Monday, December 10, 2007

Humanity In Sin Part 33 - Isaac and Abimelech

This is my personal summary of the preaching of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong on 28th October 2007 in Newton Life. It was preached in Chinese with English translation.

Passage: Genesis 26:1-22

This is the chapter in the Bible that talked about a few important events in Isaac’s life. Isaac was better than Abraham in some aspects, but he also inherited some of Abraham’s weaknesses. Isaac loved his wife from the first day he saw her and never had another wife. He was a consistent man all his life. Before marriage, we still have our freewill to choose. After marriage, we have given away our freedom and should stay committed to our marriage.

The Lord commanded Isaac not to go to Egypt although it was a better land than Canaan. When God commanded Abraham to leave Mesopotamia, it was the most beautiful city in ancient world. God wants him to live by faith, waiting in hope for His promises. Abraham’s faith is one that moves according to the guidance of God. God called him from the most civilized place to a place where the barbarians lived, from a large house to live in tents for 100 years. Afterwards, his son Isaac lived the same way. Everything he did influence his son.

Having a beautiful wife is a blessing, but it also comes with its problems. There were people eyeing on her and it gave a lot of burden and fear. Where there is blessing, there is also responsibility. With the blessing from God, there comes a cross to bear. With boldness, we should fulfil our responsibility. Paul Tilich wrote a book on “The Courage to Be”, which says that since we already exist, we need to have the courage to face our existence. But Isaac repeated the mistake of his father. He lied regarding his relationship with Rebekah. People treated him well because of Rebekah.

One day Abimelech saw how intimate Isaac was with Rebekah. Abimelech was a man of integrity and rebuked Isaac for lying about his relationship with Rebekah. Many Gentiles respond to the general revelation of God in ways that surpass the believers. Unbelievers might become very good believers in the future, we certainly should not look down on them. On the contrary, many believers live very haphazard lives.

Should it be that a Christian lie and get rebuked by a pagan? In difficult circumstances, do we forget to rely on God and turn to our own craftiness? Can we forget our faith and begin using our own wisdom? Bible records this to show us our weaknesses so that we can learn.

God continued to bless Isaac in that land. When he gained wealth, he continued to fear God. His spirituality was not shaken by material world. But the people were not happy with his prosperity and he was asked to leave the land.

Isaac did not quarrel. He was the son of peace. In his entire life he never fought with others. He went to another place and opened another well. After he dug it, it was taken away and he gave way too. He went to another place and dug another well again and it was taken away again. He did not retaliate. Finally he moved and dug a well the third time. This last time nobody took it away from him.

These were important events in Isaac’s life. A person who is always bullied might not fall in the end. Do not be revengeful when people treat you badly. No matter how people treat you, if God wants to bless you, you will not fall. May God teach us to set our eyes on Him and all other things in the world will be secondary to us.


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