Summary: The 45th sermon in our series on Genesis and in this sermon we see Isaac model faithfulness and we see God bless him for it.
The Struggles of Faith (Genesis Pt. 45)
Text: Genesis 26:18-35
By: Ken McKinley
Now if you remember last time, we looked at Isaac and how God told him to not go to Egypt, even though there was a famine in the land. And so Isaac obeyed God, but then he got into sin. God worked it out, and then confirmed the covenant with him, and then God blessed him with a huge herd of livestock and possessions. And we closed last week by talking about how even when God blesses you, there are going to be problems in the world. Often times when God blesses you, worldly people are going to be envious of you… and sometimes even Christian people are going to be envious of you.
Well what we’re seeing here in our text is Isaac has been blessed, and all of a sudden his neighbors are jealous and envious of his blessings.
If you look at verses 18 – 22 you’ll see Isaac has some trouble with his neighbors. But at the same time, God is blessing him. And in this we are going to see Isaac actually model good Christian behavior for us in all of this. Yeah; last time he modeled how to be a bone head, but this week, in the second half of this chapter, he’s going to show us the proper way to deal with worldly people. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” And that’s what Isaac does. He tries to keep the peace, and he waits for God to make things right.
So… God blesses him, and all of a sudden the Philistines come and fill in all of his wells. Now first off, they’ve broken the covenant that they had made with Abraham and our text, in verse 18 begins by saying that Isaac re-dug the wells and called them by the same names that Abraham had called them.
So what that’s showing us is that Isaac, respected his father. He didn’t go renaming the wells, or anything like that. He kept the same names. So he respected Abraham, but even maybe even more importantly; it’s telling us that even though the Philistines seem to have forgotten their obligations to the covenant that they made with Abraham, Isaac hasn’t forgotten them. And so by his calling the wells by their original names, he’s subtly reminding them that they made a deal with Abraham and they need to keep it.
And then; in verses 19 – 21, Isaac digs some new wells, but we read that the herdsmen of Gerar show up and say, “Hey, that water is ours!” Now I don’t know about ya’ll but this is the kind of thing that gets my blood boiling. If you think about it… that water had been there, and at any point in time, these herdsmen could’ve gone and dug it up, but they didn’t. Then when Isaac actually puts forth the effort and the work, and digs the well, all of a sudden these guys show up and think they are entitled to it. This is the same mentality that is causing the riots in London, and a lot of the problems we have here in the U.S.
But you notice, Isaac is the better man here. He moves away. And when they do it again, he moves even further away. The herdsmen were the ones in the wrong, but Isaac understands that it isn’t worth fighting and killing people over, and so he moves away. Verse 22 tells us that he found a place where there was plenty of room and he could live in peace. And it’s interesting, because he credits the Lord with this. He could’ve easily said, “Man, I’m glad I decided to keep moving, because look at the place I’ve managed to find.” But instead he gives the glory and the credit to God.
So what we’re seeing here is Isaac continuing to grow in his faith. He’s trusting God in this instance, and he believes that God is somehow, someway, going to work this all out. And so Isaac doesn’t take up arms and fight these guys… he doesn’t claim his rights of the covenant that Abraham had made… he just seeks to be at peace, and seeks to be pleasing to God, and trusts that God is going to work things out. And this is the kind of thing that used to drive me crazy when I would see it in people… because I would confuse it for being passive. But this isn’t passivity here. IT’S FAITH! Isaac trusted that God was going to work things out.
And look what happens… in verses 23 – 25, we see God reiterate His promises to Isaac. So God knows what Isaac’s been going through, He knows… and right in the middle of all his struggles, God comes and encourages Isaac by telling him the covenant promises once again. And I’ll tell ya’… there are few things that are more comforting when you’re going through a trial, than God’s promises. Knowing God’s Word, and God’s promises to those who belong to Him, will get you through the tough times and the hard times in life. And so God reiterates, and reassures Isaac. He tells him, “Don’t be afraid.” There’s an old saying that goes, “The man who fears God, need fear nothing else.” And so God tells him not to be afraid, and that He is going to bless Isaac… and then you notice the last part of verse 24 – God is going to do this for Abraham’s sake.