Genesis, Typically Considered. Chapters 20, 21

Genesis 20‑21  •  9 min. read  •  grade level: 12
It seems to me that the Spirit of God takes up much more the Jews in the latter day here; it is not that we have not, in principle the same thing as in chapters 17, 18 and 19, but its proper force is there. And it arises on this question with the king of the land over Abraham's wife, over the Jewish people as having a Husband, and as belonging to Him—they may treat them well in ignorance, but the Lord claims them for Himself, and others cannot thus have them.
Here also it is all God—not the Lord—not the order of covenant, or ordered relationship, but God in His supremacy. In the case of Pharaoh, it was the world, and Abraham is treated well, and Pharaoh plagued with great plagues—here the judging after the flesh—Abimelech is in the land, and does it in the integrity of his heart, but is bound to own Sarah to be another's—then he can reprove Abraham, and give him the land to live in. Thereupon the heir is born, "to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given"; thereon the heir, as under the old covenant is clean turned out, and Abraham can reprove Abimelech—give to him—set the borders of his lands—and then take possession of the land in a figurative sense—plant and grow there—call on Jehovah, the everlasting God, who now (figuratively) had given him the promises—the world (who owned however the Lord, see verse 4) acknowledging that God is with Abraham in all that he did—this after the entire casting away of the old covenant, and so it shall be. We may enter into this in spirit now, but it shall be accomplished in the latter day.
Chapter 12 is much more the Church and the world—Abram being the general depositary of promise; query—would not this suppose the bringing in of the new covenant (even as to the Jews) before the birth of the heir to them? The power of deliverance is a distinct thing from the preparedness of heart before God, and this last is a thing owned in Jewish dealings; Psa. 119 seems to teach the same thing—there the law is written on the heart, but salvation or deliverance is not come. This is an important principle in prophetic Jewish history. The Church stands on other grounds in its address to the world, although the same effect is produced. Is not this too seen in the Lord's life, in grace going to the chief of sinners, and yet saying " except your righteousness exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye can in no wise enter "?
In these two chapters then we have Abraham and Abimelech—the heir born—and Abimelech and Abraham again; in chapter 15 the covenant of the land—the heir and land—the Gentile world being refused; in chapters 16 and 17, the two covenants in their contracted character, and the heirs respectively of each; in chapter 18, the new being made known, Abraham thereon the depositary of the immediate promise of the spiritual Heir, and of the divine mind, closing with the execution of judgment; chapter 19, the close is special.
Here we have the relation of the believers, or those that hold the promise, before the heir is given and after, subject to (by their own folly, it is true—for God was Almighty, and they were to walk before Him) the world, or its king, and fearing before him, and then the Heir born to them and ruling the world—true in principle ever. It will have a special earthly accomplishment in the Jews, received under the new covenant with the Heir—the old covenant turned quite out, and the world reproved; but the Church anticipates these questions.
We have already seen that the man represents the conduct, the woman the state of the relationship with God; thus then it was not only generally with Abram and Sarai; but Abraham denies the total separation of his wife—the Church—to himself, even as Sarah, but it was not Abimelech's fault but Abraham's; so with the Church—it is not the world's fault, but the Church's—believers'—that the Church is put into the hands of the world in this sense. Sarah is finally reproved, though both are in fault, and Abraham intercedes for the world then, when Sarah is restored—this has special reference to the Jews and Christ—so in Num. 12, Aaron, though also guilty, interceded for Miriam; Abraham takes Christ's place in spirit then—and so indeed the remnant, though guilty, noted hereafter.
Save the natural, original sin of man, God preserves His own seed in this—and the glory of Christ—by secret providence; but its condition before the world is lost—Abraham has no wife—believers recognize none of this separation of the Church to Christ as His own.
We have then the Son born according to the new covenant—to us indeed now in spirit—but actually, when He comes as such into the world, and then instead of Abimelech's reproving, Abraham reproves Abimelech.
As to the Jews, I should say it was the interval immediately before the coming of Christ as the Son born to them, in which the Gentiles are entirely unfruitful while they are in their hands—the Son is born, and they give up and cast out the old covenant, and then Abimelech recognizes that God is with them in all that they do, not seeking to use them for his own purposes.
NOTE.—It is Sarah who is reproved, for she ought not to have acquiesced, and Abraham is dealt with, in the way of grace, as a prophet—for so God looks at the Church in Christ for intercession according to His mind, as full of the Spirit; compare Num. 12, where the judgment is on Miriam—Aaron interceding, though in the fault secondly, if not first.
The age of Sarah moves me nothing—for the Church or Jews, the people of God, lose nothing in the sight of the world for their purposes, though in the sight of God in themselves grown old and barren. I see no necessity to assert that the fact happened where it is placed, but in its typical order I have no doubt it is in the right place, and in this sense it bears a most important character in the sight of God; it is when Sarah bears the burden—or may be supposed to do so, for it is not directly stated " for the day and hour knoweth no man," but from the place it occurs, looking back from the fact in chapter 21 to the promise in chapter 18—of the Heir of all, the laughter of those that hoped, and the glory manifested of His Father in the world.
If it be the case, as above, about the Jews, then there is a recognition of them in Abraham in blessing, before the full blessing comes in—indeed it is so for Christ's sake, for in all their affliction, blessed Lord, He is afflicted—and thus Abraham would represent both Christ and the Jewish remnant, before the open manifestation of Christ, but it is more a display of principle than full details. It was when Hagar wandered and lay down, in despair, that Abraham made a covenant and reproved Abimelech after.
Many of the types present the perfections of God, or of Christ in one sense, and the actings and therefore failure of faith in the other.
I have no doubt that, in the type strictly, Abimelech, Sarah and Abraham present what is Jewish at the close—God secretly preserving the remnant, but they in the world's hands and the people treated well—Satan seeking to keep them there. Then the Son born, and the distinction of Hagar fully made, and she cast out, and then the supremacy over the world; but, though all this may pass actually among the Jews then, it is true spiritually, not only with the Church, but even an individual soul, for example, getting under the old covenant, and seeking its blessing and heirship there.
Then with some necessary adjuncts from chapter 22 to the end of chapter 24, we have a new distinct revelation. In the previous part we had the Lord's revelation of Himself to Abram as El Shaddai—the covenant of circumcision—and also father of many nations—and the relative position, under this, of Church and Israel in Abraham and Lot. Then the new covenant and the Heir—here we have the Heir distinctly brought out—in connection with the Church—sacrificed and raised again in a figure; afterward His Father giving Him all He had, sends His messenger (who had all in His hand and takes an earnest and proof), to seek a wife, and brings her back to the Risen One come out to meditate, having left the place where the providence of God had met and secured the subject and type of the old covenant; chap. 16: 14.
The force of all this can hardly be mistaken—the Holy Ghost taking the graces and gifts, and revealing that all was given to the Son; and seeking by the Father's will a bride for the Son, whom He brings back to Him, He having left the place of providence and the old covenant.
Sarah, the Jewish mother, is here removed ever viewed in the new covenant, and Rebecca is brought into her tent, and so Isaac comforted—and so the true Isaac. Meanwhile the land became the burying place of all their hopes, and that is all—all that Abraham, the depositary of promise, took in the land, and that not as his, but bought in it. It was only for the dead—a possession—pledge of other title to it, however. The world which has received Him in death, He must have for an inheritance; on the sacrifice and resurrection, the promise was confirmed to the seed. Verses 20-24 of chapter 22 come in, that the chain of history may be complete.