Saturday, March 3, 2007

Genesis 24-26: Isaac

First of all, has it really been a week? Sorry about that. I stopped reading at night because it kept me up all night, and I kind of need sleep. So I'll have to find another time of day to read it, maybe after rehearsals and stuff in the evening. Better than sitting around watching TV.

Anyway, so this little segment is about Isaac. Here's how it goes:

  • Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for Isaac
  • Isaac marries Rebekah
  • Abraham dies
  • a list of Ishmael's kids
  • Jacob and Esau are born
  • Isaac goes to Gerar, the same place Abraham went in chapter 20
  • Isaac pulls the same "she's my sister" stunt that his father pulled, and gets in trouble for it
  • Isaac gets rich
  • Abimelech (the king) gets kind of scared of him and makes him leave
  • Isaac's people fight with the Philistines over some wells
  • Abimelech realizes it's not good to leave on bad terms with a really rich person so they make a covenant
First of all, I think Abraham must have trusted his servant an awful lot. He sent him all the way back to Abraham's old house in Mesopotamia (it says he went to the city of Nahor, which isn't in my Bible map, but I guess it's probably around Haran, which is a pretty far ways away from where Abraham is right now). And he's trusting his servant to find a wife for his son. That's kind of a big deal. Maybe his servant has really good taste, I don't know. Anyway, when the servant puts his hand under Abraham's thigh, that's some kind of covenant too. I don't remember any of the details about that custom though or else I'd elaborate. But suffice it to say, it was a really big deal.

What I find interesting about this servant is that he keeps calling God "the God of my master Abraham," and I'm not sure what he means by that. He seems to have quite a bit of faith in God himself because the first thing he does is he asks God to bring out exactly the right woman and give him a sign to know who she is. Why do you think he calls God "Abraham's God" instead of his God or just plain God? Is it because he's a servant, or is that a cultural thing, or something like that? I've just always found it curious.

This is the first time we see Laban. We'll see him again later. He seems like a decent person so far. Oh, and it really amuses me that they ask Rebekah if she'll go with the servant or if she wants to wait a few days. She doesn't really get consulted about whether she wants to go to Canaan and marry her cousin, but on the other hand, she doesn't seem opposed to it. Anyway, I think she ends up liking Isaac. It does say he loved her. And if I'm not mistaken, that's the first time it talks about a husband and wife loving each other.

I like the description of Abraham at his death: "Abraham breathed his last and died in a ripe old age, an old man and satisfied with life; and he was gathered to his people." Contrast that with the description of Sarah a few chapters earlier. Sarah lived and died; Abraham lived a full life and died satisfied.

The next thing I find interesting is that we find out Rebekah was barren. Everybody knows Sarah was barren and Rachel was barren, but we forget that Rebekah was too because the text doesn't make such a big deal of it. So the first time I read that I thought, "that's a little too coincidental for me." But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it wasn't just a really weird coincidence that the patriarchs all picked these barren women. I think God did it on purpose. I think I mentioned in a previous post, He's very particular about choosing people who don't seem right for the job. For example, when you're trying to build a nation whose decendants will be as numerous as the stars and the grains of sand, you generally don't do it through three women in a row who can't bear children. I think God does that to show that this isn't a fluke; this is Him bringing His plan into action.

Jacob and Esau are an interesting bunch. On the one hand, you have to kind of feel sorry for Esau that Jacob talked him out of his birthright by holding food in front of his nose. On the other hand, what kind of guy is so careless about his entire inheritance that he would trade it for a bowl of soup? I wonder sometimes if Esau is the guy they're making fun of in the caveman cartoons. But I'll talk more about the twins next time.

Isn't it funny that now Isaac is pulling the same lie that his father used - twice - when he goes to Gerar? (By the way, this probably isn't the same Abimelech that Abraham met; Abimelech is just Hebrew for "my father is king" or something like that). This is part of that whole cycle of distrust/deceit thing I was talking about earlier with Abraham. Parents, be careful what kind of example you set for your kids. They'll take it and run with it. Kids, be aware that your tendency as you grow up is to become like your parents. If you don't want to become like your parents, you have to be intentional about it.

God talks to Isaac and reiterates the Abrahamic covenant (the promise He made to Abraham) with him. What's funny is that God talks to Rebekah before He talks to Isaac, at least in the story.

By the way, I think a lot of the problems between Jacob and Esau occurred because their parents played favorites. Don't ever do that. All your kids need to be shown an equal amount of love - and notice that I said "shown." If you love all your kids equally but spend way more time on one than on the others, that's not going to cut it with them.

Okay, so that's about all I have. Next time I'm going to talk about Jacob.


prayinmommy said...

Let's see, the way Abraham's servant was described to me was that he was basically Abraham's chief of staff, so yeah, he probably would have known everybody well enough to pick out a wife.

Plus, he was given pretty specific instructions (go to my family and find a woman related to us), and he trusted God. I think he had about the same relationship with Him that Haggai did.

Interesting stuff, this. quite the lesson in how parents should treat their children. I've been working on taking this stuff to heart.

prayinmommy said...

Haha. I meant Hagar. Oops.