Summary: If we want to create an atmosphere in our homes and in our churches where people want to pursue purity and follow Christ from their hearts, then we must begin with a blessing and not lay down the law.
After Helene Talbert of Wahpeton, North Dakota, completed her first semester at a Christian college, she had a lot to tell her family. Just before the end of the semester, they had an open house in her dorm – one of the few times men are allowed in the women’s rooms. When her family came to visit, she wanted them to check out the huge closets.
“We can fit four or five in the closet without clothes,” Helene bragged to her parents, brother, and the other guys who were visiting.
After a stunned silence, her mother exclaimed, “Without clothes?”
Helene immediately clarified things – the closet was stripped bare, not the bodies in it. (Helene Talbert, Wahpeton, North Dakota. “Lite Fare,” Christian Reader; www.PreachingToday.com)
I can relate to that mother. When our children leave home, we hope and pray that they pursue purity on their own even without their parents’ supervision.
The question is: How can we encourage our children or grandchildren in that direction? How can we create an environment where they want to pursue purity on their own? How can we create an environment where they want to live in obedience to Christ, not because somebody is forcing them to, but because that’s what’s in their heart?
This is a good question to ask not only in the family at home, but also in the family of God, the church. How can we create an environment where people want to follow Christ? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 27, Genesis 27, where Isaac and Rebekah have that same concern with their son, Jacob.
Genesis 27:46 Then Rebekah said to Isaac, “I’m disgusted with living because of these Hittite women. If Jacob takes a wife from among the women of this land, from Hittite women like these, my life will not be worth living.” (NIV)
Esau, their oldest son, had married a couple of these Hittite women (Genesis 26:34-35), and it grieved Rebekah. They worshipped different gods. They were part of a decadent, immoral culture whose fertility cults were more base and vile than any other in the ancient world, and they were turning Esau away from worshipping the True and Living God. Rebekah didn’t want to see the same thing happen to her youngest son, Jacob.
Genesis 28:1-2 So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed a him and commanded him: “Do not marry a Canaanite woman. Go at once to Paddan Aram, b to the house of your mother’s father Bethuel. Take a wife for yourself there, from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. (NIV)
Isaac is sending Jacob 400 miles away to find a wife among his cousins. That way he won’t be corrupted by any of the local women. Their concern is for Jacob’s purity. They were concerned for the purity of the Hebrew line. But more important than that, they were concerned about the purity of the Hebrew faith. They didn’t want their descendants following after the false gods of the Hittite culture.
So how do Isaac and Rebekah encourage such purity in their son? Well, Isaac begins by blessing his son. Did you see that in verse 1? “So Isaac called for Jacob and blessed him.” This time, he does it knowingly and legitimately. Before, in defiance of God, Isaac had tried to bless Esau, but he was tricked and ended up blessing Jacob without knowing it. Now, Isaac blesses Jacob willingly and knowingly, and look at the blessing he gives Jacob!
Genesis 28:3-4 May God Almighty c bless you and make you fruitful and increase your numbers until you become a community of peoples. May he give you and your descendants the blessing given to Abraham, so that you may take possession of the land where you now live as an alien, the land God gave to Abraham.” (NIV)
This is the same promise God gave to Abraham two generations ago – a promise of land, seed and blessing. It’s the same blessing which has been passed down from Abraham to Isaac and now to Jacob in the third generation. Isaac blesses Jacob.
Genesis 28:5 Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way, and he went to Paddan Aram, to Laban son of Bethuel the Aramean, the brother of Rebekah, who was the mother of Jacob and Esau. (NIV)
In response to Isaac’s blessing, Jacob went to Paddan Aram. In response to Isaac’s blessing, Jacob went where his father told him to go. In response to Isaac’s blessing, Jacob obeyed his father and began pursuing purity, at least in his choice of a wife.
The pursuit of purity begins with a blessing. The pursuit of purity begins with a blessing. That was true not only of Isaac’s family. It’s true for our families today, whether it is our families at home or our church family. The pursuit of purity begins with a blessing. So if we want to create an atmosphere where people WANT to pursue purity, where people WANT to follow Christ, then we too must...