BEWARE! - Our CHILDREN should not FOLLOW our WRONG STEPS: So Isaac dwelt 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." (Gen. 26:6-7)
The above passage conveys a very important message for all parents – it is very possible that our children will follow our wrong steps if we are not careful. More often than not, in families we see that weaknesses of one generation are usually passed on to the next generation. As the lone bearer of God’s covenant privileges, we see that Isaac was to undergo the same testing that his father Abraham had during his lifetime.
We can see a good example of this testing in the story of Isaac’s encounter with the Philistine king Abimelech (vv. 1–2). A famine had arrived in the land, and Isaac, like his father Abraham (see 12:10), decided to go south to the land of Egypt for relief. However, God intervened, and told him to stay back at Gerar among the Philistines. This may have been to exercise his covenant role for blessing the nations (vv. 3–4). God had told Isaac to stay temporarily in Gerar but instead Isaac settled there. God had also reconfirmed to him the unconditional covenant that He had made with Abraham many years ago.
Isaac reacted with fear just as his father had done, and misrepresented his wife as his sister to the men of Gerar. Rebekah was a close relative (22:20–23) but not Isaac’s sister. So, Isaac was even more deceitful than his father Abraham was (see 20:2, 12). It is the sad story of a father’s weakness being repeated in his son. This narrative of deception and peril to Rebekah closely parallels those involving Sarah (12:10–20; 20), but the significant differences in the accounts indicate that they are not merely the same event retold.
Thus, Isaac repeated the sin of his father Abraham, possibly having heard of his father’s use of the same falsehood. There is nothing in Isaac's denial of his wife to be imitated, nor even excused. While in enemy territory, Isaac resorted to the “family lie” that twice got Abraham into trouble (see 12:10; 20:1). It is sad when the new generation imitates the sins of the old generation. We should note the unfortunate influence that parents may have upon their children!
Finally, Isaac’s failure to model God’s righteousness with regard to Abimelech did not prevent God’s blessings on him materially. Through God’s providence and protection (26:11; compare 20:14–16), Isaac and Rebecca were preserved (Psalms 105:14, 15). God was faithful to His covenant, even though both father and son were not faithful to their integrity!
Let us understand that our children are observing us carefully – how we behave, how we talk, how we spend our time, our attitude towards money, etc. – so let us be good role models for them to follow. Remember, it is very easy for children to follow the wrong paths of their parents, so let us adopt the same principles that King David adopted many years ago: "I will behave wisely in a perfect way...I will walk within my house with a perfect heart. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes...A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness. My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me; he who walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me. He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house; he who tells lies shall not continue in my presence." (Psalms 101:2-4, 6-7)