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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

March 9, 2016

Genesis 26:1-25

  1. Verse l. This chapter begins with the announcement of a famine. This was a serious problem for Isaac. He was in danger of losing everything he had. And this famine happened in the “Promised Land,” the land God promised Abraham’s descendants. Even though Isaac’s life was singled out by God for blessing, and even though he’s in the center of God’s Will, he has to deal with a famine. What a reminder that we can be in the “Promised Land,” the place of blessing, and still experience hardship. Unfortunately, many believers don’t really believe this. We tend to think that God blesses people by giving them pleasant circumstances. You and I can be right where God wants us to be and still suffer hardships. That’s how life works. Trials are the normal experience of God’s people. Because of the famine, Isaac went to the Philistines. In an attempt to preserve his wealth, in the form of many cattle, Isaac went to the land of the Philistines.

  2. Verses 2-6. While in Gerar or perhaps even before, Isaac considered going down to Egypt just as his father had done (cf. 12:10-20). This seems like the logical thing to do since Egypt is where all the food is. Now Isaac is not wrong for being concerned about the famine or feeding his family, since we have no indication that God gave him this idea. (see Isa 31:1). And so the Lord appeared to Isaac with this corrective word of instruction: ”Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you. Stay in this land and I will be with you and bless you.” God will bless him in the land of the famine. To stay in Gerar in time of famine was to court catastrophe. Even so, God promises Isaac, “I will be with you and bless you” (26:3, 24, 28). When God is present we have nothing to fear (see Isa 41:10). God commands Isaac not to go down to Egypt, but to stay in Gerar to teach Isaac and you and me that He can bless us no matter what the situation. God can bless us in a bad economy, a bad marriage, a difficult ministry, a challenging workplace, and on and on. So Isaac stayed in Gerar. He obeyed God even though it didn’t make much sense in the natural. He trusted that God would provide for him in the supernatural. Got to leave room for a miracle.

  3. Verses 7-8. Apparently Rebekah was an extremely beautiful woman. Rebekah is such a beautiful woman that just being seen with her was a life-threatening experience. Out of concern for his own safety Isaac caves in to the temptation to pass off his wife as his sister, and as a result, willfully puts Rebekah’s purity and safety at risk. Like his father, Isaac chose to fear man rather than God (Prov 29:25; 27:1-3). It’s a common pattern for children to repeat their parents’ mistakes. Isaac makes the same failure with regards to his wife that his father did with Sarah. Instead of trusting that God will keep him alive, he reasons that he might be killed. Instead of protecting his family, he endangers it by making Rebekah available to the Philistines. Fortunately, unlike the case with Sarah, Rebekah is never taken into anyone’s harem. God makes sure this doesn’t happen. King Abimelech is looking out his window one day and spies Isaac “caressing” Rebekah. There’s a humorous wordplay in the Hebrew. The word translated “caressing” comes from the same root word translated “Isaac,” which means, “he laughs.” (Lit.”He who laughs was laughing with Rebekah, his wife”) Here it clearly has a sexual connotation. Whatever this “caress” was, it’s obvious that you don’t play it with your sister.

  4. Verses 9-11. Surely, Abimelek’s first thought was, “How gross!” But then he realizes that this was not Isaac’s sister. Isaac was caught in a lie. His reputation was stained, and his character was called into question. But we must acknowledge that sometimes God is merciful to us in allowing our sin to be exposed. Sometimes being caught is the best thing that could happen to us. It affords us the opportunity to confess our sin and be restored to the Lord and those that we have sinned against. Abimelech scolds Isaac and demands to know why he would lie like that. Isaac responds by stating he was afraid for his life. So Abimelech charged all the people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.” Isaac assumed the people were more wicked than himself, but he found out that they were more righteous than him. Just because God has his hand on you doesn’t mean you have it all together. At this point, Isaac should have immediately repented of his sin. But there is no evidence in the text that he did. And, by treating the Philistines in this way, he became a stumbling block for the people of Gerar, instead of fulfilling his call to be a blessing of God to the nations (12:2-3). It is right for unbelievers to look at our lives more carefully and with greater scrutiny.

  5. Verses 12-17. After this ethical failure, we read that God blessed Isaac with great wealth. Isaac was getting blessed in spite of his horrible lapse of judgment. Isaac doesn’t deserve these blessings, but he gets these blessings because God has a plan. Don’t think that everything you receive is earned. This is grace on top of grace. These verses tell of God’s faithfulness in blessing Isaac as He had promised (cf. 26:3; 24:1; 25:11). God has blessed Isaac so much that the people began to envy him and sabotage his success. Everybody is not going to like or be able to stand you getting blessed. It got so bad that Abimelek asked him to move away from them.

  6. Verses 18-22. Isaac move away and dug wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham. The Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham; and he gave them the same names which his father had given them. But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of flowing water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they contended with him. Then he dug another well, and the Philistines quarreled over it too, so he named it Sitnah. He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth, for he said, “At last the LORD has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the 1and.” Again, God blesses Isaac. Water in the wilderness is a strong symbol of God’s supernatural blessing, in spite of nature. However, even in the midst of blessing there can be great conflict. The Philistines repeatedly quarreled over Isaac’s wells. Yet, even in the midst of quarreling God was blessing Isaac.

  7. Verses 23-25. Isaac decides to move from this place and go to Beersheba. Something is moving in him to not stay where he had found water but go to Beersheba. In Beersheba, God appeared to Isaac (his second revelation) calming his fears and reviewing the promises He had given previously (26:2-5). Isaac’s response was to build an altar, worship the Lord, and settle down there. Up to this time, Isaac’s decision as to where he should stay was based upon the finding of abundant water and the absence of hostilities. But now, having dug a well that was uncontested, we would have expected Isaac to dwell there. Instead, we are told that he moved on to Beersheba (26:23). Circumstances had previously shaped most of his decisions, but now something stronger is giving direction in his life. If you recall, Abraham “planted a tamarisk tree at Beersheba, and there he called on the name of the LORD, the Everlasting God” (21:33). It was also the place where Abraham had gone with Isaac, after they came down from the “sacrifice” on Mount Moriah (22:19). It was a place of worship, a place of God’s presence and blessing. Isaac knew that God had promised to give him the land promised to his father, Abraham (26:3-5). Isaac finally came to see that, through all the opposition over the wells he had dug, God had been guiding him back to the land of promise, back to those places where Abraham had walked in fellowship with God. Often, God allows adversity of one kind or another to move us physically to where He wants us to be (Acts 17:10), or to move us spiritually to “be mature and complete, not lacking anything” (Jas l:4). In this case, God used conflict to deepen Isaac’s confidence and dependence upon Him. Isaac’s actions express his trust in the Lord. Isaac was growing in faith. Can you say this? Are you growing in your relationship with God? Are you asking God, “What are you saying to me through this conflict?”

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