Hebrews 11:20
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(20) Concerning things to come.—It is probable, though not certain, that the word “even” should be inserted before “concerning”; on these words, then, the emphasis will rest. Not having regard to things present only, or things almost at hand, but looking far into the future, through the divine revelation which opened to him the meaning of the promises received by Abraham, he gave to each son the blessing designed by God (Genesis 27:27-29; Genesis 27:39-40). Isaac’s confidence in the divine guidance of his words is especially seen in Hebrews 11:33 of the chapter.

Hebrews 11:20-21. By faith — By firmly believing what God had revealed unto him concerning the future state of his children; Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau — Prophetically foretold the particular blessings they should receive, preferring the younger before the elder. See notes on Genesis 27:6-40. By faith Jacob, when a dying — That is, when near death, believing that God would make good his promise of giving his posterity the land of Canaan; blessed both the sons of Joseph — Foretelling that two tribes should spring from these two sons; and that the tribe of Ephraim, the younger, should be more powerful than the tribe of Manasseh, the elder; and worshipped — Acknowledged God’s goodness to him, which he had so long experienced; leaning — Or bowing down; on the top of his staff — In the passage referred to, (Genesis 47:31,) it is said, according to our version: Israel bowed himself upon his bed’s head; but the apostle says here, He worshipped upon the top of his staff; which agrees with the Greek and Syriac translation. It seems, as Hallet observes, the word משׂה, used in Genesis, signifies either a bed or a staff; and the passages may be reconciled by supposing that he was sitting on the side of the bed when he blessed these sons of Joseph, and leaned on the top of his staff for support, being very old and feeble.11:20-31 Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, concerning things to come. Things present are not the best things; no man knoweth love or hatred by having them or wanting them. Jacob lived by faith, and he died by faith, and in faith. Though the grace of faith is of use always through our whole lives, it is especially so when we come to die. Faith has a great work to do at last, to help the believer to die to the Lord, so as to honour him, by patience, hope, and joy. Joseph was tried by temptations to sin, by persecution for keeping his integrity; and he was tried by honours and power in the court of Pharaoh, yet his faith carried him through. It is a great mercy to be free from wicked laws and edicts; but when we are not so, we must use all lawful means for our security. In this faith of Moses' parents there was a mixture of unbelief, but God was pleased to overlook it. Faith gives strength against the sinful, slavish fear of men; it sets God before the soul, shows the vanity of the creature, and that all must give way to the will and power of God. The pleasures of sin are, and will be, but short; they must end either in speedy repentance or in speedy ruin. The pleasures of this world are for the most part the pleasures of sin; they are always so when we cannot enjoy them without deserting God and his people. Suffering is to be chosen rather than sin; there being more evil in the least sin, than there can be in the greatest suffering. God's people are, and always have been, a reproached people. Christ accounts himself reproached in their reproaches; and thus they become greater riches than the treasures of the richest empire in the world. Moses made his choice when ripe for judgment and enjoyment, able to know what he did, and why he did it. It is needful for persons to be seriously religious; to despise the world, when most capable of relishing and enjoying it. Believers may and ought to have respect to the recompence of reward. By faith we may be fully sure of God's providence, and of his gracious and powerful presence with us. Such a sight of God will enable believers to keep on to the end, whatever they may meet in the way. It is not owing to our own righteousness, or best performances, that we are saved from the wrath of God; but to the blood of Christ, and his imputed righteousness. True faith makes sin bitter to the soul, even while it receives the pardon and atonement. All our spiritual privileges on earth, should quicken us in our way to heaven. The Lord will make even Babylon fall before the faith of his people, and when he has some great thing to do for them, he raises up great and strong faith in them. A true believer is desirous, not only to be in covenant with God, but in communion with the people of God; and is willing to fare as they fare. By her works Rahab declared herself to be just. That she was not justified by her works appears plainly; because the work she did was faulty in the manner, and not perfectly good, therefore it could not be answerable to the perfect justice or righteousness of God.By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come - see Genesis 27:26-40. The meaning is, that he pronounced a blessing on them in respect to their future condition. This was by faith in God who had communicated it to him, and in full confidence that he would accomplish all that was here predicted. The act of faith here was simply what believes that all that God says is true. There were no human probabilities at the time when these prophetic announcements were made, which could have been the basis of his calculation, but all that he said must have rested merely on the belief that God had revealed it to him. A blessing was pronounced on each, of a very different nature, but Isaac had no doubt that both would be fulfilled. 20. Jacob is put before Esau, as heir of the chief, namely, the spiritual blessing.

concerning things to come—Greek, "even concerning things to come": not only concerning things present. Isaac, by faith, assigned to his sons things future, as if they were present.

