ISAAC, A MAN OF
The marriage of Isaac to Rebecca has been often preached and taught in Christian circles. It is a beautiful story.
Marriages, in those days, were usually made by parents or representatives of both families. They were as business deals between the families. Usually, the groom's family chose the bride and then dealt with her parents. The business arrangements were made, and agreements were very binding. Sometimes, the groom suggested his preference... as Shechem to Hamor about Dinah (Genesis 34:4), and Samson for Delilah (Judges 14:2).
There were no ceremonies of marriage in those days. Removal of the bride from her home, to the home of the bridegroom, completed the arranged marriage. The original deal between the parents of the bride and groom was the agreement, and the completion of bringing the bride to the home of the groom was the completion of such arrangement. Some celebrated the marriage with a feast.
The reason that Abraham did not want Isaac to marry one of the Canaanites, was that the blood lines in the Canaanites was so defiled by the angelic interference into the human race. Arba, Anak, etc. had intermarried with the Canaanites so much that to marry into those Canaanites would bring great likelihood of corrupting the pure blood lines from Adam and Eve. The Messiah, Jesus, was to come and be direct lineage from Adam and Eve, so that He could die for all mankind. Abraham lived in an area where there were many giants in that day.
When people marry, they make a promise to each other and to God. This is a pledge and a vow. Since it is a vow to honor this union, any breaking of this union purposely is a sin.
"When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for He hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed."
Today, the purpose of the religious wedding service is to emphasize the spiritual side of marriage. The religious service does not make the marriage have a spiritual significance, for all marriages have the spiritual element whether the ceremony is religious or simply civil. God instituted marriage, and is present at all ceremonies. If the two entering into the marriage will remain submissive to God, the marriage will have a blessing upon it that will astound the world. The submission to God is not a one time event at the wedding. The two can stray from submissiveness to the Lord, and the marriage will cease to be blessed.
The wedding is a contract between God and two people who want to unite and become ONE. God witnesses every marriage, and unites each couple that weds. The two become ONE. This ONENESS comes when two individuals are united into this special relationship called marriage. It does not come by love alone. It only occurs and continues as the two totally give themselves to, and for, each other. Any straying from that ONENESS is destructive to the marriage. Some attempt marriage and want to have separate friends, separate interests, and separate religious faiths. These things make the marriage a TWO - who occasionally try to have a ONENESS.
The vows in marriage are meant to show the closeness and oneness of the union. The two are to share each others' total love, health, wealth, circumstances, and to give themselves totally to each other. This is a submissiveness to the other partner that is only possible in a marriage. When we enter marriage, we are to vow to work together as a unit, and not individually. The age long argument of "Who's the boss?" illustrates the breakdown of that concept. For the idea in that question is that there are TWO, and that ONE should be the BOSS. However, if there is only ONE, how can there be a BOSS?
It is like the two hands of our body, each hand is a separate entity, in one way; and yet - they are both part of the same body. There is no argument on which hand is the boss. The boss is the head of the body. In the same way, when two people join in marriage, they are part of the ONE body, and Christ is the head of the family, the two are like the two hands which join together in the work for the Lord, following His instructions.
The two hands being both part of the same body will work together, aid each other, care for the hurts inflicted on either, and each follow the instructions of the head of the body. One hand is usually dominant, and in most cases, a person is right-handed. The right hand, being then the most agile and strong, is more likely to lift the load, carry the burdens, and do the more difficult tasks. This teamwork was like the two who become part of one body, and work together then as one.
Rebekah is chosen here to be the bride for Isaac. "Rebekah" means "captivating." Nahor and Milcah were her grandparents. So Isaac was her second cousin. Her father was Bethuel (whose name means "separated unto God"). She had a brother, Laban, who we will find dealings with later.
Isaac awaited his bride near a fountain of water on the way to Shur. It was originally called Beer-la-hai-roi, by Hagar after her visit by the pre-incarnate Jesus. (Genesis 16:7-16, 24:62, 25:11)
Isaac then returns to the place where his father Abraham brought him to be offered upon an altar. There on one of the peaks of Moriah, Isaac goes to pray.
Prayer is vital in these last days, for we, the church, are the "body of Christ". We are asked to await the "bride of Christ", which is the NEW JERUSALEM. We are asked to await a bride, we have not seen, one that is from a land we have not seen, and to someday be united, with this bride, as our eternal home. Prayer will keep us in the relationship that we need to possess with our Lord, and we will soon find the work of the Lord in preparing for us, the eternal BRIDE. (See Revelation 21:1-2, 9-27)
Prayer is vital! Like oxygen to the body, prayer is vital to the soul. The body cannot exist without oxygen, and the soul cannot survive without prayer. Prayer is more than a privilege. It is a necessity.
