Not a Nickname (Part One)
I originally intended to write a series on the four prophetic blessings of Balaam. I’m still planning to, but this will prove to be an important detour in that plan. In my previous post titled “BALAAM’S FIRST PROPHECY – THE CONCLUSION“, I said the following.
Ok, what? Dust of Jacob? With this phrase Balaam is telling his audience that the nation is descended from one person, a man named Jacob. He paints the picture of a walking man leaving a trail of dust behind him. With this figure of speech Balaam declares that the posterity of a single man is incalculable. This nation is so large that it is almost impossible to count even just a fourth of them!
Ptk made a very gracious comment on the post. He said,
Another great post Mark. Maybe include in your next one an explanation of why Jacob’s name was changed to Israel. We all would benefit from hearing your explanation of that. Thx so much for your great work in expositing the Scriptures to us.
I really appreciate all the comments I receive when I write, but this one especially stands out. Upon initial consideration, it may not seem significant that a man’s name was changed. However, the exact opposite is true. This singular event affects not only the man whose name was changed, but an entire nation. The ripple effect of this name change is even farther reaching, forever affecting all the nations of the world! Let me say it this way, this seemingly innocuous event impacts all of the world’s history and timeline to the end of history and on into eternity! I’m not exaggerating, as a matter of fact I am convinced I have not stated the importance of this singular event strongly enough!
I could just tell you in a few short sentences about the man’s name change from Jacob to Israel and provide you with the biblical references. I could make a single statement as to its impact and we’d be done. But we are granted a unique opportunity to explore the depths of God’s word, and I’d like to take advantage of that opportunity. Very often God hides the truth in plain sight. The one and only God does this by causing human authors to write exactly what He wants communicated. If we read the Bible simply as a story, we will miss most of what God intends for us to understand.
One approach to avoiding the trap of reading the Bible like any other book, is to adopt the perspective that we are all detectives. As sleuths it is our job to gather scriptural clues in pursuit of truth. This is not a difficult process. God is liberal with His clues. It is not His desire to conceal, but rather reveal the truth to those who wish to know it.
I believe we will be richly blessed as we explore God’s word together.
From the earliest pages in the Bible we have a detailed genealogical record. Two things become immediately obvious. First, essentially only one branch of the tree is described, others are either totally ignored or barely mentioned. Second, it becomes obvious that the genealogies of the man are given greater weight. Often times women are not mentioned at all. Sometimes a man’s wife is mentioned by name, and other times not.
I’m not going to provide the scripture here, but essentially I’m going to be discussing Genesis 25:8-20, which I would strongly encourage you to read.
These two genealogical observations are pretty consistent until you hit chapter 25 of Genesis. This chapter is a continuation of the family tree of Abraham. It breaks form by giving two lineages. The first line spoken of is that of Abraham’s son Ishmael. We are given the names of his twelve sons. Notice that Ishmael’s wife’s name is not provided.
We then come to Abraham’s son Isaac’s branch of the tree. In Abraham’s branch of the tree his wife’s name, Rebekah is given. But not only is her name given, so are the names of her father, and brother! As a side note, since we are not going to talk about it, I can make a comment that would otherwise be a spoiler alert. Rebekah’s linage becomes important to us when studying the lineage of Christ.
For many reasons we don’t have time to discuss, the family line we are about to consider is nothing short of a miracle! Having said that there is one miracle we cannot overlook. We’ve come to the section in the narrative where unless God does something, a branch in the family tree is about to be sawed off. Rebekah is not able to have children. Her husband Isaac intercedes for her and God not only answers, He doubles the blessing. She has twins!
I think a reasonable conclusion thus far is the biblical genealogy is not accidental. God has been intimately involved from the very beginning. His dealings with mankind impact every aspect of our lives. The LORD God (YHWH) and YHWH alone is worthy of all our praise and worship!