Summary: A message on the spiritual life-lessons Christians can learn from Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, and Esau.
Genesis Series #49 June 02, 2002
Title: Four Lesson From Four People’s Lives
Welcome to New life in Christ. Today we continue with message #49 in our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Genesis.
Romans 15:4 (quickview)  says, “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us...” This Scripture is referring to the Old Testament narratives, teachings, Psalms, prophecies, etc. All of these things were written down and kept through the ages, so that Christians today could be instructed on living the Christian Life. In some cases, the narrative passages I have taught in this message series from Genesis have been primarily about one particular subject or topic, such as: “How to receive guidance from God.” At other times the passage we are studying doesn’t seem to focus on one main lesson, but on several important lessons for the Christian. This is the case with today’s passage. I do not see any one subject that linked all the verses together, but I do see several lessons for us to learn from the four people’s lives. With that note of at explanation, let us look at verses 19-21.
Read Verse 19-21
"This is the account of Abraham’s son Isaac..." (Vs. 19) This is the beginning of another unit or section in the Book of Genesis. Genesis is divided into ten units or sections, each section beginning with the word “account.” When we see these units we know that there is a shift of focus from one person’s life to another’s. For your information, Abraham’s was about 100 years of age when Isaac was born, 140 when Isaac married Rebekah, 160 when his grandchildren (Jacob/Esau) were born, and 175 when he died.
In verse 21 we learn that Rebekah was barren, unable to conceive and have children. This is the same problem that Sarah, the wife of Abraham, had encountered. I do not believe that this is coincidental, but rather God ordained both women’s barrenness for a good purpose, one of the good and necessary purposes being to encourage Israel (God’s people) and to instruct us. The nation of Israel could look back and see that their existence as a nation was not the result of man’s planning or natural events, but was rather the result of divine intervention. This would have been encouraging to the people because if they were the result of God’s supernatural plan and work than they could count on God to complete his plan of bringing them into the Promised Land. In a similar way, Christian’s can see that our existence as God’s people is not the result of human ability. As it says in John 1:13 (quickview) , “(We are children of God) born not of natural descent, nor of human decision, or a husband’s will, but born of God.” We are the result of God’s supernatural intervention, so we also can depend on God to complete what he has begun and bring us to heaven.
“Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife.” Now God’s Covenant Promise to Abraham and his descendants included a multitude of offspring, so clearly Isaac had a promise from God for children. Two things I want you to notice from this example. First, having a promise from God does not mean that the promise comes immediately or easily. It certainly did not in Isaac’s case, for he was 60 years old before he had the children that God promised. Second, Isaac prayed for the promise of God! This is an example to God’s people today. God has given us many promises (victory over sin, peace in troubling times, provision for our daily needs, etc) but we still need to pray to the Lord for the promises, especially when we encounter obstacles, defeat or failure. Too often we miss the promises of God because we do not really pray! Praying to the Lord is not a waste of time or a mere religious exercise to earn spiritual brownie points. Prayer is a means of appropriating God’s promises. God answers prayer, as we see in verse 21, which says, “The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant.”