Summary: When opposition comes, like Isaac, persevere by remembering the promises of God until even your enemies recognize God’s presence in your life. Or to put it more simply: trust God and dig another well.
On Saturday, May 21, 1927, a New York evening paper contained an expert’s elaborate demonstration of the impossibility of flight across the Atlantic Ocean. The funny thing is, on the first page of that very same paper, was the headline flung across the top in gigantic letters: “LINDBERG HAS ARRIVED!” And underneath was an article describing the first transcontinental flight by Charles Lindberg. When the “experts” were saying it can’t be done, Charles Lindberg did it. He flew across the Atlantic Ocean.
Whenever we attempt anything worthwhile, there will always be those critics who say, “It can’t be done.” There will always be those who oppose. There will always be those who fight us. But that doesn’t need to stop us from doing what we know God has called us to do.
The question is: What do we do, as people of faith, when opposition comes? What do we do when the critics try to shut us down? What do we do when our detractors try to thwart or discredit what God wants to do through us? Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 26, Genesis 26, where Isaac, a man of faith, faces opposition from the Philistines.
Genesis 26:12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. (NIV)
Now, the normal yield in a good year was 25 to 50-fold. Isaac reaped 100-fold – i.e., 100 times what he planted!
Genesis 26:13-15 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.
Now remember, these are days of drought and famine (vs.1). Water is very scarce, so these wells are very important! The Philistines are trying to starve Isaac out of existence, because they are envious of his success.
Genesis 26:16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us” (NIV) – i.e., too numerous.
In a land with limited resources, there is not enough to sustain both Abimelech’s people and Isaac’s vast and growing household.
Genesis 26:17-18 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them. (NIV)
Instead of fighting, Isaac simply moves on and reopens the wells his father had dug years before. You see, Isaac is trying to establish his presence in the land, claiming his father’s wells by right of inheritance. That’s why he gives them the same names. Then he goes on to dig another well.
Genesis 26:19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there (NIV) -- Literally, a well of living water.
This was an artesian well with running water – a very valuable and important find in the midst of drought.
Genesis 26:20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek (which means contention or dispute), because they disputed with him. (NIV)
Genesis 26:21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah (which means enmity or opposition). -NIV
Actually, the name, Satan, comes from this very word. For you see, he IS the adversary. He IS the hostile opposition to every believer. But not even Satan can stop God’s people from accomplishing God’s will in their own lives.
Genesis 26:22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth (which means room), saying, “Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” (NIV)
Isaac doesn’t fight back. He just moves on and digs another well until the Philistines finally give up and let him have his space.
I like the way Paul Overstreet put it in a song nine years ago (2001) – (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9X6XQUChMQ)
Ike had a blessing from the Lord up above,
Gave him a beautiful woman to love,
A place to live, some land to farm,
Two good legs and two good arms.
The Devil came sneaking around one night,
Decided he would do a little evil to Ike.
Figured he hit ole Ike where it hurts so he
Filled up all Ike’s wells with dirt
Ike went out to get his morning drink,
Got a dip full of dirt and his heart did sink