So Abraham gets remarried and has at least six more children, but he gives all that he has to Isaac. I’m not sure what the other six sons got, but at least the children of Abraham’s concubines got some gifts while Abraham was still alive. Eventually Abraham dies and Isaac and Rebekah plead with God to give them a child. Their prayers are answered and Rebekah becomes pregnant with twins.
It wasn’t an easy pregnancy, by all accounts.
22And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD.
The boys, Esau and Jacob, fought in the womb, and things didn’t get much better after they were born.
28And Isaac loved Esau, because he did eat of his venison: but Rebekah loved Jacob.
If that wasn’t a recipe for disaster, I don’t know what was. I’ve never understood parents or grandparents who show obvious favoritism for one child over another. I’ve seen plenty of them, but I’ve never understood it.
I’m guessing that Isaac’s favor toward Esau and Rebekah’s love of Jacob were pretty obvious if God felt it was important enough to mention. If it had been normal, run-of-the-mill stuff, we’d never have known about it.
One day Esau comes to Jacob after a day of hunting and asks for food. As any loving brother would, Jacob agrees to feed Esau, but only if Esau will sell his birthright in exchange for dinner. Esau ponders his options, but since he thinks he’s about to keel over dead, he agrees. After all, what good is a birthright if you’re not around to use it?
Jacob gets the birthright and Esau goes on the marry a couple of young woman his parents don’t approve of. Isaac travels around much like his father did and follows Abraham’s example when he travels into a new, strange land, of claiming that Rebekah is his sister, not his wife. He’s afraid that other men will kill him because she’s so beautiful. And, also like his father, Isaac incurs the anger of the King when his lie is discovered.
10And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us.
And through all of this, the Lord blesses this family.
12Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him.
An hundredfold. For every ear of corn Isaac places in the ground, he reaps a hundred. His possessions multiply and he experiences great bounty. And maybe it sounds horrible, but I’m wondering why? These people seem to me to be the very definition of dysfunctional, even taking into account the cultural differences. Why are they so very blessed?
Okay, Abraham was obedient. When God told him to sacrifice the son he’d waited and waited and waited to bring into the world, Abraham was ready to do it.
And Isaac was clearly forgiving. I mean, picture anyone of us in this generation being placed on an altar, tied up so we can’t move. The man who is our father stands over us with knife raised, ready to plunge it into our hearts. Okay, so he doesn’t plunge, but he would have. We know that for a fact.
If that happened to any one of us, we’d probably raise a big old stink about it. Dad could insist until he was blue in the face that God told him to do it, but we all know how we react when we hear people say that. People do unspeakable things to others all the time, and a lot of them claim God told them to do it. We don’t believe that excuse, not even for a minute.
We’d be in therapy for years, and we’d never get over it. Grudges would be held and fostered and passed down for generations. At the very least, Thanksgiving dinners with the whole family around the table would be a powderkeg of negative emotion, just waiting to ignite.
But there’s no hint of anything like that in Abraham’s family.
Most of us have trouble forgiving the guy who cut us off in traffic or the neighbor who puts his trash cans in the wrong place. I wonder if we could forgive something so … awful … if we were called upon to do so. I think God grants all of us the chance to forgive all the time. The question I’m asking myself tonight is, how often do I take it?