With this examination of Abraham and Isaac, let’s not use this as a reason to get too down on them. They were, after all, human. They were not demi-gods, though for some reason we tend to think of them in that way. No, they were simply two of those that God chose so as to make manifest His will and to carry forward His purposes of human and cosmic redemption. They were also men of faith. In what was important in God’s eyes, which was trusting Him in going out to the lands and places that God had for them, they seemed to have attained. The bottom line was that they trusted in the God of exodus, who would lead them to the places and the situations in which He could best demonstrate, through them and their blessed lives, His covenant faithfulness. He could do this in spite of their shortcomings.
Returning to the story of Isaac, we find that “After Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines happened to look out a window and observed Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah” (Genesis 26:8). It seems that Isaac had gotten a little careless, perhaps forgetful of their ruse in that moment. Abimelech was distressed at this situation, and with what appears to possibly be a knowledge of what happened to Pharaoh’s house when Abraham’s wife was taken in to his harem, said “What in the world have you done to us? One of the men might easily have had an sexual relations with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us!” (26:10b) Here again we see a sense of honor, which is further demonstrated by Abimelech’s subsequent command that “Whoever touches this man or his wife will surely be put to death” (26:11b). So contrary to Isaac’s “fear” that he would be killed so that the men of the land could get to Rebekah, we see the opposite established, in that anybody that so much as lifted a finger in the direction of Isaac and Rebekah would invite death upon themselves.
There is an element here that causes use to hearken back to an earlier event in the life of Isaac, which was his near-sacrifice at the hands of his father. In that event, Abraham expected to have to slaughter his son. However, he had a promise that he would have countless descendants through that son. The fact that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son in the face of that promise, along with his words to his servants that both he and the boy would return from the mountain of sacrifice, is an indication that Abraham expected his covenant God to raise his son up from the dead. Abraham’s faith was vindicated. As the author of Hebrews would come to write, Abraham “reasoned that God could even raise him from the dead, and in a sense he received him back from there” (11:19). This event was looked upon in the history of Israel as something like a movement from death to resurrection. It was conceived of as an instance of suffering to vindication. This means that we can view it as a movement from exile to exodus.