Gems from Genesis: Chapter 26

The journey of Isaac in the land of Promise closely mirrors that of his father, and after he is blessed with two sons, he continues his sojourn in the land, moving from place to place. Except for the burial plot his father had purchased, Isaac owns no land and does not live in a house.

When a famine causes him to move further toward the land of the Philistines, God reminds him of his promise to watch over and protect him. That doesn’t mean the way was easy, and chapter 26 is full of conflict with the men of Gerar. Over what? Water and wells.

Isaac was not a confrontational sort of man, but did what was needed to maintain peace with others. When the disputes over water became too much, Isaac moved further away from Gerar and settled in Beersheba—the well of the oath.

Once there was sufficient distance, God makes an appearance:

That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”

Genesis 26:24 ESV

God reminds him of the covenant and his blessing. While Isaac may have needed a reminder, the blessing was evident to others, and it’s in this I find our gem for today:

Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?” They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.”

Genesis 26:26-29 (emphasis mine)

While Isaac was experiencing strife with the herdsmen over wells, the King and others saw a man blessed by God. For this reason, Abimelek travels all the way to Beersheba to make a treaty with Isaac. If God was with this man, he wanted to be on his side.

We saw clearly that the Lord was with you.

What is made clear when others look at your life? Is it self-evident that God is with you?

What is encouraging about this encounter is that it’s not really because of anything Isaac did, but because God’s promise. Three times, God says, “I will be with you and bless you.”

When the famine hit, God tells Isaac not to go down to Egypt like his father had done, but to remain in the land, because “I will be with you and will bless you” (verse 3).

Then, as we read above, just after Isaac had moved away from Gerar to Beersheba, the Lord tells him not to fear, for “I am with you and will bless you” (verse 24).

The blessing of the Lord was evident as Isaac reaped a huge harvest and became wealthy during his time in Gerar. For this reason, Abimelek could say that he plainly saw the Lord was with him (verse 28).

Isaac obeyed the Lord’s command to stay in the land, he did not fight back against those who attacked him, and he moved away when he was no longer welcomed. No one can say that any one of these things is great in itself or that Isaac was a charismatic leader of his people. Yet, it was clear God was with him.

Do not worry about how you show off your faith, but live it out in humble obedience as you seek to live in peace with those around you. God will choose how he will make himself know through you to others. And when he does, they will stand up and take notice.

Grace and Peace

2 thoughts on “Gems from Genesis: Chapter 26

  1. Once again, Carol, I have snapped a screenshot of these last three paragraphs to keep with me for awhile. I had some things floating around in my head this morning – watching my mom persevere in steadfast love as she cares for my ailing dad, watching summer movies with my kids and searching for truth in them…Odd observances, maybe, but I’ve wanted to continue my talks with them about how most of us are called to extraordinary obedience in very ordinary things…how faithful living and sacrificial love can really be so much harder (and more common) than super heroes and larger than life “purposes”. Sometimes – most times – just doing the next thing and serving our families is what God calls us to and can feel so much harder and “less than” the dreams and pursuits fed to us by the world.

    All to say, it felt providential to open your blog and read this today, to see Isaac from this perspective. You truly mined a gem there! May all of our not-so-great acts of obedience make God’s presence with us ever clearer to those around us.

    Thank you, Carol!

    1. You said it well, Blythe! It’s in doing the next good thing God has prepared in advance for us to do that he works in and through us to show his glory to the world that’s watching. There is no act too small in the grand plan of God!

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