Many times in our world we see a Father passing down his ‘mantle’ to his son.
- race car driver
- My grandfather to my uncle
- Falwell’s son
Now those types of ‘passing of the baton’ are fairly easy to define. There’s paperwork,
there’s legal work, there’s policy changes, and there’s a visible shift of power and responsibilities. People can see and define the transition.
But what about the passing of the Abrahamic covenant to Isaac? How would something so seemingly intangible be passed on? Remember, the written account of all of these events happened many years after their occurrence. There was no paperwork or lawyers or video file to authorize God’s covenant being passed from Abraham to Isaac. So how did it happen? How could people know that it was actually the Abrahamic covenant upon Isaac’s life?
First, God spoke the authorization of the covenant’s passing to Isaac and then verified it by the blessings He placed upon Isaac. The blessings were an indication of the covenant being lived out through Abraham’s family line. In Genesis chapter twenty six we see this happening.
Now the events that Isaac goes through are eerily similar to that of his dad’s experiences. Some people have said that the events are so similar that the writer of Genesis must have mistakenly separated into two one single event. But that’s not the case at all. God simply parallels the events to highlight the blessing being passed down to Isaac.
- Isaac going to Egypt
- Stays in Gerar
- Lies about his wife
- Wife’s beauty
- Abimelech finds out
- Abimelech’s rebuke of Isaac
- Fighting over wells, treaty over the wells
Now something that can help us better understand this passage is that the name
Abimelech was probably a title of the Philistine’s leader at that time. (Much like a Pharaoh or a Caesar.) We don’t think this was the same Abimelech that Abraham dealt with since some ninety years have passed. (The same holds true with Abimelech’s general Phicol – that was probably his title, not his actual name.)
So as we go through this chapter we’re going to see God validating the Abrahamic covenant in Isaac’s life. Keep that in mind. Especially as the first thing we’re going to see is:
I. Isaac’s battle with sin
[Read Genesis 26:1-7.]
Like father, like son. Isaac fell into the same trap as his dad. Fearing for his life he lies about his wife. Even though Isaac was a godly man through whom God would do great things, he was still a sinner. He struggled to do right just as we all do at times.
This is a theme that we see repeated over and over through the Scriptures. Good men and women of faith who fall into sin. Even the apostle Paul talked openly about his struggles with sin. So this is just another example of fallen man that needs a Savior.
But why here and why now? Why did God include this failure of Isaac’s in the narrative? He could have left it out and none of us would ever have known about it. There were obviously many, many events from Isaac’s life that we know nothing about. So why include this one?
Remember, according to God the blessing would be coming through the line of Abraham. God wanted to make sure that everyone knew that it was He that maintained the integrity of the covenant – not man. For when man starts to think that he is able to accomplish the will of God independently of God pride sets in and God’s will isn’t accomplished at all. When God first established the covenant with Abraham He alone ratified it by passing through the sacrificed animal – Abraham just watched. So when God highlights the sinfulness of Isaac He’s also highlighting the fact that God alone is the only One that can perform His will upon the earth.
Paul also referred to this in Romans chapter seven.
[Read Romans 7:14-25.]
Paul is showing us through his own personal struggles that it is only because of God that we can do anything in this life. We just can’t do it on our own. We need the grace and mercy and power of God to be able to see His will done in our lives.
[Priest saying, “I’ll make it holy” story.]
Through Isaac’s failures we see the grace of God working to perform His will on the earth. And the display of that was:
II. Isaac’s blessings from God
Now as I read this passage see if you can pick out all the blessings from God upon Isaac’s life.
[Read Genesis 26:8-14.]
- Beautiful wife Rebekah
- God protected Rebekah from being taken as a wife
- Abimelech instituted laws to protect Rebekah