Insights and Inspirations from the life of Isaac
“When Isaac was 40 years old, he married Rebekah…Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was unable to have children. The Lord answered Isaac’s prayer, and Rebekah became pregnant with twins…Isaac was 60 years old when the twins were born” (Genesis 25:20-21, 26).
When people talk about waiting in the scriptures, they oftentimes reference Abraham, who waited 25 years for the birth of his son. However, nobody ever refers to Isaac and Rebekah who waited 20 years. I don’t know how I never noticed this. Perhaps its because there are only 7 short verses that cover a timespan of 20 years? Nonetheless, how crazy that Isaac also had to wait decades for a descendant?!
I’m sure Abraham had shared stories with his son about his time of waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise, the promise of descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. And Isaac had an example in his father of what it looked like to believe and trust the Lord. However, we aren’t given much information as to what those 20 years of waiting looked like for Isaac and Rebekah. If anything, we see that Isaac responded a little differently than Abraham, most likely learning from his father’s mistakes. He didn’t look to the world for answers, he didn’t attempt to make the promise come to pass through his own efforts or ideas, but instead sought the Lord. We are told that Isaac pleaded with the Lord on behalf of his wife. He knew God’s promise, he trusted that God would come through; so, when his wife couldn’t conceive, he went before the Lord and asked. Isaac went to the source.
It is interesting, though, that Isaac was tried in a similar way to his father. Why did God allow these men to wait 20 plus years for His word to come to pass? First of all, once they did bear children, it was abundantly clear to both of them that it was the Lord’s doing and not their own because it had previously been impossible through their own human efforts and wisdom. God was the One bringing His word to pass—there was no other explanation. Second, they saw the power of God to do the impossible, testifying to the fact that nothing was too hard for the Lord. But why else does the Lord cause us to wait? The Life Application Bible poses three possible reasons:
1) To deepen our insight into what we really need
2) Broaden our appreciation for His answers
3) Allow us to mature so that we can use His gifts more wisely
Never stop asking and going before the Lord. When we stop asking, I think the temptation to take matters into our own hands sets in. “God obviously isn’t coming through, so I should do something.” But the act of continually going before the Lord and looking to Him for provision keeps us in a place of dependency, acknowledging the fact that all that we have need of is found in Him and admitting the truth of our desperate need for Him. So keep pleading. Don’t look elsewhere for answers. He may give us what we ask, or He may not. He may answer immediately, or He might call you to wait. But don’t grow weary. Remain at His feet.
I think this passage in Genesis 25 reminded me of the importance of fervent prayer. To keep asking and pleading, no matter the length of time. I think it also gave me new insight on the implications of failing to continue in prayer. Why do I stop praying for certain things? Do I not believe that God will do it? Do I think it will be accomplished in another way? Do I not think it to be that important? I am especially convicted in the area of praying for the salvation of souls. Do I believe that people will be won over by persuasive speech or clever arguments alone? Do I think my “good works” will lead them into the kingdom? Of course those things are useful tools in leading somebody to the Lord, but only God can open the eyes of the blind. Only He can change the heart of man. “’Not by might, nor by power, but my My Spirit,’ declares the Lord” (Zechariah 4:6).
“When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him” (Genesis 26:12).
This was the very first verse after the account where Isaac lies to Abimelech and deceives him because he was fearful for his own life. He had just sinned, just failed, just fallen short and yet we see in the very next verse a demonstration of the abundant grace of God. He didn’t deserve the blessing; he had done nothing to earn it, and yet God poured out. He even harvested 100 times more than what he had even planted. Literally, didn’t do anything to earn it (he hadn’t even planted the extra seed), yet God gave. Yes, we have consequences for our sin, but may we never lose sight of the heart of God and the fact that His grace is always greater than our sin. “God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant (Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more). So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).
“Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. ‘This is our water,’ they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means ‘argument’). Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means ‘hostility’). Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means ‘open space’), for he said, ‘At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land’” (Genesis 26:19-22).
Isaac and his men labored and dug a well, only to have others come and claim it as their own. So they moved on and built another, again with labor and sweat and lots of hard work. But again, they encountered conflict, so they abandoned it and dug yet another well. They didn’t fight for the first two wells; they didn’t demand their rights arguing that they had been the ones to labor for it, so they deserved it. They did not destroy relationships with those in the land that they were now dwelling with; they simply walked away and continued working and laboring.
As Americans we are all about our rights, but is it really a biblical or Christ-like attitude to demand our rights? At what cost? Would it be for the sake of the gospel, salvation, and God’s glory that we stand our ground and fight? Or are we doing so because we deserve it (whatever it may be)? “We labored for it, it was the work of our hands; you can’t just come in and take what you didn’t labor for.” Was it right for the shepherds from Gerar to claim the wells and take them from Isaac? Probably not. And yet, we don’t see Isaac fight to keep them. He was willing to let them go. He was willing to lose and be humiliated, trusting that the Lord would provide a space for them. Are you too proud to let go, to lose, to be taken advantage of? Or would you be willing to endure those things for the sake of Christ, for the furtherance of His kingdom, and for the proclamation of the gospel? Be aware of the things you are fighting for. Do they matter in light of eternity?