Sermon #     62                                                       Hebrews Notes


     Title:            The Purpose of God Shall Stand

     Text:            Hebrews 11:20

     Readings:     Bobbie Estes and Rex Bartley

     Subject:       The Faith of Isaac

     Date:            Tuesday Evening – August 21, 2001

     Tape #         W-58a



[Hebrews 11:20]  By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.


God’s promise is, “It shall be well with the righteous.” His Word declares, “There shall no evil happen to the just.” The Lord God promises his own, “I will not depart from them to do them good.” “And we know that all thing work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


Yet, our lives are frequently vexed with trials and circumstances that make it appear that God’s promises have fallen to the ground, and his purpose has been nullified. It sometimes seems as though evil and not good is our lot. We are often like the weeping prophet in Lamentations 3, crying, -- “He hath brought me into darkness, but not into light…Against me is he turned. He turneth his hand against me all the day…He hath compassed me with gall and travail. He hath set me in dark places… When I cry and shout, He shutteth out my prayer. He hath enclosed my ways with hewn stone. He hath made my paths crooked. He was unto me as a bear lying in wait, and as a lion in secret places. He hath turned aside my ways, and pulled me in pieces. He hath made me desolate…He hath filled me with bitterness.


     Remembering our affliction and misery, the wormwood and the gall, how often, like Jeremiah, our circumstances cause us to think, even if we do not express it in words, “Thou hast removed my soul far off from peace…My strength and my hope is perished from the Lord.” How foolishly and ignorantly we behave, when we judge the goodness of God by the things we see, and feel, and experience!


Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,

But trust Him for His grace.

Behind the frowning providence,

He hides a smiling face!


His purposes will ripen fast,

Unfolding every hour;

The bud may have a bitter taste,

But sweet will be the flower!


     May God give us grace, in the teeth of adversity, to trust him! What he has promised, he will perform. What he has purposed, he will do. God’s providence is sure. His decree is firm and unalterable. His will must and shall prevail. If everything around us crumbles to the ground, though heaven and earth pass away, the purpose of God must stand! Nothing hinders his purpose, alters his will, or stands in his way!


     This great truth is nowhere more clearly demonstrated than in the life of God’s servant, Isaac. Though Isaac lived longer than any of the other patriarchs, less is recorded about him than any of the others. In fact, the history of this man, Isaac, is recorded in two short chapters of Inspiration (Gen. 26 and 27).


     In Hebrews 11:20 the Holy Spirit uses that which, at least to me, appears to be a very incident to display the greatness of Isaac’s faith. However, when the event described in our text is closely examined, it proves to be a truly remarkable example of faith. In our text the Spirit of God calls our attention to Isaac’s act of faith in blessing his sons, Jacob and Esau in his old age. Read the text with me, and discover one of faith’s greatest qualities.


[Hebrews 11:20]  By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.


Proposition: Faith submits to the will of God.


Isaac wanted the blessing of the birthright to go to Esau. He wanted God’s bounty and goodness for Esau; but when the Lord God made it clear to him that Jacob would be blessed and Esau cursed, Isaac bowed to the will of God. By faith, that is to say, trusting God, Isaac blessed both his son, Jacob and Esau.


     The event referred to in this twentieth verse is recorded in Genesis 27. It shows us the wisdom, faithfulness, goodness, and sovereignty of God, overruling and using the frailties, infirmities, and even the sins of men to accomplish his purpose. The fact is, no matter how our circumstances may appear to oppose it, no matter how disobedient men and women are, no matter how cunningly Satan works, the purpose of God must and shall stand.


[2 Timothy 2:19]  Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.


I want to show you five things in this message about Isaac and his sons and his God.


I. Predestination -- Divine predestination is pointedly displayed in Jacob and Esau.


The Book of God clearly teaches the doctrine of absolute, universal, and particular predestination. Predestination is God’s sovereign decree, by which he arranged from eternity all things that come to pass in time. In providence, he fulfills his will of predestination, unerringly and absolutely.


