The Light of Life Magazine
A ministry of Christian writing




July 2011

LEARNING FROM THE MISTAKES OF OTHERS


Zac Poonen

We do not have to repeat the mistakes of others.

Isaac was not a wise person like his father Abraham. Isaac's home was filled with partiality. Isaac was on Esau's side and Rebekah was on Jacob's side. Such an attitude is the best way to split a home. Esau and Jacob became lifelong enemies because of the partiality of their parents. One parent favoured one son and the other parent favoured the other. So the two boys became jealous of each other. And no doubt this separated Isaac and Rebekah too.

What a beautiful marriage theirs was when they had started out as a couple chosen by God for each other and deeply in love with each other! But their partiality towards their children ruined their marriage thoroughly. The saddest part is that the reason for this partiality, in Isaac's case, was his love of good food. He liked the deer-meat that Esau would bring home regularly. Jacob was not a good hunter and so Isaac did not care for him. Isaac's blessing of Jacob (that caused so many problems) also came about through his love for deer-meat. A glutton like Isaac certainly doesn't come forth as a good father at home, like Abraham was. Godly fathers can at times have sons who act quite foolishly.

We read in Genesis 26:7 of another of Isaac's foolish acts-but here he followed in his father's lying footsteps. When Isaac was in Gerar, the men there asked him about his pretty wife, Rebekah. He told them that Rebekah was his sister. That was the lie that his father Abraham had said concerning his mother Sarah, on two occasions (Gen.12,20). Isaac had not learnt from his father's mistakes. We don't have to make the same mistakes that our parents have made before us. A wise man will learn from the mistakes of others so that he does not repeat them.

Warnings In Scripture
In Genesis 26:34,35 we read, "When Esau was 40 years old, he married Judith, the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath, the daughter of Elon the Hittite; and they brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah." We see here that Isaac was not as careful as Abraham was, to find a partner for his son. He allowed Esau to marry whomever he liked. He had spoilt Esau by his favouritism and partiality. Isaac was more interested in the food Esau brought him, than in the wife whom Esau chose. These are some of the warnings in Scripture, for us.

Toward the end of his life, Isaac's eyesight began to fail. There is nothing serious about that. As we grow older, our eyes will naturally become weaker. But the sad thing was that Isaac's spiritual vision also was dim and clouded. As we grow older, our outer man may decay. But our inner man should become stronger and our spiritual vision must be sharp. But Isaac's did not. He knew what God had said when his two children were in Rebekah's womb, "The older will serve the younger." But he still decided to go against God's word and to give his blessing to the older brother. Can you see his folly there? He tells Esau in Genesis 27:2, "I am going to die soon. Go and get your bow and your quiver and get some venison for me." This old man with one foot in the grave is still thinking of food! No wonder, he lost his spiritual vision.

Spiritual Blindness
Paul said, "If I don't subdue my body, I will preach to others and still be disqualified myself" (1Cor.9:27). This is the reason why the word of God encourages us to fast from food now and then, so that we can keep our gluttonous desires and our sexual passions under control, so that we worship God and not our stomachs. It was love of food that made Isaac spiritually blind. And it is the love of good food that has made many preachers spiritually blind too.

Isaac was saying as it were, "Esau, go and bring me this venison. If it is tasty, I will give you God's blessings. I know God told me many years ago that your younger brother is to receive the birthright. But I don't care about what God said those many years ago. You have been a good son to me and have always brought me good venison to eat. So I am sure God will understand, if I give you the blessing, instead of giving it to your brother who never brought me a good meal in his life!" Think of the depth of Isaac's stupidity here. But God ensured that Isaac's plan failed.

But to Isaac's credit, it must also be said that he had some of the good qualities of his father, when it came to dealing with people outside his family. We read of a time (Gen.26:18) when Isaac re-opened the wells that his father had dug earlier and the Philistines had closed out of jealousy. Those wells belonged to Abraham because he had dug them. And so they now be longed to Isaac. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarrelled with Isaac's servants and said, "The water is ours!" So Isaac's servants went and asked Isaac, and Isaac said, "Give it to them." Just like Abraham gave Lot the land Lot wanted, Isaac also followed in his father's footsteps here. Then Isaac dug another well (v.21) and the Gerarites quarrelled over that one too. And a second time, Isaac said, "Give that also to them." He moved away from there and dug another well. The Gerarites were ashamed by now and did not fight for this well. And so Isaac named it 'Rehoboth', saying, "At last the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land." Think about that phrase "Rehoboth, the Lord has made room for us." Isaac did not make room for himself, by pushing people out. No. He gave up his rights and the Lord made room for him and he became fruitful.




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