In previous messages of the Life-study of Genesis, we have seen that, according to the experience of life, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are three parts of one complete person and therefore we should not merely consider them as three separate individuals. In message 63, we come to the second aspect of the experience of the called, which is the experience of Isaac (Gen. 21:1—28:9; 35:28-29) as a picture of inheriting grace. Even though the term grace was not used in describing Isaac in Genesis, it is nevertheless implied in Isaac’s experience. Isaac was born of grace, grown in grace, became the heir in grace, obeyed in grace, inherited all things from his father by grace, and inherited the promise given to his father for the fulfillment of God’s purpose. But what is grace? According to the revelation in the New Testament (John 1:17, Gal. 2:20, 1 Cor. 15:10, 2 Cor. 13:14, Rev. 22:21), grace is the Triune God Himself becoming man’s enjoyment. Like Isaac, God wants His believers today not primarily to work for Him, but to enjoy Him as grace. In other words, grace is God working Himself into our being as our enjoyment. Grace is also something of God which is wrought into our being and which works in us and does things for us. It is God in Christ wrought into our being to live, work, and do things for us (compare 1 Cor. 15:10 with Gal. 2:20). For example, God wants to work Himself into us to be our humility, our love for others, and our patience. This is drastically different from we ourselves striving to be a more humble, loving, and patient person in and of ourselves. Instead God wants us to say, “Lord, I am nothing and will not do anything. I just open up to You that You might come in, make Your home in me, live in me, do everything for me and be everything in me.” If we open to Him in such a way, we will enjoy Him as grace and spontaneously and effortlessly live out the proper Christian life. We can then declare as Paul declared, “By the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace unto me was not in vain, but I labored more abundantly than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me” (1 Cor. 15:10).
In message 64, we continue to consider Isaac as the second aspect of a believer’s experience. In particular, we see here that Issac’s life was a resting and enjoying life as shown by his meditating in the field (Gen. 24:63) and his taste for “savory meat” even into his old age. Also, without doing much, Isaac secured a choice bride, gained twin sons, received a hundredfold harvest and becoming great, and found the well of living water. Even though Isaac had enjoyment wherever he went (as symbolized by always having a well), God was not satisfied and used the environment to force Isaac to return to Beer-sheba. As soon as he was back in Beer-sheba (Gen. 26:23-33), the Lord appeared to him, speaking to him and confirming His promise. Only then in Beer-sheba as the proper place and ground, “Isaac began to have the proper testimony. He built an altar, called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent (26:25). Here in Beer-sheba he had a life for the fulfillment of God’s eternal purpose.” From this we can see that we believers should not merely be content with having some enjoyment, although we are destined for enjoyment. Rather, we must return to the proper standing or place where God can appear to us for His own purpose and testimony.
In message 65, we come to see that although Isaac inherited grace, rested and enjoyed, he still had the natural weakness and the natural life. For example, like Abraham, Isaac lied about Rebekkah being his wife and was willing to sacrifice her for his own safety. Also, Isaac harbored natural taste for meat and partial love for Esau, the game hunter, which eventually led to a family dispute where Jacob was forced to leave home. According to our natural, religious concept, we may think that we cannot have the enjoyment of grace if we are still natural. However, with Isaac we see that even someone so natural as to love his sons with partiality can still be an enjoyer of grace his whole life. When we hear this, we should not try to be natural and say, “Let us do evil that good may come.” The point is that we should forget about trying to be natural or spiritual. We should simply worship the Lord for His ordination for us to enjoy grace. From Isaac’s life we see that he had some maturity in life, but not very much. Although he blessed, he blessed blindly (Gen. 27:21-29) and his blessing was according to his natural taste (Gen. 27:1-4). Nevertheless, Isaac did bless by faith (Heb. 11:20) and eventually died in faith at the fullness of days. Because neither Abraham or Isaac reached the maturity in life, we need to go on to the following messages to see the experience of Jacob who was transformed to Israel, reaching full maturity in life. May the Lord make these experiences real in our own experiences as believers.
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