Restoration in Abraham’s Family – Part 2
3.2 The Foundation of Substance
Isaac thus became the central figure to restore the foundation of faith in place of Abraham. He established the foundation of faith by making the symbolic offering of the ram in a manner acceptable to God. To establish the foundation for the Messiah in Isaac’s family, the foundation of substance had to be laid next. For this purpose, Isaac’s sons, Esau and Jacob, had to be placed in the divided positions of Cain and Abel respectively. By making the substantial offering, they were responsible to fulfill the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature and lay the foundation of substance.
If Abraham had not failed in the symbolic offering, Isaac and his half-brother Ishmael would have stood in the positions of Abel and Cain. They would have been responsible to fulfill the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature which Cain and Abel did not accomplish. However, because Abraham failed in the offering, God set up Isaac in the position of Abraham, and Esau and Jacob in the positions originally intended for Ishmael and Isaac. It was then up to Esau and Jacob to fulfill the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature.
For the purpose of making the substantial offering, Esau and Jacob were in the same positions under their father Isaac as Cain and Abel in relation to Adam, and as Shem and Ham in relation to Noah. Isaac’s eldest son Esau represented Abraham’s first symbolic offering defiled by Satan, while the second son Jacob represented the offering of Isaac by which Satan was separated. Moreover, Esau assumed the role of Cain as the representative of evil, while Jacob stood in the position of Abel as the representative of goodness. Esau and Jacob began fighting inside their mother’s womb65(Gen. 25:22-23)CEV|KJ|NI because they were in these opposing positions. Even then, God loved Jacob and hated Esau,66(Rom. 9:11-13)CEV|KJ|NIbut this was for a providential reason: they were supposed to restore through indemnity the mistakes which Cain and Abel had made in their offering.
However, before Esau and Jacob could fulfill the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature and make the substantial offering, Jacob first had to fulfill the indemnity condition to restore the position of Abel. In all, Jacob had the following missions: First, he should fulfill the indemnity condition to restore the position of Abel, the central figure of the substantial offering. Next, he should make the substantial offering. Finally, as will be discussed in the next section, Jacob would enter Egypt to commence the four-hundred-year course of indemnity required of his descendants because of Abraham’s mistake in the symbolic offering.
Jacob made the indemnity condition to restore the position of Abel in the following manner. First, Jacob fulfilled the condition of victory in the fight to restore on the individual level the birthright of the eldest son. Because Satan took dominion over the universe created by God, Satan assumed the position of the eldest son. God was cast in the position of the second son, from which He had to work His way toward restoring the birthright. For this reason, God has favored second sons over firstborn sons, as in the case of Esau and Jacob: “I have loved Jacob but I have hated Esau.”67(Mal. 1:2)CEV|KJ|NIJacob, as the second son who had the responsibility to restore the birthright of the firstborn son, cleverly obtained it from Esau in exchange for some bread and a pottage of lentils.68(Gen. 25:29-34)CEV|KJ|NI Because Jacob highly valued the birthright and worked to reclaim it from his brother, God had Isaac bless him.69(Gen. 27:27-29)CEV|KJ|NI On the contrary, God did not bless Esau, because he thought so little of his birthright that he traded it for a bowl of lentil pottage.
Second, Jacob went to Haran, which represented the satanic world. After suffering through twenty-one years of drudgery, he triumphed over Laban in the fight to restore the birthright by gaining family and wealth as his due inheritance. After winning this victory, Jacob returned to Canaan.
Third, on his way back to Canaan, the land of the promised blessing, Jacob triumphed in wrestling with an angel at the ford of Jabbok, thereby restoring dominion over the angel in a substantial struggle. Through these three victories, Jacob restored through indemnity the position of Abel. Thereupon, Jacob became the central figure of the substantial offering.
Esau and Jacob thus secured the positions in which Cain and Abel had stood at the moment when God accepted Abel’s offering. Accordingly, for Jacob and Esau to fulfill the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature, Esau needed to love Jacob, respect him as his mediator to God, obediently submit to Jacob’s directions, and finally, multiply goodness by inheriting goodness from the bearer of God’s blessing. Indeed, when Jacob returned to Canaan with his family and wealth after enduring twenty-one years of hardship in Haran, he moved Esau to overcome his former hostility:
And Jacob lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, Esau was coming, and four hundred men with him. So he divided the children among Leah and Rachel and the two maids. And he put the maids with their children in front, then Leah with her children, and Rachel and Joseph last of all. He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother. But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept. –Gen. 33:1-4CEV|KJ|NI
When Esau opened his arms and affectionately welcomed Jacob, they fulfilled the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature. For the first time, the foundation of substance was laid successfully.
