was the uncreated God and the uncreated Christ.
And when God said, “Let us make man,” that is God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit, the personality of God into which a man cannot enter. Our minds cannot understand it. We cannot fathom it. But in heaven, in that spiritual world, was the Lord Christ, and Satan envied Him and hated Him and lifted up his heart against Him to supplant Him. And, and it is against the Lord Christ that Satan, in all of his subtlety and his wiles, wages war day and night, for Satan chooses to take God’s world away from Him. And Satan has avowed to rule over God’s world in place of Him. And when God made the universe, Satan said, “I was the second.”
And when God recreated this universe, Satan said, “I will seize it,” and when Satan saw the man and the woman in the Garden of Eden in the perfection and beauty of the Almighty, Satan said, “I will destroy them.”
“For they are made to rule,” says God, “over My universe under Christ.”
“And I am going to seize the power for myself,” says Satan, “and I am going to destroy the man. I am going to reign and to rule over this creation.”
And in the beginning sometime, all of this known to the sovereign God, in the beginning, the Lord Jesus came forward and volunteered to be the redemption and the forgiveness and the sin bearer and the Savior of Adam’s fallen race. And when Jesus met the tempter in the wilderness of Judea, that was just one tiny segment of the conflict between those two – between Lucifer, Son of the Morning, and the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord God – that was just a small segment, a small leaf of that awful conflict between Jesus and Satan.
It started up there before the worlds were. It started there before time was – the hatred of Lucifer for Jesus, and the love and compassion of the Lord God Christ for His creation and for His people. So in the garden, in the beginning, the serpent is used by Satan to speak to the woman whom God had made. And how does he do it? He doesn’t have anything new. Every approach is old. We know what he’s going to say before he begins. There’s not any new attack on God by Lucifer. We know exactly what he’s going to say. First, he’s going to put a question mark after the Word of God. “Yea, did God say that? Did God tell you there’s a hell? Did God say to you there’s a judgment? Did God say to you if you sin you’ll die? Did God say that?”
Question mark, and then a lie. And the first lie: “You won’t die. You won’t die. You won’t die.” And then he presented to Eve the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil. And the woman ate, enticed and deceived by the serpent. And she took the fruit to Adam, and Adam was not deceived. Adam knew in the moment that he ate he would die. Satan deceived the woman, but he didn’t deceive Adam. And when Adam saw Eve partaking of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam made a choice. He so loved her and he so found his soul bound with her that Adam chose to die by her side rather than live without her.
I cannot help but speak words of infinite admiration for the first federal head of our human race. He chose to die with Eve whom he loved rather than live without her. God could have made another Eve. He could have made half a dozen Eves. It was Adam who chose to die by the side of that beautiful and glorious created woman that the Lord placed in his arms and in his heart.
And when God came in the cool of the day, He couldn’t find them. And He raised His voice, “Adam, Adam, Adam, where art thou? Adam, Adam?” And out of the covering of the trees in the garden, Adam raised his voice, “I heard you coming and I was afraid.” God said, “Afraid? Who made thee afraid? Who taught you that word ‘fear’? Afraid?” Afraid.
“Yes,” said Adam, “I was afraid, for I’m naked. And my wife is naked.” And the Lord said, “Who taught thee thou wast naked?” [Genesis 3:11] And then the story is recounted to the Lord Almighty, and when they sat in the presence of God, they had made themselves fig leaves to cover their shame and their nakedness. And when the Lord looked upon them, He said, “But it won’t do, not what human hands can weave, it won’t do.”
And somewhere in the Garden of Eden, the Lord took an innocent animal, and before the eyes of Eve and of Adam, God slew that innocent animal, and the ground drank up its blood, The Scarlet Thread Through the Bible, and with the life sacrifice of an innocent animal, God took coats of skin and covered over the shame and the nakedness of the man and his wife; the first sacrifice offered by the hand of Almighty God. And I’ve often thought when Adam saw the gasping, spent life of that innocent creature and saw the crimson stain the soil of the ground, that was his first experience to know what it meant to die; sin and death. And so the story of atonement and sacrifice begins to unfold through the Word of God, until finally in glory you will see the great throngs of the saints who’ve washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb; The Scarlet Thread through the Bible.
As you know, this is the first time that I have ever attempted anything like this. I have no experience. I have no precedent. I have nothing I’ve ever done to go by. Now, we’re going to have to change. I’m going to have to stop preaching, and we’re going to have to start going through this Bible. So, just as rapidly as we can, now, we’re going to follow through the unfolding of this purpose of God in the Holy Scriptures.