" the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
Many Christians have come to the false idea that prayer is only a form or ritual. Somehow they have come to think that God does not really hear prayers of most people. However, God does hear prayer. It is His nature to listen to every word of our prayers.
"O Thou that hearest prayer, unto Thee shall all flesh come."
God is eager to hear our prayers. He heard:
Elijah when he prayed for it to cease raining, and later for it to rain...
Daniel when he prayed for help in the lion's den...
The three Hebrew children as they went into the fiery furnace...
The thief on the cross as he asked for mercy...
The Publican who asked for mercy near the temple...
The church as it prayed for Peter to be released from prison...
Abraham when he prayed for souls to be spared from Sodom...
Eliezer when he sought a bride for Isaac...
Isaac, here in Jasher 26, as he prayed for Rebecca to conceive...
Hannah when she prayed for a son...
Solomon when he prayed for wisdom...
Peter when he sank into the waves...
Blind Bartimaeus when he wanted his sight...
We can have confidence that God will hear our prayers. God listened to the prayer of Isaac.
"And the Lord heard the prayer of Isaac, the son of Abraham,
and the Lord was entreated of him and Rebecca his wife conceived."
I John 5:14-15
"...if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us:
And if we know that He hears us, whatsoever we ask,
we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him..."
The angel said to Hagar:
"the Lord hath heard thy affliction..."
"the Lord hath heard that I was hated..."
Of Israel in the bondage of Egypt:
Ex. 2:24, 6:5
"God heard their groaning..."
When Israel began worrying over the source of food in the wilderness:
"I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel..."
When the widow's son died, Elijah prayed, and:
I Kings 17:22
"the Lord heard the voice of Elijah..."
"The righteous cry and the Lord heareth..."
"The Lord heareth the poor..."
The Christians of the last days had better learn to pray. We live in the "perilous times" about which the Bible warned us. We had better keep in communication with the Almighty God in these dangerous times.
"...men ought always to pray...when He cometh, shall He find faith on the earth...?
A lack of prayer causes a lack of spiritual power. Therefore it is sin. We are all encouraged to pray, yet - we are all guilty of not praying enough. This grieves the Holy spirit. Many are afraid to venture a promise to pray more. They feel that they will be unable to maintain a great prayer life. God can save us from all sins, and the sin of prayerlessness is one that He can save us.
Prayerlessness shows a lack of faith. Lack of prayer comes because people do not believe that God cares and loves. If we truly believe that God loves us, and wants us to ask Him for our needs to be supplied, and that He longingly desires to commune with us... why don't we pray???
Many don't want to call prayerlessness - "sin." Our Consciences make us to feel miserable, if we call it "sin." But it is sin, because it is a reproach to God.
God has invited us to pray. He has told us to tell Him our needs and desires. He created us for fellowship. He redeemed us to restore that fellowship. Prayerlessness is neglecting this heavenly privilege.
Prayerlessness is the cause of the deficient spiritual life of many. To neglect prayer causes a Christian to get weaker spiritually. Prayerlessness damages the church's gatherings. God is waiting to hear our prayers so He can give and bless. Souls are not being converted in worship services as they should, because of prayerlessness. The worship services need an atmosphere of fervent prayer.
There are two ways of living. We may live after the flesh... or we may crucify the flesh and live after the spirit. The flesh wars against the spirit's desire for us to pray. The devil will aid the fleshly desire to not pray. He will tempt us to keep postponing prayer. He will encourage wandering thoughts. He will bring distractions. He will try to instigate unbelief. He will stimulate hopelessness.
We are commanded to pray.
I Thessalonians 5:17
"Pray without ceasing."
"Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit."
I Timothy 2:8
"I would that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath or doubting."
God has a controversy with many Christians today. They will not pray to Him as commanded.
"And there is none that calleth upon Thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of Thee."
How do we fight prayerlessness? First, we must learn to abide in the relationship with Jesus that we received at salvation. Resolution to pray more is not enough. Efforts of self will not be sufficient. We must learn to live in His presence. We must keep our relationship current, and then prayer will be natural and easy.
Don't measure your prayer life by the list of answered prayers. We are never instructed in Scripture to do that. Answers to prayer will come. The goal of prayer is the maintenance of a relationship. This is what we are to seek. We are told to:
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you..."
When our desire is the continued relationship with the Lord, He will see that we have all the answers to prayer. If we ask with the lusts of the flesh seeking only to receive from the Giver, instead of to receive the Giver... we will displease the Lord.
"Ye ask and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts..."
The church of these days is too often so wrapped up in theological indiscretions that they are missing the simple truths of prayer. Orthodoxy is trying to be so "sound" that they have become "sound asleep." Too many body churches and Christians are amidst a "deep frozen" religion. We need to get back to the simple truths of the gospel message. One of these is the relationship nature of the Christian faith. This makes prayer so easy.
