Almost every dad will know the feeling; you are holding this tiny precious little life in the palm of your hands, you are overwhelmed with pride, joy and a healthy dose of fear. I remember the first time I looked into the sweet brown eyes of my first born. I remember promising myself I would do everything I could to show her the right path. I wanted to teach her all the good things and protect her from all the bad things.
I can only Imagine Abraham having those same thoughts as he held Isaac. As we talked about previously, God had promised him this son for many years and now FINALLY He had kept his promise. (check out the previous post about Abraham (click here) You know Abraham had to be so thankful to God; you know he promised he was going to teach Isaac to always believe, and to never do any of the bad things he had done. Abraham surely committed, like most of us to do everything he could to help Isaac learn to follow God.
Abraham gets some serious kudos for his efforts. The Bible recounts that God tested Abraham. He asked him to bring Isaac to a mountain and sacrifice him to show his trust in God. So, here is Abraham, now somewhere around 120 years old with a son that most historians believe is a grown man. This the son that God had promised for decades and now he is asking him to take him to the mountain and sacrifice him. Abraham had laughed at God before; this would have been a good time for him to do it again. Abraham didn’t laugh though, he complied.
I believe what happened next shows how Abraham had worked to instill faith and obedience in Isaac. After his dad led him up the mountain and the reality began to set in for Isaac that they didn’t bring an animal with them for sacrifice he could have easily resisted. Let’s be real he was a strong young man and his dad was pretty old, it wouldn’t have been that hard for him to give the old guy a swift kick and run away. Not like the old dude could have really taken him right? Isaac showed the faith and trust in God and in his dad by going along with the plan. I am sure he was confused and scared, but his faith was remarkable.
Abraham loved and favored Isaac. He eventually passed along everything he owned to his son. Isaac inherited Abraham's wealth, his flocks, his land, and his servants. The one thing he could't inherit was his dad's faith. The same is true for us today; we can do our best to teach and guide our kids; but we can't have a relationship with Jesus based on our parents' faith. Abraham began to see his best efforts payoff with Isaac's display on the mountain. Isaac eventually formed his own covenant with God.
The example we as parents set goes a long way to how our kids turn out. Our kids learn not just from the words we say, but from our actions. That’s why I was so very proud when my daughter ran her first 5k race. She was learning healthy habits from me. Unfortunately our kids learn our bad habits as well. For those who don’t know this I have a tendency to be a bit sarcastic. I have to remind myself of this part of my character when my newly minted teenager pops off with a sarcastic remark.
Isaac was no different. He learned to fear and worship the Lord from his dad’s example, but he also picked up a bad habit or two as well. Much like his father when Isaac fled his homeland during a famine he took refuge in the kingdom of Abimelech. Also like his father, Isaac told the king that his wife was actually his sister. This caused a bit of distress when Abimelech saw Isaac fondling her. Isaac’s dishonesty could have caused a major problem for him and for his wife Rebekah. It was eerily similar to what his father had done years before. Isaac also, like his dad, had a bit of a feud and later a truce with Abimelech. He also had disputes with others regarding wells and land his father had once claimed.
Isaac eventually had his own sons. Like his dad and all of us, he did the best he could, but he made a lot of mistakes too. The bible says he even favored one son over the other. He is still honored as one of the patriarchs of our faith.
Just being Abraham's son brought a lot of benefit; but it didn't stop him from making mistakes and it didn't guarantee his faith. Abraham & Isaac were both faced with the same challenges we are today. We want to do our best for our children and we have to reconcile our own faith. We will make mistakes along the way but like Isaac if we trust God, He will guide us.