In the Garden of Eden, as the Lord covered over the nakedness of the man and the woman, He turned to the devil, He turned to Satan, He turned to Lucifer, and He said something to Lucifer. He said, “In this woman, whom you have deceived and through whom you have destroyed the federal head of the human race, in this woman I will create out of her, I will create that One who will crush your head, out of the woman.” [from Genesis 3:15] Now the old rabbis for centuries pored over that word of Jehovah God to Satan. “The seed of the woman,” and as all of us know, seed is masculine. Seed belongs to the man. A woman doesn’t have seed. It belongs to the man. And the old rabbis pored over that word and that promise of God, “The seed of the woman shall crush your head.”
Finally, as the Scriptures will unfold, we’ll know what that means, what that refers to. That is a part of that age-long conflict and struggle between the hatred of Lucifer and the love of God in Christ Jesus. But now we begin in atonement, in blood, in sacrifice: “The seed of that woman whom you deceived shall crush your head.” So, driven out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord placed on each side of the gate cherubim and an altar. Wherever in the Bible you find cherubim, they are always symbols of the grace and love and mercy and forgiveness of the Lord God.
And He placed the cherubim there and the altar there for the man to come to in repentance, in faith, to draw nigh to God. And He guarded the Tree of Life, lest the man eat of it and die. It was a merciful thing for God to do; for had our parents eaten of the Tree of Life and been confirmed in this body of death, it would have been the most tragic of all of the imaginable things that could have overwhelmed the human family.
I don’t want to live forever in this body of death, my eyes gone, my hearing gone, my back stooped, my frame disintegrating, and yet confirmed in this body of death, and never be able to die. God put away and guarded out of sight the Tree of Life, lest the man eat thereof and live forever. “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.” [1 Corinthians 15:50] God has made it possible for us to exchange this old house of clay with its infirmity and its senility – God has made it possible for us to exchange it for “a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” And that’s why He put away and guarded the Tree of Life. Someday, of course, as you’ll see, through the Book, we’ll find it in glory in the paradise of heaven.
So, the Lord drove out the man and his wife, and she bore two sons. One was named Cain, and the other was named Abel. Cain brought to that altar first fruit of the fields. Like a displayer at a county fair, he was so proud of himself: “And look what I have done.” And he laid it at the feet of God in his pride.
Abel, by faith, feeling himself unworthy and undone – Abel brought a lamb, the first slain of his flock, poured out its blood and offered it upon the altar. And God respected Abel for the faith in his heart and received the sacrifice. But God respected not Cain because of the pride in his heart – like Lucifer, lifted up, thought well of himself. And when Cain saw he was rejected, he lifted up his hand, and there was the first mound in the earth, and underneath it lay a boy. And Adam and Eve knew what it meant to die in the loss of that boy, Abel. And their tears watered the soil above his grave.
And in the goodness of God, the Lord gave her another son, Seth. And Seth was a man of God; and Cain, driven out from the presence of the Lord, was a blasphemer. And then you have the progeny of those two: the line of Cain and the line of Seth, the children of God. And as long as the children of God were separate, God blessed the earth, and the world, and the families.
Then, in the sixth chapter of Genesis a tragic thing came to pass. The sons of God, the children of Seth, looked out into that world and they liked the glamour of the nightlife. And they liked the drunken orgies of the world. And they turned aside from their separateness and their dedication and their holiness, and they began to marry into the families of the sons of Cain. And God looked upon them, and His children had forsaken His altars and forsaken their devotion and had forgotten their consecration, and the whole earth was filled with violence and evil and iniquity.
Whenever a girl comes to me and says, “I’m going to marry a worthless drunkard, but I’m going to reform him. You don’t understand, pastor. I’m going to make a Christian out of him,” don’t you ever think that when God’s people intermarry with the vile and the iniquitous of the world you’re going to lift them up to God. They’re going to pull you down to hell. That’s exactly what happened in the earth. The children of God began to marry in the line of Cain, and the earth was filled with violence and blood and murder and blasphemy. And God said, “It’s enough, it’s enough.” And He looked over the whole created family of the Lord God, the children of old man Adam, and there was only one righteous man in this earth, just one. And that man’s name was Noah.
And God said to Noah, “It’s enough, it’s enough. One hundred twenty years from now, I’m going to destroy this world by flood. You make for yourself an ark and bring your family in.” And then out of His compassion for the world that He made, the Lord God told him to bring seven into the ark of the species that was clean and two of a kind into the ark of the species that was unclean.
So he built that great ark, made and fashioned after the finest nautical symmetry known today. And then God shut him up. When the rain began to fall and the floods began to rise, and those people beat on the door of that ark, why didn’t Noah open the door to let them in? Because God shut that door. There’s a day of grace beyond which a man can’t trifle with God. Known to Him, there’s a time, there’s a line. When a man goes beyond it, he’ll never be saved, never. No. In the New Testament, we call that the unpardonable sin. God shut the door. And that race and that generation were destroyed.
And then after God opened the door and Noah came out, you have the beginning of all the nations of the earth described here in the tenth and the eleventh chapters of the Book of Genesis. All the nations of the earth are divided into three parts; the sons of Noah were Shem, Ham, and Japheth.
