Day 112: Envy and Wealth

Genesis 26:12-17

Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year one hundred times what he planted. Yahweh blessed him. The man grew great, and grew more and more until he became very great. He had possessions of flocks, possessions of herds, and a great household. The Philistines envied him. Now all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped, and filled with earth. Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go from us, for you are much mightier than we.”

Isaac departed from there, encamped in the valley of Gerar, and lived there.

Now we see that Abimelech wasn’t all that good after all. God blessed Isaac far more than anyone around and it really bothered them. I consider envy to be the worst sin in the world.
It was this sin that caused both angels and mankind to fall. Satan and mankind thought it would be good to be like God and took action to make it happen. Many other sins have envy as their underlying motivation. People hate, steal, murder, slander and do all kinds of other things for envy and the love of money.

When a person really loves someone who is blessed by God they rejoice with them when they are successful. They don’t love them if they get jealous and desire to be separated from them. When God blessed Isaac in the presence of the Philistines, it cause the Philistines’ true motives to be exposed. They weren’t as interested in doing what God wanted as they were in being blessed financially by God. When God decided to bless someone else, they quickly turned on God’s man.

This desire to be rich by way of God is something that we need to address in our churches today. God does not promise riches to Christians here on earth. In fact, God promises that all of our riches here will be destroyed someday. Jesus told us that if we really want to be rich, we should give everything we have away and follow Him and we will be rich in Heaven. Since we are children of God, we are already rich. It’s only a matter of time.

Day 111: Like Father Like Son

Genesis 26:1-11

There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, to Gerar. Yahweh appeared to him, and said, “Don’t go down into Egypt. Live in the land I will tell you about. Live in this land, and I will be with you, and will bless you. For to you, and to your seed, I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your seed as the stars of the sky, and will give to your seed all these lands. In your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my requirements, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Isaac lived in Gerar. The men of the place asked him about his wife. He said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say, “My wife,” lest, he thought, “the men of the place might kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to look at.” It happened, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was caressing Rebekah, his wife. Abimelech called Isaac, and said, “Behold, surely she is your wife. Why did you say, ‘She is my sister?’”

Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘Lest I die because of her.’”

Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us!”

Abimelech commanded all the people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife will surely be put to death.”

Isaac, like his father, was promised protection from the Lord if he would obey, and like his father, he did obey and was protected. Also like his father, Isaac got scared and lied about his wife to save his own skin. I am sure that Isaac knew about what happened between Abimelech and his parents, but he still repeated their error.

This is a lesson for parents. Children learn to follow our patterns. It is much better to live what you believe than to just talk about what you believe. Our children may not learn from our mistakes, and may even repeat them. We need to live in such a way that we are examples of how to live.

It’s nice to see that Isaac was affectionate toward his wife even though he tried to save his own skin at her expense.

Isaac was not blessed because he was so courageous, but because He believed in God. He didn’t deserve what God promised, but when he heard God he believed and obeyed him. We are a bit different today than Isaac in that the Holy Spirit lives inside of us. We have more in common with a prophet than a man without the Holy Spirit like Isaac. Because of this, God expects us to be courageous. When more is given, more is expected and we have been given more than Isaac had because we are God’s own children.

God loved Isaac and it was demonstrated by the fact that he got caught telling a lie. Good parents don’t just let their kids get by with doing wrong. They take the time and effort
to correct them.

Day 110: First Things First

Genesis 25:27-34

The boys grew. Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field. Jacob was a quiet man, living in tents. Now Isaac loved Esau, because he ate his venison. Rebekah loved Jacob. Jacob boiled stew. Esau came in from the field, and he was famished. Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am famished.” Therefore his name was called Edom.

Jacob said, “First, sell me your birthright.”

Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die. What good is the birthright to me?”

Jacob said, “Swear to me first.”

He swore to him. He sold his birthright to Jacob. Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils. He ate and drank, rose up, and went his way. So Esau despised his birthright.

A person is a first-born because God chose them to be first-born. When we despise what God has given us, it shows something about us. Notice that Esau willingly chose to throw away what He was given by right. God didn’t take Esau from his rightful position by force. Even though God pre-determined that Esau would not be the leader, Esau also chose it. This is a pattern we see in the Bible. God chooses first, then we choose later. Both choose, but God is greater. This means that God chose what we would choose before we chose it. That’s how to understand predestination. That may not seem very helpful, but it does make sense by simple faith. We must accept that God is powerful enough to decide what we will decide. We know it as our own decision, but we can choose to recognize God’s power in the matter because of what He said.

