God is Sovereign Despite Our Faults

The account of Isaac and his family found in Genesis 25-27 is very interesting when discussing the importance of God’s sovereignty, man’s free will, and man’s sinfulness.

We read very little about Isaac in the Genesis account of the Hebrew patriarchs. We know he is the promise given by God to Abraham (Genesis 21). We see that God tests Abraham by requiring that he sacrifice Isaac , and how God provides a substitute when Abraham is faithful (Genesis 22). We read the account of Abraham sending his servant to find Isaac a bride (Genesis 24), we read about his dysfunctional family, and some of his poor decisions in Genesis 25-27.

In the account of the birth of Isaac’s sons, we briefly see that Rebekah has been without child and Isaac is petitioning God to bless them with a child (Genesis 25:21). This seems like a common occurrence with the early patriarchs. God wanted them to understand that he was building this family and the future nation of Israel was by his work.

God is faithful to his promise, and Rebekah becomes pregnant with twins! I am sure Isaac and Rebekah felt like they may have prayed a little too hard. Of course this was before ultra sound and I am uncertain if they were able to distinguish two heart beats, but the twins movements alarm Rebekah. And God comforts them with the news of twins (Genesis 25:22).

With this news there is also revelation of what will take place in the boys future. God actually chooses one of the boys, before birth, to continue his covenant with and also shares his plans with the expecting couple. No mystery here, God’s sovereign plan is clear, the second born will be used by God to bring about his promises to mankind (Genesis 25:23).

We often discuss (and sometimes argue) the roles of God’s sovereignty and our own free will. I think this account is an excellent example of how God’s sovereignty is supreme despite the fact we have free will.

The author of Genesis wrote that Isaac favors Esau (the first born) over God’s chosen twin, Jacob. We also see that Rebekah favors Jacob (Genesis 25:28). This favoritism creates a lot of resentment within the home and should be a warning to all parents on the impact we can make on our children’s futures both positive and negative.

It is apparent that Isaac attempts to give Esau the eldest son’s birth right despite God’s revelation. However, Jacob manages to swindle the birth right from his brother with what must have been the best bowl of soup, ever (Genesis 25:34). Then, Jacob tricks his father, with his mothers insistence, to giving him Esau’s blessing as well (Genesis 27).

From the account in Genesis it is clear that Isaac favored Esau so greatly that he was willing to defy God’s will. Twice Jacob manages to secure what was ordained by God as his, through deception. Despite Isaac’s unfaithfulness in this matter, God was faithful to his promise and again we are left in awe of his ability to orchestrate the outcomes of history.

 

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Before God

 

After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here am I.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” Genesis 22:1, 2

Have you ever wondered why God chose Isaac to test Abraham’s faith? God could have tested Abraham through his wife, his herds, or his possessions (think of the rich young ruler who Jesus spoke with). But God asked for Abraham’s son. The writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us Abraham’s faith was made evident by his willingness to sacrifice his Promised Son.

By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. Hebrews 11:17-19

Abraham and Sarah, his wife, were very old when she at last gave birth to Isaac. I believe Abraham became overwhelmed by his love for the son that God promised him so many years before. If you have children you may have an idea of what Abraham was experiencing. I remember holding my first-born daughter just a few minutes after she was born. As she lay in my arms and looked into her eyes I became captivated by my love for her. In fact, it has been difficult to keep my love for her in check.

Allow me a moment to explain. I am a firm believer that the best way to love my daughter(s) is to love my wife unconditionally. It is easy to love both of my daughters. I find it more difficult to put my wife’s needs or desires before my own and those of my daughters. But my little girls need to see me put my wife before the rest of us. Sometimes I struggle with this, and sometimes I believe we do this to God. My love for my family can sometimes creep on God’s turf in my heart.

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Abraham went through something similar. He finally had this son, and his love for his son began to take over his life. This son was the manifestation of God’s promise in Abraham’s life. This son quickly became Abraham’s everything. And God would not take a backseat to Isaac in Abraham’s heart. So he called Abraham to sacrifice his son.

I try to imagine what Abraham went through as he travelled knowing what he was being asked to do. The thoughts Abraham must have been thinking as he watched his son on this short pilgrimage. It tears at my heart to think of what I would do if God called me to do the very same thing.

We can often put others and even objects before God. The biblical account of Abraham’s test of faith is a reminder to us that we should never allow anyone or anything to become more important in our lives than God. God was willing to sacrifice his son so we could become his children. His love for us is greater than our love for anyone, and we can only learn to love by learning from him. We can love our families best when we love God first.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21

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