Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
“And now I entrust you to God and the message of his grace that is able to build you up and give you an inheritance with all those he has set apart for himself. (Acts 20:32)
Abraham lived for 175 years, and he died at a ripe old age, having lived a long and satisfying life. He breathed his last and joined his ancestors in death. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, near Mamre, in the field of Ephron son of Zohar the Hittite. This was the field Abraham had purchased from the Hittites and where he had buried his wife Sarah. After Abraham’s death, God blessed his son Isaac, who settled near Beer-lahai-roi in the Negev.
When Isaac was forty years old, he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan-aram and the sister of Laban the Aramean. Then, Isaac found that Rebecca, his wife, could not have a baby, making him nervous. His mother, Sarah, was barren throughout her life. But His father, Abraham, prayed for 25 years, because he believed God’s promise that he would be the father of many great nations. And God miraculously opened his mother’s womb. His mother, Sarah, bore himself.
Isaac also prayed to God to open Rebekah’s womb. Isaac did not stop praying to God. Isaac remembered his father’s prayer, and Isaac, himself, was proof of his father’s prayer. Parent prayer critically important, which profoundly impacts children’s lives, especially their spiritual lives. We can hide our innermost lives from all but our own children. They truly know everything about us up to the innermost part of our lives. They live with us, and they see everything that we do and directly experience who we are. It is foolish if we think we can hide our true selves from our children. Therefore, we all should desire to pass down our faithful life before God to our children in prayer. Then they will learn from us and continue living faithful lives in God like us.
Isaac prayed fervently as his father did daily before God without ceasing. His humble and fervent prayer reached God. Yes, our humble and fervent prayer without being defeated by the cold reality surely reaches God. God loves our humble and fervent prayer in faith, and God answers according to His infinite goodness.
God saw Isaac’s prayer modeling after his father’s prayer, and God answered Isaac’s prayer. Rebekah became pregnant and delivered twin sons: Esau and Jacob. He went out of his tent and shouted for joy to God because God heard him.
Praise the LORD!
For he has heard my cry for mercy.
The LORD is my strength and shield.
I trust him with all my heart.
He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.
I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. (Psalm 28:6-7)
Isaac called in all whom he knew to celebrate his newborn twin boys. He gave thanks to God for God’s mercy given to him. His mouth could not stop telling who God was and His mercy to all. Yes, God answered Isaac’s prayer and lifted him from the depth. Now, no more. He shouted, “God answered my prayer. All who have ears listen to me. God answered my prayer. He is neither deaf nor blind. God knows what I was going through at night. Yes, He is merciful. He heard my prayer, and He lifted me from the depth today. God is faithful. He is worthy of all my praises. He is my God, and my Shepherd who leads me to green pastures and beside still waters. Oh, God has blessed me abundantly. His blessed hand will be with me from now on, and I will call Him my God forever.”
There are no better examples than Abraham’s prayer life for his wife, Sarah, and his future son, and Isaac’s prayer for his wife, Rebekah, and his future children. We all should not neglect to pray to God for our children. It is truly unbearable to see our children living painful lives by getting astray from God. As parents, what we can do is so much limited. We are mere humans, but more importantly, it is between God and our children. God has used our life pains to shape us. Then what can we say more? Amid the pains, God unconditionally loved us by standing by us all the time. Thus, as earthly parents, we should participate in their pains by standing by them and praying for them to God. After all, that is what God wants from us and from our children too. Yes, our children’s pain surely makes us painful, but out of the pain, both our children and us will get into a deeper relationship with God. Our children will be more mature in Him and walking upright before God and men.
Isaac, Rebekah, Esau, and Jacob all lived together in God like Abraham, Sarah, and Isaac lived together in God. God blessed them, and they praised God. All things were good and heavenly.
However, a severe famine suddenly struck the land, as had happened before in Abraham’s time. So Isaac moved to Gerar, where Abimelech, king of the Philistines, lived, which reminds what Abraham did. Abraham left the promised land when a severe famine came. He should have remained in the promised land despite the severe famine. Abraham looked around for an earthly solution and found Egypt, which did not suffer from the same severe famine. Then he left the promised land and headed down to Egypt because he thought that his life would be better off in Egypt.
