TODAY’S READING: Genesis 25–26
Abraham took a third wife named Keturah. Since 1 Chronicles 1:32–33 calls Keturah a concubine, some rabbinical commentators think she is the same person as Hagar. The connection is unlikely as her sons are listed in the text as Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah, while Hagar’s son is listed as Ishmael.
Abraham sent Keturah’s sons east and possibly south. Keturah’s nationality is uncertain, but the African writer Olaudah Equiano thinks eighteenth century English theologian John Gill is right when he posits the Africans are her descendants. Abraham died, and Isaac and Ishmael came together to bury him (Gen. 25:9), for brothers should always unite when things really matter—and what really matters to God is missions. For all that divides us, God’s glory among all peoples is the one thing that can bind us together. Ishmael headed to Havilah, which some think is Bahrain and others Somalia, one writer even suggests Zimbabwe.
Isaac’s wife Rebecca was barren, but God heard her cries, only for her to have a difficult pregnancy. She agonized to God: “Why am I like this?” (v. 22). God’s mission answer was: “Two nations are in your womb” (v. 23). Difficult pregnancies are so we give birth to nations. We may lose the plot of the story, but God does not. He is fixed, single-eyed on His glory manifest among all peoples. It’s why He gives us children (whether those babies are humans or ministries), and God expects us to pass on His plan to our progeny.
Esau as the firstborn son was first in line to extend God’s glory to the nations, but he sold that right for a bowl of lentil soup (vv. 33–34). God repeated to Isaac the plan given to Abraham: “In your seed all the nations of the earth will be blessed” (26:4). Esau was the seed of Isaac and Abraham. Esau’s birthright was being first in line to bless the nations—this was what Esau despised.
When we are not first to give to missions, first to pray for missions, first to go as missionaries, when we are not focused on the glory of God among all unreached peoples, we despise our birthright. The great gift of our spiritual inheritance is that we are invited into the mission of God, the mission to see Him glorified globally, by every people group. Let’s not sell that birthright for a bowl of lentil soup.
 “Saadia Gaon’s tenth century Arabic translation of the Hebrew Bible substitutes “Havilah” with “Zaila” in present day Somalia. Zaila was the dominion of the Harla up until the sixteenth century. Benjamin Tudela, the twelfth century Jewish traveler, claimed the land of Havilah is confined by Al-Habash on the west. In 1844, Charles Forster argued that a trace of the ancient name Havilah could still be found in the use of Aval for what is now known as Bahrain Island.” “Havilah,” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Havilah (accessed January 10, 2019).