The family is one of the greatest blessings that God can bestow upon mankind. Every human being comes into the world through a family. The family we belong to has the primary responsibility of providing for us, protecting us, supporting us, training us on how to live and to be able to fend for ourselves, and bringing us up in the nurture and fear of the living God.
The blessings that we receive from God through our families depend on how well our families are able to carry out these responsibilities towards us. When we come of age, we, too, can desire to have a family of our own. Last week we saw how Abraham assisted his son, Isaac, to get a wife (Genesis 24). This was one of the blessings that Isaac got from his father, Abraham, and this is one of the blessings that parents can bestow upon their children.
How Abraham went about getting a wife for his son, Isaac, is a classic example of how this all-important matter should be handled. It is so important that the longest chapter in the Book of Genesis (chapter 24) is wholly devoted to it. Abraham could have taken up this assignment by himself but, because of his age, he assigned it to the eldest servant in his house who had charge of all his possessions. Abraham’s approach to dealing with this matter of getting a wife for his son was consistent with his understanding of the will of God for his life and his descendants after him. They were to be a godly race that would take over the land of Canaan from its ungodly inhabitants.
Therefore, Abraham sent his servant to his family in Mesopotamia, who were believers in the One true God who had called Abraham to be the beginning of a new race of people (Genesis 24:28-33, 50-51, 57-61). It is instructive to note that the two persons whose marriage was being arranged had never met or seen each other before.
The story of Isaac and Rebekah teaches that marriage is built not just on love but on faith (Prov. 31:30-31; 1 Pet. 3:1-6). Isaac had to act in faith to agree to marry someone that he had never met and Rebekah had to act in faith to choose to leave her family for someone she didn’t know and to marry him. The most important things to consider in a prospective husband are his relationship to God, his ability to provide for his family; and his ability to lead his family in the way of the LORD. The most important thing to consider in a prospective wife are her relationship with God; her ability to keep or manage a home; and her ability to support her husband in leading the family in the way of the LORD.
This morning, we want to learn how we can experience the blessing of having or belonging to a family, like the family of Isaac and Rebecca. First, we must have faith in God and live by it because life is full of uncertainties and challenges. Based on their backgrounds, it is easy to assume that Isaac and Rebecca were set for a wonderful life together. Isaac inherited both spiritual and material blessings from his father, Abraham (Gen. 21:10-12; 24:34-36; 25:5-6). But, after their marriage, they faced several challenges. These include the challenge of famine which must have wiped out most of the wealth he inherited from his father (Gen. 26:1; 1 Tim. 6:17). He also faced the challenge of living among a people without fear of God. This made him afraid for his life and lie about his relationship to his wife, Rebecca (Gen. 26:7-11). The third challenge Isaac faced was having to contend with the envy and hostility of his hosts in Gerar where he was living because of the famine in Canaan. They eventually sent him away because he had become wealthier than them and they later forcefully took away the wells that he had dug. God saw Isaac and Rebecca through all these challenges (Gen. 26:2-5, 12-14, 22-25).
But the greatest challenge faced by the couple was Rebecca’s barrenness. In each of God’s two appearances to Isaac, He made promises to him regarding his descendants; yet, Isaac had no child. This is similar to the experience of his parents, Abraham and Sarah. Why was this so? In the first place, God wanted Isaac to develop his faith in God and not merely base his relationship with God on his father, Abraham’s faith. His having to wait for God to fulfil His promise to him would make him grow in his relationship with God (1 Samuel 13:5-14; Deut. 20:1-4). The other reason could be that Isaac never really asked for a child from God. He may have assumed that, because promised him many descendants, it would automatically happen without his having to pray about it. The lesson from this is that it is not enough to know what God has promised us in His Word; we must pray specifically for the things that He promises us in His Word. So, after many years of marriage without a child, Isaac prayed to the LORD for his wife and the LORD heard and granted his prayer (Gen. 25:21).
Second, favouritism should be avoided if we would experience the blessing that comes from having a family. Favouritism will ultimately cause division and prevent the practice of genuine love in our family relationships. It makes those who should normally support one another to compete with one another and to seek to take advantage of one another. Parents must avoid favouritism in their dealings with their children and children must avoid it in their dealings with their parents and with one another. God’s revelation of His plans for our children is not meant to absolve us of our responsibility to each of them, namely, to help them to fulfill their potentials and become all that God wants them to be. Apparently, for his own selfish reason, Isaac loved Esau (Gen. 25:28a). Also, for her own reason, and perhaps to help in the fulfillment of what said in respect of her sons, Rebecca loved Jacob (Gen. 25:28b).
Third, we must share the same understanding of God’s will for our family and work together to fulfill it. When Rebecca went to inquire from God why she was having a difficult pregnancy, God made His will with respect to the twin baby boys in her womb known to her: Genesis 25:23— “23 The LORD said to her, “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 older will serve the younger.” She must have shared what God said with her husband. Unfortunately, Isaac did not seem to have agreed with her. Why? It could be that he resented the fact that God spoke to Rebecca instead of him, being the head of the family. God had, in fact, appeared to him twice before. But since both of them are one in the sight of God, God was at liberty to speak to both of them through either of them. Second, he could also have been influenced by the popular culture that considers that the elder serving the younger is against the principle of natural justice. But we must never forget that God is the Sovereign Ruler of the universe and He does as He pleases with all of His creation. Third, he could have had serious difficulty understanding how to deal with God’s Word and, instead of praying to God for more clarification, he took the default position of ignoring God’s Word altogether. This also, is no legitimate reason for treating the Word of God with levity (see Judges 13:2-14).
Fourth, we must deal truthfully with one another and avoid every form of deception in our family relationships (Eph. 4:25; Gen. 27). When Rebecca saw that her husband was going to give the blessing meant for Jacob to Esau, she took steps to prevent this through deception with the active connivance of Jacob. Although the elaborate deception employed by Rebecca and Jacob to get Isaac to bless Jacob instead of Esau was successful, it forever destroyed the family bond and set the brothers against each other (Gen. 27:41-45). God has the power to fulfil His will for our lives and families and any attempt to assist Him in doing this through any evil or sinful action will always bring problems and divine sanction.
Fifth, we must learn to forgive whenever we offend or sin against one another. Although Rebecca offended Isaac by her deception, they remained one as a couple, and there is no hint of desire for separation or divorce. He must have forgiven her because they continued to communicate with each other and work together for the progress of their family (Gen. 27:46-28:9).
Your eternal salvation and spiritual well-being are our concerns. If you wish to receive Jesus as your personal Lord and Saviour, you can pray the following prayer to God: “Dear God, I thank you for sending Jesus into the world to die for my sins. I repent of my sins right now and invite Him into my life to be my Lord and Saviour. Thank you, Jesus, for saving me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
If you offered this prayer to God, please write to let us know through the address below. You are also invited to join us in worshipping the Lord every Sunday in Yoruba language at 7.20 a.m. and in English language at 9.00 a.m.
Good News Baptist Church,
47/49, Olufemi Road, Off Ogunlana Drive,
P. O. Box 3781, Surulere, Lagos.