Jesus in Abram, Isaac and Jacob

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OK the title is a bit misleading, as I’m only considering the names “Abram”, “Isaac” and “Jacob”… their stories make up 3/4 of the book of Genesis… and Jesus appears in lots of ways we don’t have time to unpack here.

This post is a continuation of the series on the names of Jesus’ ancestors… you can start the series here! or start this sub-thread at: The fame of the healer! in the last post we had made it to “Terach”, so moving on…

Abram

Now Abram is normally translated as “Exalted Father”, the name is a simply compound of “ab”/”אב”/”father” and “ram”/”רמ” a contraction of “rum”/”רומ” which means “raised up” or “lifted up… so if the Father is lifted up he is an “Exalted Father”. But “Ab-ram”/”Father-Raised” could equally mean “Raised by Father”… Certainly Abram’s sister-wife Sarai had a different mother (Genesis 20:12) just 10 years after Abram was born (Genesis 17:17), perhaps Terach had to cover Abram’s early years after his mothers death. But this is just speculation, if “Abram” does imply “Raised by Father” it is more likely to be because Terach had exalted his position among his brothers, either quite literally by lifting him up to dedicate him, or metaphorically by recognising Abram as his heir.

Whateverabraham isaac the background, the fact that Abram can mean “Father Raised” is fascinating , because it certainly is something that Jesus is famous for… “The renown (Shem) of the healer (Arpachsad)… a wanderer/very spirited(Terach) raised by father(Abram)!; and it creates a prophetic context for the meaning of Abram’s beloved son.

 

Isaac

Isaac, means “Laughter” or “Laughing”, which is another quality associated with Jesus. In fact the New Testament makes Jesus’ happiness a mark of his messiah-ship. Applying Psalm 45:7, the writer of Hebrews, speaking of Jesus says:

“God, your God has anointed (messiah-ed) you with oil of joy/gladness more than your associates.” – Hebrews 1:9

And the “voice of joy” i.e laughter, is linked by Jeremiah to a “Bridegroom” who disappears and then returns to Jerusalem.

“the voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride” – Jeremiah 7:34, 16:9, 25:10 and 33:11.

Jesus of course took this symbolic figure, the bridegroom, and applied it to himself (Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:20, Luke 5:35) warning of a time when he would be “taken away” and his disciples would mourn him. Now the first three times Jeremiah uses the title “the bridegroom” the loss of the sound of laughing is in view, but the final time he refers to the bridegroom’s laughter it is a promise of its return, Jeremiah 33:11-12. Then, when the bridegroom’s happy sound is heard again, says Jeremiah, the world will recognise the “Branch of David”, the perpetual King and perpetual Priest, Jeremiah 33:14-18, and Jerusalem will finally have peace.

So adding Isaac’s name we see a phrase developing:

“Raised by the Father(Abram) Laughing(Isaac)…”

Now, adding the next name in the list, Jacob/Israel, to the evolving sentence bring

s a wonderful conclusion to the list of things the healer is famous for.

 

Jacob/Israel

Isaac and Jacob

Jacob means “heel”, we will look at Jacob the “heel” in another post, but Jacob’s name is changed of course to Israel, and it is the name Israel that so aptly fits the prophetic flow of names.

The name Israel has two parts the second “El” being simply “God”, but the first part has a wide variety of connected words and meanings that fall into three possible translations directions.

“Isra” could denote a royal or authority figure; it could mean continuation or persistence; and it could mean to struggle or to strive. So traditional sources give meanings for Israel like “Prince of God” or “God’s Governor”, “God persists” or even “God Survives” and “Strives with God” or “God’s Struggle”.

All three directions fit the history and destiny of Jacob and work in different ways in the prophetic flow of names:

“Raised by the Father Laughing, God’s ruler/God Survives/God’s Struggle”

The first option is the simplest statement of fact, Jesus is ”God’s Ruler”. The second is the most profound, “God Survives”, as the hymn goes “tis mystery all the immortal dies…” but then lives on. And the third is a description of the struggle that the death and resurrection represented. For simplicity lets opt for the first option. so the “healer sent from the other side of the divide” will famously be:

 

“A friend, a vine, a lamp, very spirited, raised by the Father laughing as God’s ruler.”

Which is an amazingly accurate description of Jesus in his earthly life thousands of years after these ancestors where named.

In the next post we will finish the list of Messianic forebears found in Genesis.

Christen Forster

Christen Forster is widely recognised as an original Bible teacher who brings people into a love of and confidence in scripture.

Christen has planted churches, been a youth worker, mission administrator and church leaders. The author of several books, Christen is now an itinerant minister, helping churches to step into a more deliberately spiritual experience of the Christian life while at the same time firmly rooting their practice in scripture.

© 2000 - 2019 Christen Forster
Christen Forster

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