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Through the Whole Bible: Genesis 26

For the three of you who have suggested I consider professional writing, keep in mind that real writers have to make deadlines. I’m not so good at that—I make my school ones (usually) and my weekly deadline of every Sunday. Right now, I set the deadline of posting every day which is the best I seem to be hitting.

Genesis 26 (link) is a quick glimpse into the life of Isaac. We see a few vignettes, and they’re not all positive. From the end, working backwards, there’s the solution to a quarrel over wells, a quarrel over wells, and Isaac trying to pass Rebekah, his wife, as his sister. Nothing…oh, wait, that sounds both not right and familiar, does it not?

Abraham pulled that stunt: twice, actually, in Genesis 12 and Genesis 20. It was wrong when Abraham did it, and it didn’t get any righter by the time Isaac does it.

There is our first lesson: right and wrong really do not change from generation to generation. Neither does the fact that a previous generation did something wrong excuse us in borrowing their wrong behavior. It is here that we will concentrate our consideration.

Look at the opening verse, Genesis 26:1. There is a famine in the land. Again, really, when you look at the text, it’s another famine, like the one during Abraham’s day. Isaac’s reaction to the famine is similar to Abraham’s: pack and move elsewhere.

How do we handle trouble?

First: we need to understand that trouble, once dealt with, comes back. There is a cyclical nature to life. Bad times come, bad times go, and then good times come and good times go. How we handle those comings and goings is important. It’s more important than what things actually happen.

Second: our reactions need to be informed by a clear understanding of right and wrong. This is not that we need a better conscience, but rather that we need to seek a Bible-grounded conscience. It is not simply that we copy the morality of days gone by. That can not ever be our simplistic answer.

Third: this is not in condemnation of those who have gone before, but simple reality. Each generation makes its own mistakes, and it is between the individuals of that generation and God Almighty to sort out correction and forgiveness. We have to learn and grow, try to make new mistakes instead of rehashing the old ones.

It is not that right and wrong change. It is, instead, that humanity, with our fallen nature, mistake right and wrong quite often and we have to grow in our understanding of God through His Word or we’ll keep making the same mistakes.

Like Isaac does here. The famine comes, and all of the faith, all of the trust, all of the knowing right and wrong that should have happened in his life, they don’t happen. He’s captured the wrong lesson from his father, not the lesson of trust but the lesson of self-reliance. He’s copied this behavior: watch your own back.

We cannot live that way in the face of famine or other disaster. Certainly, we bear the responsibility of obedience and stewardship, but those are to be exercised in faith. Think about this: Isaac is wealthy before the famine. He’s wealthy after the famine. What was wealth in those days?

Livestock.

He does not move to survive. He moves to protect his excess fortune. He acts not in faith but self-promotion. And he lies to accomplish it. He puts sheep ahead of his wife to accomplish it.

What about us? How often do we choose that line?

Let it stop with you. Let it stop with me: no further to copy old misunderstandings and habits just because they were the previous generation’s behaviors. The believer in Christ is to be driven by the Word of God alone. The Word that commands us to honesty and to faithfulness, the Word that commands us to love and to faith.

That is the message we desperately need to grasp.

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