I Peter 2:5,9
"...a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ... Ye are a chosen generation... that ye should show forth the praises of Him that called you out of darkness into marvelous light..."
The Christian that fails to have a relationship-based prayer life is failing to live up to his called vocation. Like Martha, we can be so distracted with the Christian serving, that we neglect the sitting at the feet of our Lord as did Mary. Do you get so busy with church, home, job, etc. - that you neglect your prayer and worship? There is a better way. Martha needed a gentle rebuke by the Lord, and so do many today.
True prayer and worship may begin with a heaviness and a burden from the experiences of life. Yet, if we continue in pouring out our hearts and hurts to a loving Savior, we will find our real joy and purpose in prayer. Isaac is a great example of trusting faith, based on a prayer life that was a relationship with the Almighty God.
"Isaac... received a hundred-fold in the same year..."
Isaac was greatly blessed for his prayer life, for his faith, and for his relationship with the Lord. Many today desire to receive great blessings from the Lord. Many ministries are built around showing people how to receive monetary, financial, earthly riches. Let us consider the subject carefully!
"Then answered Peter and said unto Him, Behold, we have forsaken all and followed Thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones... And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for My sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit eternal life."
Some like to quote this sermon of Jesus to promise 100 fold financial gain in this lifetime, but if you will note, it is in the millennium, and on the new earth that the 100 fold blessings are promised. Also, note that the disciples had given all, everything to their Lord and Savior. They did not offer Him 10%, or 23 1/3 %. The Lord wants us to give Him our all.
Note the event that preceded the question of Peter about what they would receive for giving all to Jesus.
"And, behold, one came and said unto Him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?... Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give it to the poor, and thou shalt have treasures in heaven; and come and follow Me..."
Jesus requires a totally committed life. He does not want partial converts, but He wants "living sacrifices." Too many in the Christian movement are like the rich young ruler, and want eternal life, but not at the cost of giving everything. I have no doubt that he would have made a sizeable gift to the Lord for eternal life. Jesus could have named 10%, or 23 1/3% Yet, the Lord said that this was insufficient. 100 % must be given, for eternal life.
To follow Jesus is not an avocation... it is not an additional challenge in life... it is a total life change, a totally new direction... a total commitment... We give our lives, our possessions, our talents, our whole being to Jesus when we become a true Christian. There are many counterfeit Christians out there who are not so committed... and definitely need this exhortation.
Note here, that JACOB could have stayed and enjoyed such wealth that Isaac had been given, but he went to live with Shem and Eber. However, Esau was not so spiritually driven, and his desire was to stay with the wealth, and to get all he could. The Lord told us to not be concerned with treasures on this earth. Our whole concept must be on heavenly reward, not earthly reward.
"At that time Isaac sent his younger son Jacob to the house of Shem and Eber, and he learned the instructions of the Lord, and Jacob remained in the house of Shem and Eber for thirty-two years, and Esau his brother did not go, for he was not willing to go, and he remained in his father's house in the land of Canaan. And Esau was continually hunting in the fields to bring home what he could get, so did Esau all the days."
Note the contrast between Jacob and Esau, one was interested in his spiritual development, the other was interested in receiving carnal riches... God noticed the difference, and God chose not to give the greatest blessings to Esau, for his self-seeking, and his desire for prosperity in this world.
"Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye; if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness... No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (riches). ...Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on... But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you..."
We are commanded to seek heavenly treasures. We are likewise commanded to not, definitely not, be concerned with gaining earthly treasures.
Why all the emphasis on 100 fold returns? How did we get so far from the message of the Lord?
"Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. For where you treasure is, there will your heart be also."
Our lives, and our spiritual conditions, are not to measured by our wealth. The amount of things possessed by each of us, are not a basis on judging a person's worth, or spiritual condition. To teach otherwise is a perversion of Scripture.
"And He said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness; for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth."
Too often, Christians, like Esau here, fall into the trap of being covetous, and want to gain riches. They flock to hear teachers who will tell them how to give "this much," and receive this greater much back. They are trapped with the sin of covetousness. Heavenly treasures are second thoughts to them, and the anxiousness for the rapture is also missing, or hindered, for they are bent on achieving a "heaven" on earth blessedness and prosperity here.
Isaac is an example of one who was greatly blessed financially. Many Christians are likewise so blessed so they may have the gift of giving. Yet, Isaac taught to Jacob, a desire to have the blessing of God, the spiritual relationship with God, so much, that earthly riches are no comparison for the heavenly rewards. Esau lost his birthright, lost the double portion, and lost many other blessings because he sought to advance in carnal, earthly riches.
Isaac blessed both Jacob and Esau with his example and teaching. He tried to teach them to look for the heavenly, for the eternal city of God. He tried to teach both about the importance of eternal, future reward, and not to be concerned with the present, carnal, and earthly riches of this world.
"By faith, Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come."