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19: The Life of Isaac; a less than smooth sail

June 23, 2009

Text:     Genesis 25:19-26:35

Outline:                  I. Esau and Jacob                                                                                  Gen. 25:19-34

                                                 • Non-identical twins      Gen. 25:19-26

                                                 • Competition for the birthright      Gen. 25:27-34

                                 II. Isaac and Abimelech                                                                     Gen. 26:1-33

                                                 • Crisis for food      Gen. 26:1-16

                                                 • Conflict over land and water      Gen. 26:17-25

                                                 • Peace      Gen. 26:26-33

                                 III. Esau and His Parents                                                                    Gen. 26:34-35

                                                  • Conflict in the family      Gen. 26:34-35

Context/Discussion/Comments:

     First we must recognize that this section of scripture is not chronological but represents Isaac’s memoirs, happenings in Isaac’s life. A good exercise is to layout each of the major characters life span starting with Abraham. In doing so, one comes up with some interesting observations.

                  • Sarah never knew her grandchildren.

                  • We don’t know how long Rebekah and Esau lived.

                  • Rebekah was probably dead by the time Jacob returned to Canaan.

                  • We know nothing about Abraham’s influence with his grandchildren.

                  • Isaac was still alive when Jacob returned and Joseph disappeared.

                   • This Abimelech was probably the son or perhaps even the grandson of the Abimelech Abraham made a treaty with.

     Out first story involves Esau and Jacob, twin boys born to Isaac and Rebekah after 20 years of marriage. Rebekah was barren causing Isaac to pray on her behalf. The Lord answered that prayer and she became pregnant with the twins. Rebekah also prayed, learning that she had twins [two nations] and that the older would serve the younger. God knew the outcome before it happened. They had very different personalities and interests. Esau was an outdoorsman, red and hairy, relating to Isaac. Jacob stayed home around the tents and learned to cook and, therefore, he related to Rebekah. Esau comes home from hunting and is hungry. Jacob has cooked some stew and Esau readily gives up his birthright for a meal because it has no value to him. He is living for the moment instead of the future.

     Another famine comes and Isaac is forced from Beersheba south and toward the coast to find food. God tells Isaac to stop at Gerar where Abimelech lives and not go into Egypt. Here the Lord reminds Isaac of His promise to Abraham, that his descendents will be many, this land will be theirs, and they will be a blessing to all nations. Isaac obeys but then proceeds to tell Abimelech that Rebekah is his sister, repeating the error of his father. Abimelech discovers the lie, questions Isaac about what is truth, and issues a decree to stay away from Isaac and his family. He probably is mindful of his father’s similar problem and curse when Abraham lived in their midst. Isaac plants crops and has a bountiful harvest. His wealth grows significantly. The Philistines become envious and plug wells originally dug by Abraham. They also ask Isaac to move further away because he is becoming too powerful and too wealthy. Isaac moves further away but conflicts arise over who owns the wells. Isaac moves further away and eventually arrives in the area from which he came, Beersheba. Here God tells Isaac to not be afraid and reassures him of His Promise which he made to Abraham. Isaac inherits that promise because he is the true heir of God’s promise to Abraham. Isaac builds an altar and worships God. Soon Abimelech arrives on the scene, sees how Isaac has been blessed, and wants to renew their original treaty between Abraham and his father. Isaac throws a banquet and they make peace. Isaac’s servants were digging another well that very day, finding much water. That well can still be viewed at Beersheba today.

     In the last section we have the story of Esau marrying two Hittite women from the area of Abraham and Sarah’s home at Hebron. Esau evidently did this out of spite to cause grief. He did not respect his birthright nor his heritage. Esau was the founder of the nation Edom, a nation which caused continued grief to Israel once they returned from Egypt.

     In summary, Isaac was blessed with God’s Promise, a renewed treaty, heritage, wealth, influence, and a devoted wife. His family had conflicts such as sibling rivalry, water rivalry, land rivalry, in-law rivalry, and health.

     Other observations we can make are as follows:

            • In the Biblical narrative, the focus is on the future, it is on The Promise.

            • Isaac learned to obey God because his father Abraham obeyed God.

            • Be assured, the ungodly recognize the blessings of the godly. Some admit it and some don’t.

            • Isaac was a man who desired peace in the midst of conflict because of his faith.

           • Family issues [within] are more often more difficult to resolve than national issues [without]….they are more personal and less objective.

Lessons/Applications:

     1. God uses conflict in our lives to show us the direction He wants us to take. [Gen. 26:1-6]

     2. Blessing comes to us as we come before His throne and listen. Blessings are fulfilled as we yield and obey Him. [Gen. 26:12-14]

     3. A “Christ-like” heart brings blessing in spite of conflict. In spite of hardship, God blesses His people. [Gen. 26:12-14, 32-33]

     4. A “Christ-like” heart does not prevent conflict but correct choices lead to peaceful living. [Gen. 26:30-31]

     5. Our influence comes from our character in conjunction with our circumstances. [Gen. 26:28-30]

     6. God’s promises will comfort you in times of crisis. [Gen 26:3, 4, 24]

     7. When the “fear of the Lord” is your priority, the “fear of conflict” with others will leave. [Gen. 26:6, 25]

     8. Cling to the promises of God even though you feel all alone and that everyone is against you. Continue to love God because God grants peace to those who trust Him. [Gen. 26:25]

     9. Always be hospitable to your enemies, especially when they want to make peace. Forgive them and love them. God will bless both you and them. [Gen. 26:30-33]

     10. Honor your heritage. God is sovereign and wants to use it for your good and to His glory. Honor your heritage and let it build your character. [Gen. 25:31-     35]

     11. One can set up physical boundaries to help keep peace but your character can not be kept secret. [Gen. 26:28]

     12. Persevere in times of difficulty. People will want to throw dirt on your life but keep on digging. God will bless you with living water and give you peace. [Gen. 26:16-33]

     13. You have a choice in life; it can make you bitter or you can become better.

     14. Marriage for the wrong reasons brings grief to your family. [Gen. 26:34-35]

     15. Dealing with estrangement within [self, family] must take priority if true peace is to reign.

     16. Letting go, although difficult, is necessary for God to exercise His sovereignty.

Summarizing:

     Our lives are very similar to that of Isaac; filled with Crisis’, Conflicts, and Competition.

     To succeed; to feel satisfied, content, and fulfilled we must:

                          1. Live and hope in the Promises of God.

                          2. Not let the 3 C’s affect our relationship with God.

                         3. Let go and let God be sovereign over all aspects of our lives.

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