As Christians we have chosen to accept God’s favor. Non believers choose to cast off all concern about the future and God’s favor for them. Even though we choose God’s way as Christians, we recognize and believe in His choice in the matter. We love Him because He first loved us.

Day 109: Why Am I Like This?

Genesis 25:21-26

Isaac entreated Yahweh for his wife, because she was barren. Yahweh was entreated by him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. The children struggled together within her. She said, “If it be so, why do I live?” She went to inquire of Yahweh. Yahweh said to her,

“Two nations are in your womb.
Two peoples will be separated from your body.
The one people will be stronger than the other people.
The elder will serve the younger.”

When her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. The first came out red all over, like a hairy garment. They named him Esau. After that, his brother came out, and his hand had hold on Esau’s heel. He was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

When you read Genesis, you can see how God uses real life to illustrate spiritual truth. I see God still doing that today in history. God not only knows the future, he plans it out to go exactly the way He intends for it to go. In a very real way, history is His story. The birth of Rebekah’s twins sound like an interesting story, but in view of the fact that God planned it and recorded it in the Bible for all future generations to read makes me consider why the story went this way.

We do know from what Paul says in the New Testament, that the twins represent the choice of God. He plans the future and before the twins were born, God makes it clear that the older will serve the younger. Once again, God set up a situation that required faith. From this story, we know that because Esau was born first, that God was saying that Jacob would be the greater of the two. God’s choice and plan will happen no matter what people think and we will see this play out again.

What struck me this time I read the story was the question of Rebekah. She could not figure out what was happening to her, so she asked God how to understand it. I like how the New King James puts it: “If all is well, why am I like this?” Rebekah’s question is the very same question that I have had as a Christian.

Fortunately, God gave Rebekah something better than an ultra-sound. He told her exactly what was happening so that she knew that everything was fine. As Christians, we may be confused about what is going on around us. James tells us in the New Testament that we should ask God for wisdom.

James 1:5 :

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach; and it will be given to him.

Our God is a God of answers. That doesn’t mean that God will answer every question we might think up. There are some things that we are not to know. Listen to what Jesus said to His disciples before He went to heaven.

Acts 1:7 :

He said to them, “It isn’t for you to know times or seasons which the Father has set within his own authority.

God will tell us how to be wise, but He may not tell us about the future or about things that are beyond our authority to know. There is so much that God has already told us in the Bible, that we really have nothing to worry about. God has provided more knowledge in the Bible and in other forms of study based on the Bible, that we would not be able to know it all, but we can trust Him to show us what we need to know when we ask.

Day 108: Prophetic Records

Genesis 25:12-20

Now this is the history of the generations of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s handmaid, bore to Abraham. These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to the order of their birth: the firstborn of Ishmael, Nebaioth, then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, Mishma, Dumah, Massa, Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their villages, and by their encampments: twelve princes, according to their nations. These are the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred thirty-seven years. He gave up the spirit and died, and was gathered to his people. They lived from Havilah to Shur that is before Egypt, as you go toward Assyria. He lived opposite all his relatives.

This is the history of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham became the father of Isaac. Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Paddan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian, to be his wife.

Here we have more recordkeeping as God records some genealogical information for us. You might ask yourself why God would record this information. After all there were more people in the world, and God had already said that he wouldn’t be blessing Abraham through Ishmael’s line. So, why did God include the list of Ishmael’s sons?

I was reminded of Genesis 17:20 where God promised Abraham that He would
bless Ishmael and make him the father of twelve princes. God has the names of those twelve princes recorded here proving that His word is accurate. God did this to bless Abraham. Notice that God had also promised Hagar, so at the same time God was fulfilling his promise to her as well. God doesn’t make promises and then hide. The results of what God promises are put on display because there is no one like God who can accurately predict the future without fail.

It is interesting that Isaac didn’t get married until he was 40. There have been thousands of years of genetic degradation since then. It’s usually considered too late to start a family at that age today because it isn’t common any more to live to be over 120. In the past 80 years or so, people have been living longer again in the United States. There were many in the west who believed God’s word and let it influence their lives. God has also given us gifts of knowledge based on the knowledge of His word that have allowed us to make scientific discoveries that have helped improve health. I believe that any person from any culture who believes in God’s word and allows God’s Spirit to influence their thinking, will have an effect on the quality of living in their country.

