Deja Vu Again

Tonight we are going to look at the life of Isaac. Genesis 26 is the only chapter in the Bible that is dedicated entirely to Isaac. Even though he lived longer than any of the other patriarchs in Genesis, very little is said about him.

One preacher said that Isaac was the ordinary son of an extraordinary father, and the ordinary father of an extraordinary son. That's probably a fair description of this guy. He was neither hero nor villain, neither great nor bad. He was just kind of ordinary. Kind of normal.

It seems like the peak of Isaac's life came when he was just a boy and went with his father up on mount Moriah to be offered. The peak of his life spiritually came when he was just a kid. As sad as that sounds, there are many people who served God as a teenager or who made a commitment to God at a camp when they were 14 and that was the extent of their spirituality. They just sort of lumber on after that.

Let's read Genesis 26 and I'll give you a little bit of an outline.

"[Gen 26:1-35 KJV] 1 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 2 And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; 5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. 6 And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 7 And the men of the place asked [him] of his wife; and he said, She [is] my sister: for he feared to say, [She is] my wife; lest, [said he], the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she [was] fair to look upon. 8 And it came to pass, 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] sporting with Rebekah his wife. 9 And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she [is] thy wife: and how saidst thou, She [is] my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. 10 And Abimelech said, What [is] this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. 11 And Abimelech charged all [his] people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death. 12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. 13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. 15 For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. 16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. 17 And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. 18 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. 19 And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20 And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water [is] ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. 21 And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. 22 And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. 23 And he went up from thence to Beersheba. 24 And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I [am] the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I [am] with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake. 25 And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well. 26 Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army. 27 And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? 28 And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, [even] betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; 29 That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou [art] now the blessed of the LORD. 30 And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. 31 And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. 32 And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water. 33 And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city [is] Beersheba unto this day. 34 And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: 35 Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah."

I'm not going to work all the way through this passage and tell you what happens. In many ways, it parallels the life of Abraham. Isaac had to deal with the ups and downs of life just like his father and he had to deal with the lost world just like his father. This passage just tells that story.

The way I want to approach this is by talking about what Isaac got from various sources. So, four points: What Isaac got from his dad, from the world, from God and for himself. Under each point I think we'll see two things Isaac got.

Let's pray and we'll jump in.

The first thing I want us to see is:

  1. What Isaac Got From His Dad It's obvious that Isaac got a lot from his dad. You almost see as much of Abraham in this passage as you see of Isaac, even though Abraham is dead. It's a case study in how much of an impact we can have on our children.

Notice first that Isaac got faith from his dad.

In verse 2, God appears to Isaac and warns him not to go to Egypt during a famine. That's Abraham's God and it was obviously Isaac's God too. God reminds Isaac of the promises he had made to Abraham and warns him about going to Egypt.

He tells him to stay in Gerar and that God will take care of him there. Then, throughout the chapter we see Isaac following God. He's not always successful at it, but at least he's trying.

I recently read of a study where they followed sets of identical twins who were separated at birth. The twins had the exact same DNA but were raised in different homes. The result of the study was that in almost every area, much more was determined by nature than nurture. Your DNA has a bigger impact on who you become than who raises you. But one big exception was religion. People almost always got their religion from their parents.

Isaac was raised in the home of godly Abraham and followed his Father's god. Our children won't nescessarily follow our God. Lot's of godly kings of Israel had wicked sons. Eli was a godly man - Hophni and Phinneas were hellions. David was a godly man, Absolom was wicked as Ahab. Even Isaac's two sons weren't both godly. But we do have a huge influence on our kids. They see our faith. They see how we live for God and they can follow that.

The second thing Isaac got from his dad was his dad's failures.

When you read the first part of this, it's like Dejavu. Abraham faced a famine two times and both times he repeated the same sin. He lied about his wife. He said she was his sister. Isaac in this passage does the same thing to the same kings, he says Rebekah is his sister.

It's only when the king sees Isaac flirting with Rebekah that he figures it out and chastises Isaac for it. But it's the exact same sin that Abraham was twice guilty of.

