Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: We often think that God’s blessing should just pop up. Some do! More often than not though God asks us to look for them. God has strategically placed His blessings where we could find them if we are listening to Him. God wants us to remember that He loves

Valley Experience Series # 3

Opening Illustration: Once Isaac and his servants remembered the wells, they had to look for them. The wells just didn’t pop up. Effort was made to remember exactly where they were, and to find them. There is a story of a family unpacking at their new home. After finishing unpacking they realized that their dog was missing. Concerned that she couldn’t find her way back home in such unfamiliar surroundings, they all loaded in the car to search for her. They drove around and around with no luck. Not far from their house there was a man sitting on a porch. They stopped and asked if he had seen their dog. He said, “Yes, she has been following your car for the last 10 minutes.”

Sometimes in looking for God’s blessing we overlook the obvious.

Have you ever gone back to find something you left years ago? Things have a way of changing. Weeds grow, trees grow, and things change. I went and visited where I lived as a boy 30 years ago. Things change. Isaac had to remember. And then he had to search and explore to find the wells. We often think that God’s blessing should just pop up. Some do! More often than not though God asks us to look for them. God has strategically placed His blessings where we could find them if we are listening to Him. God wants us to remember that He loves us and wants to bless our lives. This should motivate us to seek His blessings.

Introduction: In verse 2 God had promised to guide Isaac to the place where he should dwell. Little did Isaac realize just how God was to lead him back to the place of His promise and presence. To a large degree it was by means of adversity and opposition. On the surface, opposition seemed like the last thing which Isaac experienced. Staying on in Gerar after Abimelech had confronted him, Isaac harvested a bumper crop: Now Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy; for he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him (Genesis 26:12-14). In spite of Isaac’s deception, God poured out His blessings upon him. For reasons we shall discuss later, Abimelech failed to recognize Isaac’s prosperity as the blessing of God. All he knew was that Isaac was a powerful figure - one whom he did not want to contend with. Abimelech knew also that the Philistines were growing uneasy about Isaac’s presence in the land. Isaac was rather threatening personally not only because of his prosperity and power but also because of his father Abraham: Now all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines stopped up by filling them with earth (Genesis 26:15). Digging a well was considered tantamount to a claim of ownership of the land on which it was located. It enabled a man to dwell there and to sustain herds. Rather than recognize this claim, the Philistines sought to wipe it out by filling up the wells dug by Abraham. Their desire to overthrow all claims on their land was so intense that they would rather fill in a well, an asset of great value in such an arid land, than to allow this claim to remain unchallenged. The sentiments of the Philistines were concisely expressed in Abimelech’s terse suggestion that Isaac depart from Gerar (verse 16). Rather than fight for possession of this property, Isaac retreated. The meek would inherit this land, but in God’s good time. It would seem that Isaac had developed a strategy by which he determined where he was to sojourn. Essentially, Isaac refused to stay where there was conflict and hostility. Being a man with many animals to tend, he must be at a place where water was available in abundance. He not only re-opened the wells once dug by his father, but he dug other wells also. If a well was dug that produced water and use of this well was not disputed, Isaac was inclined to stay at that place. While Isaac may not have realized it for some time, it was the disputes over the ownership of the wells he dug or reopened that served to guide him in the direction of the land of promise. To Isaac these wells were a necessity for survival, but to the Philistines these were a claim to the land. Opposition was thus humanly explainable, but it was a divinely ordained means of guidance as well. In the valley of Gerar Isaac dug a well that produced “living water,” that is, water that originated from a spring - running water, not simply water that was contained. The Philistine herdsmen disputed with the herdsmen of Isaac over it, so Isaac moved on. Another well was dug, and there was yet another dispute (verse 21). Finally a well was dug that brought about no opposition. I would imagine that this was due somewhat to the distance Isaac had traveled from the Philistines. This well was named “Rehoboth,” signifying the hope Isaac had that this was the place God had designated for him to stay.

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