GENESIS 25:19 – 26:35

ISAAC

MAN OF PEACE

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25:19-29

This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham's son. Abraham begot Isaac. Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. But the children struggled together within her; and she said, 'If all is well, why am I like this?' So she went to inquire of the LORD. And the LORD said to her: 'Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger.' So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

 

Painting of the births of Jacob and Esau.

 

We come here to the story of the births of Jacob and Esau. It's a story of a dysfunctional family where both the mother and the father had their favorites, loving one child above another. Isaac took to Esau but Rebekah took to Jacob. Esau was a man's man, an outdoors man, a hunter and a man of the field. His father adored him. Jacob, on the other hand, was a homebody and a bit of a mama's boy. He very much enjoyed hanging out in the tent with his mother and, most likely, help her with the cooking.

It is important to notice here, that the birth of these twins came about through prayer. Rebekah was barren and couldn’t have children. So, with great earnestness, Isaac took the problem to the Lord. Our text says that he … pleaded with the Lord for his wife. Can you picture that? Have you ever pled with the Lord about something? As a result, the Lord heard Isaac's cry and granted his plea. James 5:16b, says,


The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

I John 5:14, says,

Now this is the confidence that we have in him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of him.

When you and I pray to God, we should really get down to business, like Isaac did. The question is, Do you and I really lay hold of our God? It's a wonderful thing when a child of God comes before the Lord with real confidence and, discerning his will in the matters they bring, really lay hold of God. Far too often, our requests are half hearted ... ho hum ... maybe he will, maybe he won't ... kind of requests. Am I right? Effective prayer is born of faith … love for the Savior … and a mature, discerning mind. It wells up from the hearts of those who believe their God and are certain he can and will do anything, according to his will. Such was Isaac's prayer for his wife, Rebekah. As a result, they got two bouncing baby boys from Rebekah’s barren womb!

Esau was the first of the twins to be born. And, when he came out, his little body was covered with red hair. So, when they saw him, they called him Red. The name, Esau, means Red. I have run into quite a few Reds down Texas way. My father used to tell us about a fellow he rode with while punching cows on the huge, Coon and Culbertson ranch that existed from 1915 to 1939. They had the world’s largest registered Hereford herd. They also developed the Braford breed of cattle among other accomplishments in the cattle industry.
The fellow's name, that my dad rode with was, Booger Red! What a handle, aye? I know ... I didn't need to tell you that!

When Rebekah's the second baby came out, his little hand was clutching onto his brother’s heel. It was quite an amusing moment. Because of it, they named him, Jacob, which means, supplanter (one who undercuts and undermines others). They joked that he was trying to take his brother Esau's rightful place as the firstborn son. And, as it turns out, Jacob would do just that. Furthermore, he would live out a good deal of his life conniving and supplanting other people.

Our text goes on to say … Isaac loved Esau but Rebekah loved Jacob. Frankly, that was very sad. Partiality in a family is a recipe for disaster. It sets everyone up for conflict. This grave lapse of judgment would eventually splinter Isaac and Rebekah's home beyond repair. Parents should take every precaution not to show partiality in their relationships with their children. To do so can cause a lifetime of problems and sorrows for all concerned ... especially for any child who receives less attention and love than another.

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25:29-34

Now Jacob cooked a stew and Esau came in from the field, and he was very weary and hungry. And Esau said to Jacob, Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary. Therefore, his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, 'Sell me your birthright as of this day.' And Esau said, 'Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?' Then Jacob said, 'Swear to me as of this day.' So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

In Isaac’s day, the right of the firstborn meant that he would receive a double portion of his father's things when it came time to divide the inheritance. Right off, Mr. Supplanter (Jacob) set about to get that position away from Esau. And, Esau made it easy for him, because he was a shortsighted and fleshy man. He lived for the moment, you see. Immediate gratification was more important to Esau than any other consideration. Jacob knew this. So, at the appropriate moment, he offered to purchase Esau’s birthright for a bowl of stew! And Esau, having just come in from the field … ravenously hungry … sold it to him! Thus, we read here in the Word of God, Esau despised his birthright. Hebrews 12:14-17, speaks of this,

