Friday, May 20, 2011

Genesis 26:1-9

Right in the middle of learning about Jacob and Esau, the Bible turns back to Isaac. Talk about a “chip off the old block!” Today’s story about Isaac is a great warning about the legacy a parent passes on to his children, both for good and for bad. If you didn’t pay attention, you would think you had just somehow wandered back to chapters 12 and 20 with Abraham.

In verses 1-6 we see there is famine in the land, so Isaac heads toward Egypt, stopping in the border town of Gerar, just outside of Egypt. The LORD warns him not to go “down to Egypt,” because Egypt is the symbol of everything worldly and pagan. He reminds Isaac of the promise that He made to Abraham, and confirms that Isaac is heir to this same promise:

I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” So Isaac stayed in Gerar. (vs 4-6)

Now, he obeyed and did not go into Egypt, but he certainly camped just outside of it! Isn’t that typical of us, too? We know God has forbidden certain things - for our own good - but we will get as close as possible without crossing the line! With teens it might be that they are not actually having sex, but they are doing everything but the actual act. How close can we get without crossing that boundary? I’ll just have two drinks, and that’s my limit... I’ll just flirt with my co-worker, but nothing more... Do you see how that is just playing with fire, and actually shows an attitude of disobedience? So Isaac stayed in Gerar.

Well, then in verses 7-9 we see a very familiar scene:

When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”

When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”

Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”

Oh, for heaven’s sake!!! Why is it that we don’t learn the lesson by just watching others suffer and we, instead, have to actually touch the stove to see for ourselves if it’s hot??? Here Isaac demonstrates the same cowardice and deception that his father had shown - in the same town, even! The name, Abimilech, is a dynasty name, so this is most likely the son of the Abimelech that Abraham deceived. Jon Courson, in his commentary on this chapter, points out that Isaac admits he was afraid he’d lose his life on account of Rebekah, which is the total opposite commitment he should have toward protecting her, even at the risk of his own life. In Ephesians 5:25, Paul exhorts men to love their wives as Christ loved the church, to the point of dying for her! Instead, both Abraham and Isaac hid behind their wives’ skirts!

I can’t really judge here, because several years ago, when I was working with a teaching partner, Lisa, who was the same age as my younger daughter, she and I were attacked by a dog who came on our school campus after school (he actually bit me, drew blood, and caused me to have to get a tetanus shot). Anyway, instead of protecting Lisa, by pushing her behind me, I grabbed her and pushed her in front!!! Lisa, being deathly afraid of spiders, was only too happy to push me behind her, because there was a spider web behind us!!! Both of us totally went into self-preservation mode. Afterwards we howled over that humbling picture, because, as teachers, we should have gone into an automatic protector role! :) Good thing Lisa was not one of my students!!!

Back to Isaac! The thing that is so scary about this passage is that Isaac had totally picked up his father’s traits - both good and bad. We’ll see tomorrow that he also showed his father’s faith in God after this, but he definitely had inherited some weak genes as well. I love what Beth Moore says about this :

Parents were meant to impact their children’s lives, otherwise their job would be finished in the delivery room. Instead, their impact powerfully reaches past their funerals and grows faster than the grass on their graves... Let’s put it this way: sometimes our parents leave us more than a china cabinet... One reason we want to be careful and deliberate about what we agree to inherit is that we too will pass on multiple characteristics and much character. Or lack of it. We don’t want to judge our parents lest God and the next generation judge us by the scorecard we kept. (The Patriarchs, page 113).

We know what our parents’ good and bad traits are. We need to be so careful what we continue to pass on! It’s bad enough that Emmy has my curly hair (which I received from my father), and that I have passed to both girls my family’s sarcastic sense of humor! They don’t need anything more in the negative from my side of the family!!!

More on Isaac next week! Have a terrific weekend!


No comments:

Post a Comment