JUDAH'S SEPTRE AND JOSEPH'S BIRTHRIGHT
by J.H.Allen (1917)
RACE VERSUS GRACE.
Since we are compelled to begin our search for light,
concerning every phase of these themes, along the lines of
Biblical history and prophecy, it will be well for us first to
gather from those sources a few of the greater and more general
facts. By so doing, we will find it to be a great help in our
study of the more special features of the subjects, as it will
enable us to place, with unerring certainty, each detail where it
It being true that the Lord included in the Abrahamic
covenants a promise that the forthcoming children of promise
should eventually develop into many nations, there are many other
things that must follow as a consequent; one of which is, that
for the accomplishment of this purpose, God must provide
sufficient territory or scope of country, which shall become the
home of each nation, for it is absolutely impossible that
flourishing nations shall exist without national homes.
Pursuant to this thought, we know of no utterance in all the
Word of God which furnishes a more general or comprehensive
outlook than the following: "When the Most High divided to the
nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he
set the bounds of the people according to the number of the
children of Israel. For the Lord's portion is his people; Jacob
is the lot (cord, or line) of his inheritance." Deut.32:8,9.
When Moses was commanded to write the above concerning the
division of the earth's surface to the sons of Adam, only a very
small portion of it was inhabited; nevertheless, in the mind of
God every Island was set apart, and every continent divided. For
the scope of the facts herein stated are world-wide, and embrace
within their sweep the entire inhabited and inhabitable portion
of the earth's surface. Also, those divisions were so arranged
and subdivided, and the boundaries so set, that every nation,
tongue, and people among the sons of Adam,-be they already in
existence, or be they among the forthcoming nations,had their
national home allotted unto them.
Moreover, God always not only kept in mind that special
country which he had promised should become the everlasting
inheritance of the chosen race, but he also, when setting the
territorial bounds for other nations, remembered Israel, and
either restricted the boundaries of other nations, or enlarged
those divisions of country intended for Israel, which will be
needed by that immense multitude of people when they shall have
fulfilled their appointed destiny of developing into many
nations. For we must bear in mind that the posterity of Abraham
are a natural seed, according to the flesh, and that each special
nation of the many must have a place in which to dwell.
In addition to the fact that these Abrahamic nations are a
fleshly seed, we must remember also that they are not necessarily
a race of saints; for it is a notorious fact that some of that
race have been, and others are now, just as wicked as that fallen
son of the heavens would have them; but, on the other hand, that
same race has furnished, and still is furnishing, men who are the
grandest and best of earth.
When the time came for God to produce from the covenant man
a son who should be the further progenitor of the covenant race,
Abraham was anxious that Ishmael, his son by Hagar, the handmaid
of Sarah, should be used for this purpose, and exclaimed, "O that
Ishmael might live before thee !" To this earnest appeal the Lord
was not indifferent, and promised that he would bless Ishmael.
But on the subject of rejecting Ishmael as the covenant
inheritor, and making his covenant with a son who should be a
child of Sarah, as well as of Abraham, the Lord was inflexible.
His word of promise was the insurmountable barrier, and so he
said to Abraham: "Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed,
and thou shalt call his name Isaac ... and as for Ishmael, I have
heard thee ... twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him
a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac,
which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next
So Ishmael's posterity became alien before the legal line
had any existence, except that, on the authority and
responsibility of creative faith, the Lord counts things that are
not as if they were-for God had yet to create Isaac and bring
forth life out of that which was as good as dead.
We have the record oś another racial choice and rejection
which was made before birth, that of Jacob and Esau, but before
we discuss the question of race versus grace,-as involved in the
caption of this chapter - relative to them, for it is over their
case that the subject is argued in the New Testament, we wish to
call your attention to the fact that after the death of Sarah,
Abraham married a second wife whose name was Keturah, by whom he
had a number of sons. These sons in time became the fathers of
the Medes, Midianites, and other nations; but we can no more
reckon these nations as a part of the promised many, than we can
those which were formed by the posterity of Ishmael and Esau.
Could we do so, our task would be an easy one and our story soon
told; but we cannot do this, for the covenant nations must come
only from Abraham and Sarah through their only son Isaac, whose
posterity alone can be called, as they are called, "the Children
of the Promise," in contradistinction to those who belong to the
other families, and who are called "the Children of the Flesh."
This brings us to the question of race versus grace as understood
by the New Testament Church, and explained by the Apostle Paul,
who in his Epistle to the Romans says: "Neither, because they are
the children of Abraham, are they all (racial) children, but the
children of the promise are counted for the seed." As he carries
the argument still further, he makes this truth all the more
apparent by declaring: "In Isaac shall thy seed be called," and
then explains, as follows: "That is, they which are the children
of the flesh, these are not the (national) children of God; but
the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is
the word of promise, at this time will I come, and Sarah shall
have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had
conceived by one, even our father Isaac (for the children being
not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the
purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works,
but of him that calleth). it was said unto her, the elder shall
serve the younger. As it is written Jacob have I loved, but Esau
have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness
with God? God forbid!" Rom.9:7-i4.