The sons of Japheth are what you would call the Aryans, the Indo-Europeans, that great family to the north and to the west, of whom we here tonight are a part. God shall enlarge the tent of Japheth. Japheth is the great, multiplied wing of Noah’s family, Japheth.
The second: Ham. Ham is the father of the Canaanites, of the Egyptians, of the Africans, of the Philistines, and all of those people who live in Africa. And the Canaanites and the Philistines who were the enemies of the people of God, they are the children of Ham. And God said they should be a servant people.
The third great wing of the Noaic family is Shem. And Shem is the father of the Shemites: the Elamites, the Chaldeans, the Assyrians, the Syrians, the Hebrew family – all of those people, the Arabians, the Arabs – all of those people who lived in that great, vast section of country from Ur of Chaldeas through the fertile crescent down to the River of Egypt. That was the home of the Shemites, the Semites.
Anti-semitism is a vicious prejudice of people against those that God exalted in the revelation of His love and grace. And those families were all one, and they all sought to be together, just like families do. But God had said to inhabit the whole earth and to have dominion over the whole creation, so when all of those families came together in chapter 11 to build a great central monument that would hold them together. And if they ever had another flood – which God said they wouldn’t have – they were going to have a tower that would reach up to heaven in which they could escape from it.
When God looked down and saw the pride again in the human heart, He confused their speech – Babel, Babylon. And being unable to understand each other, those that could speak this language went over in that direction, and those that could speak this language, automatically gathered in that direction. And those who could speak this language automatically went in this direction.
And they divided up according to the speech, according to the family tongue, according to the mother language, and then they separated from Babel over the face of the earth, and the nations grew up from those three great sections of the family of Noah. Now, that is God’s introduction to His Bible.
The first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis concern the whole family of the human race. Now, beginning at chapter 12 in the Book of Genesis, beginning at chapter 12, we come to see one family that God has chosen through whom He will keep that promise. “I will give thee a seed that shall crush Satan’s head.”
In the twelfth chapter of Genesis, God says to Abram, who lived in Ur of Chaldea, down there at the bottom of the Mesopotamian Valley where those Tigris and Euphrates rivers flow into the Persian Gulf, God said to Abram, “Get thee out from thy father’s house, thy father’s people.” [Genesis 12:1]
He lived in an idolatrous city, and his father was an idolater. His father’s name was Terah. They say he manufactured idols and sold them. God said, “Get out, and I’ll make of thee a great nation, and I’ll bless them that bless thee and curse them that curse thee. And in thy seed shall all the families and nations of the earth be blessed.” [Genesis 12:3]
So, out of the family of Shem, God chooses Abraham from Ur of Chaldea. And he didn’t leave his father’s house and his father’s family at first. From Ur of Chaldea, he went up to the northern part of the Mesopotamian Valley in a place called Haran. Abram, Nahor his brother, Terah his father, and Lot, his brother’s son, they all moved up to Haran. In the Bible, you’ll also find that to be Padan-aram – Haran, Padan-aram. There Abraham got a wife for Isaac – Rebekah – and there Jacob fled, and for 20 years was a servant of Laban, and married Leah and Rachel up there in the northern part of the Mesopotamian Valley in Haran.
But after Terah died, the father of Abraham died – after Terah died, then Abraham took his wife, Sarah, and took his nephew, Lot, and left Nahor his brother there. And Abram moved down into the Promised Land. He came to Shechem and then to Bethel and then to Hebron, then down to Egypt for awhile because of famine, and then back to Hebron. And there at Hebron, he and Lot divided, and Lot went down into the cities of the plains and pitched his tent toward Sodom and became the mayor of Sodom. And the angel of the Lord came and said to Abraham, “If the sin and iniquity of that awful city is as it has come up unto me, we shall destroy it.”
And when the angels had left, Abraham stood yet before the Lord, knowing that Lot – righteous Lot, vexing his soul with the filthy living of the Sodomites – knowing that Lot was in that city. He prayed to God, “If fifty righteous can be found, would you spare it for the sake of fifty, if forty, if thirty, if twenty, if ten?” [from Genesis 18:22-32] Had he asked for Lot, I think God would have granted his request, but he asked for ten.
The angels couldn’t find ten, and there as Abram looked on from Hebron, the fire fell upon Sodom and Gomorrah after Lot, his wife, and two daughters were snatched away. Jesus says a picture of His coming is as it was in the days of Lot. First God’s people must be taken out before the fire and the brimstone can fall. And at Hebron, Abraham looked and saw the destruction of the cities of the plain.
Then Abraham moved to Beersheba. Then follows the story of Isaac, which is enmeshed with Abraham, and the story of Jacob; Isaac’s life enmeshed first with Abraham and then with Jacob.
