Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread,"
We need to know who we are as "children" of Abraham, who is some five times in the Bible declared to be "our father" (Rom. 4:1-16). The story is that "Abraham had two sons: one by a bondwoman [slave girl], the other by a freewoman [Sarah]" (Gal. 4:22). The son by the slave girl "was born according to the flesh," whose name was Ishmael; but the other son was the child of "promise," Isaac. He was the child conceived and born of faith in the promise of God (vs. 23).
Paul goes on to tell us that these two sons are an illustration of the old covenant versus the new covenant. The old covenant represents man's effort to fulfill God's promise; the new covenant is total faith in God keeping His promise to save us from (not in) sin, apart from our "works of the law." It's a lesson that God's world church desperately needs to understand, because the only light that can possibly "lighten the earth with glory" just before the second coming of Christ (Rev. 18:1-4) must be the light of the gospel, not the shadows of legalism.
But let's look at Isaac's character, for the Lord had declared that all His glorious promises to Abraham should be fulfilled through Isaac, for He had said, "In Isaac your seed shall be called" (Gen. 21:12; Rom. 9:7). That means we should be able to see some difference in character between Isaac and Ishmael. And we do, in Genesis 26:
• Isaac became prosperous, "until he became very prosperous" (vs. 13).
• "The Philistines envied him. … the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and they had filled them with earth" (vss. 14, 15).
• Isaac did not quarrel and fight over that, but his servants "dug in the valley." [I wonder if I would have been as patient!] But the Lord blessed him for he "found a well of running water there" (vs. 19).
• Lo and behold, the pagans quarreled again, "saying, 'The water is ours.' ... they quarreled with him," even though Isaac had dug the well!
• But Isaac's character was Christlike; he simply dug another well, hoping he could at last find both water and peace. But they quarreled about that also. What would you have done?
• "So he moved from there and dug another well" (vss. 20-22). A beautiful example of "turning the other cheek"! And the Lord blessed him for his good spirit. Abraham's son by faith said, "Now the Lord has made room for us."
Who are you? "Isaac" or "Ishmael"?
--Robert J. Wieland
From the "Dial Daily Bread" Archive: August 4, 2003.
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