It is interesting how the proverbial fruit does not fall far from the tree. As a father, I understand how much of an impact I can have on my own children by the way that I behave. They are like little sponges and soak up things in an uncanny way. My wife often cautions me that my children pick up on even the little things I do; good or bad. And so I have to be careful about everything I do, knowing that my behavior can directly influence their behavior. Now, I will say that my kids are not penalized in any way by my sin, nor am I by theirs. This idea of a generational curse applies only to nations as a whole, and specifically to the sin of idolatry. There are a lot of well-meaning people who hold that sins and consequences are passed down from generation to generation. To an extent, this may be true, but only to the degree that the successive generations are practicing the same sin that their predecessors did.
The fact is that children are not punished for the sins committed by their parents, nor are parents culpable for the sins of their children. We all hold responsibility for our own actions (Ezekiel 18:20); however, I would say that this does not necessarily free children or their parents for that matter from the consequences of sin. For example, if a father abuses drugs and sells them and then gets caught and thrown in prison, his children suffer needlessly without a provider, or perhaps the undue burden is placed on their other parent or family members. The same goes for a child. Say, for example, the child breaks the law and is fined. In many cases, the adult parents of the child are held responsible for restitution because the act was committed on their watch. Now, these are extreme and isolated examples with the intent of describing how sin has a “butterfly effect,” and can influence others negatively. Even though they are not the ones who commit the sin, they still might suffer from the consequences of sin.
Still, if we understand that our children have a tendency to emulate our own behavior, doesn’t it make sense that we be on our best behavior? Such is the case for Isaac. No doubt, Isaac pulls a page from good old dad’s playbook here as we explore my devotional for today from Genesis 26.
[Gen 26:1 NKJV] There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.
It would appear that similar circumstances lead to similar sin. As we read further we will see how Isaac deals with things in similar fashion to Abraham. In this verse, like that which we saw in the life of Abraham, there was a famine in the land. Isaac goes to Abimelech, the king of the Philistines in Gerar. Now, as I read this I thought to myself this Abimelech character sure has lived a long time, but as I discovered, contrary to what I thought previously, this time Abimelech appears to be more of a title than a specific person. And while I have no reason to believe that the two previous encounters with the Abimelech that Abraham met were separate people, I do understand that it is unlikely that the same character would have lived long enough to play this role as some hundred years have come and gone since the last encounter.
[Gen 26:2 NKJV] Then the LORD appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you.
And so Isaac is visited by the LORD who tells him not to go down to Egypt. Egypt would have been the place to go with all of its fertile lands and prosperity, especially during a time of great famine. Still, God tells the son of promise not to go beyond the land of promise. And so, Isaac would have to remain in Gerar and go no further south if wanted to remain obedient to the LORD.
[Gen 26:3 NKJV] “Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father.
While there are no generational curses, per se, there are generational blessings that made by God when he makes a covenant stipulating such. God had promised Abraham that his descendants would carry on the blessings which the LORD had promised him and Isaac is the next in line to receive the blessings. Here in verse 3, we have God reiterating the promise that He made to Abraham according to the oath which He swore with Abraham. God had sworn an oath by His name that was irrevocable and survived Abraham. The deed to the promised land was Isaac’s and Isaac’s descendants forever. But the promise did not only include land.
[Gen 26:4 NKJV] “And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;
Not only did God promise an inheritance of land, but that through Abraham and his seed a people would come and from that very same seed the earth would be blessed. This is a prophetical reference to the Messiah, who would come through the lineage of Abraham, of whom Isaac now carried the torch.
[Gen 26:5 NKJV] “because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”
Now, I find this interesting because as a parent it shows me that I can set up my own children for success. If I too obey the voice of the LORD and do what He commands me to, living out my life in accordance to His will, following His statutes and His laws, then I can preserve a blessing for my own children. Perhaps some of how I live may just rub off on my kids and cause them to prosper. Perhaps the blessings which the LORD showers upon me will be carried over to them. Would it be to God that my own children would marvel at the wonders the LORD has performed in my life and allow them to be an example of how they should live? At the same time, I would hope that they would discern my shortcomings and sin and choose not to follow my lead in these areas to avoid the painful consequences that sin has delivered to me.
[Gen 26:6 NKJV] So Isaac dwelt in Gerar.
Now, perhaps Isaac chose to stay as far south of the famine as he could and chose Gerar. Perhaps he took his encounter with the LORD quite seriously and dared not take another step without the guidance of the LORD. After all, the LORD did tell him to live in the land which He would reveal to Isaac (emphasis on “will reveal” as in had not yet revealed). And so, Isaac and his wife stay there in Gerar, the same place, I might add, where Abraham once stayed. No doubt there was still some record of the incidents that took place between Abraham and the Abimelech of Abraham’s time. Certainly, the name of Abraham would have preceded Isaac and the reputation of Abraham would have likely been somewhat historical. At the very least, Isaac would have heard the tales of Abraham and Sarah in the land of Gerar as much of the history of the time was passed from generation to generation orally. So you would think that Isaac would have learned what not to do by the example of his father. Well, that just shattered my hope for my kids…lol. No, but seriously, we all have decisions to make and it is incumbent upon us to make the right decisions. My mother used to tell me, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” I would tell her, “They don’t make a left either, what’s your point?” but I was a bit rebellious and foolish in my youth and I don’t recommend back-talking your parents like that. But instead of doing the right thing and trusting in God’s providence, we see that Isaac repeats the sins of his father.
