Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, by John Nelson Darby, [1857-62], at sacred-texts.com
We have next the election of God which now sets apart the earthly people, Jacob. It is remarkable how little we have of Isaac, nothing but his remaining in heavenly places, I mean of course in the figure, a wife being sought for him on earth. We are on earth; yet the heavenly thing is to us fully revealed and we have the earnest of all. In Abraham, promise and principles are brightly unfolded to us; and the earthly people of promise in Jacob are fully developed; principles which we have all through. Jacob values the promises of God; but if Lot was attracted by the well-watered plain, the unbelief of Jacob was manifested in the use of carnal means to obtain possession of the promises, instead of waiting upon God. Thus his years were "few and evil"; and he was continually the object of similar deceit too. Remark here, that while the experience of Abraham was altogether higher and better, and he had far fuller communion with God in His mind, as it is with a faithful Christian enjoying the things that are not seen, giving up readily in the world, and interceding for others, yet the unfaithful believer has much more experience in his path, because he is not living with God. This we see in Jacob. He prevails by faith through grace, but he wrestles for himself, Abraham intercedes for others. But if we have in Isaac a risen Christ, bridegroom, as to the figure, of the church which the Holy Ghost has descended to seek here below for Him who is on high; in Jacob we have Israel, driven out of the land of promise, kept of God to enjoy it afterwards. I believe, however, that in his marriages we have the Lord, who, while loving Israel (Rachel), has yet first received the Gentiles or the church, and then the Jews.
These subjects conduct us to the end of chapter 25 the sacrifice and resurrection of Christ, the calling of the church in the figure of Rebecca, and the election of Israel, the younger to the promise and blessing in the earth. As regards the first point, the promises were settled in Isaac living on the earth, as they were in the Person of Christ. There Abraham had to give all up in entire and absolute confidence in God, and trust them, with Isaac, in God's hand. So did Christ: all was His in connection with the promises in Israel. He gave up all on the cross to receive it in resurrection from His Father. Here note, no personal sacrifice is ever made without a fresh ground of relationship with God in grace; for God gives that which sustains us in the sacrifice, which was not needed to enjoy the thing sacrificed. God had given promises in Isaac; but to trust God with a sacrificed Isaac, resurrection must be known; and so Abraham trusted that God would raise him from the dead. For God could not fail in His promises.
In the Epistle to the Galatians the bearing of this part of scripture is considered. I only remark here that the promise made to Abraham (chap. 12) is here confined to the one sacrificed and risen seed, Isaac. There were other promises to a seed numerous as the stars in heaven (itself a promise); but the promise of the blessing of the families of the earth was giver first to Abram alone (chap. 22). Hence the Apostle Paul speaks of one seed. The promise is not spoken of elsewhere to Abram. It is confirmed to the risen seed. In the end of the chapter, besides the general stem of the nations, Rebecca's origin is set forth.
In chapter 23, as we have said, the vessel of promise, Sarah disappears, to make way for Rebecca, the son's bride; but with it, while Abraham has no portion in the land and must buy his sepulchre, he has the sure pledge that he will hereafter have it He buries his dead there. And now the heir's bride must be sought. Remark, first that she receives tokens of grace; then, as an espoused one gifts. She shews her willing mind through grace, and is led of Eliezer in loneliness across the desert, leaving her father's house to possess all with Isaac, to whom his father has given everything We have here fully the church in a figure: Isaac, who is the risen man between the man of promise, Abraham, and Jacob when Israel the earthly people comes into the scene must no on any account go back to the country of nature, out of which his wife was to be called. He is exclusively the heavenly man Rebecca must go to him. With him before her, her journey was blessed; he once out of her mind, she was a stranger who had left all to be homeless and portionless for nothing. Such is the church. But to return was to give up Isaac.
Next mark, in the working of the Holy Ghost presented in Eliezer, entire confidence in God. he asks, and is answered, but it must be entirely according to the word (here Abraham's), "Is she of the kindred?" Next, when the blessing is known, thanksgiving comes before joy; and next, entire and exclusive consecration to the service he had to perform. He will not eat till he has told his errand, and then no hesitation: he has one work and nothing else. Would it were so with all who are Christ's! Eliezer conducts her to Isaac, who is gone out and comes to meet her; and there, to the son's comfort, she replaces Sarah, the vessel of promise, in the yet better place of the risen heir's wife.
Abraham's course was finished. Promises have given place to the church called by grace. But all that spring from him have a place in the record of God; but Isaac is heir of all, though Ishmael be great and have princes before him [See Note #1].
Gen 25:19 begins, in a measure, a new scene. We are returned from the glimpse of heavenly things in Isaac, to earthly and Jewish things in Jacob. From the barren woman for all must be grace and divine power spring two, in whom election, not only in the grace of calling, but in sovereignty and in contrast with works, is brought out. We have the purpose of God revealed to Rebecca, but of the history we have only so much as gives the character and spring of conduct in Esau and Jacob. In Jacob there was nothing naturally attractive; but Esau despised the gift of God; his judgment of what was valuable had its origin from self. He was profane; though God in His secret counsels, had ordained the blessing in Jacob. Esau saw nothing beyond the earthly advantage of the gift, and nothing of the Giver or relationship with Him. Present things governed him, his own present enjoyment; and God's promise had no further importance. Jacob, however wretched his way of getting it, valued the promise for its own sake; gave up present things, poor things no doubt, but enough to govern Esau's heart, to get it. In this we have merely the presentation of the character of the two sons. God's dealings with them will come later, for Isaac's history now only begins. He is here the designated heir of the world, but was to have, as such heir, the proper portion of Israel in the earth. Chapter 24 gave, in figure, the secret history of the church in connection with the risen heir.
Though the subjects in general follow, chapter 25 is not in historical sequence. The "then" has no real force. It is a general gathering up of the different families of Abraham. Isaac was heir of his possessions, he gave gifts to his concubines' sons and sent them away. Then we have his death, and his two well-known sons, but Ishmael, the son after the flesh, first; but Isaac and then Jacob carry on the divine history.