Like Father, Like Son

Posted: May 17, 2018 in Genesis, Uncategorized

Genesis 25-26, “Like Father, Like Son”

Children often imitate their parents, particularly sons with their fathers. As is often said, “Like father, like son.” That includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. It can be cute – it can be funny – and perhaps downright scary! 🙂 Physical looks and habits aren’t the only things imitated; sometimes it is attitude and action.

Family habits and traits are seen among our Biblical heroes, too. Children pick up both the good and bad from their parents, and we need look no further than Abraham and Isaac for an example. Just as Abraham (though being the father of faith) had to learn through his mistakes what it meant to walk by faith, so did Isaac. And Isaac virtually made the same mistakes along the way!

Because so many previous events in Abraham’s life come to a conclusion, we need to back up a bit to get the full context. After 25 years of waiting, God fulfilled His promise to Abraham & Sarah by granting the birth of Isaac. His birth around jealousy in Abraham’s older son Ishmael, and because Ishmael was not the son of the covenant, he was made to leave (although God promised to bless him for Abraham’s sake). As Isaac grew, Abraham was called upon by God to offer his son as a sacrifice, and Abraham was willing to do so, having complete faith in God. Abraham’s obedience confirmed the covenant given him by the Lord, looking forward to the day when his descendants would be more numerous than the sand or stars. Time passes, Sarah dies and Abraham purchases land for her burial, and afterwards provides for his son’s future by arranging his marriage. A servant is sent to Abraham’s family in Padan Aram, and Rebekah returns to eventually become Isaac’s bride.

What happens next? The narrative of Genesis transitions to the next generation. Abraham’s life comes to a close, while the accounts of Isaac’s family begin. Although they are the Patriarchs, they are by no means perfect, and a lot of mistakes are made along the way…just as Abraham had made before them. Like father, like son.

As for us, the mistakes of our forefathers is written down for us. Hopefully, we can learn from them without having to make the same mistakes for ourselves. Have a simple trust in God, and walk by faith!

Genesis 25

  • Abraham’s end (25:1-11)

1 Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah.

  1. Scholars disagree as to when Abraham took Keturah as a wife, whether it was after Sarah’s death, or sometime before. The most natural reading of the text is that it was after, although the text does not precisely say. Interestingly, the Chronicler describes Keturah as a “concubine,” rather than a “wife,” (1 Chr 1:32), though the term is clear here in Genesis 25. Perhaps Keturah was a chief concubine out of several (vs. 6), or perhaps she had a similar status as Hagar.
  2. What happened to Keturah past this point, we do not know. This is her only mention, apart from the genealogical list in 1 Chronicles. What we do know is that she bore Abraham many sons (and probably daughters, although daughters are not typically included in genealogical lists).

2 And she bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. 3 Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. 4 And the sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah.

  1. Six sons were born directly to Abraham through Keturah, and they proceeded to bear children and tribes of their own, being associated with several regions throughout the Sinai peninsula. Considering the many descendants from the line of Hagar (Ishmael), Sarah (Isaac), and Keturah (the six), Abraham truly was a father of many nations!
  2. These were children of Abraham, but there was still only one son to whom belonged the covenant blessing and inheritance. 

5 And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. 6 But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east.

  1. It is not that Abraham did not love his other children or provide for them. To the contrary – he “gave gifts” to them out of his abundant wealth, ensuring that they were well provided-for. But they could not be allowed to complete for the covenant blessing, including the inheritance of the Promised Land. Just as Ishmael had to leave for the good of Isaac, so did the sons of Keturah.
  2. Be careful not to judge this through 21st century eyes. The culture was far different. Sons did not hesitate to murder one another in order to gain an inheritance. Competition between siblings could be quite cruel. Abraham’s act was not only one done in submission and trust of God as the covenant-provider, but also one of mercy and protection towards all his children. He stopped a problem before it had a chance to start.

7 This is the sum of the years of Abraham’s life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years. 8 Then Abraham breathed his last and died in a good old age, an old man and full of years, and was gathered to his people.

  1. Abraham lived to be 175 years old. He had been given 75 years with Isaac, enough not only to see his own son grow into adulthood, but also enough to see the birth and growth of his grandchildren (Isaac was 60 years old at the birth of his sons – 25:26). Such is the mercy and grace of God! 

9 And his sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, which is before Mamre, in the field of Ephron the son of Zohar the Hittite, 10 the field which Abraham purchased from the sons of Heth. There Abraham was buried, and Sarah his wife.

  1. Although Ishmael had departed long ago, he returned to Canaan for his father’s burial. He and Isaac stood side by side as they paid their father their final respects. (Interestingly, no mention is made of any of the sons of Keturah. Perhaps they were unable to receive communication. Perhaps they were simply unmentioned in the text.)
  2. Abraham buried alongside his wife Sarah in the cave he had personally purchased. Only after his death did he finally enjoy any of the real estate that actually belonged to him. All his life, he lived as a pilgrim, looking forward in faith to the promises God made him. (Not unlike us. This world is not our home – we look forward to our inheritance!)

