Friday, January 26, 2018

Men of the Bible - Isaac


His name means: "He Laughs"

His work: Isaac was an accomplished farmer and herdsman.
His character: The only son of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac at a young age witnessed, through the faithfulness of his father, the meaning of obedience. He was gentle and hardworking.
His sorrow: As an old and feeble man, Isaac was victimized by the deception of his son Jacob and to his later dismay gave him the blessing that he had intended for his older son, Esau.
His triumph: Isaac is considered one of the three great patriarchs. For millennia his progeny have revered him.
Key Scriptures: Genesis 25-27

A Look at the Man

When a man is hugely successful in his work, everyone notices. Some of those people celebrate his prosperity; others hate him for it. That is what Isaac experienced. He is one of the early farmers in the Scriptures with a remarkable green thumb. "Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold." But Isaac had a secret—something more powerful than a precise crop rotation strategy or specially formulated fertilizer: The Lord blessed him.

Godly excellence in the marketplace and the generous compensation that often follows it have been subjects of controversy among believers for centuries. Surely Christians are supposed to aspire to serving professions like physicians, missionaries, nurses, and teachers. But is there a place for successful, competitive businesspeople in God's plan as well?

The story of Isaac and Rebekah's years in the land of the Philistines illustrates the answer to these questions—and the reason why. As Isaac and Rebekah were leaving Canaan and looking for a new home, the Lord appeared to Isaac. "Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you."

Isaac listened to God's voice and obeyed.

It didn't take too long for him to see that his neighbors were envious. The first time Isaac's servant brought word to him that one of his wells had been filled in with dirt would have been a strong indicator! Nothing specific is said about Isaac's reaction to this act of treachery, but there is no indication that Isaac was angry or vengeful. Instead, he simply sent his servants out to redig the wells or to find places for new ones.

Next, it was the king's turn to pay Isaac a visit. He asked Isaac to move, sounding much like an Egyptian pharaoh hundreds of years later. Once again Isaac could have been upset at such treatment. "After all I've done for you and your people," Isaac could have said to Abimelech, "this is the way you treat me?"

But he didn't. Instead, Isaac and Rebekah moved on, setting up yet another successful business in a new location.

Then Abimelech paid a visit to Isaac. As he greeted Isaac, the Philistine king summarized why he had come and why he wanted to establish a peace treaty with Isaac. "We saw clearly that the LORD was with you."

Why would a man pursue excellence in business?

The story of Isaac clearly gives us the answer: God had called (and gifted) Isaac for this work, and he was obedient; Isaac had shown respect for those in authority over him; he worked hard, and his efforts were productive; and Isaac did not allow the sabotage of his enemies to discourage or distract him.

What was the result of Isaac's faithfulness? God received the glory, and his name was honored among those who previously did not know or revere him.

Reflect On: Genesis 25:1-31
Praise God: For his generosity.
Offer Thanks: For the ways God has already blessed you and for all the ways he yet intends to bless you.
Confess: Any tendency to take credit for what God has given you.
Ask God: To richly bless your life as you seek to follow him.

Today's reading is a brief excerpt from Men of the Bible: A One-Year Devotional Study of Men in Scripture by Ann Spangler and Robert Wolgemuth (Zondervan). © 2010 by Ann Spangler. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Enjoy the complete book by purchasing your own copy at the Bible Gateway Store. The book's title must be included when sharing the above content on social media.

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