[Gen 26:7 NKJV] And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, “She [is] my sister”; for he was afraid to say, “[She is] my wife,” [because he thought], “lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she [is] beautiful to behold.”
Isaac plays the same old game that his father Abraham played. He played the coward. This time Rebekah, unlike Sarah, did not have a part in the deceit. It could be that she did and it is not mentioned here. It could be that she had no part in the lie of her husband. It could be that she caught a clue and refused to play along; we are not told. But we do know that Isaac does this to save his own skin.
[Gen 26:8 NKJV] Now it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife.
This is interesting because it makes a good point about sin. You can only hide your sinfulness for so long before it manifests itself and exposes you. In verse 8, we see that some time had passed and Isaac starts to get a little frisky with his wife. This infers that he was doing something that a man simply did not do with his sister. And his actions catch the attention of the king. And so the king calls Isaac to court.
[Gen 26:9 NKJV] Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Quite obviously she [is] your wife; so how could you say, ‘She [is] my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘Lest I die on account of her.’ “
Busted! Isaac gets called out by the king. The last time we saw this similar circumstance the king was visited by God and forewarned. This time, however, the king witnesses Isaac with his own eyes and did not need the spiritual intervention. But notice that the king did not say anything about killing Isaac. The king was more concerned about the consequences of what would happen had one of his people had taken his wife as their own.
[Gen 26:10 NKJV] And Abimelech said, “What [is] this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.”
I have no doubt that there was some record of Abraham’s actions in their records and a statute of some sort forbidding anyone to lay with another man’s wife. If you will recall, when Abraham pulled this stunt the people of the land were barren and could not conceive. Whether or not it was mere superstition on the part of the people of Gerar, or if they put stock in the revelation that God had given the previous king I cannot say. But I am confident that they recognized the weight of the sin and understood that it would have brought guilt upon the people. I say this because the next verse imposes a severe consequence on anyone that would do Isaac or his wife harm.
[Gen 26:11 NKJV] So Abimelech charged all [his] people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
Now, it might seem that Isaac skated the consequences of lying here but it was not for Isaac’s sake that he was spared. It was for God’s purposes and promises that Isaac was spared and only rebuked. Just as God caused the king to show favor to Abraham after his deceit, He now extends the same mercy to Isaac. Β I would venture to guess had it been anyone but Isaac, the king would have had that person killed. Now, I wish that I could say this tactic was laid to rest once and for all after this rebuke, but we find lying does not die easily in this family.
[Gen 26:12 NKJV] Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him.
This was the environment that Esau and Jacob grew up in. Here they witnessed the LORD’s hand upon Isaac and watched as their father prospered. No doubt they took notes. It says that in the same year Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. This supports my belief that Isaac was the agrarian type, that is, he was a farmer. It could mean that he sowed a trade of some kind and reaped the benefits, but it would appear that he was a farmer of some kind. This is quite interesting considering that there was a famine in the land at the time.
[Gen 26:13 NKJV] The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous;
Like father like son, Isaac prospered in the land and became very prosperous. And just like his father, big people become big targets. When you have any degree of success in this life there will those who are envious of you. I believe this is why God commands us not to covet our neighbors’ possessions. Envy leads to all kinds of sin and no end of trouble, as we shall see in the next verse.
[Gen 26:14 NKJV] for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him.
So, Isaac becomes well known in the land for his great possessions, to the point that it says he caught the eyes of the Philistine neighbors and they envied him. Now, LORD willing, in my next devotional we will see how the “green-eyed monster” rears its ugly head in the next study.
Prayer: LORD, thank You for my children. Thank You for making me a steward over them, to teach them and to be a model for them. Help me to do the right thing always. Help me to be a godly example to my kids. Guard the eyes of my children and shield them from my sin, but even more importantly, open my eyes to my own sin so that I can show my kids how a man of God deals with temptation, that they would follow that example. LORD, keep lies from my lips and do not let me find any comfort in getting by on a lie. Convict me at once for any deceit that I might offer whether in business or in daily life. Help me to be the man of God I know You are calling me to be. Show me how to be a model of godliness in my own sphere of influence that my life might be a testimony of Your grace. Then multiply Your blessings upon me and my family as proof that You bless those who love and obey You. Let my heart follow after Your’s and help me be attentive to Your voice. I love You LORD and I thank You for my salvation. I pray that You will not allow me to get in the way of my sanctification and that You would purge sin from me so that I would be known as David was known; to be a man after Your heart. LORD, I lift up my wife and companion to You, that You would bless her in her spirit. That she too would walk in accordance with Your will and follow hard after You knowing her influence on our children as well. Finally, I lift up my pastor to You and ask that You would continue to encourage him and his family during their season of trials. May You recieve all glory and honor for all that You are doing and continue to do in the lives of Your people. It is in the blessed name of Jesus that I pray. βAmen.