The lessons should be obvious. Our kids can emulate what's best about us, but they can also emulate our bad habits. We can be their example and we can be their excuse. Let's strive to be their example.

So that is what Isaac got from his dad. Let's look secondly at

  1. What Isaac Got From The World Isaac went to Gerar. That was a sort of half-way house for Egypt. It was the land of the Philistines. He had to deal with the same king - Abimelech - that his dad did.

His father had made a treaty with Abimelech. Isaac should have had free access to all of Abimelech's lands. But the Philistines got jealous of Isaac and started agitating him.

The way this played out was in wells. Abraham dug some wells and Abimelech's men would go and fill the wells in.

Abimelech's men are a great picture of the world, and what Isaac got from them is what we can expect to get from the world.

First, he got Rejection

When those men filled in his wells, they were making a statement. They were saying "we don't want none." We don't want or need what you have.

The wells are a great picture of Jesus. Remember, Jesus compared himself to a well that you could drink from and never thirst again. Some commentators say that Abraham digging these wells was almost an act of evangelism. He was trying to help people - yet they filled them in. They didn't want anything to do with Abraham's God or Abraham's wells.

Church, we have to expect that we are going to get some rejection from the world. Jesus was rejected when he was on this earth by far more people than received him. This world has never been a friend of grace. Some will believe, but many - sadly most - will fill in the wells.

The second thing Isaac got from the world was Resistance

Isaac wasn't just using Abraham's well, he was trying to dig his own, and twice he dug wells only to have the Philistines, who were supposed to be his friends, come back behind him and fill them in.

You can see how frustrated Isaak was in what he named these wells: He named one of these wells Esek - which means contention. He named one Sitnah which means contempt and he named one rehoboth which means something like they just don't care.

Isaak was frustrated by the resistance of the world. They didn't just reject what he was doing, they actively opposed it.

Church, as we go through the world as pilgrims, they are going to oppose us too. They are going to try to get in the way of gospel preaching. They are going to try to make it difficult for Christians to live out their faith. That's part of living in this world.

So Isaac got faith and failures from his dad, he got rejection and resistance from the world. Let's look next at...

  1. What Isaac Got From His God This passage actually starts with God giving something to Isaac. In verse 2 God appears to Isaac and says

"Go not down to Egypt"

Isaac's life was hard with the Philistines, but it would have been much worse in Egypt. God was kindly giving him warning.

God also gives us a lot of warnings. We don't usually think of warning as a gift, but they are. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do for people is to show them where the trail they are on ends, or tell them the bridge is out.

We have a whole book here of warnings and lessons that God gives us. We can be wise and we can listen to those warnings. Or we can be foolish and ignore them, but we cannot turn and say to God that He never told us. It's right here for us in His word.

The second thing that Isaac got from God was blessing. Because Abraham believed God and Isaac believed God, God blessed him. Everything Isaac touched was blessed. When he planted, he got an incredible yield. When he dug, he found water. God was blessing him.

Again, the lesson here is pretty obvious: When we heed God's warnings, He blesses us. When we honor and respect our parents, when we seek after wisdom and run from the world, blessings come from that. When we ignore God's "the bridge is out" signs, well, most of the time we go off the cliff and are hurt from it.

One more thing I want to show you in this story and that is:

  1. What Isaac Got For Himself Even though Isaac was Abraham's son and he got a bunch of blessings from being Abraham's son, he couldn't let Abraham live his life for him.

Isaac had to make his own decisions. He had to decide whether he was going to obey God. He had to decide whether he was going to lie about Rebekah. He had to decide the kind of person he was going to be.

Our parents might be great Christians or they might be hellions - it doesn't matter - we each have to stand before God and answer not for what our father or mother did, but for what we have done. We will each give an account for our own actions. We will be responsible for us and only us.

Listen folks, that's kind of a liberating thing to grasp. You aren't responsible for the hand you are dealt in this life, you are responsible for how you play it. You could come from total privilege and squander it - plenty of people did that in the Bible. You could also come from a horrible situation and live for God - people did that too. But it's up to you what you do with Jesus and what you do with God.

The second thing we see is Isaac had to dig his own wells. He inherited some of the wells from his father, but he still had to dig his own.