Summary: A message on how God can bless his people despite the situation, their sins, or opposition.
Genesis Series #50 June 16, 2002
Title: Can God Bless Me?
Welcome to New life in Christ. Today we continue with message #50 in our verse-by-verse study of the Book of Genesis.
Read Genesis 26:1-33
Perhaps you have asked yourself the following questions: "Can God bless me when I’m in this terrible situation?", "Can God bless me when I am such a miserable sinner?", and “Can God bless me when I face such strong opposition?" The answer to all these questions is an absolute "yes!" As we will discover in this story, but first you need to understand that God doesn’t bless us because we deserve it but because he is gracious. Some people seem to think that God’s blessings are earned and therefore they try and to obtain his blessings through their own efforts.
Some seek to obtain God’s blessings by traveling on pilgrimages to distant lands and performing religious rituals. Some seek to obtain God’s blessings by repeating a certain prayer. You have probably seen articles in the classified section of the newspaper inferring that if you repeat a certain prayer in a certain way for a certain amount of time you will be blessed by God. Others attempt to possess God’s blessings by sacrificial giving, enduring long hours of prayer, lengthy fasts or living in near perfect obedience.
During my early years in the church, it was clearly inferred that the most anointed and blessed people were those who were extremely dedicated and who spent much time on their knees, going without food, and were exceptionally holy. The concern I have with all of these ideas is that they all are man-centered and make the blessings of God dependent on our efforts rather than God’s grace.
In this chapter we find that the central topic is God’s blessings, which are mentioned numerous times. The chapter begins with the promise of God’s blessings upon Isaac and then ends with Abimelech acknowledging God’s blessings on Isaac. (vs. 29) Most of the rest of the chapter deals with Isaac’s wells, which were a tangible sign of God’s blessings. In this chapter we will learn who God blesses, why God blesses, and how he blesses. Most importantly we discover that God’s blessings are not hindered by our situations, our sins, or the opposition of others. I would summarize the main message of Genesis Chapter 26 in one sentence like this:
God, in his grace, blesses his people despite the situation, despite their sins, and despite opposition.
Read Verses 1-6
"Now there was a famine in the land. . ." This famine is in addition to the earlier severe famine in Abraham’s day. Keep in mind that this is the Promised Land, the place of blessing in which this hardship takes place. In other words, we learn from this account that you can be right where God wants you to be and still experience trouble sometimes. Being one of God’s people does not exempt you from the problems that the rest of the world faces. This is a principle I often repeat because Christians often grow discouraged when they encounter serious problems, not because the problems themselves are overwhelming but because they expected a mostly trouble-free life. Failure to realize that problems come along with being a Christian often makes the problems all the more difficult. Former Supreme Court justice, Louis Brandeis, once said his frustrated, impatient daughter, "My dear, if you would only recognize that life is hard, things would be so much easier for you."
Isaac did what his father Abraham had done in a time a famine and went to the land of Gerar. Abimelech is again mentioned as the King of the Philistines, even though this event is many decades later. There could be several reasons for this. First of all there is no reason that this cannot be the same person as mentioned in Abraham’s account, albeit much older now. This Abimelech could also have been a descendant of the aforementioned Abimelech and that would explain the same name or it is possible that the term "Abimelech" is not a name at all but a title like president or prime minister, which would also explain is usage here.
"The Lord appeared to Isaac and said ’do not go down to Egypt...’" Clearly Isaac intends to do like most people would do in a time of trouble and go to Egypt where there is plenty of food. This in itself is not wrong because God later instructs Jacob to go to Egypt during a time a famine. (Genesis 46:24) Nevertheless God instructs Isaac to remain in the land despite this famine, why? I believe it is to show Isaac and us that he can bless us no matter what the situation. God can bless us in a bad economy, a bad marriage, a difficult ministry, or a trying workplace, etc. Many times it is not God’s will that we run from our problems but rather that we trust him to bless us despite the situation.