HAVING NATURAL WEAKNESS AS ABRAHAM
As we have seen, Isaac had the same natural weakness as Abraham (cf. 20:1-2, 11-13). Do you not have a natural weakness? Even the most spiritually conscious person has some natural weakness. What kind of weakness do you have? Although we all have some natural weakness, none of us can designate it. We know that we have such a weakness, but we do not know what it is. If you are certain that a particular matter is your natural weakness, that is not your weakness. Before Isaac was exposed in chapter twenty-six, he probably never realized that his natural weakness was the same as Abraham’s. He might have thought that his weakness was one of many other things. But one day he went southward and his natural weakness was exposed.
By ourselves we can never know our natural weakness; it must be exposed. None of us is able to understand his own weakness. You yourself may not know your own natural weakness, but it is clear to everyone else because it has been exposed to them. Whoever would stay with you for a time would see your natural weakness. According to your religious concept, if you have some natural weakness, you should be through with grace. But God’s grace is still with you. In the early days I also had this thought. But I have learned that grace does not depend upon what we are. Every object of divine grace has a weak point. Do not think that the Apostle Paul had no weakness. Peter, John, and Paul all had their weaknesses, but their weak points did not frustrate them from enjoying God’s grace. Every one of us has his natural weakness. There has been only one person in history who had no natural weakness—Jesus Christ.
I am not encouraging you to be either spiritual or unspiritual, but I am encouraging you to be bold in the enjoyment of grace. Do not be deprived of the enjoyment of grace by your religious concept. Drop your concept and praise the Lord that you are the object of divine grace. Although we are unable to designate our natural weakness, we do know that we have some. Others, such as our wife, husband, or roommates, know what our weakness is. While others know, it is difficult for us to know. Some of us may not know our natural weakness until we see the Lord face to face. Praise the Lord that we are blind to our natural weakness. If we were not blind to our weakness, we would be frustrated from enjoying grace. While I am not encouraging you to keep your natural weakness, I am saying that it is good that we are unaware of it. When we are conscious of a certain weakness, our religious concepts frustrate us from the enjoyment of grace. But when we do not know our weakness, we only know to enjoy the grace of the Lord. In Genesis 26, Isaac’s natural weakness was suddenly exposed. That exposure, however, did not frustrate him from the enjoyment of God’s grace. In other words, the exposure of Isaac’s natural weakness did not hinder him from trusting in God.
Isaac, leaving Beer-sheba, journeyed downward, southward, not to Egypt but to a place close to Egypt (26:1-2). God’s intention was that His chosen people stay in the good land. Whenever the natural weakness of His people arose, they always went downward. We cannot find one instance in which God’s people went upward, northward, when they were weak. The worst thing to do was to go downward to Egypt. This is what Abraham did (12:10). The second time Abraham went southward he only went as far as Philistia, the land of the Philistines (20:1). As Isaac, who was repeating Abraham’s downward story, was going southward, God intervened and warned him, saying, “Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of” (26:2). Isaac’s intention might have been to go down into Egypt, but God commanded him to dwell in the land of which He would tell him. Although Isaac did not stay in exactly the right place, he still had peace in enjoying God’s grace. He was absolutely unconscious of being religious. How good it is to have no sense of being religious! However, once the enemy has injected something into our knowledge, it is very difficult to extract it. My burden in this message is to tell you that the enjoyment of God’s grace does not depend upon our being religious. In Isaac we see a person who was not at all religious; yet he enjoyed the grace of God all the time.
Isaac not only did not stay in the right place; he also lied at the sacrifice of his wife (26:6-7) just as Abraham did. However, he and his wife were preserved by God’s sovereign care (26:8-11). It was God’s grace that kept him from the sacrifice of his wife.
(Abraham—Called by God, Chapter 29, by Witness Lee)