With this argument before us, it is clear that it is only
the children of Isaac who are counted for. the national seed of
the covenant concerning the promised multitude, and that all this
question of election as regards Jacob and Esau is purely racial
and national. That is, one of these two nations which sprang from
the same mater is the recipient of national promises, glories,
honors, covenants, and service of which the other is not a
The argument is that when Rebecca, who we remember was to
become the mother of thousands of millions, had conceived by
Isaac, the father of the race, the result was that there were two
nations, or nationalities, in the womb - not necessarily a
nation, either of sinners or of saints. To convince us that the
election was purely racial, Paul throws in the parenthetical
clauses explaining that Jacob had done nothing good that he
should deserve these covenant blessings. But he also just as
assuredly affirms that Esau had done no evil that he should not
have them, for the choice was made before they had the power to
do good or evil, i.e., before they were born.
The King James version is a little unfortunate in its use of
the word "hated," as herein used, for one meaning which is given
to the original word is, "to love less," and when used in
contrast to the word "love" as applied to Jacob, it will bear
that simple meaning. The fact, which Paul states, is simply that
God loved Jacob more and Esau less, or that he preferred one to
the other, and that this preference for one excluded the other.
So Paul asks the question, "Is there unrighteousness with God?"
and for a reply gives only that surprised exclamation, "God
forbid!" He scouts the criminating thought that it could possibly
be unrighteousness with God, that he should be pleased to choose
the white race with which to work out his purpose, instead of the
red, or copper-colored one; but makes the implication that there
would have been unrighteousness, of a very grave character, with
the Lord, if this election had been one of grace instead of
race-that is, grace unto salvation for Jacob and his seed, and
damnation, without any possible chance of grace, for Esau and his
Now for the facts concerning these contradistinctive
appellations, "Children of the Flesh" and "Children of the
Promise," as applied to the races which have Abraham for one
(1) God, as we have shown, made a covenant with Abraham, in which
it was promised that he should become the father of many nations,
hence Abraham was the inheritor of a promise from God.
(2) Isaac, who was a natural son of Abraham and Sarah, according
to the flesh, was not only the child of a special promise, but he
was also the first child of the covenant promise.
(3} After the death of Abraham, God confirmed the original
covenant promise to Isaac, the child of promise, as follows: "I
will perform the oath which I swear unto Abraham thy father; and
I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and I
will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed
shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" Hence Isaac also
became the inheritor of a promise from the God of his father.
(4) The immediate posterity of Isaac, the promiseholder, were
Jacob and Esau, the persons whom Paul uses in making his argument
concerning the Lord's choice of race. Jacob, the younger of these
two, who were twins, was chosen by the promise-maker, before they
were born, to be the inheritor of the covenant promises. And so
the Divine promiser reiterates those promises to him, as follows:
"I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac:
the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy
seed: and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou
shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the
north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all
the families of the earth be blessed." Hence Jacob also received
direct from the Lord the same covenant promises which had
previously been given to his fathers.
(5) Since there can be no mistaking the purport of these covenant
promises regarding a natural and multitudinous posterity for
these promise-inheritors, and inasmuch as these promises were
promised and repromised, by the Divine promise-maker to the
successive promise-holders, then, when that promised multitude of
people shall have materialized, it is they, and they only, who
can be called "The Children of the Promise." And the only crucial
test is that they be Abraham's seed who have descended from Isaac
Thus it is that the natural seed of Abraham, whose
genealogical tree sprouts from the Jacob roots, are the children
of the promise, and that others are not, although they also be
the natural sons of Abraham, but, not having come through the
family line of the promiseinheritors, they are "the Children of
the Flesh" only. While to Israelites only, the seed of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob, pertain the promises, the covenants, the
adoption, the glory, the special service, the giving of the
divine law, and through whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ
came. But no such national glory, honor, dignity, and exaltation
are promised to those other nations which sprang from that same
father through Ishmael, Esau, and the sons of Keturah : no, not
even such glory as comes from the least of these covenants
promises and blessings.
Consequently, we can see why the Lord always declares
himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and not the
God of Abraham, Ishmael, and Esau; and why it is that Paul's
kinsmen according to the flesh are exclusively the children of
the promise, for they are Israelities, to whom pertain the
promises, etc. That is, they are the people who owe their
existence to the fact that God was true to the promise which he
made to Abraham, repeated to Isaac, and reiterated to Jacob,
whose name was changed to Israel, and from whom come the elect
people whose general racial name is Israel. Thus each individual
member of the race is an Israelite, be he a good man or a bad
one, and belongs to the elect or chosen people of God.
Therefore all this question of election between Jacob and
Esau, which has caused so many unjust conceptions of God and his
precious saving truth, is a question of Race, and not of Grace.
However, there is both an election of race and an election of
grace, for Paul, when speaking of the seven thousand men who had
not bowed the knee to Baal, declares that even now, "at this
present time, also, there is a remnant according to the election
of grace." But when he wrote regarding the attitude of a certain
part of the elect race toward the election of grace, he says: "As
concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes; but as
touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sakes."