Isaac learned from Abraham, his father. As his father did, he left the land. Therefore, we should always be mindful that our children learn from us, whether good and bad. If our children learn only the good things from us, we don’t have to worry at all. Our children will not learn any bad things from us at all. Whatever we do, especially before God, nothing bad will pass down to our children, but it is not true. Sadly our children tend to learn quicker about our bad behaviors than telling them not to copy what we have carelessly or wrongfully done to God and men. In this world, bad and sinful things go quicker and farther than good and blessed things in God. Sigh!
Isaac’s first step was to go to Gerar. Isaac was not so radically brave as Abraham, who immediately dropped everything and left his native land, relatives, father’s family to follow God. Very few people could make such a quick and decisive decision as Abraham did: Abraham left without knowing where he went. What a faith! Yes, Abraham is worthy of being called the father of faith. Isaac, instead, made an incremental step toward Egypt without fully committing to Egypt. He stopped in Gerar, where Abimelech, king of the Philistines, lived. Abraham
Egypt was a dangerous place. Abraham expected a better life in Egypt, but he lost his wife to Pharaoh. Without God’s help, Abraham could have had permanently lost his wife to Pharaoh. However, God, who is always faithful to His children, did not let the bad thing happen to Abraham. God intervened Pharaoh, and Pharaoh returned Sarah to Abraham. Let’s ask. Why did God intervene and return Sarah to Abraham because Abraham was faithful to God under all circumstances or God was faithful to Abraham even Abraham was in Egypt? Because God was faithful to Abraham unconditionally.
God saw Isaac first stopped in Gerar to move down to Egypt, where his father, Abraham, greatly suffered. Would God let Isaac go down to Egypt and suffer greatly like his father? No, God did not allow it. God directly intervened in Isaac before going down to Egypt.
God appeared to Isaac and said,
“Do not go down to Egypt, but do as I tell you. Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. I will do this because Abraham listened to me and obeyed all my requirements, commands, decrees, and instructions.” (Genesis 26:2-6)
God appeared to Isaac to stop Isaac. As we all know, to stop our children is not easy, although they are about to do a harmful thing. Then what do we, as parents, usually do? We offer something attractive to our children to calm down our children’s hearts first and then hear us. God exactly did the same. God came to Isaac and gave a solemn promise to Isaac. God asked to look around where Isaac was. He was surrounded by people who are not his people because he was a foreigner in a foreign land. He could not find warmth, comfort, and peace from them, which only came from his own people. There was no share for Isaac at all because he was just a foreigner who were temporarily there and should leave again to another place. However, God promised Isaac that God would give all the lands that Isaac see, and make his descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky. Who could refuse such a blessing from God?
That was not all. God added more blessings on top of the above blessing of God. God would bless all the nations of the earth through Isaac’s descendants. What an amazing blessing! In other words, his descendants would become the source of all blessings for all nations on the earth. It could not come from a man, but only from God, who created heaven and earth. God blew Isaac’s mind away. Isaac was standing before God, hearing the unimaginably amazing blessing that he could even utter as a human being. Yes, God was and is capable, and God alone could and can give such an unimaginable blessing to one whom God loves.
By the way, what was the reason why God gave such an unimaginable blessing to Isaac? The short answer is because of Abraham, the father of Isaac. Yes, God blessed Isaac because of his father, Abraham. If Abraham was an ordinary man who just lived a long life and died, then would God have blessed Isaac with such an unimaginably grandiose blessing that one human could not hold? No.
Abraham’s faith was truly unique, separating from all others’ faith:
- Upon hearing God’s calling, Abraham did not hesitate, and he obeyed God’s command by leaving his native land, his relatives, and his father’s family to follow God while trusting in Him.
- Abraham left without knowing where he went.
- Abraham believed in God’s promise of being the father of great nations, although he had no son, and his wife was barren.
- Abraham obeyed when God stopped Abraham. Abraham brought his own solution of adopting his own servant as his heir to make God’s promise come true, which was his attempt to resolve his struggle in faith against the cold reality of not having his son and his wife’s barrenness.
- God finally gave Isaac by opening up the womb of his barren wife, Sarah. Abraham was so happy. Then God asked to offer Isaac to Him. Abraham did not resist, but he got up early. He took Isaac to the place where God would point out. He walked with Isaac to the place while trusting God, and he even believed God would resurrect Isaac.
We can list out more, but the above is more than enough to separate Abraham from the rest completely. Have we seen anyone like Abraham? None. At least, to me, none can be found like Abraham. Abraham’s faith is so great that none can even get close to his faith.
