Isaac got found out. He told the Philistines that Rebekah was his sister. He wanted to hide the fact that she was his wife. He knew her beauty would make her desirable. He feared for his life; he thought King Abimilech would kill him and take her for himself. This was not an uncommon practice during these days. Kings were known to do as they pleased and take all that they wanted.
The wife-sister lie was a trick Isaac learned from his father, Abraham, who twice presented Sarah as his sister when she was, in fact, his wife. At least what Abraham was saying about Sarah was half-true. Sarah was the daughter of Abraham’s father, but not of his mother.
One day, however, Isaac saw Rebekah and could not restrain his passion for her. The Scriptures tell us that Abimilech watched from a window and witnessed Isaac and Rebekah in the act of “sporting,” as the King James Version puts it. The king summoned Isaac at once about his deception. The jig was up.
Have you ever tried to hide something significant about yourself? Isaac didn’t want to die so he told a lie. But the truth about who Rebekah was too much to keep under wraps. Hence, the “sporting” incident. His love for his wife spilled over and out into the open.
The king could have flown into a rage, murdered Isaac, and added Rebekah to his harem. Instead, Abimilech warned the people to leave Isaac and Rebekah alone. “Never touch this man and his wife,” he said. The lie strained the relationship between Isaac and Abimilech, but this king was no fool. He sensed something about this man.
This king marveled, I believe, at the relationship he saw. Perhaps, this Philistine was struck at the intimacy God had given to these two people.
The Miracle Son
Rebekah was a woman who was brought to Isaac. He did not have to woo her with flowers and dinner. He did not have to win her hand with exploits of war.
Father Abraham made it all happen. He sent his primary servant to his family’s town with express instructions to find a girl to bring home for his boy.
This was no ordinary boy as we know from the Bible. Isaac was born to Sarah when she was in her 90s. Abraham himself was closing in on 100. The name Isaac means laughter, and the story behind this name is related to us in Genesis 18.
The Lord, appearing as three men, came to Abraham and enjoyed a dinner with him. After they had finished the meal, the Lord declared that within a year Sarah would have a son. She, listening within the tent, laughed and thought, “After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?”
Sarah was called out and confronted, “Is anything too hard for the Lord? Why did you laugh?” She denied that she laughed, but the Lord knew – “Oh, but you did laugh.”
I think the Lord said this with a smile. He knows that we are dust. This promise was more than Sarah could handle at this point, and God was gentle, patient, and kind in answering her doubt. The promise did come true, and Isaac – laughter – was born to her.
This miracle birth was a great cause for joy. And I am sure Sarah and Abraham, with their friends and family, did a lot of laughing at the absurdity of an old lady having a baby. I wonder how many times Isaac had to sit and listen to the story of his conception and delivery. Did he ever grow weary of it?
Not everything was snickers and giggles for Isaac, however. At one point, Isaac felt a knife as it was held near his neck. The knife was in the hand of his father. Abraham followed God and was doing as God asked him to do – present his only son as an offering.
The Voice of the Lord spoke just then, “Abraham, Abraham – do not lay a hand on the boy” (see Genesis 22).
This Man Grew Great
Outside of this close encounter with death, we read little of Isaac and big faith adventures. His story seems to be one of a quiet and spiritual man dedicated to the Lord and to his wife. Isaac was, as few other Old Testament heroes were, a one-woman man.
Where was Isaac, when he first met his wife? He was walking in the fields in meditation with the Lord. And his prayers were effective prayers. Rebekah, like Sarah, went through a long season without having any children. Then, she gave birth to Esau and Jacob in answer to the prayers of Isaac.
But this man lied – about the very wife he had prayed for. What happened next?
The Lord blessed him, that’s what. This seems crazy and out of order and wrong to our natural sensibilities. Liars shouldn’t get blessed, should they?
Our Lord is the God of mercy and grace. As we read on Genesis 26, “The man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great,” (Genesis 26:13).
The rest of this chapter describes how Isaac and his family kept finding water, a valuable commodity in the region where they lived. Each of these wells was given a name. The last well was called “Beer-Sheba” – the oath well. This one was dug after Isaac saw the Lord, built an altar, and called upon His name.The son of God’s Promise celebrated the Promise Keeper. Click To Tweet
The son of God’s Promise celebrated the Promise Keeper. Even Abimilech and the Philistines took note. They came to make a treaty with Isaac because, as they said, “We saw certainly that the Lord was with you. … You are now the blessed of the Lord.”
What can we say to these things? Let’s just praise the Lord and have a good laugh.
For more on Isaac and his well-digging, check out “Dig Wells in the Factor of Eternity,” a message preached by Thomas Schaller, Pastor of Greater Grace Church in Baltimore.