Savoring God’s sovereignty in salvation will bring two things to flower in the believer’s heart. The first flower is humility. Jonathan Edwards said, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” He’s right. Knowing that God saved us according to his good pleasure and not any past, present, or future good works of ours is humbling. Knowing that our love for God is merely in response to his loving initiative is humbling. Knowing that even the faith by which we receive his grace is itself the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8) is humbling. The second flower is blessed assurance. For if we didn’t earn our own salvation, we cannot lose it or return it.
Did you ever eat something so tasty that you had to close your eyes? If you haven’t, try scallops. Imagine this mouth-watering mollusk: snow-white, pan-seared to perfection with a golden crust, a dash of salt, a pinch of pepper, a brush of butter, a spritz of lemon… delicious! And the texture is as satisfying as the flavor. Since scallop meat is the powerful muscle that opens and closes the shell, it’s thick, and it usually comes with a few grains of sand. Yet when prepared properly, this delicacy somehow seems to melt in your mouth like chocolate on the dashboard. You don’t eat scallops; you savor them.
Whether scallops or something else, we can all think of foods that we savor. How much more then is God’s sovereignty in man’s salvation a theological delicacy worth savoring? We find that glorious truth, gleaming like a diamond on black velvet, in Genesis 25. This passage follows right on the heels of the brief but beautiful wedding of Isaac and Rebekah. But the two lovebirds quickly passed from the honeymoon to the hurt locker, for Rebekah was barren.
Ernest Hemingway once met with a handful of other writers for lunch. It’s said that Hemingway bet each man at the table $10 that he could write an entire story in just 6 words. His friends agreed and anted up as Hemingway scratched out his 6 words on a napkin and passed it around the table. It read: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.” You see, Hemingway knew that there’s something universal about the pain of childlessness; the unsatisfied longing in a woman’s heart to kiss her baby; the unmet drive in a man to disciple his children. Isaac and Rebekah felt it too. But more than just pain, in the ancient world they would have suffered the sharp shame of infertility.
So, as the newlyweds set sail into this storm together, the waves cast Isaac upon the Rock of his Salvation. We knew that Isaac loved Rebekah (Genesis 24:67), but now we know how he loved her: he prayed for her. He prayed not just once, but for twenty long years. And the Lord heard his prayers and opened her womb to conceive. Now the expectant lovebirds can get back to their fairy tale, right? Wrong. The pregnancy was hard. Rebekah knew something was wrong, very wrong. So, like Isaac, she ran into the arms of her Heavenly Father; “she went and inquired of the Lord” (Genesis 25:22). And on her knees before the mercy seat, Rebekah learned that her pain was the result of a war being waged in her womb between battling brothers; between two prenatal nations. God said, “Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you shall be divided; the one shall be stronger than the other, the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).
Now, was God merely predicting future events? Certainly not. He was proclaiming what he predestined. God determined to divide the two men and the two nations descending from them. It pleased God to choose one and reject the other; to love the younger and hate the older. Paul clarifies this difficult doctrine for us in Romans 9:10- 13: “When Rebekah had conceived children by one man,
“…our forefather Isaac, though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad-in order that God’s purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls- she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ As it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’”