Abraham’s Third Line, Keturah

Genesis 25:1-5… “Then again Abraham took a wife, and her name was Keturah. And she bare him Zimran, and Jokshan, and Medan, and Midian, and Ishbak, and Shuah. And Jokshan begat Sheba, and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, and Letushim, and Leummim. And the sons of Midian; Ephah, and Epher, and Hanoch, and Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. And Abraham gave all that he had unto Isaac” (KJV).

This is a story in the life of Abraham that we do not hear much of. Abraham’s third line is hardly ever mentioned. We talk about Isaac, the seed line. We talk about Ishmael, the flesh line. Abraham was called “the father of many nations.” Genesis 9-10 tells us that through Noah came Shem, Ham, and Japheth. The responsibility for man’s well-being came through these three sons. Shem was responsible for man’s spiritual development. Out of Shem came the Hebrew nation and ultimately Christ. Ham was responsible for man’s physical well-being, keeping man from hunger, cold, pain, and disease. It was the people from Ham’s lineage that invented technology to master the physical world. He was called “the servant of servants,” the very best. To Japheth was given the responsibility to develop man’s mental capacities, intellect, knowledge, science, and marketing (Noah And His Three Sons by Arthur Custance; Zondervan). We see these three grouped together all through the Bible.

The three women in Abraham’s life represented the three sons of Noah. Sarah was of Shem (Genesis 11:29), Hagar was of Ham (Genesis 16:3), and Keturah was of Japheth (Genesis 25:1). Paul teaches “that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ” (Galatians 3:14, KJV). The blessings of Abraham are for the spiritual, the physical, and the intellectual needs of mankind. Abraham took Keturah to wife after the death of Sarah. The names of Keturah and her children tell of a humiliation that Abraham went through and how he snapped out of it. Abraham was a friend of God. Even men like Abraham can make mistakes and fail, but they can recover. Remember, “There is a foolish corner even in the brain of the wisest man” (Aristotle). Let’s look briefly into the names that are in our text…

Keturah… “he that burns; he that makes the incense to flame”… Was there something burning in Abraham at this point in his life… a passion perhaps? Did Abraham’s burning passion give birth to later problems?

Zimran… “their song, their story, a vine”… A vine represents lineage.

Jokshan… “ensnared in something insidious or scandalous”…

Medan… “discord and strife, contentious, quarrelsome”…

Midian… “double trouble”…

Ishbak… “one who is exhausted, empty and abandoned”…

Shuah… “pit, humiliation, sunk into humiliation”…

All these names speak of a humiliation that Abraham experienced in his life.

In Genesis 25:3-4, there are ten more names that tell us that Abraham recovered from his humiliation and the steps that he took to get him back into God’s purposes.

Sheba… “the captivity that compassed about; held captive by a mistake”… In other words, the humiliation that Abraham was experiencing held him captive. Sheba also means “the place of the oath.” Abraham made an oath to change. There are no hopeless situations unless you have grown hopeless about your situation.

Dedan… “leading forward”… Being low, their love caused them to move forward. Abraham made a decision.

Asshurim… “walking straight”… Being honest leads to salvation and deliverance.

Letushim… “to hammer out or stamp out that which oppresses”… This could refer to taking heed to the word that God gave you and resisting the oppressing devil.

Leummim… “to gather a community”… Did Abraham call a public assembly to acknowledge his mistake? Faith must be expressed in a community setting too.

Ephah… In his faint condition he wanted to fly like a bird, to rise up like a bird and escape out of his mistake. Determination is seen here. He not only talked the talk, he walked the walk.

Epher… “a fawn” or “a fresh start”…

Hanoch… “dedicated; initiated a discipline for himself”…

Abidah… “father of knowledge, the knowing one”… Abraham begins to seek out what happened to him and to get on the right track in the purposes of God.

Eldaah… El… “all mighty”… Daah… “the God of knowledge”… In other words, God prevailed in Abraham. God broke through in Abraham. God rose up in Abraham.

Abraham sends his sons by Keturah away from Isaac. The inheritance was in Isaac. Abraham declared this when he gathered his family to make known that God’s purposes will be manifested in Isaac. Abraham did not let his humiliation deter God’s purposes in Isaac. Many people make mistakes and then think that God is finished with them. Not so… God’s purposes for your life never change. Mistakes can be forgiven and people can be restored to fellowship.

There is a lesson in this for us. We are all handicapped in one way or another. Often in our mistakes, we become captive to our mistakes, and our spiritual progress stops for a while until we make a decision. “I’m going to stay in the purposes of God. I’m going to straighten out and walk right.” Our inheritance is in Christ. Don’t stay in Sheba (captivity). Go on to Dedan. Make a decision to walk straight. Make a fresh start and God will rise up within you again. Like Abraham, you will have your years be full.

Pastor George Belobaba

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