It is interesting that Rebakah was a Syrian. In a sense, Israel and Syria are relatives-in-law. The fact is all of us are relatives through Noah’s family. It’s good to remember that fact and continue to love all of our family members.

Day 107: Record vs. Story

Genesis 25:1-11

Abraham took another wife, and her name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. Jokshan became the father of Sheba, and Dedan. The sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. The sons of Midian: Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac, but to the sons of Abraham’s concubines, Abraham gave gifts. He sent them away from Isaac his son, while he yet lived, eastward, to the east country. These are the days of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived: one hundred seventy-five years. Abraham gave up the spirit, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full of years, and was gathered to his people. Isaac and Ishmael, his sons, buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, the son of Zohar the Hittite, which is before Mamre, the field which Abraham purchased of the children of Heth. Abraham was buried there with Sarah, his wife. It happened after the death of Abraham that God blessed Isaac, his son. Isaac lived by Beer Lahai Roi.

I was very blessed to have had Christian parents that took me to Church as a boy and one of the assignments that I had was to read Genesis. I thought that it was quite a chore at the time, but I had no idea how important that this would be to my whole life. One of the things I remembered about this time was how strange it seemed that it talked about things like polygamy without saying that it was wrong or bad. I already knew that other books of the Bible said this but I didn’t get why Genesis would just seem to gloss over it.

Now I see, with a more mature mind, that God didn’t gloss over anything! I also see that Genesis is a very honest book. It doesn’t try to hide the dirty details but puts everything under the exposure of truth. The cool thing about a book like the Bible is that you can actually follow the people groups through history, even up to the present in some situations. In the cases of polygamy, we often see that things didn’t work out in the end. This is the case for some of Abraham’s children too. The Bible may be saying that Keturah was a wife that Abraham took after Sarah died, but I am not sure. He would have been well over 100 at that time.

As I have said before, God loves everyone He has chosen to give life. He loves each one even if their parents made bad choices, but we see that he does not honor polygamy here. If you look at Genesis as a historic record instead of a moral story, you are forced to pay attention to the actions of God as recorded and how they relate to the actions of men. God always acts appropriately, and men occasionally act appropriately. God should be our moral focus, not Abraham or Isaac. Although they do some very good things, they also do some very bad things that are recorded in Genesis and polygamy is not honored by God in the record but actually becomes a problem.

It was interesting to me to notice that Isaac and Ishmael buried their father together. I think that Isaac is a type of Jesus and He appears to have had a way with bringing people together. It is good to see when the two families get along and I look forward to the day when Jesus brings the whole world together in the future.

Day 106: To The Master

Genesis 24:59-67

They sent away Rebekah, their sister, with her nurse, Abraham’s servant, and his men. They blessed Rebekah, and said to her, “Our sister, may you be the mother of thousands of ten thousands, and let your seed possess the gate of those who hate them.”

Rebekah arose with her ladies. They rode on the camels, and followed the man. The servant took Rebekah, and went his way. Isaac came from the way of Beer Lahai Roi, for he lived in the land of the South. Isaac went out to meditate in the field at the evening. He lifted up his eyes, and saw, and, behold, there were camels coming. Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she dismounted from the camel. She said to the servant, “Who is the man who is walking in the field to meet us?”

The servant said, “It is my master.”

She took her veil, and covered herself. The servant told Isaac all the things that he had done. Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah’s tent, and took Rebekah, and she became his wife. He loved her. Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.

Obviously, the wedding isn’t the most important part of a marriage. I think that’s one of the big problems in my culture. A beautiful wedding won’t make up for the complete lack of love and commitment that only a heart changed by God can. Rebekah had to leave her family behind and not really have much of a wedding; at least not much of one was mentioned here, but we do know one thing for sure. She was loved and Isaac was to keep his commitment to her in marriage. She was to be the mother of a large distant family someday that God Himself had chosen.

Symbolically, we as the Church are being brought to Jesus right now so that someday we will be married to Him. I believe that we are on the road under the keeping of the Holy Spirit. It is wise for us to make ourselves ready for the day that we meet our future husband just like Rebekah watched and asked about Isaac. How right it is for us to be looking intently down the road because that is our hope. Our hope isn’t here in this world even though the Holy Spirit has given us great gifts. Our hope is in that day when we get to be with Jesus.