Monday, April 06, 2009

Genesis 25:19-21 -- Isaac’s Family

Genesis 25:19-21: Now these are the records of the generations of Isaac, Abraham’s son: Abraham became the father of Isaac; and Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Paddan-aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian, to be his wife. And Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.

At this point Isaac’s family tree seems to be shorter than Ishmael’s. To our chronological chart we can now add the year of Isaac’s marriage to Rebekah, when he was 40 years old:

• 3271 Abraham was 100 when Sarah bore Isaac to him (Gen. 21:5)
• 3308 Isaac was 37 years old when Sarah died (3271 plus 37)
• 3311 Isaac, at age 40, marries Rebekah (Genesis 25:20)
• 3346 Abraham died at age 175 (Genesis 25:7,8)
• 3394 The death of Ishmael (based on his birth in 3257 and now Genesis 25:17)

Whereas one would have thought that people married very young in the past compared to now, that was not always the case. Isaac was a full 40 years old when he married. When one is waiting for God’s chosen mate for him- or her- self, sometimes one needs to wait a relatively long time. However, as all who wait on the Lord have found out, the wait for His chosen mate for them is well worth it. If you do not readily agree with that statement, maybe the premise “that it was indeed His chosen mate for you” was not the fact in your case.

Our chronological chart also tells us that Abraham lived another 35 years after Isaac married Rebekah. Long enough to have enjoyed grandchildren through both Ishmael and Isaac. Reminiscent of his mother Sarah’s story and her barrenness, Isaac now finds himself praying to the Lord for his own wife, Rebekah, asking Him to help her conceive, as she too was barren. Scripture very simply just tells that “the Lord answered him and his wife conceived”.

As I consider those few words uttered as simply a “matter of fact”, I stop and wonder whether things have really changed between the period of Isaac’s life and now. Can we still pray to God on someone’s behalf? Can God still answer? Can the thing we prayed for simply come to pass? And the answers always come back in the affirmative. God is still the same. We still have access to Him through prayer. He is still involved in our lives and He still works both within and beyond the natural. I believe what makes the difference between prayer answered along our line of request and prayer answered differently (for God always answers prayer – sometimes with a ‘yes’, sometimes with a ‘no’, sometimes with a ‘later’, and oftentimes with a ‘better’), is whether or not what we are asking for is in His will for our lives or the lives of those on who’s behalf we are praying. In fact, I have come to discover that the real purpose of prayer is to glory God and to have His magnificence manifested to us and to others through our lives. It is not primarily to gain outcomes that we desire, although those may well come in the bargain. C.S. Lewis once suggested that God answers prayer in one of two ways, either “Yes” or “God’s grace is sufficient!” How true.

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