Summary: God convinces Isaac of the Promise to receive land and children.
We’re going to continue through the book of Genesis, and we’re now officially in the second half of the book. Chapter 26 is the only chapter dedicated entirely to the life of Isaac, and we’re going to see that he struggles with some of the same issues he father did.
And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.
Abimelech and Phicol (:26) are probably titles so don’t get them mixed up with the men from chapter 21. There’s a famine in the land again and Isaac moves his family and livestock to a better place.
2And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of: 3Sojourn in this land,
Apparently his original plan was to go all the way down to Egypt but the Lord won’t let him. Instead He tells him to stay within the Promised Land:
and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; 4And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed;
He doesn’t need to leave Gerar because the Lord is with him and (as we’ll see by the end of this chapter) He’ll bless him. This is the Promised Land and Isaac is the promised son that God promised to Abraham. And so God says, “Sit still and wait here. I’m fulfilling the oath I made to your father.”
5Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.
If we put this with Genesis 22:16-19 we see that it’s a result of the events on Mount Moriah. If we then look at Hebrews 11:17-19 we see that the basis of it is faith, and that’s really the keyword for understanding this whole chapter. God’s intention is to convince Isaac that He has established a covenant that’s already well underway, so Isaac needs to stay within the Promised Land.
But faith doesn’t go long unchallenged:
6And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: 7And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon.
So, Isaac has a circumstance similar to Abraham’s and he does the same thing. It’s proof in my mind that God doesn’t call the just but rather justifies the called. With Abraham God let things appear to get more out of hand, but things don’t go so far this time:
8And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. 9And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife; and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. 10And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. 11And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.
Part of God’s provision is to let Isaac be caught in his lie, but the result is somewhat baffling. Abimelech seems (and has the right to be) a little angry, but instead of punishment he issues an edict of protection. Seeing that the king’s heart is like a channel of water turning wherever God turns it (Prov. 21:1), we know that this is sovereign protection from God.
12Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. 13And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 14For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants:
God has a covenant to keep with Abraham and it must be through Isaac. If this man is to be turned into a great nation, then it stands to reason that he will be greatly blessed. God does all this in giving him great success and possessions. But all this doesn’t come without a price:
and the Philistines envied him.
This alien comes in merely to escape a famine and instead receives favor from the king and abundance from God. They don’t do well with it and want to harm him any way they can: