Thinking Points


Isaac

Genesis 22 - 28

The patriarch Isaac was a multi-faceted person.  He was a nomadic herdsman, moving his herds and flocks from place to place. Weren’t such herdsmen usually poor?  Not Isaac!  “He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him” [Genesis 26:14]. 

So Isaac was wealthy?  Yes, “and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy” [Gen 26:13].  How did Isaac achieve this?  Through terrific financial planning and business strategies?  The Philistine king, Abimelech, and his personal adviser knew the answer.  “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you…” [Gen 26:28].  God guided and prospered Isaac.

Abimelech finally told Isaac: “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us” [Gen 26:16].  Just how powerful was Isaac?  Powerful enough for King Abimelech to seek him out to make a one-sided treaty in which Isaac agreed to do the Philistines no harm [Gen 26:29].  Think about treaties.  Who made treaties?  Wasn’t Abimelech treating Isaac like another king?  Wasn’t Isaac militarily as powerful as a king?

Say, wasn’t this treaty a carbon copy of the one Abimelech had made with Abraham many years ago?  Wasn’t Abimelech treating both Abraham and Isaac and their followers like a nation on the move?  Wasn’t God already at work to fulfill his promise to make Abraham a great nation?  

Wasn’t Isaac also a man of faith in God?  As a teenager, he accompanied his father Abraham to offer a burnt offering.  During the three-day journey to Mount Moriah , Isaac was intelligent enough to ask, “Father? The fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” [Gen 22:7].  Was there a shop selling unblemished lambs at Mount Moriah ?  Did Isaac ask the question out of curiosity, or was he beginning to feel a bit uneasy?  

Yet, he allowed his father to bind and place him on top of the wood laid on an altar, as the burnt offering.  He did not run away when he had the chance.  The Bible does not say that Isaac protested or begged to be spared, even when Abraham raised his knife to kill him.  Didn’t Isaac have strong faith in God, and in his father?   

What a frightening and psychologically traumatic experience it must have been for Isaac!  But does the Bible indicate in the slightest way that it had affected the relationship between Isaac and his father?  Did he grow up twisted in ways that modern psychologists, psychiatrists and transactional analysts now lead us to expect?  

Did Isaac become a model father?  No, he played favourites with his children.  He loved Esau, the elder of his twin sons [Gen 25:28].  Before you condemn Isaac, stop and think for a moment:  Are you showing more love to one of your children above all the others?  If so, what are you going to do about it?  

One of the puzzling things in the Bible is this: Why did rich and powerful Isaac send Jacob on a hazardous 1,000-kilometre journey to Haran to find a wife among his wife’s people, without providing an armed escort and a rich dowry?  Jacob had to work 14 years in lieu of paying dowries.  Isaac’s own father had sent a trusted servant, Eliezer, with perhaps nine other servants to Haran , with ten camel-loads of jewellery, gifts, and journey provisions, to find Isaac a wife [Gen 24]. 

Was it because Isaac didn’t love Jacob?  But surely he couldn’t have wanted Jacob harmed by robbers and brigands?  Was it to prevent Esau from noting the absence of the servants and detecting Jacob’s departure earlier?  No, for Esau would be watching Jacob, not the servants?  Then was it the same reason why Jacob later sent his beloved 17-year-old son Joseph on a long journey in search of his elder brothers, alone and among people of other races?  Was it a make-or-break move to help his wimpy son to mature, toughen up, become more independent and be a “real man”?  Did it succeed in the case of Jacob?  

Are we mollycoddling our children, and preventing them from growing up into mature, independent and strong individuals able to take hard knocks in life?  Are we helping them to think of and rely on God in their everyday life, as Jacob and Joseph did? 

CHAPEL NOTES

Dr Ng Peh Cheng chaired the chapel on 16th June. The session was devoted to singing hymns and praying especially for needs of BGST and Dr Aquilla Lee's health.

Chapel Speaker on 30th June will be Mr Mathews Abraham.

NEWS BITS

  1. Apologetics II, 1.5 credits.  If you have taken TS230 [Apologetics] and are interested to join this class, kindly call Admin. office at 63538071. The closing date for registration is 25th June.

  2. Calling BG111 and BG211 students. The two classes [New Testament Greek II , BG112] and [Greek Exegesis II, BG212] will  be commencing on 3th July.  Please register early by calling Admin. office. This will help us to get ready the course manual and AV materials.

  3. The Educational Ministy of the Church by Dr Ng Peh Cheng will be commencing on 6th July ( 7.15-10.15pm ) over eight Tuesday sessions at Park Mall. This is a required course for the DipCS, MCS, and MDiv curriculum. The course syllabus is posted on our website.

Is Mentoring & Discipleship the same?

BGST is proud to present
a public lecture
by our Distinguished Guest Lecturer,
Prof. James M. Houston

Date:
1st July, 2004
Thursday, 7.30-9.30pm
Venue:
Zion Bible-Presbyterian Church ,
4 Bishan St
13.

All are welcome!  

Dinner Fellowship

with Prof. Houston. This is open to all BGST Faculty, Staff and Students and will be held from 5.30-7.00pm at BGST. Cost: $5.00. Booking and payment in advance please by June 28th to Admin Office. Thanks! 

Building Fund - 22 Jun 2004

A Blessed Birthday to ...

 

Mrs Loh Yiau Leng  28/6

Dr Ng Peh Cheng  29/6

Mr Goh Mui Pong  29/6

Mr Ong Kong Beng  30/6

Mr Paul Tan  1/7

Mr Walter Edman  2/7

Mr Eric Tan  2/7

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This page is updated on 23 Jun 2004. 
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