There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar. Then the Lord appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”
a. I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father: In theory, it was possible for the covenant “die” with the passing of Abraham, but God was true to His word. The covenant God made with Abraham was not only unto Abraham, but unto all of his descendants also (Genesis 17:7-8). This fulfills a specific promise made in Genesis 17:19.
b. Because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge: God says that He kept the covenant because of Abraham’s obedience. Yet a close look at Abraham’s life shows that his obedience wasn’t complete or constant.
i. God can say this of Abraham because Abraham was declared righteous by faith (Genesis 15:6), and as far as God is concerned, all He sees in Abraham is the righteousness of Jesus.
2. (6-9) Abimelech takes Rebekah because Isaac says she is his sister.
So Isaac dwelt in Gerar. And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, “She is my sister”; for he was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” because he thought, “lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.” Now it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, thatAbimelech king of the Philistines looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife. Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Quite obviously she is your wife; so how could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” And Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘Lest I die on account of her.’“
a. And he said, “She is my sister”; for he was afraid to say, “She is my wife”: Isaac went from such a high spiritual experience (Genesis 26:1-5) to such blatant sin because of the weakness of his own flesh, and also because of the bad example of his father.
i. Peter, with his confession and wrong counsel to Jesus, is a perfect example of how sin can follow upon an outpouring of God’s blessing. Well does 1 Corinthians 10:12 say: Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.
b. Lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold: The Bible doesn’t teach we are bound by “generational curses,” but it is often the case that the sins of the fathers are found in the children, because those sins of the flesh have been nurtured in that environment.
c. There was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife: When Abimelech saw this (the KJV has an interesting translation here, saying Isaac was sporting with Rebekah), he put two and two together and understood the true nature of their relationship.
3. (10-11) Isaac is rebuked by a pagan king, even as his father was.
And Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.” So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
a. He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death: Even as God protected his father, even in the midst of sinful conduct, Isaac was protected.
B. Isaac’s great prosperity.
1. (12-14) Isaac becomes wealthy, as Abraham was before him.
Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him.
a. Then Isaac sowed in that land: Prosperity came to Isaac as the blessing upon his hard work. He probably received enough of an inheritance from his father that he did not have to work, but did nonetheless, and God blessed it.
2. (15-23) Isaac handles disputes concerning wells with the natives, until he moves to Beersheba.
Now the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and they had filled them with earth. And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.” Then Isaac departed from there and pitched his tent in the Valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them. Also Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found a well of running water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they quarreled with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also. So he called its name Sitnah. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, “For now theLord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” Then he went up from there to Beersheba.
a. He called the name of the well Esek: The first well was named “contention,” because it made others jealous. The next well was named “opposition” for similar reasons. But the third well was named “roominess,” because it was far enough away to not be a problem.
b. Then he went up from there to Beersheba: God used the conflicts to lead Isaac back to Beersheba, where Abraham had been before. God doesn’t want us to live in contention and opposition, but they can be used by God to lead us to the place where He wants us to be.
i. Of course, none of this lessens the responsibility those who unjustly opposed Isaac had to God. God used their sinful contention against Isaac, but it was still sin.
3. (24-25) God again confirms His promise to Isaac for Abraham’s sake.
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 My servant Abraham’s sake.” So he built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord, and he pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.
a. For My servant Abraham’s sake: God keeps His covenant with us for Jesus’ sake.
4. (26-31) The natives make peace with Isaac because the Lord is with him, just as happened with Abraham.
Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath, one of his friends, and Phichol the commander of his army. And Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?” But they said, “We have certainly seen that the Lord is with you. So we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, between you and us; and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, since we have not touched you, and since we have done nothing to you but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.’“ So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. Then they arose early in the morning and swore an oath with one another; and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.
5. (32-33) God’s blessing for Isaac in the form of a well.
It came to pass the same day that Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, “We have found water.” So he called it Shebah. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.
a. We have found water: Abraham was a man of altars, and Jacob would be a man of tents. But Isaac was a man of wells, and he knew God’s constant provision. He also knew God could provide in many different ways, not just one.
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