Summary: The Patriarchs Problems in the Promised Land Genesis 26:1-11
Problems in the Promised Land
August 7, 2016
Turn to Genesis 26 as we will look at “Problems in the Promised Land” in the life of Isaac. As a reminder, God created humanity in his image to represent him in all creation as they lived in dependence upon him by which they would display God’s greatness and glory. Yet almost immediately Adam and Eve are deceived into rejecting God’s goodness and fall into sin. Sin is like a virus that wreaks havoc and chaos and destruction on all creation. Though humanity rejected God, he is on a mission, a relentless pursuit to reconcile humanity to himself and reverse the curse of sin through a Deliverer. This mission comes into focus when God chose to work through Abraham and his descendants. Today we see again that being in the promised land is not without problems, adversity, trials.
There is a famine in the land. Famines generally arise because of long and dry conditions creating a shortage of food. Now Abraham has recently died and Isaac has inherited the bulk of his sizable estate, including the household, servants, and livestock, among other things. The famine was a threat to their lives and their wealth so Isaac looks for greener pastures, heading to Egypt because the Nile always flowed with water. But God appears to him and tells him to stay in Gerar. Now, not going to Egypt was risky for Isaac because he was dependent upon the resources of the land, which are scarce during a famine. Listen to God’s word to him, “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring 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 (26:3-5).” God says, live in this land “and I will be with you.” Notice all the “I wills.” God says something will happen because God makes it happen. God promises to be with Isaac with covenantal care in the form of provision. God has made that same promise to each of us in a multitude of ways in Jesus Christ. Here is how he describes this covenantal care, “I will bless you for (or because) to you and your offspring I will give all these lands.” God can give him the land because God will overcome all the necessary obstacles to him having the land, and there are many. Then he goes on, “I will establish the oath I swore to Abraham your father.” The word of promise given to Abraham, is now promised to Isaac. “I will multiply your offspring, as the stars of the sky,” that is, an innumerable multitude of offspring. “In your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” He is confirming Isaac as the new Patriarch, replacing Abraham because of his death. This also is the development of the original mission of God to reconcile humanity to himself in Genesis 3:15. This will be the mission of Israel to be a light to the nations as they lived in dependence upon him. Then fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the true Israelite, who is the light of the world. It is in Christ that all the nations are blessed with the knowledge of reconciliation to God through the work of Christ. And now the church fulfills Israel as we live in dependence upon the true Israelite, Jesus Christ, and are a light to the nations. The promises of the Abrahamic covenant are bound up with the mission of God.
So by faith Isaac settles in Gerar, bolstered by the promises. Later we see that God does provide for him during the famine. How do you deal with adversity? Faith asks the question, what is God teaching me in it? Or how can I go through it? Unbelief says, how can I avoid it? Adversity is unavoidable and orchestrated by God for your good, to shape you. He cares too much about you to leave you as you are. If you avoid adversity, he will bring more your way until you learn the necessary lessons he has for you. “One who gains strength by overcoming obstacles possesses the only strength which can overcome adversity (Albert Schweitzer).” We are going to face more adversity in the coming years. God has placed two presidential options before us and neither of them look very promising. Some of you are very concerned about the election and you should be but God is still on the throne and Scripture makes it very clear that God is the one who raises up leaders and takes them down. God does not promise to bless America but he does promise to bless his people who will trust him in the midst of adversity. What if there is spiritual renewal in America as result of the next presidency? What if things get so bad yet the church rises to the occasion, apathetic Christians become renewed, and God’s people really feel a desperation need for God that is consistent with how needy for God we actually are! More adversity is coming, be prepared for it. God is with us and promises to provide for us, to meet us in our time of need. I don’t say that so you become fearful, I say it to prepare you.