Summary: My son and My God are both watching me, they both need to see "a long obedience in the same direction."
I want to live a Godly life so that my son will do the same. But when I blow it in my life that same little boy is watching, and learning and that’s a strong incentive for me to be careful in the first place. But most importantly I hope he’s still watching when Daddy repents. Because I know that he, like me will be imperfect. I also believe that what God is looking for in my son, is the very thing he’s looking for in me: Obedience. I think What God is looking for in each of us is what Eugene Peterson named “A Long Obedience In the Same Direction.”
But what does obedience truly mean? I’m beginning to believe it doesn’t mean perfection as I believe most of us initially would think of it – because We’ve already ruined perfection but God does call us to obedience. I think rather that an attainable obedience is evidenced in a sustainable, consistently positive response to the verbalized commands of God.
Tonight’s text is an example of that pattern of failed perfection coupled with obedience passed on from father to son. From Abraham to Isaac we see a remarkable series of repetitions. Read with me in Genesis 26:1-11 if you would a passage I’ve titled, “Like Father Like Son”.
The Similarities between What we’ve seen Abraham do in the past, and what we see Isaac doing here are amazing.
We have the same tests Being drawn to our attention in the Famine of verse one. We see the same general movement towards the land of the Philistines and beyond to Egypt. Obviously Isaac was headed to Egypt as Gerar is a small settlement on the road to Egypt1 rather near to the southern boarder of the Negev. Isaac must have intended to pass on , and that’s why God had to stop Isaac to prevent him from going there. We also see the same command, where Abraham was told to move into the land, of which God would tell him and Isaac is told to dwell in the land of which he would tell him.
Moreover we have the same promises given as the Abrahamic Covenant is passed on now from Father to son. But we also have the same reasoning (A beautiful wife) given for the same weaknesses being revealed in Isaac that we saw twice in Abraham. From the Seventh verse forward, Isaac reacts to fear just like his father. He fashions in his mind a convincing storyline (Which circumstance demonstrates is a baseless one) and as a result bows to it. Only he does one worse than his Father. At least Abraham could weekly say that Sarah was his ½ sister, but no such relationship existed between Isaac and Rebekah.
Let me ask you this, How much more plausible would it be for the same people who would be so base as to murder a man to get his wife; would they not also be willing to murder a man for lying about something so sacred? Surely they would. But instead, both Abraham and now Isaac received the same Rebuke from a pagan king!
I want to briefly draw your attention to a bit of wordplay going on there in verse 8. After lying to Abimelech and convincing Him that Rebekah was Isaac’s sister he was seen Caressing her Both, Isaac’s name and the word translated as “caressing” centers around the idea of laughter so that the “Hebrew wordplay on the name Isaac literally means ’He Who Laughs was laughing with Rebekah his wife.’”2 While obviously there was something in their behavior that was strictly suitable for husband and wife alone. As one commentator put it:
The choice of words is interesting. It is as if Moses was writing that Isaac’s lapse of faith—going to Gerar and calling his wife his sister—made a mockery of the great promise embodied in his name. In fact Isaac made a mockery of Abimelech by the deception. “Caressing” his wife was a mockery to Abimelech, whom he had tried to deceive. Isaac should have taken more seriously the covenant promises just given [by god in] (26:2-5).
So Isaac, like Abraham, received God’s great promise, but in fear he deceived Abimelech and made a mockery of the promised blessing. Fear mocks faith; faith boldly laughs in triumph. But a person who truly believes God’s promises obeys His statutes, precepts, and commands.3
As you look through the text here,the repetition of so many different events is obviously deliberate. It is intended, I think, to demonstrate the the blessing was indeed passed on to Abraham’s descendants with full knowledge of their frailty. In fact it highlights with bold letters and bright highlighter yellow the revealed grace of God who would take one so weak and use Him as a vessel of blessing for all nations. And that is after all, very encouraging to we who also are weak, is it not?