A Journal for Bible Teachers

Lessons From Isaac & Rebekah

Lessons From Isaac & Rebekah

God gives the calling to lead a family, and a church, as a great privilege and honour. This privilege proves to be an awesome responsibility that ultimately requires accountability before God. One of the qualifications to be a church leader requires skillful leadership of the family: “One that ruleth well his own house…” (1 Timothy 3:4). The lessons learned in leading a family help prepare a man to rule in the church. If a man cannot provide able leadership in the home with a small group, how will he lead the spiritual flock with many members? Scripture gives us an essential key to effective leadership that is demonstrated in the life of Isaac and Rebekah.

 

Marriage Made in Heaven, Maintained on Earth

Rebekah & Abraham's servant

Genesis 24 relates the account of Isaac and Rebekah’s meeting and marriage. If ever a marriage was made in heaven, no one could deny that theirs was ordained and arranged by God. Abraham sent his servant to Padanaram to find a wife for Isaac. The details of this venture are most amazing as God led the servant to Rebekah. I have often mused, however, that with such a godly beginning, why did their relationship grow apart with the result of division and strife in their family life? It is evident that even though a marriage begins on a good foundation and is ordained by God, great care must be taken to draw near to God and maintain the marriage relationship, drawing closer to each other.

“And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Genesis 25:28). This verse exposes the partiality in the hearts of these parents. The word of God condemns partiality and provides ample evidence of its destructive wake (James 2:1-4). Partiality for the children apparently developed as Isaac and Rebekah failed to maintain their communication and closeness with one another. Rather than sharing their hearts with each other and working together to lead their sons into God’s best, they seemed to have drifted apart and each gravitated toward a different son. Both parents made decisions concerning their favorite son that strengthened that particular son’s iniquities, rather than helping him find freedom.

What a reason to love one son more than the other, “because he did eat of his venison!” This strengthened Esau’s love for temporal values, rather than for that which is eternal. Rebekah encouraged and helped Jacob deceive his father in order to obtain the spiritual blessing of the firstborn. Jacob certainly did not need encouragement toward deception, as that was well entrenched in his nature.

 

What it Means to Lay Down Your Life

Why would a wife do such a thing to deceive her husband? What was lacking that she would be so disloyal and breech her commitment to her husband? The answer to these questions can be seen, at least in part, in Genesis 26:7-9: And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her.

This problem of Isaac fearing to lose his life because someone else may have wanted his wife was not a new one. His father, Abraham, had responded twice in a similar fashion. The meaning of the name “Rebekah” indicates that she was most beautiful and captivating. Isaac tried to hide himself from the truth in the matter. Did his exposure of his motive to Abimelech destroy something in his wife’s heart toward him? He said, “Lest I die for her.” Abimelech reminded him of the treachery of his action. “…One of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us” (Genesis 26:10). He was willing to jeopardize his wife’s honour and purity in order to preserve himself. Did this response cause Rebekah to withdraw from him? Did Isaac’s fears create a wedge that separated him from his wife more so as time passed?

Isaac apparently did not yet understand this godly mandate: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). In seeking to preserve himself, did Isaac sow the seeds of division between himself and this precious gift, Rebekah, whom God graciously gave him as a life partner and helpmeet? Did he wound her soul causing her to wander away from him in her heart?

 

The Good Husband

God wants a husband to lay down his life for his wife as Christ laid down His life for His Bride, the church. A husband must overcome his fears and weaknesses so that he can do what is best for his wife. At times, this may prove to be harder for a man than physically dying for her. A wife needs to know that her husband will put her best interest above all else, except God’s will, of course. What is best for her is God’s will! A wife’s heart is further knit to her husband each time he responds as he should. They are further drawn together in one vision, one purpose, to fulfill the will of God and work together for the good of their children.

 

The Good Pastor

In the same way as a husband is with his wife, so is it with a pastor as he lays down his life for the sheep. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep” (John 10:11-13). The leader of the flock cares for them and does what is best for them, even when it demands that he overcome his own weaknesses and fears. He considers the good of his flock more important than his own situation. In John 10:15-19, Jesus further declared, three more times, that He lays down His life for the sheep.

David was a good and faithful shepherd who jeoparded his life to save his father’s sheep. “And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear…” (1 Samuel 17:34-36). David gave no thought for his own life, only that he might deliver the sheep from the devourer.

 

Give Them the Best

As leaders in the home or the church, it is essential to lay down our life for those we lead. We are not called to serve our own interests, but rather to do what is best for those under our care. Sometimes we try to hide behind the thought that we must put God’s will first. That is true, but His will is that we give ourselves to do what is best for those we lead. This does not mean, necessarily, that we do what they may want us to do. Often, to do what is best for the ones we lead means we must oppose them in gentleness and kindness. Giving in to their whims is not laying down our lives for them. Doing what is right in God’s eyes, and laying down our lives, can prove to be very costly to us personally. Remember, God’s will is always the best for His people.

Let us remember what it means to lay down our lives for those we lead. It requires us to obtain a personal victory over our weaknesses and fears that interfere with doing the best for our followers. Although costly, in the end it proves to be the best for all concerned. Jesus shows us the way. May we be good shepherds to our families and flocks like He is to us.



About the Author

Rev. Robert A. Tucker Sr.has pastored Starville Church, Marine City, Michigan for over 30 years. He graduated from Elim Bible School (Dip. Min) and received his masters degree from Regent University (M.A.O.L.). Rev. Robert Tucker teaches in Bible schools and in leadership seminars throughout the world. He authored articles and books that are published in many languages and used in many different countries.

Rev. Tucker is married to Angeline and together they co-authored a book that is a practical study on marriage and family life. They have two grown children, both serving the Lord, and four grandchildren.

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