Then, was Abraham’s faith perfect? No. Abraham also failed like us, which makes His life and faith so much relevant to us. His imperfectness encourages us when we fall from our faith. Even Abraham, who is the father of all our faith, also failed in faith before God. Then what did God do for Abraham? God was with Abraham, and when he was truly in need, God was right next to Abraham to hold and lift him by His merciful and powerful hand so that Abraham stand firm on the faith of God again. Yes, even Abraham needed God and His mercy to continue his walk in faith. Indeed, it was God that Abraham could walk the walk given to him, and so we can.
When Abraham failed, what did God do to Abraham? God came to Abraham with His compassion and love that cannot be found anywhere on earth. God touched Abraham’s heart and encouraged Abraham by retelling God’s promise. Sometimes, Abraham struggled so hard. Why? The cold reality was getting bigger than God’s impossible promise. God, who knew everything inside and outside of human’s hearts, brought out Abraham to the night sky and showed God’s promise by pointing to the countlessly many stars. Abraham, then, believed, and God pleased with Abraham. That was how God walked together with Abraham, and today, God is walking with us by being right next to us, especially when we are hitting bottom. Let’s not forget God is always with us no matter what happens in our lives in failure, success, happiness, and sorrow, as God faithfully did to Abraham. God, whom we believe, has not a shifting shadow.
Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow. (James 1:17)
What’s the response of Isaac? Isaac believed and stayed in Gerar. He did not go down to Egypt. Isaac obeyed God’s command, which made God pleased.
However, in Gerar, Isaac had to live as a foreigner. Thus, his life in Gerar was not easy. The men who lived there asked Isaac about his wife, Rebekah, and Isaac immediately felt a threat.
Isaac replied, “She is my sister.” He was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “They will kill me to get her, because she is so beautiful.” Then the man moved on. Isaac thought that the situation was over, but it was not the case. Isaac’s lie quickly spread out and soon reached Abimelech, king of the Philistines.
But some time later, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out his window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah. It was not just a coincidence, but God’s plan. Before God, there is no coincidence. Isaac lied in fear, but God protected Isaac by making Abimelech see the reality that Isaac and Rebekah married. Let’s see how God protected Isaac, who was in fear.
Immediately, Abimelech called for Isaac and exclaimed, “She is obviously your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”
“Because I was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me,” Isaac replied.
“How could you do this to us?” Abimelech exclaimed. “One of my people might easily have taken your wife and slept with her, and you would have made us guilty of great sin.”
Then Abimelech issued a public proclamation: “Anyone who touches this man or his wife will be put to death!”
Based on the above interaction, who, do you think, is more fearful, Isaac or Abimelech? Abimelech was more in fear than Isaac. Abimelech was emotional and exclaimed whenever he conversed with Isaac. As soon as the truth, Abimelech issued a public proclamation to protect Isaac. He just blamed Isaac verbally. That’s it. All things were done by God, who was omniscient and omnipotent. God made Abimelech perform what God planned and prepared ahead for Isaac. Indeed, Isaac’s initial fear was groundless. Why? God was Isaac.
Isaac lied out of fear of something that did not exist, but God protected Isaac. Why? God loved Isaac. God, who dearly loved Isaac, patiently nudged Isaac to follow the paths of righteousness set before Isaac. How great God’s love was for Isaac!
Isaac made the same lie that of Abraham. Abraham’s lying behavior was passed down to Isaac. Sadly our sinful behavior does not stay with us, but it is inherited down to our children. Our Godly life before God is not just for us but also for our children.
Let’s summarize what Isaac did:
- Isaac prayed faithfully for his wife for his future son, as Abraham, his father, did.
- But, Isaac lied to save his life, as Abraham, his father, lied.
Isaac exactly modeled after Abraham, regardless of whether it is good and bad, which is the power to be a parent to our children. We directly influence our children’s spiritual lives. If we always and faithfully live in God by clinging to our Ever-Loving Father, then our children will cling to God throughout their lives. If we fall away from God in fear of this world, then our children will fall away from God in fear of this world. Therefore, what can we say? Don’t we love our children? Then let’s continue faithfully living before God in faith.
God, Our Ever-Loving Father, never leaves us alone. God will not leave our children alone. The most important inheritance that we want to pass down is our true and authentic faith in God — not just victories but also failures in faith — because God has always been faithful to us unconditionally. We are His Children, and so are our children. God dearly loves us, and so God also dearly loves our children, which is our faith and hope in Him.
See how very much our father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. (1 John 3:1)