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

You know, you and I also are heirs to a great and wonderful inheritance. And, we are warned here in God’s Word, to be careful not to fall short of the grace of God that has been extended to us. All too often, this takes place when a child of God turns away from who they are in Christ and begin to embrace again who they once were without him. When that occurs, he or she, like Esau, are trading away their birthright for a pot of porridge. So, we need to take real precautions not to allow those gratifications of the moment to mar and distort who we really are in Christ. Don't be like Esau. I believe this is what the Hebrews passage, above, is exhorting us to watch out for. Stand firm. Keep the flesh down there under the foot of the Holy Spirit, beloved. We must not sell out our greatest and most precious possessions (our future rewards) for empty and momentary gratification.

Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, “Be holy, for I am holy.” 1 Peter 1:13-16

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26:1-5

There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar. Then the LORD appeared to him and said: 'Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.'

During a time of crisis (famine) in Isaac’s life, God appeared to him and re-confirmed to him the promises of the Covenant he had made with his father, Abraham. At the same time, the Lord cautioned Isaac to stay out of Egypt and to live in the land of which I shall tell you. Further, he reminded Isaac that his father Abraham had been faithful to obey him and keep his charge, commandments, statutes and laws. Isaac needed to be reminded of these things. It was very important that he obey and keep the things that had been committed to him, just as his father Abraham had done. It is a good spiritual exercise for us all to be reminded to stick to the basics and keep on walking humbly with our God, is it not? As you have it in II Corinthians 13:5,

Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified.

And again, in II Peter 3:17-18,


You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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26:6-11

So Isaac dwelt in Gerar. And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, 'She is my sister'; for he was afraid to say, 'She is my wife,' because he thought, 'lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.' Now it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife. Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, 'Quite obviously she is your wife; so how could you say, "She is my sister"? And Isaac said to him, 'Because I said, "Lest I die on account of her." And Abimelech said, 'What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.' So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, 'He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.'

Sounds familiar, doesn't it?  Like father, like son. Abraham’s boy was also walking in the negative footsteps of his father. Ever notice how our kids copy us? There’s no doubt where Isaac got this scheme. Wouldn’t it be nice if our kids only picked up the godly stuff and not the ungodly stuff from us? But, alas, that is not the way it works. Abimelech had also been down this road before, and he feared the God of Abraham and Isaac. Now, history was repeating itself. As a result, Isaac, like his father, Abraham, was called on the carpet and embarrassed.

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26:12-23

Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him. Now the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and they had filled them with earth. And Abimelech said to Isaac, 'Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.' Then Isaac departed from there and pitched his tent in the Valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them. Also Isaac's servants dug in the valley, and found a well of running water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, 'The water is ours.' So he called the name of the well Esek, because they quarreled with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also. So he called its name Sitnah. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, 'For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.' Then he went up from there to Beersheba.

When God's people walk in obedience, God blesses them in spite of themselves. Back in verse 3, God had said to Isaac, Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee. And, true to his word, he did just that. God blessed Isaac a hundredfold. Jesus’ words come to mind here concerning what takes place when people readily and truly receive the Word of God.

But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Matthew 13:23

Isaac was a man of peace and, when his Philistine neighbors abused him and stole his wells, he simply moved on, leaving it up to God to deal with them. My own dad was a lot like that. He wasn’t a fighter or a revenge taker. When someone did him dirty, I can remember him saying, Well, that’s a monkey on their back! Boy, how we need that mindset today. I’m speaking about the biblical principle of non-resistance to evil. Jesus outlined it for us in Matthew 5:40-45,

If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away. You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.

In the book of Romans we read,

Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord’. Therefore ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom. 12:17-21

Jesus summed it up well in Matthew 5:9, when he said,

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

Now, out in the desert, water is one’s greatest possession. It can often determine life or death. So, when they took Isaac's wells away, they were taking his livelihood as well as threatening his life. The first well they took, Isaac named Esek … which means accuse, because they said it was theirs and accused Isaac of stealing it from them! The second one they took, he named Sitnah … which means strife. Interestingly, it is the same Hebrew word whose root is the word for Satan. Isaac aptly named those wells. Abimelech’s men stole them from him … and then accused him of being the wrongdoer! Satan has a long history of accusing the people of God and stealing their things, does he not? Under such circumstances, everything in a man or woman cries out for justice and revenge. But, as Christians, we must not take things into our own hands. So, like Isaac, it is usually best to just walk away. Isaac set the record straight by naming the wells he had lost but, beyond that, he left it all in the Lord’s hands. Romans 12:19, is worth repeating here...

Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
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26:24-25

And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, 'I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham's sake.' So he built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD, and he pitched his tent there; and there Isaac's servants dug a well.

Often, when God's people lose, or are forced to give up their necessary possessions, it is very frightening to them. At those times, they need to be reminded that the Lord is their supply and he is the one who has promised to meet their every need. The Lord did just that for Isaac. He said to him, do not fear, for I am with you. That just about says it all, does it not!? By the way, our great Lord has said the same thing to you and me, beloved. As you have it in Romans 8: 31-32,

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

And again, in Hebrews 13:5-6,

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’

No wonder Isaac built an altar and worshiped! When God is on your side, nothing else matters.

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26:26-33

Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath, one of his friends, and Phichol the commander of his army. And Isaac said to them, 'Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?' But they said, 'We have certainly seen that the LORD is with you. So we said, "Let there now be an oath between us, between you and us; and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, since we have not touched you, and since we have done nothing to you but good and have sent you away in peace." You are now the blessed of the LORD. So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. Then they arose early in the morning and swore an oath with one another; and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. It came to pass the same day that Isaac's servants came and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, 'We have found water.' So he called it Shebah. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.

After Abimelech confiscated Isaac’s wells, that old heathen was nervous. And, where do you suppose his troubled thoughts came from? I believe they were from the Lord. In fact, I believe they were from the Lord in order to protect Jacob. So, of all things, Abimelech, the aggressor and confiscator, hastened to go to Isaac to make a non-aggression treaty with him. Can you believe it? In Proverbs we read,

When a man's ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him. Proverbs 16:7

We certainly see that truth demonstrated here. Abimelech, his friend, and the commander of his army ... came to Isaac suing for peace although it was he who was the aggressor. He told Isaac, I would dearly love for you to make a covenant with us never to harm us since we’ve never done anything to you and have sent you away in peace. Of course, that rascal was lying through his teeth. He certainly had done damage to Isaac. Damage, by the way, that was legitimate grounds for war. But, did Isaac take this opportunity to call him on it? No. He made the agreement with this hypocritical antagonist and then fed him a meal! Who will ever understand the mind of those peacemakers, aye? Then, after Abimelech had gone, that very same day, Isaac's servants came in with great news ... they had found water again. Right. What they should have said was, Our faithful God has given us water again! Amen?

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26:34-35

When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.

Finally here, Esau set out to find himself some wives from the heathen around about. He knew better than that! He knew his parents’ story and that this was certainly not the way his father had obtained his mother, Rebekah (Gen. 24). You will remember that Abraham told his servant to be careful not to take a bride for Isaac from the heathen women around where they lived. However, Esau didn't live by Grandfather Abraham’s morals, nor by those of his parents either. I wonder if he even told them when he got married! How sad it is when a child dishonors their parents by not involving them in one of the greatest choices they will ever make. Esau chose to ignore his own parents and their story of how God had led them to find each other. His two marriages to heathen women speak loud and clear of his underlying character. No wonder God’s Word says, Jacob I loved. Esau I hated (Mal.1:2b-3a).

Dear reader, if you are unmarried, may I ask you a question? Do you care if your future mate loves God or not? Are you praying for them … right now? Or, do you just daydream a lot about him or her, hoping that they will be exceptionally good looking and sexy? As long as they pass those tests, will just anybody do? If so, then, one day you are just going to go Hollywood and marry on the spur of the moment because you’re infatuated with someone’s outward beauty. That’s the way Esau lived his life. Watch out! Satan has deep-sixed more lives this way than you can throw a stick at. It bears repeating that God’s Word says about this...

Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: 'I will dwell in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they shall be My people.' Therefore 'Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters', says the LORD Almighty. II Corinthians 6:14-18

Esau brought great grief into Isaac and Rebekah lives when he married two godless Canaanite women. And, apparently, he did so without so much as a “how do you do” to his father and mother.

 

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



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