Lesson 1 | Sabbath, 4 January 2020
“God has a test for us, and if we come up to the standard we shall be a peculiar people….
“We are not to follow our own will and judgment and flatter ourselves that God will come to our terms…. That which looks unimportant to you may be of the highest
consequence in God’s special plans for the preservation of your life or the salvation of your soul. God tests our faith by giving us some part to act in connection with His interposition in our behalf. To those who comply with the conditions His promise will be fulfilled….” –In Heavenly Places, p. 150.
The most important quality of character
1. What did the Lord require of His faithful servant Abraham and his son–the son of promise? What made it possible for them to reveal such great spiritual strength in this test?
Genesis 22:1, 2, 10-12 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of…. 10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11 And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12 And he said, Lay not thine
hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
“To Abraham no mental torture could be equal to that which he endured in obeying the command to sacrifice his son…. With a breaking heart and unnerved hand, he takes the fire, while Isaac inquires, ‘Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?’ Genesis 22:7. But oh, Abraham cannot tell him now! Father and son build the altar, and the terrible moment comes for Abraham to make known to Isaac that which has agonized his soul during all that long journey–that Isaac himself is the victim…. The son submits to the sacrifice because he believes in the integrity of his father. But when everything is ready, when the faith of the father and the submission of the son are fully tested, the angel of God stays the uplifted hand of Abraham, and tells him that it is enough. ‘Now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from Me.’ Genesis 22:12.” –That I May Know Him, p. 20.
2. Although God miraculously provided Rebekah as Isaac’s wife, what was a disappointment to the couple? What did God tell her after Isaac prayed for children and she became pregnant?
Genesis 25:21, 23 And Isaac entreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived…. 23 And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger.
“The all-embracing terms of this covenant were familiar to Abraham’s children and to his children’s children.” –Prophets and Kings, p. 368. “God knows the end from the beginning…. He answered the troubled prayer of Rebekah and informed her that she would have two children, and the elder should serve the younger. He presented the future history of her two sons before her, that they would be two nations, the one greater than the other, and the elder should serve the younger. The first-born was entitled to peculiar advantages and special privileges, which belonged to no other members of the family.” –The Story of Redemption, p. 87.
Abundant blessings amid trial
3. When Isaac and his family were living in Canaan, the promised land where the Lord had blessed his father, what came upon the region?
Genesis 26:1, 6 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines
unto Gerar…. 6 And Isaac dwelt in Gerar.
“Like the child, you shall receive day by day what is required for the day’s need. Every day you are to pray, ‘Give us this day our daily bread.’ Be not dismayed if you have not sufficient for tomorrow. You have the assurance of His promise, ‘so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed.’… That God who sent the ravens to feed Elijah by the brook Cherith will not pass by one of His faithful, self-sacrificing children. Of him that walketh righteously it is written: ‘Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure.’ ‘They shall not be ashamed in the evil time: and in the days of famine they shall be satisfied.’ Isaiah 33:16; Psalm 37:19…. He who had compassion on the multitude because they ‘fainted, and were scattered abroad’ (Matthew 9:36), still has compassion on the suffering poor. His hand is stretched out toward them in blessing; and in the very prayer which He gave His disciples, He teaches us to remember the poor.” –Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 111.
4. What happened when he sowed seed in that land? What bountiful blessings did he receive from God’s hand?
Genesis 26:12-14 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him. 13And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 14For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him.
“It is the very essence of all right faith to do the right thing at the right time. God is the great Master Worker, and by His providence He prepares the way for His work to be accomplished. He provides opportunities, opens up lines of influence, and channels of working. If His people are watching the indications of His providence, and stand ready to cooperate with Him, they will see a great work accomplished. Their efforts, rightly directed, will produce a hundredfold greater results than can be accomplished with the same means and facilities in another channel where God is not so manifestly working.” –Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, p. 220.
5. Envious of his great prosperity, what did the Philistines do? What did their king order Isaac to do, and why? How did he respond to this?
Genesis 26:15-17 For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. 16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. 17And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.
“We have no home here; we are only pilgrims and strangers, passing to a better country, even a heavenly. Place your mind upon these things, and while you are doing this, Christ will be right by your side. May God help us to win the precious boon of eternal life.” –Life Sketches of Ellen G. White, pp. 293, 294.
“We are travelers, pilgrims and strangers, on earth. Let us not spend our means in gratifying desires that God bids us repress. Let us rather set a right example before our associates. Let us fitly represent our faith by restricting our wants. Let the churches arise as one, and work earnestly as those who are walking in the full light of truth for these last days. Let your influence impress souls with the sacredness of God’s requirements.” –Testimonies for the Church, vol. 6, p. 452.
Conflict and spiritual perseverance
6. Although Isaac lived peaceably with all his neighbors, what additional difficulties did the Philistines inflict on him?
Genesis 26:18-21 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. 19 And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20 And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. 21 And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah.
“The conflict in which you have to take an active part is found in your everyday life. Will you not in times of trial lay your desires by the side of the written word, and in earnest prayer seek Jesus for counsel?” –Messages to Young People, p. 140.
“The last words spoken by Christ to John were: ‘The Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.’ Revelation 22:17. When we respond to God and say, ‘Lord, we come,’ then with joy shall we draw water out of the wells of salvation.” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 371.
7. What did the patriarch do again to maintain the peace? Although he lived in a land full of adversaries, who was at his side and protected him? What did he do in the new location, thus testifying of his faith?
Genesis 26:22-25 And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. 23And he went up from thence to Beersheba. 24And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham’s sake. 25 And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants digged a well.
Psalm 37:3-7 Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 4 Delight thyself also in the Lord; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. 5 Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass. 6 And he shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light, and thy judgment as the noonday. 7 Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.
“‘Trust in the Lord.’ Each day has its burdens, its cares and perplexities; and when we meet, how ready we are to talk of our difficulties and trials. So many borrowed troubles intrude, so many fears are indulged, such a weight of anxiety is expressed, that one might suppose we had no pitying, loving Saviour ready to hear all our requests and to be to us a present help in every time of need….
“Do we well to be thus unbelieving? Why should we be ungrateful and distrustful? Jesus is our friend; all heaven is interested in our welfare. We should not allow the perplexities and worries of everyday life to fret the mind and cloud the brow. If we do we shall always have something to vex and annoy. We should not indulge a solicitude that only frets and wears us, but does not help us to bear trials.” –Steps to Christ, pp. 121, 122.
For additional study
“Isaac had been trained in the fear of God to a life of obedience. And when he was forty years old, he submitted to have his God-fearing, experienced father’s servant choose for him. He believed that God would direct in regard to his obtaining a wife….
“The course which Abraham pursued in the education of Isaac, which caused him to love a life of noble obedience, is recorded for the benefit of parents, and should lead them to command their households after them. They should instruct their children to yield to, and respect their authority.” –Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, p. 112.
“You are not working alone. When you are tempted to become discouraged, remember this: Angels of God are right around you. They will minister to the very earth, causing it to give forth its treasures. This is the instruction I am trying to give to our people. I want them to understand what could be accomplished, if they would work the will of the Lord. It is the Lord who has given the instruction. Let us follow His directions.” –The Upward Look, p. 130.