Now, the story of Jacob. In Beersheba, where Isaac is living, Rebekah loved Jacob and Isaac loved Esau. Jacob is very shrewd, and Esau is a fine specimen of an animal. You’d have liked Esau. He’d have been the captain of the football team. He was a hunter, he was a fisherman, he was out with the dogs – yup, whoo, whoo, whoo! He liked that. That’s Esau.
You’d have liked him. All the way through, Esau is splendid. But he was carnal; he was of this world. He liked the things of the flesh. And Isaac liked that because he ate of his venison. So, upon a day when Esau is returning from a hunt perishing to death for hunger, he sells his birthright to Jacob for a mess of pottage – for some soup.
Then, with Rebekah, Jacob cheats Esau out of his birthright – out of the blessing, having already purchased from him his birthright. And Esau said, “I will kill you.” And Jacob fled away to Padan-aram, up there where Nahor lived in Haran at the north of the Mesopotamian Valley. So, Jacob flees away, and he stops at Bethel, and there God confirms to him the promise of the seed and of the land of the Savior who was to come. From Bethel and his vision of angels, he goes to Padan-aram to Haran. Up there in the grandson’s house of Nahor, whose name is Laban, the brother of Rebekah, and he works for Laban seven years for Rachel. And then of all things, when he woke up the next morning and looked over there at the woman whom he’d been married to that night, she wasn’t Rachel at all.
I’ve always thought that that was one of the stupidest things that a man ever did in my life, that he couldn’t tell in the nighttime whether it was Rachel or not. He should have known her better than that. So, he worked seven more years. Having Leah, he worked seven more years for Rachel. Then he worked six more years for Laban, and at the end of twenty years came back when God said, “Go back to Palestine.”
So, Jacob comes back on the east side of the Jordan, then crosses over to Shechem. And living there in Shechem, Simeon and Levi do a cruel and awful thing in destroying the men of Shechem. Then, finally, Jacob comes to Bethel and renews his vow to God, and from Bethel down to Hebron. And while he’s on the way to Hebron, Rachel dies at Bethlehem.
And down at Hebron, this boy, Joseph, is sent to Dothan, which is about ten miles north of Samaria, in order to find the flocks and the brothers who are keeping them. And when Joseph appeared they said, “There’s that boy that our father dotes on, and spoils with that coat of many colors.” They propose to slay him. Finally, Reuben persuades them to just spare his life, and they sell him to the Ishmaelites, who take him down into Egypt. And in Egypt, Joseph becomes the prime minister under Pharaoh.
There is a famine in the land of Canaan, and the story of the brothers going down into Egypt. And they come back for their father, and in Egypt in the time of famine, they are given Goshen. As you look at Egypt, it had a triangular delta where the different rivers pour out into the Mediterranean Sea. On the right side of the delta, between the right side of the delta and the desert is a little country that is named Goshen – very fertile. And there Pharaoh and Joseph settled Israel and his family.
Then we come to the death of Joseph – that his bones be carried back into the Promised Land when God visits them. There arises a Pharaoh who doesn’t know Joseph, and he sees those Israelites prospering, and God is blessing them. And they are afraid of them, so Pharaoh uses them to make bricks without straw, to build cities in slavery.
And as they groaned under that heavy oppression, God bowed down His ears to hear, and there arises a man who was Pharaoh’s son, an heir apparent to the throne, whom she took out of the waters when the cruel Pharaoh decreed that all the male children should die, learned in all of the arts and sciences of the Egyptians, whose heart was with his people, taught by his mother Jehovah God and the choice of Israel.
Having fled away from Pharaoh on the back side of the desert at Sinai, he is tending sheep. And while he’s tending sheep on the back side of the desert at the foot of Mount Sinai at the bottom of the Sinaitic Peninsula, there God speaks to him out of a burning bush. And God says, “I’ve heard the cry of My people.”
“Ah, said Moses, anybody but I, anybody but I.”
But the Lord says, “No, it is you. My people through whom this promise is to be made and kept inviolate, My people.”
Moses goes down, and after the ten plagues on a night of nights, isn’t it amazing how these things are done without any meaning whatsoever except as God gives them meaning? Why, on that night of nights, why should they take a lamb and slay it? Pour out its blood, sprinkle it with hyssop – which is a common, ordinary mistletoe type of a thing, a parasite of a thing, a common plant that grew on the walls and everywhere in that country – take a hyssop, dip it in the blood and sprinkle it on the door posts and on the lintel in the sign of the cross, on the door posts on either side. On the lintel here at the top, in the form of a cross, sprinkle the blood and when the death angel passes over that night, “When I see the blood, I’ll spare your house and your home.” And in all the other homes and families, there’s death, and the wailing and lamentation of all of Egypt, except to those who are under the blood, under the blood, “The Scarlet Thread through the Bible.”