Of the Old Testament patriarchs, Isaac is the most obscure. Outside the writings of Moses, Isaac’s name is found only 21 times in Scripture. Ten of these reference family lineage, five God’s covenant with Abraham and his sons, and two are figurative uses of his name for the nation. Apart from Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice, few know anything about his life. From a rarely read chapter about an obscure event in the life of the least discussed patriarch, we learn invaluable lessons about truth.
In Genesis 26:1-16, we find the account of Isaac’s dwelling among the Philistines. Famine fired Isaac to move his family (1). God directed him to dwell in Gerar of the Philistines (2-6). Fearful for his life, Isaac followed the example of his father and lied about his wife Rebekah: “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” (Gen. 26:7; cf. Gen. 12:10-13; 20:1, 2, 9-11). In time, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, discovered the truth and rebuked the patriarch. From this brief account, we note three lessons from concealing the truth.
First, truth concealed is a friend of fear. For fear of his life, Isaac concealed the truth. Because of fear, knowledge of Jesus Christ is often concealed. The parents of a blind man whose sight was miraculously given refused to speak of Jesus publicly “because they feared the Jews” (Jn. 9:22). Joseph of Arimathaea, in whose tomb Christ’s body was laid, was a disciple of Jesus, “secretly for fear of the Jews” (Jn. 19:38). Only through a deep faith in Christ will one find the courage to boldly speak the truth concerning Jesus Christ (Acts 4:29; 9:29; 14:3; 19:9; 20:18-21, 24).
Second, truth concealed robs men of their freedom. Because of fear, Isaac and Rebekah could not freely and openly be husband and wife. When the truth of the gospel is concealed man cannot obtain freedom from sin. Only by the preaching of the gospel will a saving faith be stirred (Rom. 10:17). Jesus declared,
“And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32).
The bold proclamation of the truth of the gospel will convict men of their sins and produce a saving, obedient faith in the Christ that frees man from sin (Rom. 6:16-18).
Third, truth concealed puts men in jeopardy. Concealing the truth of his marriage, Isaac jeopardized the souls of the Philistines: “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” (Gen. 26:10). When one is ignorant of the truth of the gospel, he is guilty before God and his soul is in jeopardy. John wrote about Jesus that man “might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing” one might “have life through his name” (John 20:30, 31). John further noted, “these things write I unto you that ye sin not” (1 Jn. 2:1). When the truth is concealed man can know nothing of the Christ. When the truth is concealed, man ignorantly walks in the darkness of sin. When the truth is hidden, the souls of men are in jeopardy of eternal punishment.
Do the choices we make in life help to re-veal the truth or conceal the truth? Jesus came to make known fully the grace and truth of God (John 1:17). May we ever strive both to walk in and acknowledge the truth of Jesus Christ.