Reading through the Bible together

Saturday, May 12, 2012

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When God declares Himself the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Exodus 3:6; Matthew 22:32; Acts 3:13) He declares Himself the God of struggling people and troubled families who are saved and healed by His grace.  The story of Genesis is really one long family story, specifically focused on the first four generations of the nation of Israel, and the man and woman who lead each of those generations.  Those men and women are Abraham & Sarah, Isaac & Rebecca, Jacob & Rachel & Leah, and Joseph & Asenath.  We often consider them as Scriptural heroes and giants of faith.  Indeed their stories are briefly mentioned in Hebrews 11 as examples of faith.  However, like us, their lives were also deeply scarred by their own sins and the sins of others against them.  The story of God’s family as told in Genesis reveals a family marked by drunkenness, deceit, murder, adultery, incest, cowardice, jealousy, hatred, betrayal, contempt between husbands and wives, and outright disbelief of God.  Truly, it is a story of struggling people and troubled families.  Yet it is the story of God who saves and heals struggling people and troubled families.  It is the story of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 


In today’s chapter, Isaac repeats his father’s sins of cowardice and deceit.  Husbands are to love their wives with the brave and self-sacrificing love of Jesus (Ephesians 5:25).  Yet Abraham twice and Isaac once lie about their wives, putting their wives in grave danger, in order to make themselves comfortable and safe.  One of the unique family sins that passed from generation to generation in Abraham’s family was using some form of deceit for self-protection.  Joseph (Genesis 45:1-7) breaks that destructive family cycle.  Later Jesus, whom Joseph prefigured, would ultimately break it for all humanity.


Happily this chapter also shows more positive traits of Isaac.  We see Isaac as a peacemaker and a worshipper of the true God.  The end of the chapter pulls us back to the story line of Jacob and Esau with the mention of Esau’s disregard for God’s ways with his two Hittite wives.=


Douglas Tilstra

Director of Outdoor Leadership and Education, Southern Adventist University