Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 26:7-11

7 And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon.

8 And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife.

9 And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife: and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her.

10 And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us.

11 And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.

Isaac repeats the same pattern as Abraham, informing the people of Gerar that Rebekah is his sister (technically she is his first-cousin-one-removed) instead of his wife.

When I first read this passage, I noted that the king here was named Abimelech, the same as when Abraham passed through this land. I thought it amusing that he would have been tricked twice by Abraham and his son, however, a little research reveals that Abimelech was a common name among the Philistines, also being the name of another king in the time of David. Thus it could be another king with the same name, or perhaps the name was actually a title, much like “Pharaoh” for the Egyptian kings.

I also assumed that the phrase “Isaac was sporting with his wife” was a euphemism for some sort of physical intimacy. But as it turns out, the word used in the original Hebrew is צְחַק or tsachaq, which means “to laugh.” So, it seems more accurate to say that Isaac and Rebekah were laughing, joking and/or playing together, in such a way that he could tell they were closer than just siblings.

Something else interesting is that the Hebrew word tsachaq is the same word used to describe when Sarah laughed after God said that she would bear a son in her old age. And then, when Isaac was born, he was named after that moment. His name in Hebrew is Yitschaq. Here is how the two words (tsachaq and Yitschaq) are written in the Hebrew language:

צְחַק
יִצְחָק

Isaac’s name literally means “he laughs,” and this phrase about him sporting with Rebekah can be read as “he-laughs was laughing with his wife.” It is an amusing sentence.

Scriptural Analysis- Genesis 22:14

14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.

A small verse, but a significant one. It is a verse that introduces the significance of special holy places, such as mountains, the tabernacle, and the temple. Remember that Abraham wasn’t commanded by God to sacrifice Isaac just anywhere, he was told to go to this very place. It was up in a mountain, and several mountains will be the site of sacred visitations from God, such as the Mount of Transfiguration and Mount Sinai. Mountains were seen as God’s home, a place where one might find and visit with Him.

The meaning of the name Jehovah-jireh is also very significant. Jehovah is, of course, the name of God, and jireh is often translated as “provides.” So “the Lord provides” is the name of the place, which certainly fits, given the lamb caught in the thicket.

However there is a second definition for the word jireh, which is “to see,” such as when it is used in 1 Samuel 16:7: “but the LORD looketh on the heart.” This explains the second part of our verse: “in the mount of the Lord it shall be seen.” Exactly what it was Abraham saw, we do not know. For us looking back we can see in it a clear analogy of God giving up His son as a sacrifice for the world to save our lives. Was Abraham instructed in some of these matters at this time as well? We can’t be sure, the text does not specify.

This name might also be referring to how God saw that Abraham would obey Him in all things. In either case, the name reinforces the notion of mountains, tabernacles, and temples being sacred sites. These were special places to come and see God and be seen by Him.

And I’m sure that both of these interpretations, “to provide” and “to see,” were intended. Abraham had been both provided for in the form of a ram in the thicket, and he been made to see the heart and workings of God, and so he named this place accordingly.

Finding Our Purpose- Genesis 45:4-5

And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt.
Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.

COMMENTARY

God did send me before you to preserve life
I believe that most of us think of our calling and our trials separately. A calling is something beautiful and meaningful that we are meant to accomplish. A trial is something we have to endure to prove our faithfulness.
But it would seem that Joseph did not see them as so apart from one another. He was taken from his family, sold into slavery and imprisoned unjustly. And yet in all those monumental afflictions he had seen the hand God. Through his suffering he found purpose.
This isn’t to say that we should seek out suffering, or that we shouldn’t try to mitigate pain when it is in our power to do so. We are encouraged to avoid pain wherever possible.
But when we have been dealt a hard hand we should pause now and again to look for greater meaning in it. If we are being required to pass through something, then certainly there is a reason why. What is the bigger picture yet to be revealed?

Finding Our Purpose- Question

Everyone knows in their heart that they are on this earth for a reason. Cynicism may eventually make some people doubt it, but all of us at least begin with that basic assumption. Furthermore, each of us know that it is a significant and specific purpose, too. It isn’t something vague or shallow, such as to just “make other people feel happy.”

But even with that knowledge we can still be lost as to what that something we are supposed to do is. Many of us are made quite anxious by feeling that we have a calling, but are not able to hear what it is. Tragically, there are many who never are able to figure it out.

That is not the fate that God intends for us, He does not wish for any of us to live a life without meaning. Each of us has a purpose and we are supposed to live it. When people ask “what is the meaning of life” there are general answers that apply to humanity as a whole, but there is also the more direct question of “what is the meaning of my life?”

With this study I would like to examine how we pursue answers to that question. How do we know when we have actually found our purpose, as opposed to a shallow hobby? In what ways will God communicate His will for us?

In the meantime I would love to hear about your own journey to find your part to play. How do you tell the difference between a divine calling and a vain wish? Have you ever doubted whether you had any higher purpose at all? What was the result of eventually finding your true vocation?