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Elpis Israel
by Dr. John Thomas

Hence, the apostle exhorted his brethren to look diligently to it, that none of them proved to be "a profane person," as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright: "for," said he, "ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no possibility of a change of (Isaac's mind) (metanoiva" tovpon oujc eu|re) though he sought it carefully with tears".

God is merciful; but He is also jealous; and "will by no means clear the wilful".

If His children sell their birthright to the world for anything it can tempt them with, His mind, like Isaac's, is immovable; and transgressors cannot change it, though they may seek carefully to do so with tears, and prayers, and with great and exceeding bitter cries.

Jacob having been involuntarily appointed heir of the blessing by Isaac, Esau conceived a hatred of him, and was overheard to threaten him with death when their father was dead.

This determination was reported to Rebekah, who, having sent for Jacob, informed him of Esau's malice, and advised him to escape into Mesopotamia, and remain awhile with her brother Laban at Haran, until his brother's fury should subside.

It was necessary, however, to get Isaac's consent, that no breach might be made between him and Jacob, for Esau was his favourite son.

Rebekah knew well how to manage this.

Isaac as well as herself was sorely annoyed by Esau's wives, whose demeanour appears to have been very disgusting to them.

She complained to Isaac of the grief they were to her, and declared to him that if Jacob were to take a wife from among the daughters of the land, her life would be of no value to her.

This being also Isaac's feeling in the case, he fell into her views immediately; and having called Jacob, he blessed him, and charged him, saying, "Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan".

He then directed him to go and take a wife of Laban's family; and said, "God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy Seed with thee: that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham".

Such was Isaac's understanding of the blessing in regard to the time of its accomplishment.

He did not expect it until the Seed, or Christ, was manifested; but when he appeared in possession, they, evenAbraham, Isaac, and Jacob, would be blessed with him.

Let us proceed now to the consideration of THE VISION OF JACOB'S LADDER.

On the night after his departure, while asleep under the canopy of heaven, the Lord appeared to him in a dream.

In the vision he saw, as it were, "a ladder set up on the land, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold, the angels of God ascending and descending on it.

And the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed: in whom all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

And behold, I am with thee, and will protect thee in all places whither thou goest, and I will bring thee again into this land: for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of".

Thus, in the blessing that now rested upon Jacob, as well as upon Abraham and Isaac, God promised That at some future time not specified, He would give Jacob actual and personal possession of the land he was then lying upon, and upon which the town of Bethel stood for ages; That he should have a seed, or descendant, in whom all nations should be blessed; and, That Jacob and his seed should have possession of Palestine and Syria together -- that is, at one and the same time.

The exact time, I say, was not specified in the promise.

Jacob, however, was given to understand by the representation in the vision that it would be a long time after the epoch of his dream.

As the apostle says, "he saw the promises afar off, and was persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that he was a stranger and pilgrim in the land".

He saw the fulfilment of the things promised afar off in point of time; but not afar off as to place: for the place where they were to be fulfilled was Bethel, about fifteen miles from Jerusalem.