Summary: Four steps to enduring strife
INTRODUCTION: As we approach the time for Vacation Bible School, I would like for us to take a look at some of the lessons our children will work through. Today I have chosen the story of the Isaac’s contention with the Philistines over wells. Our VBS material uses this story to teach the children something of what it means to endure the ill meanings of others and patiently move toward peace.
As we prepare to read this story from Genesis 26:12-34, I will give you a little background on the situation that led up to these tensions.
V1 2nd Famine
V2 The Lord tells Isaac not to go to Egypt but to wait out the famine in Gerar
V3 Promise of Blessing
"I Will perform the oath I swore to your father."
V8 Isaac gets caught in a lie (no indication he had been blessed yet) (strongly suggests God withheld blessing him until he came clean)
V12 that same year (where we start tonight’s sermon) the Lord blessed him a hundredfold
As you prepare to read along with me from verse 12 to verse 33, I want you to circle and underline some key points and phrases:
1.v 12 circle then Isaac sowed
2.v 14 dbl underline verb "envied"
3.v 15 dbl underline phrases "stopped up" and "filled with dirt"
4.v 18 dbl underline phrases "dug again" and "called"
5.v 20 circle Esek
6.v 21 circle Sitnah
7.v 22 circle Rehoboth and dbl underline "the Lord has made room"
8. v 32 circle "Sheba"
Are you loose? Is everyone warmed up? OK, here we go ... READ 12-33
TEXTUAL IDEA: This story shows us that Isaac doesn’t get his blessing until he gets right. Isaac’s blessings result in his making enemies. Isaac’s trust in the Lord enable him to patiently endure the situation until the Lord gives him a peaceful solution.
SERMON IDEA: Four Wells, Four Ways to enduring strife along the road to peace.
DIVISION 1: Meeting Resistance
Explain: When you meet resistance in your Christian walk, return to a time / place you could positively identify as the center of God’s will and His presence.
Reasoning: Let’s follow Isaac’s steps as he faced resistance from the Philistine Herdsmen. We can learn much from his initial steps.
1.Reclaimed wells his father dug - v 17 & 18
a. showed ownership
b. last known location of God’s blessings
c. but he stayed within the confines of God’s last instructions (remain in Gerar)
2.Quarrel begins when his servants find water in Gerar
a. ownership disputed
b. named the well esek = strife
(1) still striving for peace
(2) contention with other herdsmen
3.v Isaac seeks a peaceful solution
DIVISION 2: Identify the Source of Strife
a. digs another well in the same place
b. doesn’t give up ground yet
c. doesn’t let it go, but doesn’t focus his energy on the people quarreling with him
d. he stays focus on the task of getting water
e. the strife doesn’t go away, and they argue over that one - This is point Isaac realizes the source of the conflict is not coming from where he is spiritually. By naming the well, Sitnah, Isaac is making a public affirmation that this conflict is one of Satan’s efforts not God’s. "And he moved away from there" good choice. Isaac is not only moving away from Satan, he is avoiding taking things into his own hands. Isaac is avoiding physical violence. (Isaac is the bigger of the two contenders here. He might have easily been tempted to throw his weight around and at least have secured the wells and the area until the local herdsmen could get reinforcements from elsewhere.) Remember, Abilemech knows God is blessing Isaac, but Isaac chooses to trust God rather than count on Abilemech’s fear of the Lord. He stays focused on the task the Lord has given him: getting blessed
Illustration on staying focused: My karate instructor was a Rescue Swimmer in the US Coast Guard. To teach the kids in our program to stay focused on the task when a lot was going on around them, he used the phrase "eyes in the boat". If you heard him say that in class that meant he sensed a student becoming distracted. If he said it a second time, anyone who felt the comment applied to them would automatically drop for pushups and then return to whatever they were doing better focused. If, on the second "eyes in the boat", no one made the necessary corrections, everybody ended up doing push ups. Many times he would refer to only one student but others would drop for push ups also, as they knew they too had lost focus.
DIVISION 3: Make Necessary Adjustments
Explain: v 22 Isaac moves
a. digs another well