Genesis 24-26…Isaac marries Rebekah, Abraham dies, Jacob and Esau are born to Isaac and Rebekah, and Isaac interacts with King Abimelech.
Abraham sends his senior servant out to find a wife for Isaac. He gives specific instructions, and the servant demonstrates a model of prayer encouraged throughout the Bible. Since it was unknown what the will of the Lord was with regard to the specific person Isaac should marry, Abraham’s servant prays this prayer in Genesis 24:42:
“Lord, God of my master Abraham, if you will, please grant success to the journey on which I have come.”
This is exactly how we’re instructed to pray in James 4:13-17, particularly when we don’t know what the Lord’s will is:
“Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil. If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.”
The Lord answers the prayer of the servant, and Rebekah is brought back to marry Isaac.
Abraham dies in chapter 25, and then Rebekah and Isaac have twin sons; Jacob and Esau. The doctrine of election is revealed in Genesis 25:23, where the Lord says to Rebekah:
“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the elder will serve the younger.”
God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. The doctrine of election is true, and good, and is often resisted and/or denied because it puts into perspective how small and helpless we are to save ourselves. Based on what we’ve seen so far in Genesis, it shouldn’t surprise us that election is resisted by humans. We like to think we’re ok, and that we don’t need to be rescued. However, a right view of the human condition, allows for a right view of the doctrine of election. This teaching is abundantly clear throughout scripture, and Paul further explains in Romans 9:10-13:
“Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac. Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad – in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls – she was told, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.'”
It’s important to note that the elect will repent and believe in Christ and produce spiritual fruit, and that is how we know who is saved. Praying the sinner’s prayer, responding to an alter call, and/or being baptized means absolutely nothing unless there is a change. There is nothing magical about any of those things, and we need to be sure we’re not relying upon them for assurance of our salvation.
In Genesis 26, Isaac does the exact same thing his forefathers did; he lies because of his fear of man, and his unbelief. He tells King Abimelech that Rebekah is his sister, and the King banishes him from Gerar. What happens next is truly remarkable, and shows once again what God is like. Genesis 26:23-24 tells us:
“From there he went up to Beersheba. That night the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.’”
God is unbelievably patient with His people. He has been patient with us too, consistently pulling us back to Himself, and preserving us for the day in which we will see Him face to face. One way to grow in godliness, is to approach our relationships with this perspective: Since God is patient with us, and since our own offenses against Him are far worse than those against us from others, we should exercise patience and humility with those offending us.