Heroes With Feet of Clay! – IV Hebrews 11:20

It is just a short verse concerning Isaac in the Hall of Heroes of Hebrews 11. Here is verse 20: “By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.” This refers to the incident when Jacob deceived his blind father, pretending to be Esua and stealing his twin brother’s firstborn blessing! In his blessing, Isaac spoke ‘concerning things to come’ (see Genesis 27:27-29; 39, 40).

But this isn’t about Isaac blessing his sons! This is about his feet of clay! And that incident is found Genesis 26:7 through 11:

     There was a famine in the land, besides the first fa-
     mine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went 
     to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar....And 
     the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, 
     “She is my sister;” for he was afraid to say, “She is 
     my wife,” because he thought, “lest the men of the 
     place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to 
     behold.”  Now it came to pass, when he had been there 
     a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines 
     looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, 
     showing endearment to Rebekah his wife.  Then Abimelech 
     called Isaac and said, “Quite obviously she is your 
     wife; so how could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” And 
     Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘Lest I die on ac-
     count of her.’”  And Abimelech said, “What is this you 
     have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain 
     with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.” 

The saying goes, “Like father, like son!And so it applies to Abraham and Isaac! In Heroes With Feet of Clay – II, I wrote about Abraham twice lying about Sarah saying, She is my sister…” (Genesis 12:19), to save his own skin! Both of these ‘lying times’ were before Isaac was born, but he must have heard about them around the evening campfire!

Fathers (and mothers) beware! Recalling adventurous stories from our riotous younger days can get our children thinking, Hey, if Dad and Mom got away with it, I can too!” That happened to me with my daughter…….and she ended up getting into major trouble!

But back to Isaac: He didn’t go to Egypt, but to the city of Gerar in the land of the Philistines, to the southeast of Canaan along the Mediterranean Sea. Like his mom Sarah (see Genesis 12:11), his wife Rebekah is described in Genesis 26:7 as “…beautiful to behold.” And like his dad, he reasoned in Genesis 26:7, “…lest the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah…” (The thinking of both Abraham and Isaac seems illogical, unless I am missing something of that ancient culture.) But Isaac’s lie was discovered when King Abimelech…looked through a window, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife.” (Genesis 26:8). Showing endearment is a bit of a euphemism. The Good News Bible translates it thus: “King Abimelech looked down from his window and saw Isaac and Rebecca making love.” Perhaps the king saw them through his window and into their apartment window. Surely they were not making love on the palace lawn!

It was not codified until hundreds of years later in the Ten Commandments. But the basis of the Hebrew law in Exodus 20 was not entirely new! The principles behind the Ten Commandments were in practice for a long time!

The ninth commandment in Exodus 20:16 says, “You shall not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” In the Contemporary English Version, the translation reads, “Do not tell lies about others.Isaac was lying concerning Rebekah…out of fear for his own life! Never mind that he was putting his wife in grave danger of being raped, or given to another man to marry! But Isaac confessed to his misdeed! And God, as well as King Abimelech, forgave him of his sin! How do we know he was so forgiven? In Genesis 26:11 through 14 we read:

     So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, “He who 
     touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to 
     death.”  Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in 
     the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him.  
     The man began to prosper, and continued prospering un-
     til he became very prosperous; for he had possessions 
     of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number 
     of servants. 
  • That Abimelech forgave him, at least partially, is shown by the fact that he charged all his people (see verse 11 above), giving him and Rebekah royal protection!
  • That God forgave him is shown by the blessing poured out upon Isaac (described in verses 12 through 14 above). For it says in Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins shall not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.

It is not that we will become materially rich when we confess our sins, and forsake them. But what greater riches is there than what is described in James 4:8: Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” However, what comes next in James 4:8 is the precursor to such nearness: Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.

  • This is what Isaac did in his confession!
  • This is what we must do in ours!

So, yes, Isaac, who is listed in Hebrews 11, the Hall of Heroes, had feet of clay! But why is he a hero? Among other things, though he sinned, he did what was right by his confession, and he pursued God, seeking to follow the LORD’s way!

Let us also follow God in confession and pursuit!