Mightier Than We: Isaac’s Fear

a. Isaac Lies 7. Just like with Abraham, God has given everything that Isaac needs to confront the trial that is coming. And Isaac’s first response is to obey. But what happens when things get real. When the pressure is on Isaac turns to a coward like his father. The people began to ask about his gorgeous wife and he says, “she’s my sister.” Isaac is a liar. At least Abraham was only telling a half-truth. Rebekah is not his sister or even his half-sister. AW Pinks suggest there are at least two things we can learn from this. “First, the readiness with which Isaac followed in the way of Abraham suggests that it is much easier for children to imitate the vices and weaknesses of their parents than it is to emulate their virtues, and that the sins of the parents are frequently perpetuated in their children. Solemn thought this! But, second, Abraham and Isaac were men of vastly different temperament, yet each succumbed to the same temptation. When famine arose each fled to man for help. When in the land of Abimelech each was afraid to own his wife as such. Are we not to gather from this that no matter what our natural temperament may be, unless the grace of God supports and sustains us we shall inevitably fall! What a warning!” b. Abimelech Responds 8-11. As Isaac and Rebekah are pretending to not be married Abimelech catches them laughing. This is a little play on words because the root of the name Isaac and what Abimelech sees them doing are the same. The context matters for this word in Hebrew. The exact word is used about Ishmael laughing at Isaac. In that case, it is a laugh of mockery. Between Isaac and Rebekah, it is a playful laugh. It is a laugh that is shared between those in love. Upon seeing this Abimelech does not ignore the situation but immediately acts. He calls Isaac in and questions him about his relationship with Rebekah. Isaac admits that he lied because he was afraid. The king comes back with, “What is this you have done to us?” This Abimelech does not need to wait for a dream like his predecessor. He is ready to make a public decree. “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.” It’s surprising that this Philistine king has such a high view of marriage. He knows that if someone violates the sanctity of the marriage vow it brings guilt and not just guilt on the individual but on, as he says, “us” meaning the people of Gerar. Abimelech warns the people that if they tried to do anything to disrupt this marriage they would receive the death penalty. A man without the Bible, without the covenant promises of God, shows more respect and honor for Genesis 2:24 than Isaac does. That’s just sad, but it proves what Paul said in Romans 2:15 that the work of the law was written on Abimelech’s heart, while his conscience was also bearing witness, and his thoughts had excused him from this sin.

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