When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” becauseshe was attractive in appearance. Genesis 26:7
The theologians argue about whether Isaac was sinning when he lied and said that Rebekah was his sister. In his weakness, he thought, “I’ll say she’s my sister, or else they might kill me.” That almost sounds like, “Go ahead. Take my wife and disgrace her, as long as I don’t get hurt. If I say she’s my wife, you’ll only feel like you can’t have her unless you kill me first.” Isn’t that a foolish, silly, and unworthy attitude for such an important man? Shouldn’t he just have said, “She’s my wife. I don’t care whether you kill me or not”? But the passage says that Isaac was afraid. What a shame that someone as important as he was should be so afraid of death!
This story was written to comfort God’s people. It shows how merciful and kind God really is. Even though we are sinful and weak, the Lord will be patient with our weaknesses, as long as we stay away from those who deny, hate, or curse God. I don’t want to excuse our ancestors in the faith, as some people do. It’s comforting to hear that even good people in the Bible slipped and did wrong. I don’t hold up their actions as if they were good. Similarly, I don’t excuse Peter for denying Jesus. I don’t excuse the apostles for deserting Jesus or for any other foolish thing they did.
Among Jesus’ little flock, there are some poor, miserable, and weak souls. Jesus is the king of the weak as well as the strong. He hates arrogant people and opposes the stubborn. He punishes hypocrites and people who are overconfident. But he doesn’t want to discourage or crush those who are scared, sad, or worried. He doesn’t want to snuff out the smoldering wick (Isaiah 42:3).
Edited by James C. Galvin
Timeless insights from one of the most important people in church history. Resounding across the centuries, Martin Luther’s prolific writings as a pastor, theologian, scholar, Bible translator, father, and more, remain powerful and richly relevant. Faith Alone is a treasury of accessible devotionals taken from Luther’s best writings and sermons from the years 1513 through 1546. This carefully updated translation retains the meaning, tone, and imagery of Luther’s works such as this gem:
Some people value good works so much that they overlook faith in Christ. Faith should be first. It is faith—without good works and prior to good works—that takes us to heaven. We come to God through faith alone. —Martin Luther
Through daily readings, Luther’s straightforward approach challenges you to a more thoughtful faith. Read one brief section a day or explore themes using the subject index in the back of the book. Faith Alone will deepen your understanding of Scripture and help you more fully appreciate the mystery of faith.