[Acts 2:23]  Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:


[Romans 8:28-29]  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. [29] For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.


[Ephesians 1:3-6]  Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: [4] According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: [5] Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, [6] To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.


[Ephesians 1:11]  In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:


     Nowhere is the purpose of God in eternal predestination more manifestly set forth than in the birth, lives, and ultimate end of these twin boys born to Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Esau. The purpose of God in regarding their two sons was made known unto Rebekah, when the children strove in her womb, when He said unto her, “The elder shall serve the younger” (Gen. 25:23). God’s eternal purpose for the two sons of Isaac was made known before they were born (Rom. 9:13). Jacob was loved before he was born, consequently before he was capable of doing good; and Esau was hated before he was born, consequently, before he was capable of doing evil. And that which was said to Rebekah concerning Jacob and Esau was intended by God to be an illustration of God’s purpose of grace in predestination concerning all his elect.


[Romans 9:11-16]  (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth;) [12] It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. [13] As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. [14] What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. [15] For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. [16] So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.


A. Esau proved himself to be a man every way worthy of divine hatred.


1. He was worthy of hatred from God before his birth, because he was a son of Adam, he was a child of wrath and a fit object for hatred[1].

2. He was conceived in sin.

3. He manifested the depravity of his heart.


     a. He profanely despised God’s blessing by selling his birthright for a moments satisfaction.

     b. He took wives of the women of Canaan, contrary to the holy example of Abraham.

     c. He was determined to murder his brother in cold blood.

     d. Finally he turned his back on the habitation of his fathers, and departed forever from the land of promise. (It is no marvel that the apostle, under inspiration, refers to his under the character “that profane person.”


B. As Esau was justly the object of God’s hatred before he was born, because he was viewed in Adam as a sinner, Jacob was justly the object of God’s love before he was born, because he was viewed in Christ as righteous.


He was numbered among those chosen in Christ from eternity, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and “accepted in the Beloved,” before the worlds were made.


C. The words “loved” and “hatred” must be viewed in the full force of their meaning. (See Rom. 9:14-17).


[Romans 9:14-17]  What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. [15] For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. [16] So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy. [17] For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might show my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth.


1.     God loved Jacob in the sense that he was fully devoted to him from eternity.

2.     He hated Esau in the sense that he passed by him, giving him no consideration; but left him entirely alone.


D. What is said of Jacob and Esau can likewise be said of all men before they are born.


Genesis 3:15 marks the announcement of the coming Redeemer, but it also divides all mankind into two “seeds.” – “A seed shall serve him” (Ps. 22:30). -- “He shall see his seed” (Isa. 53:10). – Sheep and Goats. This fact is illustrated throughout the Scriptures…

1.     Abel and Cain.

2.     Abraham

3.     The nation of Israel

4.     Isaac and Ishmael

5.     Jacob and Esau


NOTE: It is God alone that makes a distinction between men (1 Cor. 4:7).


Robert Haldane wrote, Jacob and Esau “illustrate by their particular examples both sides of the important doctrine of God’s sovereignty in the election, and of his justice in the reprobation of fallen man. For, by acting in this manner, God has clearly shown that He is the sovereign Master in their calling and election, and of their rejection that he chooses and rejects as seems good to him any of the sinful race of Adam, all of whom are justly objects of his displeasure, without regarding natural qualities which distinguish them from one another.”


Thus we see the purpose of God. Jacob, the younger, was to be served by Esau, the elder. Does this purpose come to pass? All parties involved sinned against God: Esau by godless unbelief, Jacob and Rebekah by deceit, and Isaac by giving way to human passions. Thus, everything known was contrary to God’s purpose. Yet, we see God overruling everything by his providence to accomplish his purpose.


II. Presumption -- Isaac’s wife, Rebekah, acted in terrible unbelief and presumption, attempting to secure by the arm of the flesh what God had promised to do by his free grace.


A. Both Rebekah and Jacob knew and believed the promise of God.


     1. They knew God’s purpose in the matter.

     2. Jacob had purchased the birthright lawfully.


B. Rebekah’s faith failed when she decided to scheme and through deceit get the blessing for Jacob, and Jacob’s when he agreed to it.


