Gen. 26:1-3 – “Now there was a famine in the land--besides the earlier famine of Abraham's time--and Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines in Gerar. The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, 'Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.'”
- During a famine recorded in Gen. 12:10, Abraham (then called Abram) fled to Egypt for survival. A generation later, Isaac stopped in Gerar, which was in southern Canaan – on the way to Egypt. It‟s unclear if God‟s appearance stopped Isaac‟s flight to Egypt or merely confirmed his decision to linger in the Philistines‟ capital. Regardless, this is God‟s first recorded appearance to Isaac, and Abraham‟s son received personal direction and promise from El-Shaddai! How exciting, how fulfilling! Yet I wonder if the holy encounter was at all tarnished by self-satisfaction that he‟d done it “right” – without leaving the land of Promise as his father had? When we compare ourselves to others, we judge; and when we judge, we lose – because Jesus is the only One, perfect Judge.
- In God's infinite understanding, He emphasized that Isaac's future blessing had been secured by Abraham’s explicit obedience to God's EVERY requirement, command, decree and law. Had Isaac questioned his father's life of obedience? Think about the decisions in Abraham's life and how they would have affected Isaac. Might even Abraham's son held bitterness in his heart against his father? How often does God ask us to release the past into His all-sufficient hands? Granted, not every decision people around us make is based on godly obedience. However, God HAS promised that every circumstance works for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). Are we then so different than Isaac? We, too, have a promise based on grace.
- If these words sound oddly familiar, it's because Abraham gave the same answer in the same city for the same reason – one year before Isaac's birth (Gen. 18-20). This is one of those nauseous, humble pie experiences, when hopefully Isaac was wearing his father's moccasins instead of strutting around saying, “I would never...” Because he most certainly DID tell the same lie. Actually, Sarah was Abraham's half-sister, which meant his was a half-truth. Isaac's was ALL lie.
- It's humiliating to be publicly chastised for our sins, and granted – Isaac should not have lied. But what if my theory is correct, and Isaac had been thinking he was a man above his father's penchant for deception? What if Isaac thought, I would never…and then he did? In such a case, Isaac's first mistake occurred before the lie. His first sin was the spiritual pride of thinking, I would never.
- Abraham lied to a Philistine king named Abimelech (Gen. 20). Isaac faces either the same man (over 75 years later) or perhaps his son or grandson. Regardless, Abimelech is wise enough to recognize two things. 1) The God of Abraham and Isaac is mighty enough to protect them – so Abimelech protects them; and 2) being an astute judge of human nature, Abimelech realizes his Philistine people might be angry about the deceptive foreigners and gives strict orders about their safety. He doesn't fall prey to the assumption that his people would never… It's good to be optimistic but not when safety is at stake.