Isaac is the next example instanced in of the same Divine faith, described, Hebrews 11:1; only here exercised on the special revelation of God to him concerning his seed. By this faith he did not only wish and pray blessings, but prophetically applied them to his two sons, to Jacob and Israel his seed the covenant blessings, and to Esau and the Edomites his seed the temporary blessings, God designed them, Genesis 27:27,39. Both these were things to come, and to be communicated to their seeds hundreds of years after. As the things to come that concerned Jacob, which were not seen, but hoped for from God’s revelation of them, were, plenty, dominion over brethren, blessings above the power of a curse, even the spiritual and covenanted ones of Abraham and Isaac with him, Genesis 27:28,29. The things to come concerning Esau and his seed, were only earthly, temporal blessings, escape out of servitude in time, common good things at the highest, Genesis 27:39,40. By faith Isaac foresaw all these future events, foretold them, and applied their several portions to them from the mouth of God, and they were to a tittle fulfilled, 2 Samuel 8:11, and 2 Kings 8:20, as to the Edomites; as in the whole Old Testament unto Jacob, and to his seed literal and spiritual. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau,.... The history of this is in Genesis 27:33. The former of these was a good man, and, though the youngest son, he is set before, and was blessed before the eldest; and the latter was a wicked man, and yet had a blessing; for temporal blessings are enjoyed in common: and this blessing was prophetic, it was concerning things to come. Jacob's blessing was plenty of temporal things, and under which may be signified the dews of divine grace, the fatness of God's house, the bread of life, and wine of divine love, which true Israelites partake of; also dominion over his brother, and government over nations, which had their accomplishment in his posterity; and may be expressive of the spiritual reign of the saints, and their dominion, by grace; and of the kingdom that shall hereafter be put to their hands; and of the extensiveness of Christ's kingdom in the latter day, who was to spring front him. Esau's blessings were merely temporal ones, and respected things future, which were fulfilled in his posterity; and these several blessings Isaac pronounced upon them by faith, believing they would be bestowed upon them; and so his faith answered to the account of faith in Hebrews 11:1. It may be asked, how Isaac can be said to have blessed Jacob by faith, when he was deceived by him? It is certain he took him to be Esau, when he blessed him, wherefore it was not the design of Isaac, though it was the will of God that he should bless him, Genesis 27:18, but yet notwithstanding this, Isaac might do it in faith, believing that the person he blessed would be blessed, though he was mistaken in him; and which he confirmed when he did know him, Genesis 27:33 to which the apostle may have respect; and besides, he blessed him after this, Genesis 28:1. {8} By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

(8) Isaac.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Hebrews 11:20. The example of Isaac. Comp. Genesis 27

Πίστει καί] καί is the more nearly defining: and in truth, and in sooth. A faith was manifested in the imparting of the blessing, by the very circumstance that this benediction extended with inner confidence to facts as yet belonging to the future.[109] Comp. Theodoret: Οὐ ΓᾺΡ ἊΝ ΤᾺς ΟὐΧ ὉΡΩΜΈΝΑς ἜΔΩΚΕΝ ΕὐΛΟΓΊΑς, ΕἸ ΜῊ ΤΟῖς ΛΌΓΟΙς ἈΚΟΛΟΥΘΉΣΕΙΝ ΤῸ ἜΡΓΟΝ ἘΠΊΣΤΕΥΣΕΝ.

ΠΕΡῚ ΜΕΛΛΌΝΤΩΝ
] concerning things as yet future, i.e. concerning the future lot of his two sons, and the pre-eminence of the younger son over the elder.

