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The Patriarchs

Genesis, Chapters 12 to 50

God's purpose to save and bless all mankind was to be carried out in a wonderful way. He selected and "called" one man to become the head and ancestor of a single nation. And in this man and the nation descended from him, God purposed to bless the whole world.

Abraham was that man, and Israel was that nation. God made known his purpose in what the Bible calls the Promise, Gal. 3 : 17, the Blessing, v. 14, or the Covenant, v. 17. Its terms are given many times over in the book of Genesis, but the essence of it lies already in the first word of God to Abraham, Gen. 12 : 3, "In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

To believe this promise was a work of faith. It was against all appearances and all probability. Yet this was just where the religious value of that promise lay for Abraham and for his children after him — in faith. They had to believe something on the basis solely of their confidence in the One who had promised it. Or rather, they had to believe in that Person, the personal Jehovah, their God. They must absolutely trust him. To do so, they must "know him." And that they might know him, he must reveal himself to them. That is why we read all through Genesis of God's "appearing" or "speaking" to this or the other patriarch. However he accomplished it, God was always trying thus to make them better acquainted with himself; for such knowledge was to be the basis of their faith. Upon faith in him depended their faith in his word, and upon faith in his word depended their power to keep alive in the world that true religion which was destined for all men and which we to-day share. Abraham's God is our God.

Not Abraham's great wealth in servants. Gen. 14 : 14, and in flocks and herds, ch. 13 : 2, 6, but the promise of God to bless, constituted the true "birthright" in Abraham's family. Ishmael, the child of doubt, missed it; and Isaac, the child of faith, obtained it. Gal. 4 : 23. Esau "despised" it, because he was "a profane [irreligious] person," Heb. 12 : 16, and Jacob schemed to obtain it by purchase. Gen. 25 : 31, and by fraud, ch. 27 : 19. Jacob bequeathed it to his sons, ch. 49, and