Lessons to learn from Isaac

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Like father like son, Isaac made the same mistake as Abraham. He lied about his wife being his sister because he was afraid he would be killed for having a beautiful wife (Gen. 26:6-11).

Isaac was often named as one among the 3 patriarchs of Israel. God is often quoted in the Bible as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The stories of Abraham and Jacob cover many chapters of Genesis. Isaac’s stories with him as the main character are only covered in Gen. 25:19-26:34.

Aside from the incident of lying about his wife, Isaac was known for playing favorites with his wife Rebekah to their children. He favored Esau while Rebekah loved Jacob more. This favoritism brought sad consequences to their family: lies, jealousy that eventually caused Jacob to live away from home – to hide from his brother Esau who wanted to kill him, because Jacob stole his birthright.

Even so, today as I read Isaac’s stories again in Genesis 25-26, I saw Isaac’s good deeds:

1) He prayed for his wife to conceive and the Lord heard his prayer (25:20-21). Isaac married Rebekah when he was 40 years old and Isaac was 60 years old when Rebekah gave birth to their twins. 20 years is a long time. Like his father, he waited so long to have a son. Unlike his father, he was blessed his wife did not ask him to take a concubine. He also did not think to bear a child by another woman. Instead he prayed for his wife. And God honoured his request and gave him two children.

2) Isaac was a peaceful man. He became so rich and powerful that people envied him and told him to go away. He left without any argument. When the Philistines stopped up the wells of his father, Abraham, Isaac just dug new wells (26:12-17). He dug at least 3 wells because people at Gerar were always quarreling with Isaac’s herdsmen about the well. Each time, he would leave and dig a new well (18-22).

Isaac also made a treaty with Abimelech regarding the wells (26-33). Although the Abimelech in Abraham’s story might not be the same as Isaac’s story because many scholars to believe that, among the Philistines at least, Abimelech was a title given the king, rather than a personal name—much as the Egyptians always called their king “Pharaoh.”

Isaac got his father’s trait of being a peace-loving man by giving way to others. Abraham let Lot choose the land first. Abraham paid Abimelech for the well he dug and already owned (Gen. 21:27-34). And like what He did with Abraham, God spoke to Isaac after his peace-loving ways:

“I am the God of your father Abraham;
Do not fear, for I am with you.
I will bless you and multiply your descendants,
For the sake of My servant Abraham.”

Isaac was not perfect – he was fearful like his father. He played favourites with his children. Yet God showed grace and mercy, accomplished His purpose amidst his poor choices. God sanctifies his children in both their good and bad experiences. Their good and bad choices do not change His character. He is faithful to His Word. He always keeps his promises.

God assured Isaac that he would not suffer loss even when he gave up what he owned because God is always with him. God promised to “bless and multiply” and all his promises came true. Abraham died a good old age (25:7-8) and so did Isaac (35:28-29).

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