Jacob, the younger son, is here first mentioned, since he was first blessed by Isaac, and was altogether of greater significance for the history of the people.

[109] How Delitzsch has been able so greatly to misunderstand the above words as to read in them the assertion, that περὶ μελλόντων to be combined with περὶ καί instead of ηὐλόγησεν, I do not comprehend.Hebrews 11:20. Πίστει περὶ μελλόντων.… “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to things future,” as is recorded in the well-known passage, Genesis 27. Isaac thus in his turn exhibited a faith which could be described as ἐλπιζομένων ὑπόστασις. “By faith Jacob when dying (ἀποθνήσκων cf. καλούμενος, Hebrews 11:8, and πειραζόμενος, Hebrews 11:17 : the participle illustrates Hebrews 11:13 and also reminds the reader that Jacob before he died saw his children’s children inheriting the promise (“thy two sons are mine,” Genesis 48:5) blessed each of the sons of Joseph. ἕκαστον τ. υἱῶν, that is, he gave each an individual blessing, crossing his hands, laying his right on the head of Ephraim the younger, his left on Manasseh, thus distinguishing between the destiny of the one and that of the other and so more abundantly illustrating his faith. καὶ προσεκύνησεν ἐπὶ τὸ ἄκρον τῆς ῥάβδου αὐτοῦ, “and worshipped leaning upon the top of his staff”. The words are from the LXX rendering of Genesis 47:31 where after Joseph had sworn to bury his father in Canaan, “Israel worshipped, etc.”. His exacting this promise from Joseph was proof of his faith that his posterity would inherit the land of promise. The LXX translating from an unpointed text read הַמַּטֶּה the staff and not as it is now read הַמִּטָּה the bed, (as in Genesis 48:2). The meaning in either case is that in extreme bodily weakness, either unable to leave his bed or if so only able to stand with the aid of a staff, his faith was yet untouched by the slightest symptom of decay. “The idea of προσκυνεῖν is that of reverence shown in posture” (Vaughan). Here Jacob “worshipped” in thankful remembrance of the promise of God and that his son had accepted it.20. By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau] It is true that the blessing of Esau when rightly translated, “Behold thy dwelling shall be away from the fatness of the earth and away from the dew of blessing” (Genesis 27:39) reads more like a curse; but the next verse (40) involves a promise of ultimate freedom, and Esau obtained the blessings of that lower and less spiritual life for which he was alone fitted by his character and tastes.

concerning things to come] The true reading seems to be “even concerning,” though it is not easy to grasp the exact force of the “even.”Hebrews 11:20-22. Πίστει, by faith) There are more specimens of faith in Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph; but the apostle considers it enough to give a single instance, in the case of each of them, concerning things mostly future.—εὐλόγησεν, blessed) assigning to both his sons things future, as if they were present.Verse 20. - By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even (or, also) concerning things to come. Here the word καὶ (omitted in the Textus Receptus) gives force to what is meant; words uttered by the patriarchs in the spirit of prophecy being now adduced as further evidence of their faith. To those inspired by this spirit even the distant future is realized as present; and faith is not only a condition of such prophetic visions being granted to them, but is also evinced by their trusting the visions as Divine revelations, and speaking with confidence accordingly. The prophet seems as though able himself to control the future by giving or withholding blessing (cf. Jeremiah 1:10); but it is really that his mind and will are at one with the mind and will of God: a Divine voice speaks within him, and through faith he is receptive of it and gives it utterance. Thus it was that even the future characters, and changing relations to each other, of the yet unborn races of Israel and Edom are represented as having been foreshadowed in the blessings of that dying patriarch. Blessed (εὐλόγησεν)

See on John 12:13.

Concerning things to come (καὶ περὶ μελλόντων)

A.V. Omits καὶ which gives an emphasis to the following words. Isaac pronounced a blessing, and that concerning things to come; things beyond the lifetime of Jacob and Esau. See Genesis 27:29, Genesis 27:39. The blessing was an act of faith. Isaac's confidence in the power of his blessing to convey the good which it promised was "the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen," founded on the promise of Genesis 17:5.

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