When Jacob and Esau succeeded in making the substantial offering, they restored through indemnity the previous failures in making substantial offerings: the failures of Cain and Abel in Adam’s family and of Ham and Shem in Noah’s family. Their victory in the providence centered on Abraham also restored through indemnity, horizontally in one family, the long vertical course of history in which God had been working to restore the foundation of substance.
Esau had been in the position to be hated by God from the time he was inside his mother’s womb70(Rom. 9:11-13)CEV|KJ|NI only because he had been given the role of Cain, who was on Satan’s side, for the purpose of setting up an indemnity condition in the providence of restoration. Once he submitted to Jacob and completed his portion of responsibility, he stood in the position of restored Cain and was at last able to receive God’s love.
God’s work to lay the foundation for the Messiah, which He first tried to establish in Adam’s family, had to be conducted three times because the central figures of the providence of restoration could not fulfill their portion of responsibility. The third attempt was in Abraham’s time, yet even this was prolonged when he failed in the symbolic offering. Isaac and his family inherited the Will and laid the foundation of faith and the foundation of substance. At last, the foundation for the Messiah was established. One would expect that the Messiah would have come on the earth at that time.
However, the foundation for the Messiah also requires a social environment conducive to his coming. The foundation must make it feasible for this satanic world to be restored into God’s Kingdom ruled by the Messiah. In the providence in Adam’s and Noah’s families, there were no other families which could possibly attack or corrupt the central family. If either of these families had laid the foundation for the Messiah on the family level, the Messiah could have come without opposition. However, by Abraham’s time, fallen people had already built up satanic nations which could easily overpower Abraham’s family. Hence, even though the foundation for the Messiah was laid at that time, it was a limited foundation, on the family level. The Messiah could not have safely come on that foundation. A foundation of a sovereign state was needed to cope with the nations of the satanic world.
Such support would have been necessary even if Abraham had not failed in the symbolic offering, but had succeeded with his sons, Isaac and Ishmael, in making the substantial offering to lay the family foundation for the Messiah. It still would not have been safe for the Messiah to come until Abraham’s descendants had multiplied in Canaan and established a national foundation for the Messiah. As it was, though the descendants of Isaac had established the family foundation for the Messiah, they would leave their homeland and suffer in a foreign land for four hundred years as the penalty for Abraham’s mistake. Despite their suffering in Egypt, they would flourish and consolidate as a people. They would return to Canaan and build the national foundation for the Messiah as a sovereign nation prepared for the Messiah and his work.71(cf. Moses and Jesus 22.214.171.124)
A course of indemnity had been placed upon the shoulders of Abraham’s descendants due to his mistake in the symbolic offering. Jacob was to begin this course of indemnity, not Isaac. Indeed, the one who shoulders the major burden in walking the course of indemnity is the Abel-type person who serves as the central figure of the substantial offering. Abel in Adam’s family, Ham in Noah’s family, Isaac in Abraham’s family, and Jacob in Isaac’s family carried the major burdens in walking the indemnity courses set down for their families. Among them, Jacob was the only Abel figure who stood upon the foundation for the Messiah. Therefore, he would walk the model course for the separation of Satan, setting the pattern for the Messiah to follow at his coming.72(cf. Moses and Jesus 1)
Jacob’s family stood upon the foundation for the Messiah which had been completed in Isaac’s family. Inheriting the position of Isaac’s family, they set out to complete the dispensation entrusted to Abraham by taking responsibility for Abraham’s sin and embarking upon the four-hundred-year course of indemnity. In Isaac’s family it was Jacob, in the position of Abel, who walked the entire course of indemnity. In Jacob’s family it was Joseph, the son of Rachel – Jacob’s wife on God’s side – who was to secure the position of Abel by entering Egypt and walking the course of indemnity. After being sold into slavery by his brothers and brought to Egypt, Joseph rose to the office of prime minister of Egypt by the age of thirty. He witnessed the realization of a prophecy which God had given him in his dreams while he was still a child.73(Gen. 37:5-11)CEV|KJ|NI First, Joseph’s half brothers, born of Leah – Jacob’s wife on Satan’s side – entered Egypt and surrendered themselves to him. Later, all of Jacob’s children entered Egypt, and finally they brought their father to Egypt. In this way, Jacob’s family began the indemnity course to build a nation which would one day receive the Messiah.
