I’m still reading the book of Genesis this month. Genesis was the first book I started reading when I picked up the bible in 1991. In college back then, I was looking for something, but was not quite sure what I was looking for. The one idea that kept playing over and over in my head was this pursuit of who is God? I told friends I believed in the “man upstairs” and I believed He watched over us. I was not aware at the time that a relationship was possible with Him. I had a strong sense one day as I purchased my first bible from the college book store that I needed to inquire about who God was through His word. Over the years I have read Genesis a number of times since the first time I tackled the book at the desk in my dorm room.
A few weeks ago I talked about choosing to panic or trust when situations occur. Abraham and Sarah had a panic moment. Sarai (Sarah) obviously up in age had grown weary of waiting and the way Abram (Abraham) jumped in – he obviously thought it was a good idea. I wonder if their decision delayed the arrival of Isaac. There is no indication in these verses that the couple inquired or prayed to the Lord for guidance.
Interestingly years later, Isaac, shared some of the same experiences as his parents. Rebekah like Sarah was also barren. The same promise that God gave to Abraham was passed down to Isaac – their descendants would be numerous. I don’t think I noticed this before, but there were two details that stood out to me during this reading go around.
This is the account of Abraham’s son Isaac. Abraham became the father of Isaac, and Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah daughter of Bethuel the Aramean from Paddan Aram and sister of Laban the Aramean. Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. — Genesis 25:19-21
Did you notice that? Isaac prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife….The Lord answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. That was the first detail that jumped out — especially the quick response from the Lord. The second detail I noticed was in these set of verses.
When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when Rebekah gave birth to them. — Genesis 25:24-26
Did you notice the time period? Isaac and Rebekah had been married TWENTY years before the twins were born. I wondered why at this moment Isaac chose to pray for his wife. Was this a last resort request from God? It almost seemed like God had been waiting for Isaac to ask!
Looking back over Abraham’s story, he was 75 years old (Genesis 12:4) when God told him to leave Haran and “all peoples on earth will be blessed (Genesis 12:3)” through him. He was 86 years old when Hagar gave birth to Ishmael (Genesis 16:16). When Isaac was born, Abraham was 100 years old (Genesis 21:5). While Abram (Abraham) showed great faith and obedience at times (Genesis 15:6), it doesn’t indicate in the scriptures where Abraham prayed or ask the Lord about a child. This detail could have been left out of the scriptures, but that is a big detail. There were a number of occassions where an inquiry of the Lord may have made the difference in a wrong or right choice. Prayer in itself is more than just making requests, but can be a sustaining factor in one’s faith.
While the patriarchs are included in the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11), they certainly were not perfect people and did not get it right all the time. In some cases they forgot the obvious – pray! It is awesome to see God’s grace as His plan moves forward despite these men and women forgetting who is really in charge.
As I noticed the immediate results of Isaac’s answered prayer, I started to wonder what would have happened if he didn’t pray and if Rebekah decided to offer her maidservant? Would Rebekah’s pregnancy have been delayed like Sarah’s? Did Abraham and Sarah pray? If they did, did they simply get tired?
This reading reminded me of the times I choose to do things my way like Abraham and Sarah. How often has God delayed his answer based on our poor decisions or lack of consultation with Him? I imagine God say, “She/He is not ready yet. There is some more work that has to be done here.” What happens when we pray unwaverly in faith to God about a situation? When God sees we are intentionally and purposely seeking His will, He joyfully answer, “Yes, my child.”
When a situation comes up, no matter how major or minor, don’t forget to inquire of the Lord. Your inquiry could make a lot of difference in the outcome. You do not have, because you do not ask God.— James 4:2b
NOTE: Read all of James 4 – it talks about submitting to God!