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September 24, 2013 We’re going to continue through the book of Genesis, and we’re now officially in the second half of the book. Chapter 26 is the only chapter dedicated entirely to the life of Isaac, and we’re going to see that he struggles with some of the same issues he father did. And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. Abimelech and Phicol (:26) are probably titles so don’t get them mixed up with the men from chapter 21. There’s a famine in the land again and Isaac moves his family and livestock to a better place. And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: 3Sojourn in this land, Apparently his original plan was to go all the way down to Egypt but the Lord won’t let him. Instead He tells him to stay within the Promised Land: and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; He doesn’t need to leave Gerar because the Lord is with him and (as we’ll see by the end of this chapter) He’ll bless him. This is the Promised Land and Isaac is the promised son that God promised to Abraham. And so God says, “Sit still and wait here. I’m fulfilling the oath I made to your father.” Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. If we put this with Genesis 22:16-19 we see that it’s a result of the events on Mount Moriah. If we then look at Hebrews 11:17-19 we see that the basis of it is faith, and that’s really the keyword for understanding this whole chapter. God’s intention is to convince Isaac that He has established a covenant that’s already well underway, so Isaac needs to stay within the Promised Land.
But faith doesn’t go long unchallenged:
And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 7And 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.
So, Isaac has a circumstance similar to Abraham’s and he does the same thing. It’s proof in my mind that God doesn’t call the just but rather justifies the called. With Abraham God let things appear to get more out of hand, but things don’t go so far this time: And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. 9And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife; and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. 10And 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. 11And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death. Part of God’s provision is to let Isaac be caught in his lie, but the result is somewhat baffling. Abimelech seems (and has the right to be) a little angry, but instead of punishment he issues an edict of protection. Seeing that the king’s heart is like a channel of water turning wherever God turns it (Prov. 21:1), we know that this is sovereign protection from God. Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. 13And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 14For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: God has a covenant to keep with Abraham and it must be through Isaac. If this man is to be turned into a great nation, then it stands to reason that he will be greatly blessed. God does all this in giving him great success and possessions. But all this doesn’t come without a price: and the Philistines envied him. This alien comes in merely to escape a famine and instead receives favor from the king and abundance from God. They don’t do well with it and want to harm him any way they can:
For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth.
Of course, you remember that Abraham had a water-rights dispute and it was a big deal. A man can’t live or succeed without water, and this is how the Philistines can get to him. Well, there’s enough envy and trouble going around that the king has to get involved:
And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. 17And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there.
So Isaac leaves the city and heads for the outskirts where he’ll be free to grow without the jealous eyes of the city folks: And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. 19And Isaac's servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. 21And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. Well, things aren’t really working out for him are they? First he has to re-dig some old wells and then he faces opposition over some new ones. He names the first one “argument” and the second “hostility.”
And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.
He finally finds a place and he names the well “open space.” But the real question is why do we read about all these wells in the first place? Why not just skip to the end? I think it’s important because it shows you the opposition to his possession of the land. The residents weren’t willing to give it him. God said one thing, but they planned another. But this opposition isn’t out of God’s control. Rather, God continually guides Isaac to the place He intends:
And he went up from thence to Beersheba.
No one knows for sure why he left the well at Rehobath for Beersheba, but it’s certainly important. This is where he and his father had dwelt after coming down from Mount Moriah (Gen. 22:19). Could it be that he returned to the place he knew to be the Promised Land?
And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake. 25And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well.
Take note that the Lord appeared “the same night” and Isaac’s priorities have changed: first he builds an altar, then he calls on the Lord, next he pitches his tent, and last he digs a well. He had been going to the water to find a place, but now he is trusting God for water at the place God wants. Look what happens next: Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army. 27And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? I guess you can’t be too surprised that Isaac is more than a little disenchanted with these men, and he doesn’t even try to hide it. And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; 29That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD. 30And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. 31And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. 32And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water. 33And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.
That is, “the well of the oath.” Obviously this references the previous verses, but more importantly it highlights God’s oath to Abraham and Isaac: “the Lord is with thee.” And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: 35Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah. This is a preview of Esau’s condition and it sets us up for the next chapter. These women were cursed by Noah (9:25) and were not heirs of the promise. This ensured his descendants would be driven out along with all the other Canaanites. #1- God actively guides events to fulfill His purpose. We see that from the famine to the jealous Philistines; there’s no denying this is the work of the Lord. #2- God preserves us through the hatred of the devil and the world. #3- God has not forgotten or failed in His promise to Abraham and Isaac. newgracebaptistchurch.wordpress.com
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