Saturday, December 4, 2010

Genesis 26:7-11 Bloopers Replay

God had asked Jacob to remain in Gerar for a while.  When the men of Gerar saw Rebekah, they asked Isaac about the woman with him.  Isaac told them that Rebekah was his sister, for he was afraid that one of the men would kill him in order to obtain this beautiful woman for himself. (v.7)

Like his father Abraham before him (Genesis 12:10-20 and 20:1-18), Isaac still needed to learn that the God of the covenant could protect and bless him wherever he went.  Whether he had been told the story of how a similar incident had occurred with his parents, or whether this was just his own fearful response to the situation, Isaac, too, tried to take upon himself the task of keeping himself safe.  Abraham had been deceptive, claiming that his wife Sarah was only his sister.  However, his claim was a half-truth:  Sarah was indeed his half-sister.  In Isaac's case, the pretense was a total lie, and was, of course, eventually uncovered:

"When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah.  So Abimelech summoned Isaac and said, 'She is really your wife!  Why did you say, "She is my sister"?'
Genesis 26:8-9 NIV

At least now Isaac answers in a truthful manner:  "Isaac answered him, 'Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.'  Then Abimelech said, 'What is this you have done to us?  One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.' " (Genesis 26:10 NIV)  It is interesting to see that this Philistine king had such a concern for God's standards, or at least a concern that he might be held responsible in some way.  It is also curious that the king believed that one man's sin could bring guilt upon the land as a whole.  Perhaps it is the fact that, as Romans 1:18-20 in the New Testament indicates, all people, (even nonbelievers) have an innate sense of what is right and wrong and are held responsible for their actions.  As Proverbs 14:34 states: 

"Righteousness exalts a nation,
but sin is a disgrace to any people."

Even Philistines.

Did you notice that Isaac had been there 'a long time' (v.8) before his deception was uncovered?  This reminds me of Numbers 32:23, where part of the verse says, " may be sure that your sin will find you out."  We may fool people regarding our sin for a while, but God knows all about it all along.  One way or the other, everything will come to light.

"So Abimelech gave orders to all the people:  'Anyone who molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.' " (Genesis 26:11 NIV)  Talk about concise and to the point!  Needless to say, it is only by God's favor upon Isaac and his household that Abimelech treats him favorably and does not punish him in some way for his deception. 

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