1.     They should have left it to the providence of God.

2.     They were working in the energy of the flesh to prevent the thwarting of God’s purpose. (Compare 2 Sam. 6:6-16 – Uzzah.)


III. PerversityIsaac’s affections were perverted.


A. Isaac loved Esau more than Jacob, but it was a selfish, human love. How often displaced affections lead to sin!


     1. This was his elder son.

     2. Esau was likely the more masculine.

     3. He loved his “savory meat.”


B. Isaac was determined to bless Esau, contrary to the revelation of God. Indeed, “his eyes had grown dim!”


IV. Prophecy -- His blessings were prophetic (Gen. 27:28-40).


[Genesis 27:28-40]  Therefore God give thee of the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine: [29] Let people serve thee, and nations bow down to thee: be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee: cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee. [30] And it came to pass, as soon as Isaac had made an end of blessing Jacob, and Jacob was yet scarce gone out from the presence of Isaac his father, that Esau his brother came in from his hunting. [31] And he also had made savoury meat, and brought it unto his father, and said unto his father, Let my father arise, and eat of his son's venison, that thy soul may bless me. [32] And Isaac his father said unto him, Who art thou? And he said, I am thy son, thy firstborn Esau. [33] And Isaac trembled very exceedingly, and said, Who? where is he that hath taken venison, and brought it me, and I have eaten of all before thou camest, and have blessed him? yea, and he shall be blessed. [34] And when Esau heard the words of his father, he cried with a great and exceeding bitter cry, and said unto his father, Bless me, even me also, O my father. [35] And he said, Thy brother came with subtlety, and hath taken away thy blessing. [36] And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? [37] And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants; and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son? [38] And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. [39] And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above; [40] And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother; and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.


A. The significance of the blessings was clear.


1.     Jacob was promised both spiritual and temporal blessings. The coming Seed was confirmed to him.

2.     Esau was blessed, but only temporally.


NOTE: They were both sons of Abraham, but only Jacob was “a prince with God.” The people of God, in any age, are those who believe him.. The Israel of God!


B. The sovereignty of God in the blessings was manifest.


1.     Isaac believed that the one he blessed would have the promise.

2.     When he perceived that the providential hand of God had crossed his own affections, he did not murmur and rebel, but he yielded and submitted to the Lord.


1.     The object of his faith was God.

2.     The ground of his faith was God’s revelation.

3.     He did not try to recall the blessing, but he accepted God’s providence. Esau found no repentance in him (Heb. 12:17).


[Hebrews 12:17]  For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.


V. God prevailed! – “The heavens do rule!”


     And he shall yet prevail. He works his will even through the weaknesses and sins of others, yet he is in no way affected by their sin or weakness.




1.     Though it will never thwart the purpose of God, unbelief does reek havoc in our lives and in the lives of those who are under our influence.

2.     If we are taken up with satisfying the flesh, we are terribly dim sighted spiritually, and are sure to act in unbelief.

3.     Let us trust God to accomplish his will and wait for him to perform his purpose.


[Proverbs 3:5-6]  Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. [6] In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.


[Romans 8:28]  And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


[1 Corinthians 10:31]  Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.


[Isaiah 40:27-31]  Why sayest thou, O Jacob, and speakest, O Israel, My way is hid from the LORD, and my judgment is passed over from my God? [28] Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. [29] He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. [30] Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: [31] But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.



[1] I do not read in the Scriptures of anyone going to hell because of God’s predestination. Predestination includes all things, even man’s rebellion, sin, and everlasting ruin. But the cause of eternal damnation is always set forth in the Word of God as being man’s willful rebellion and unbelief (Pro. 1; Rom. 1) Neither do I read in the Book of God of any being punished eternally for Adam’s transgression. Sinners go to hell because of their own rebellion and their own chosen course of iniquity; but all are born children of wrath, under the sentence of condemnation, and go astray as soon as they are born speaking lies.