I have three grandchildren and two of them are around two years old and are only four months apart in age. Nia, the little girl, loves dolls and prams whereas Jonah, the little boy, loves cars, trucks and especially buses. It is fascinating to watch them play. I sometimes wonder, how much of this is down to the influence of the adults around them? Were they really ‘born this way?’ The debate is sometimes called ‘nature vs nurture’ and it has occupied the minds of people far cleverer than me. My opinion, for what it’s worth, is that there are differences in the way boys and girls/men and women think, they just look at things differently. But the way treat our children has a huge impact on the kind of people they eventually become. Of course, in the end, our children make their own choices; Adam and Eve had a perfect father and look what happened to them.
In today’s reading, Isaac repeats a mistake that his father made twice, was it just a coincidence, because he had inherited Abraham’s genes or was it learned behaviour?
It seems that Abimelech was a title and not a personal name so this Abimelech was probably the son of the Abimelech of chapter 20. In the midst of a famine; ‘The Lord appeared to Isaac’. Perhaps it is implied that he was on his way to Egypt when the Lord appeared to him. The Lord didn’t tell Isaac how he was going to protect him and his family from the famine but he did tell Isaac ‘I will be with you and will bless you.’ The covenant that the Lord had made with Abraham is then repeated for Isaac, The Lord promised Isaac vast numbers of descendants, the land of Canaan and wonderfully, to bless all nations through him. This last promise is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. It is another reminder that the Lord deals with people directly and not via their parents or family members.
As with Abraham, Isaac stopped living by faith and began to live in fear and was passing his wife off as his sister. Isaac must surely have known the family history and this must have influenced his course of action. As we’ve seen earlier, our children have to make their own choices when they come of age and there are plenty of examples of the children of godly parents rejecting God. But if we want our children to live for God, our first responsibility is to seek to set a godly example. It used to be popular for children to be sent to Sunday School, because their parents thought it was a good thing, even though they didn’t attend church themselves. If the parents failed to show any commitment to the Lord why would they expect it of their children?
In spite of Isaac’s failure, God is faithful; yes that’s another theme in Genesis and the Bible as a whole. God protected him and prospered him. He wisely avoided conflict by moving further away from the Philistines. The Lord appeared to him again and gave him those wonderful words; ‘Do not be afraid, for I am with you’. The passage concludes with Isaac worshiping the Lord.
All the way my Saviour leads me, what have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy, who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort, here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me, Jesus doeth all things well. (Frances J Crosby)