Family Tree – June 2022 - Isaac
We are 3 weeks into our series “Family Tree” that has us looking at some of the Biblical pillars of our faith and moments in their lives when God met them in profound ways. And the heritage of faith that they have passed on to us. And we are looking in a moment at the life of Isaac.
The only son of Abraham and Sarah – he is the one that God asks Abraham to sacrifice – he is father to Esau and Jacob and grandfather to the 12 tribes of Israel.
Isaac Deceives Abimelech
A severe famine now struck the land, as had happened before in Abraham’s time. So, Isaac moved to Gerar, where Abimelech, king of the Philistines, lived. 2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt, but do as I tell you. 3 Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants,[a] just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. 4 I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. 5 I will do this because Abraham listened to me and obeyed all my requirements, commands, decrees, and instructions.” 6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.
There is a famine just as there was for Abraham.
He goes to Gerar just like Abraham.
Fun fact: This is not the same Abimelech as in the Abraham story. The Abimelech of chapter 20 and of chapter 26 are separated by at least 75 years. We should not look at the term king as being a lofty title. The leaders of small city-states and even clan groups were called kings.
God appears to Isaac just as he did to Abraham.
And God promises the same things to Isaac that he did to Abraham in Genesis 13,15,17,21 and 22 –
I will give all these lands to you and your descendants,
I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands.
And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed.
God is clear that he is doing this for Isaac because of the promise to his father.
God was faithful to Abraham – he will be faithful to Isaac, and he is declaring that directly to Isaac
But God says something else to Isaac – he says:
I will be with you and bless you.
God was certainly with Abraham, but God never expressed it to Abraham the way he did to Isaac.
I will be with you.
And this promise doesn’t just mean that Isaac has a sense of God being there.
God commits to blessing Isaac because of Abraham’s commitment to God when he was prepared to sacrifice Isaac.
7 When the men who lived there asked Isaac about his wife, Rebekah, he said, “She is my sister.” He was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “They will kill me to get her, because she is so beautiful.” 8 But sometime later, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out his window and saw Isaac caressing Rebekah.
9 Immediately, Abimelech called for Isaac and exclaimed, “She is obviously your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”
“Because I was afraid someone would kill me to get her from me,” Isaac replied.
10 “How could you do this to us?” Abimelech exclaimed. “One of my people might easily have taken your wife and slept with her, and you would have made us guilty of great sin.”
This could have been really bad – guilty here is actually translated into retribution. This could have resulted in death if someone had been with Rebekah. How could you do this to us?
Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you.
He did not have faith that God was with him and would bless him – he took matters into his own and hands.
11 Then Abimelech issued a public proclamation: “Anyone who touches this man, or his wife will be put to death!”
How does Abimelech respond?
He protects them.
God protects them.
God is with them.
God is with Isaac and Rebekah. Just as He promised.
12 When Isaac planted his crops that year, he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him. 13 He became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. 14 He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him.
God’s blessing is on Isaac again. In one translation the word “rich” is translated to magnified.
15 So the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham.
16 Finally, Abimelech ordered Isaac to leave the country. “Go somewhere else,” he said, “for you have become too powerful for us.”
Fun fact: It is Isaac’s prosperity that makes Abimelech get rid of him, not his lying and deception. When God blesses Isaac, he becomes annoying to Abimelech.
17 So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. 18 He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them.
Circumstances were not good for Isaac in this part of Gerar – no one likes him – and he is ordered to leave – so he goes to another part of Gerar – he is still an outsider in this land – but he goes about quietly redigging and reopening his father’s wells – he doesn’t get angry – he just gets to work
We might say that the wells of peace, of power, of grace, of wisdom, of transformation are all available for the believer today as they were for previous generations.
19 Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. 20 But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). 21 Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). 22 Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”
He called the name of the well Esek - contention
He called its name Sitnah - opposition
He called its name Rehoboth - roominess
Fun fact: The parallel between Isaac’s life and that of his father is again evident in this account of the disputes over the wells and Isaac’s response. Due to their prosperity Abraham and Isaac needed much room for their flocks and a source of water. Prosperity brought contention between Lot’s herdsmen and those of Abraham (Genesis 13:5) just as it did between Isaac’s herdsmen and the herdsmen of Gerar. Isaac, like his father, chose to keep the peace by giving preference to the other party.
“At last the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.”
So why in the very next verse does he move to Beersheba?
23 From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, 24 where the Lord appeared to him on the night of his arrival. “I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.” 25 Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the Lord. He set up his camp at that place, and his servants dug another well.
Something had changed in the way Isaac was thinking.
And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, For the sake of My servant Abraham” (Genesis 26:24).
Notice what Isaac does then in verse 25:
Builds an altar
Calls upon the Lord
Pitches his tent
Have you built your altar?
The Lord will guide you continually,
giving you water when you are dry
and restoring your strength.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like an ever-flowing spring. Isaiah 58:11
Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6:33
Do you trust that? Do you believe that?
Build your altar.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
God is saying, there is nothing out there for you
There is nothing for you outside of me
I will lead you and guide you and direct you
I am faithful
I am good
I am trustworthy
I am here
Build your altar right where God has you.