Introduction: This week in Genesis 25 we find that God’s blessing of fruitfulness in Abraham’s family impacts more people than we have imagined up to this point. Just as God predicted, ‘All peoples on earth would be blessed through Abraham,’ even the descendants of Abraham’s second wife Keturah find great blessing as Abraham sends them away with gifts (Genesis 25:6).
Monday: read Genesis 25:1-6. In Genesis 25:1 we are introduced to a wife of Abraham unknown to us before this time. Scholars debate exactly when Abraham took ‘Keturah’ to be his wife. Gen. 25:1 leaves the question open chronologically. But we do know that Keturah was a part of Abraham’s life for a long time as a concubine, (that is, a woman who had conjugal rights but not the full rights of inheritance given to a fully-endowed wife like Sarah.) 1 Chronicles 1:32 calls her ‘Abraham’s concubine.’ Moreover, it may be hard to imagine that Abraham could have taken her as his wife after the death of Sarah and produced so many offspring with her. How could a man whose ‘body was as good as dead’ when Isaac was born (Romans 4:19) produce so many offspring after the miracle birth of Isaac? At any rate, Keturah was indeed one of Abraham’s concubines like Hagar which may well show that Abraham was tainted by the cultural desire to multiply women for himself – and as a result multiplied heartache when all those offspring had to be sent away in Genesis 25:5-6.
Meditate and Pray: Thank God for His mighty determination to get glory for Himself, over-ruling even Abraham’s apparently foolish sins of youth in the acquisition of numerous women. Despite such complicated relationships and corrupt influences, God kept the Seed of Promise pure. Only God is able to bring something ‘clean’ out of what is ‘unclean.’ As Christ’s birth at Bethlehem approaches, thank God for the pure and holy offspring of Mary, who was able to take our fallen, tainted flesh and blood and make it sinlessly His own.
Tuesday: read Genesis 25:1-6 and Exodus 18:1-12. Even in Abraham’s marital life hints of God’s grace still shine through. For instance, Augustine suggests that Abraham took Keturah as his wife (elevating her from the status of ‘concubine’) after Sarah’s death when he was about 137 years old and sees in Abraham’s fruitfulness as an old man proof that the miraculous power of being able to father Isaac stayed with Abraham into his later years. In this way, God’s grace in blessing Abraham with fruitfulness flourished in more than simply the birth of Isaac and stayed with Abraham the rest of his life as he fathered more children. And we ought to thank God for some of the harvest of those fruitful years with Keturah. After all, aren’t you glad for that towering figure of faith who turns out to be such a good father-in-law to Moses: a man by the name of ‘Jethro the Midianite,’ who worships the Lord with Moses in Exodus 18? Midian was a tribe descended from Keturah as Gen. 25:2 shows! Surely God’s ways of blessing are far above ours!
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that the gifts which Abraham gave Keturah’s family in Gen. 25:5-6 were real tokens of grace, and years later God’s blessing on Keturah’s life with Abraham would shine through in the wisdom and godly life of Jethro the Midianite. As you think of Thanksgiving this week, thank God for every token of grace which you see in your extended family. Even small beginnings of blessing like Abraham’s gifts to the sons of his concubine can in the end produce much grace and even faith
Wednesday: read Genesis 25:7-8. Abraham dies and is ‘gathered to His people,’ (Gen. 25:8). This is significant. For Abraham after death to be added to a definite gathering of God’s people implies that there was still a living group to which he could be joined after death. Adam, Eve, Abel, Enoch and others of real, saving faith are still alive, and Abraham is ‘gathered’ to them in death! He is not gathered as a corpse into the mass grave of history; he is rather welcomed by the host of saved sinners who surround all true believers while they run their earthly course (Hebrews 12:1).
Meditate and Pray: Thank God that to have Him as your God means to have God’s people as your own family – even after death. There is even now a huge cloud of witnesses, including Abraham, urging you on. They say: ‘It is all true. Heaven is waiting; your inheritance is kept safe for you. Keep walking the road of faith and you will receive the crown of life which does not fade away!’
Thursday: read Genesis 25:8-18. A secure inheritance in heaven, with a waiting Heavenly Father and a real Heavenly Family waiting to welcome you is sadly not the inheritance of all men. Though both Isaac and Ishmael bury their father Abraham in Gen. 25:9-11, Ishmael as a rebel against all men (Gen. 16:12) does not reap the benefit of associating with Isaac, the blessed son of The Promise (Gen. 25:11). Like Esau who will follow in his profane steps, Ishmael doesn’t value the blessing which God has bestowed on Isaac. His family tree, therefore, is only briefly mentioned in Gen. 25:12-18 and then he is cut off forever: with no further historical evidence of interaction with the One True God.
Meditate and Pray: Let us humbly thank God today that by faith in Jesus Christ, the descendant of Isaac, we can be spared the terrible alienation and rootlessness of Ishmael. For the promise for us is clear: ‘Yet to all who receive Him, to those who believe in His name, He gives the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.’
Friday: read Genesis 25:19-21 and Psalm 78:1-4. Though Ishmael had many descendants and great kingdoms: even as the Angel of the Lord promised in Gen. 16:10: ‘offspring too numerous to count;’ and though the covenant couple of Isaac and Rebekah struggle for years to have even one child, let us see where real, lasting family blessing lies. Because of God’s judgment on his unbelief and rebelliousness, Ishmael’s life story and that of his kin is short: only about seven verses. But beginning in Gen. 25:19, the ‘account’ of the generations of Isaac’s family, and the wonders God did for him is so lengthy and full of Divine involvement and blessing that it runs all the way to Genesis 37:1!
Meditate and Pray: Do you feel lonely at times and cast off from the busy tribes of flesh and blood? Remember that the story of the wonders of God’s grace in your life will take an eternity to recount! Thank God this Thanksgiving week that, in Christ, and as one of God’s own beloved people, you have a story worth telling. ‘The praiseworthy deeds of the Lord’ (Psalm 78:4) in your life prove that, to the Creator of the universe, your life has lasting, historical significance. Do you believe that? How else can you explain the angels of heaven rejoicing when you repented and believed in Christ (Luke 15:7, 10)? Surely the story of your life under God’s grace is going to be read by many more holy saints and angels than you realize! Your life has a purpose and a place in the annals of God and your history has only begun to be written!
Say not, ‘The struggle nought availeth;
The labor and the wounds are vain;
The enemy faints not nor faileth,
And as things have been they remain.’
If hopes were dupes, fears may be liars;
It may be, in yon smoke concealed,
Your comrades chase even now the fliers,
And, but for you, possess the field.
For while the tired waves, vainly breaking,
Seem here no painful inch to gain,
Far back, through creeks and inlets making,
Come silent, flooding in, the main.
And not by eastern windows only,
When daylight comes, comes in the light;
In front the sun climbs slow, how slowly!
But westward look! The land is bright.
Arthur Hugh Clough (1819-61)