Bridging Over Potential Dispute
Lessons from Isaac-Rebekah Interactions
Rebekah avoided potential dispute with husband Isaac while getting him to implement a course of action she believed in for their family. In one case, she redirected him to implement God’s instruction regarding relationships among their children by taking advantage of his failing site. In another case, she secured Isaac’s approval of Jacob fleeing to Haran, using a concern they shared to bridge over potential disagreement regarding her immediate concern of fratricide among their children.
Interactions between Isaac and Rebekah indicate unwavering commitment to their marriage and acceptance of Isaac as leader in family affairs. Evidence for their marital commitment arises from the fact they lived for twenty years without a child but did not seek alternative solutions to childlessness. Instead, they prayed and believed God will give them children through the marriage. He did. Regarding the acceptance of Isaac as family leader, the evidence can be derived from two key events that we discuss in more detail presently.
However, in contrast with what we learned from the Shunammite couple, where family leadership was shared between the man and his wife through an informal division of responsibilities, Isaac’s leadership of family affairs appears total and unyielding with little if any room for Rebekah’s choice. His style of family leadership, though probably in keeping with customary practice, resulted in the unpleasant situation of his wife Rebekah deceiving him in order to implement an instruction from God regarding important family relationships. Additionally, at least one other significant event in their life shows Rebekah concealing a point of disagreement from her husband in order to arrive at a resolution acceptable to both of them. She bridged over potential dispute by focusing on a concern they shared.
We can learn from Isaac-Rebekah interactions that God may assign to a husband or his wife the responsibility to lead an aspect of family life. For example, as we discuss in more detail presently, God assigned to Rebekah the responsibility to safeguard and see to the implementation of his choice for the propagation of family inheritance.
Irrespective of whether God calls the husband or his wife, the guiding principles are the same. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Right Heart for Strategic Alliance, God expects the husband and wife to work together to accomplish the assigned objectives.
The Shunammite Couple lived according to this principle as we saw in a previous study. They shared family leadership amicably and assisted each other to accomplish family goals. God blessed them abundantly. In contrast, Isaac-Rebekah interactions provide an example of potential dispute due to unyielding family leadership by the husband. However, Rebekah devised ways to bridge over the potential dispute. In one case, she redirected her husband to implement God’s instruction regarding relationships among their children, by taking advantage of his failing site. In another, she secured Isaac’s approval of Jacob fleeing to Haran by presenting a concern they shared, thus bridging over potential disagreement regarding possible fratricide among their children