Jacob, as the central figure who laid the foundation for the Messiah in Isaac’s family, was responsible to shoulder Abraham’s sin. He was also responsible to embark upon an indemnity course to realize on the national level the Will which had been entrusted to Isaac. Therefore, as was the case with Abraham and Isaac, God regarded Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as the same person with respect to His Will, even though they were three different individuals. Accordingly, Jacob’s success meant Isaac’s success, and Isaac’s success meant Abraham’s success. The providence of restoration centering on Abraham, though it was extended to Isaac and Jacob, came to be regarded in the sight of God as having been accomplished in Abraham’s own generation without any prolongation. It is written, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”74(Exod. 3:6)CEV|KJ|NI This verse indicates that although they were three generations, God regarded as one generation these ancestors who collectively accomplished His Will.
God intended to fulfill the goal of His providence by establishing the national foundation for the Messiah and sending the Messiah to that prepared nation. To accomplish this, God had Jacob’s family enter Egypt, the satanic world, where they would suffer as slaves for four hundred years. Then, as promised to Abraham, God would raise them up as the chosen people and bring them back to Canaan.
The foundation for the Messiah established in Isaac’s family became the basis upon which to begin the course of indemnity to establish the national foundation for the Messiah. The period of two thousand years from Adam to Abraham was in effect the period to lay the basis for this national providence to begin in the next era.
In conclusion, Jacob was victorious in taking responsibility for the indemnity course to pay for Abraham’s mistake. By using his wisdom for the sake of God’s Will, Jacob triumphed as an individual in his struggle with Esau to win the birthright. He entered Haran and, as a family, triumphed in a twenty-one-year struggle with his uncle Laban to win the birthright. On his way back from Haran to Canaan, Jacob was victorious in the fight with the angel. He was the first fallen man to fulfill the indemnity condition to restore dominion over the angel. Thereupon, he received the name “Israel,”75(Gen. 32:28)CEV|KJ|NI signifying that he set the pattern and laid the groundwork upon which the chosen people would be established. After returning to Canaan with these victories, Jacob won Esau’s heart, and together they fulfilled the indemnity condition to remove the fallen nature.
Jacob thus victoriously completed the model course to bring Satan to submission. Moses, Jesus, and even the people of Israel would walk this course after the pattern set by Jacob. The history of Israel can serve as a good historical source for understanding the course to bring Satan to submission on the national level. For this reason, it is central to the study of the providence of restoration.
First, Abraham’s course demonstrates that God’s predestination concerning the manner in which His Will is fulfilled is conditional. The providence of restoration cannot be fulfilled by God’s power alone; it can only be fulfilled in conjunction with the human portion of responsibility. Hence, although God called upon Abraham for the purpose of fulfilling the providence of restoration, when he failed to complete his responsibility, God’s Will was not fulfilled.
Second, Abraham’s course demonstrates that God’s predestination concerning human beings is conditional. Although God preordained Abraham to be the father of faith by succeeding in his offering, when he could not complete his responsibility, this mission extended to Isaac and Jacob.
Third, Abraham’s course shows us that when human beings fail to complete their responsibility, the fulfillment of God’s Will is always delayed, and its restoration requires fulfillment of a greater indemnity condition. In Abraham’s case, God’s Will was to be accomplished by merely sacrificing animals; upon his failure, however, it had to be accomplished by offering his beloved son, Isaac, as a sacrifice and had to be completed through Isaac and Jacob.
Fourth, Abraham’s cutting the sacrifices in two provides a lesson that each of us must divide our own self as an offering to separate good from evil. A life of faith involves putting ourselves in the position of an offering. Only by dividing good from evil in ourselves can we become living offerings pleasing to God. We should constantly separate good from evil within ourselves, according to the standard of God’s Will. If we neglect to do this, a condition is set up for Satan to invade.