Do you ever feel like you are the only one who tries to live a moral life? Are you sometimes overwhelmed by the sinfulness of the culture around you? Are you grieved by the influences that come into your life and the life of your family?
Genesis tells us that Isaac and Rebekah faced these problems. They were living as foreigners in the land of Canaan and they were a religious minority. This became an intimate problem when Esau got married. Let’s start with the history that led up to Isaac and Rebekah’s problem, then we will see how we should cope with being a religious and moral minority.
Genesis 12 tells us that Yahweh brought Abram into the land of Canaan.
Gen. 12:1 ¶ Now the LORD said to Abram,
“Go forth from your country, …
To the land which I will show you;
Gen. 12:4b ¶ So Abram went forth as the LORD had spoken to him; and Lot went with him.
Gen. 12:5 … and they set out for the land of Canaan; thus they came to the land of Canaan.
Genesis 10 tells us that Canaan’s descendants included the Hittites (Heth) and Amorites.
Gen. 10:15 ¶ Canaan became the father of Sidon, his firstborn, and Heth
Gen. 10:16 and the Jebusite and the Amorite and the Girgashite
And Genesis 15 tells us that the Amorites were sinful.
Gen. 15:16 “Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”
When it was time to find a wife for Isaac, the son of Abraham, Abraham charged his servant not to choose Isaac’s wife from among the Canaanites.
Gen. 24:1 ¶ Now Abraham was old, advanced in age; and the LORD had blessed Abraham in every way.
Gen. 24:2 Abraham said to his servant, the oldest of his household, who had charge of all that he owned, “Please place your hand under my thigh,
Gen. 24:3 and I will make you swear by the LORD, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I live,
Gen. 24:4 but you will go to my country and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son Isaac.”
Abraham’s servant did as he was told, and Isaac married a relative named Rebekah. Years later, Isaac and Rebekah had twin boys, and eventually the older of the twins got married. His name was Esau and he married Hittites, Hittites being descendants of Heth, a son of Canaan. Esau’s choice of wives was not good.
Gen. 26:34 ¶ When Esau was forty years old he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite;
Gen. 26:35 and they brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
The word “grief” communicates the idea that this was not a temporary or one time problem, this was a permanent, on-going problem. Isaac and Rebekah were perpetually grieved by Esau’s wives.
Genesis 27 gives us a little more insight into this problem.
Gen. 27:46 ¶ Rebekah said to Isaac, “I am tired of living because of the daughters of Heth; if Jacob takes a wife from the daughters of Heth, like these, from the daughters of the land, what good will my life be to me?”
Rebekah was clearly exasperated with the daughters of Heth. Isaac agreed and sent Jacob out of Canaan to find a wife.
Gen. 28:1 ¶ So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and charged him, and said to him, “You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan.
Gen. 28:2 “Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother’s father; and from there take to yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban your mother’s brother.
Isaac and Rebekah lived in an area where they were a religious minority. Very few people in Canaan followed Yahweh and they were surrounded by sinfulness. Esau adapted to the majority and married Hittites, but his wives brought grief to Isaac and Rebekah. Jacob went away to find a wife.
Our situation is very similar to Isaac and Rebekah’s situation. Followers of Yahweh are a minority in our culture and we are surrounded by sin. Because we are a minority, it can be difficult for followers of Yahweh to find a spouse who follows Yahweh and who has Godly morals and values. There is also a lot of temptation to conform to the culture.
What should followers of Yahweh do? First of all, the Bible is clear about our standards for a spouse.
2Cor. 6:14 ¶ Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?
2Cor. 6:15 Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever?
2Cor. 6:16 Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM;
AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.
2Cor. 6:17 “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE,” says the Lord.
“AND DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN;
And I will welcome you.
1Cor. 7:39 ¶ A wife is bound as long as her husband lives; but if her husband is dead, she is free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord.
The Bible clearly tells believers not to marry unbelievers. If believers marry unbelievers, then there will be probably be grief just as Isaac and Rebekah were grieved by Esau’s wives.
Second, the Bible clearly tells us not to conform to the culture.
Rom. 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
Being a religious minority is not easy, and it is exasperating at times. However, if we truly love Yahweh, we will be willing to pay whatever price is required to stay faithful, true, and obedient to Yahweh, the One and Only True God.
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