Genesis: The Beginning
Isaac in Philistine Land 1-25-16
READ: Genesis 26
Yesterday, we read about the battle of the birthright in the lives of Esau and Jacob. Today, we will see how Isaac succumbs to deception and spiritual insecurity; but also finds a way to prosper in the land of the Philistines—a pagan nation. Some of this sounds very familiar.
Times are hard and famine hits the land of Canaan, so Isaac is forced to move God’s people to Gerar where they encounter Abimelech king of the Philistines. The name Abimelech is a title more than a name; it confers a kingly authority. Remember, Abraham encountered Abimelech about 97 years earlier. Isaac probably encounters one of that Abimelech’s sons or grandsons who have followed in his rule.
The LORD appears to Isaac and reassures him of the promised inheritance that he will enjoy because his father, Abraham, honored the voice of God and followed (knowing salvation was entirely from God). Now, God is with Isaac and will cause him to prosper as they walk together. It feels like we are going around the same mountain with Isaac as we did with Abraham, doesn’t it? Both Abraham and Isaac are forced to leave a land of famine, enjoy a beautiful and desirable wife, encounter Abimelech, lie about that wife being a sister, and are confronted with the Truth. The proverbial apple does not fall far from the tree! There is power in a parent’s influence. Family has the ability to greatly influence and shape our behaviors and we see that some of Abraham’s insecurities have seeped into his seed and manifest in Isaac. God still protects Isaac.
Although deception does not please God who is Truth, he is patient with Isaac. We must remember, our performance does not bring the love of God; God is simply good and He understands our weaknesses. God and Isaac are walking together and the presence of God is reshaping Isaac’s character day by day. As Isaac sows good seeds he reaps abundantly; in fact the Philistine people envy Isaac’s prosperity so they stop up his watering wells. In the desert effective watering wells are essential to sustain life, so this act on the part of the Philistines is terroristic sabotage. Isaac could have called for war when Abimelech orders him to leave the land, but instead Isaac moves and calls for his people to dig or reopen more wells in the new location. Now, Isaac experiences opposition over these wells with the shepherds of Gerar. Issac keeps digging and abandoning wells until he produces one where he can enjoy peace.
Abimelech comes back onto the scene with the purpose of making a treaty with Isaac. Why? Because no matter what life throws at Isaac, it is obvious that God is with him and the negative turns into a positive for him. Abimelech has been watching and he wants what Isaac has with the LORD. Abimelech tells Isaac he should be receptive to such a treaty because, “…we never troubled you. We have always treated you ‘well’ and we sent you away from us in peace” (v.29). Can someone say, “Well, well!” Perception is everything and Abimelech wants to see himself as righteous in his previous actions with Isaac. The truth is, however, Abimelech operated in fear when he sent Isaac packing! When Isaac did not reject the king’s offer to make peace, God opened new wells of opportunities for him. God’s well of blessings cannot be stopped up when His children choose to follow Him!