Friday, January 9, 2009

Like Father, Like Son

SOAPSOAP {Scripture, Observation, Application, Prayer}:

1 There was a famine in the land, as bad as the famine during the time of Abraham. And Isaac went down to Abimelech, king of the Philistines, in Gerar.

2-5 God appeared to him and said, "Don't go down to Egypt; stay where I tell you. Stay here in this land and I'll be with you and bless you. I'm giving you and your children all these lands, fulfilling the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. I'll make your descendants as many as the stars in the sky and give them all these lands. All the nations of the Earth will get a blessing for themselves through your descendants. And why? Because Abraham obeyed my summons and kept my charge—my commands, my guidelines, my teachings."

6 So Isaac stayed put in Gerar.

7 The men of the place questioned him about his wife. He said, "She's my sister." He was afraid to say "She's my wife." He was thinking, "These men might kill me to get Rebekah, she's so beautiful."

8-9 One day, after they had been there quite a long time, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out his window and saw Isaac fondling his wife Rebekah. Abimelech sent for Isaac and said, "So, she's your wife. Why did you tell us 'She's my sister'?"

Isaac said, "Because I thought I might get killed by someone who wanted her."

10 Abimelech said, "But think of what you might have done to us! Given a little more time, one of the men might have slept with your wife; you would have been responsible for bringing guilt down on us."

11 Then Abimelech gave orders to his people: "Anyone who so much as lays a hand on this man or his wife dies."

12-15 Isaac planted crops in that land and took in a huge harvest. God blessed him. The man got richer and richer by the day until he was very wealthy. He accumulated flocks and herds and many, many servants, so much so that the Philistines began to envy him. They got back at him by throwing dirt and debris into all the wells that his father's servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham, clogging up all the wells.

16 Finally, Abimelech told Isaac: "Leave. You've become far too big for us."

Are we doomed to repeat the failures of our fathers?

Twice Abraham deceived others, claiming that his wife Sarah was actually his sister. Both times, he reaped great wealth as a result of his deception and was later cast out of town when discovered. Both times he managed to stay in God's favor.

Abraham's son Isaac returned to the very scene of the crime -- to Abimelech, king of the Philistines -- and committed the same act of deception. When questioned about his wife Rebekah, he told them she was his sister. When caught and confronted by Abimelech, Isaac said he was afraid he would be killed for his wife.

Isaac, like his father, amassed great wealth in Abimelech's kingdom. He was protected from harm by order of the king, and finally one day was asked to leave.

The man who would soon father the nation of Israel saved his own life -- and that of an entire future nation -- by his one simple act of deception. Why? Why did God reward Abraham and Isaac in spite of their sin?

God is merciful. God is forgiving. And God had a plan. Through Abraham and Isaac, God established the land of His people -- Israel. How different would the world be today had God held a grudge against Abraham or Isaac? God uses everything for his purpose -- good and bad. Even our sins can be used by God to achieve His plan.

Father, I know it's not a license to sin. But it is so awesome that You can take my mistakes and shortcomings and achieve great things from them. Use me, Lord, according to Your purpose.

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