Here we find two elections, i. e., the election of race and the
election of grace.
Touching the election of race, God could say, "And thou,
Israel, art my servant whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my
friend." But, when it was a question of individual service or
relation to him, even among his chosen people, he could throw the
responsibility on them, and say: "Choose ye this day whom ye will
serve." Or when pressing the subject of eternal life to be
accepted or rejected by each member of that elect race, God could
say: "See, I have this day set before thee life and death," and
then exhort them to "Choose life!"
If it is a question of race election, and the fidelity of
the Divine promise is at stake, it can be asserted that the will
of God, independent of the will of others, can cause certain
conditions to obtain; "that the purpose of God according to
election might stand"-not in the good or evil works, or unholy
natures of unborn babes, "but of him that calleth."
When the call of God is of racial, or of national import,
God can say: "Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel my called." But
if it is a question of personal election to the grace of
salvation, then faithful men of God may exhort other men, saying:
"Give diligence to make your calling and election sure." When it
is race, it is, "Whom I (God) have chosen." When it is grace, it
is, "Whosoever will, may come and take the water of life freely."
When it is race, it is, "I have called thee by my name; thou
art mine." In grace it is "Whosoever believeth," of whom the Lord
says: "They are mine." In grace it is, "Come." In race it is
fate, destiny, kismet.
One is a chosen race, and the other is a chosen way. The way
is by faith that it might be of grace, but the choice of race is
according to the predetermined and predestined purpose of God.
In race election it is generation, or born of the flesh. In the
election of grace it is regeneration, or born of the Spirit.
In grace it is, "Whosoever offereth praise glorifieth me;" but in
race, it is, "This people have I formed for myself; they SHALL
show forth my praise."
This declaration brings us to the consideration of the
purpose, or object, which the Lord has in choosing, and forming a
speciat race of men who, in spite of the wickedness of the great
bulk of them, he calls his own chosen people, and whose national
destiny he purposes to control.
Much of the manifest purpose of God touching this people is
made known in that brief epitome given by the Apostle Paul, as
quoted above, respecting the national honors of his own people.
Figuratively speaking, every word in that resume of Israelitish
history and the summing up of their honors weighs a ton. As we
proceed with the story of Israel, it is our purpose to consider
these facts in detail, but at this juncture we will take time
only to say that, since the creation, no such opportunity, or
such fitting cause, for national honor and greatness has ever
come, or ever can come, to any other nation on the earth.
It would seem that their cup of glory was full to the overflow,
when through them the Lord sent his word from Heaven, and spread
it abroad over the face of the inhabited portions of the earth,
and when God's word had been so fulfilled, and his purpose for
them so fully accomplished that they could say: "Unto us a child
is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon
his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor,
The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
When they could say this - then it would seem that their cup
of national greatness and glory was overflowing, and that the
supreme purpose of God for them had been reached. But it is our
glad privilege to tell you that there is in God's word a declared
purpose, which must yet be accomplished through that elect race,
and until it shall be fulfilled, all that which is done is robbed
of fully nine-tenths of its power and glory; since, outside the
realm of faith, millions are today hopelessly drifting on the
shoals of constantly increasing forms of unbelief, and with the
great majority of men, the word of God must forever be regarded
as a cunningly devised fable, unless God has some plan of
vindication for it and himself.
Furthermore, the great love of God is misunderstood and
despised; the blood of the atonement is trampled upon; Christ is
still considered by the many a bastard, a fraud, and a failure.
He is still put to an open shame in the house of his professed
friends; shipwrecks of a one-time faith and a present professed
faith in him are scattered everywhere. And so it is that God, his
Word, and his Christ, must yet be fully vindicated. And they
shall be, for God has promised it; and when this vindication
shall have been accomplished, then, and not till then, will
Israel have reached the supreme climax of greatness and glory of
the purpose for which the Lord has chosen her.
Harken ye unbelieving ones! Harken to this! "Thus saith the
Lord that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O
Israel, * * * ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant
whom I have chosen; that ye may know and believe me, and
understand that I am He; before me there was no God formed,
neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and
beside me there is no Saviour. I have declared, and have saved,
and I have showed, when there was no strange God among you:
therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord--that I am God." -
Note this, "That YE may know and believe ME, and understand
that - I AM HE."
God not only intends to use the Israelites for the purpose
of convincing them that he is God, and the only God, but he also
intends to use them to convince the rest of the world. For he
says: "I will sanctify my great name, * * * and the heathen shall
know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be
sanctified in you before their eyes." - Ezek.36:23.
This is the great purpose for which the Lord has chosen
Israel, and when this is accomplished, they shall have reached
the acme of national glory.
If you ask, "Is the history of Israel, as a whole, a Divine
work?" we answer, yes. But if you ask, "Is that history designed
as a preparation for the moral creation which Jesus Christ came
to effect?" Our answer is, no; the law which the Lord gave to his
people was intended to accomplish that purpose; but the history
of Israel, together with prophecies concerning them, many of
which must yet become history, is for the vindication of God.
To be continued