11 And it came to pass, after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac. And Isaac dwelt at Beer Lahai Roi.

  1. With the death of Abraham, the covenant passed to Isaac, i.e. the blessing. This will be expressly stated to Isaac later.
  2. Although his parents were buried in Mamre, Isaac returned to the place he had earlier dwelt in the south (the Negev). This was the town in which he had met Rebekah and made a home with her.
  • Ishmael’s generations (25:12-18)

12 Now this is the genealogy of Ishmael, Abraham’s son, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s maidservant, bore to Abraham.

  1. This is basically a summary and the end of the Biblical account of Ishmael. Many other men in the Bible have the name Ishmael, but apart from some references to his family, this is it regarding Abraham’s son. He was indeed blessed of God; he simply was not the son of the covenant. 

13 And these were the names of the sons of Ishmael, by their names, according to their generations: The firstborn of Ishmael, Nebajoth; then Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadar, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. 16 These were the sons of Ishmael and these were their names, by their towns and their settlements, twelve princes according to their nations.

  1. Twelve sons were begotten of Ishmael, each becoming princes & tribal leaders in their own right. Just as God promised to Hagar (16:10, 21:18), Ishmael became a great nation.

17 These were the years of the life of Ishmael: one hundred and thirty-seven years; and he breathed his last and died, and was gathered to his people. 18 (They dwelt from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt as you go toward Assyria.) He died in the presence of all his brethren.

  1. 137 years of age is not nearly as old as his father, but it was still a very long life! His narrative concludes with his home being far beyond the land promised to Isaac, and him being surrounded by his family in death. Ishmael had a difficult start to his life, but things certainly turned around for him. God blessed him and provided for him in many ways. Whether or not Ishmael ever recognized the hand of God is a question that cannot be answered. (Sadly, his descendants long turned from the worship of the true God, as Ishmael is viewed as a patriarch to the Islamic faith.)
  • Isaac’s generations (25:19-34)

19 This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian.

  1. This is the next major transition in the book. Technically, Genesis had transitioned again with Ishmael, showing his “genealogy” (toledoth), the same as Isaac. But Ishmael’s account was simply enough to mention his children and move on. Isaac’s account is longer, though it is the briefest of the patriarchs. It begins with a recap of his marriage to Rebekah. His mother Sarah had died when he was 37, and sometime afterward Abraham had sent to his family for Isaac’s bride. However long that process took, Isaac was 40 at his wedding, his father being 140 at the time.
  2. From here through the end of Chapter 26, the author will show numerous parallels between the lives of Abraham and Isaac, the first being in regards to he and his wife’s struggle to have children.

21 Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

  1. Like Sarah in the previous generation, Rebekah also struggled with barrenness. For Sarah, her struggle was directly linked to the covenant promise of God. God had promised a massive number of descendants to Abraham, but the longer it took for Sarah to get pregnant, the more impossible God’s promise seemed. When Sarah was finally pregnant at age 90, there was no doubt this child was a miracle of God. But that was Sarah. What about Rebekah? It was the same thing. Rebekah would not have to wait nearly as long, but her dependency upon God was just as apparent. This too, would not be the natural-course of events, but a gift of grace provided by the Lord Almighty. This too, was God’s supernatural answer to His covenant promises. If Isaac was going to have descendants of his own, he needed God to provide them. (Which He did!)
  2. Note Isaac’s own part in this. His opportunity for children rested solely in the decision of God, but Isaac didn’t simply wait passively. He prayed. “Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife.” Isaac actively interceded for Rebekah, praying that God would move upon her and grant children. (Prayer is active ministry! Prayer is work.)

22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, “If all is well, why am I like this?” So she went to inquire of the LORD. 23 And the LORD said to her: “Two nations are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.”

  1. That the children “struggled” is an understatement. The verb is more violent than that. They “smashed” together in the womb, no doubt causing far more discomfort than normal for a mother of twins. Going to the Lord in prayer (or through a prophet of some sort), she learned the answer: “two nations” were there. (No wonder she hurt!)
    1. What was prophecy for Rebekah became history for us. Edom and Israel were constantly at odds, and Edom even became symbolic through the written prophets of Israel/Judah’s enemies as a whole. Edom was always opposed to God’s people, just as Esau would always be opposed to Jacob.
  2. God’s will for Jacob was clear from the very beginning. For all of the manipulations that would follow in the years to come, God knew from the outset what His plan was, and which twin out of the two would receive the covenant.
    1. This is the sovereign election/choice of God. Romans 9:10–12, “(10) And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac (11) (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), (12) it was said to her, “The older shall serve the younger.”” Contextually in Romans, Paul is explaining God’s sovereign choice of Israel to be His people through the ages. They had done nothing to deserve His favor, but He chose to give it anyway. God is simply a merciful God.
    2. The same principle applies to our salvation. How is it that we are saved? God chose to show us mercy. Did we do anything to deserve it? Absolutely not, but God gave it anyway. He chose to send Jesus for us – He chose to extend to us His invitation – He chose to save us in spite of ourselves, even while incorporating our free response to His grace. There is nothing about our salvation for which we can claim credit – it is all the grace of God. (Which is available to all!)

24 So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau. 26 Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

  1. Not only were the babies fighting it out in Rebekah’s womb, the struggle continued down her birth canal. Although separated by mere seconds, one baby was first to push through, being a red-haired child & the other baby was grabbing at his heel. They were named appropriately, and their names fit them well for the rest of their lives.
  2. Interesting wordplay with the boys’ names (not uncommon in the Bible). Expositor’s Bible Commentary (John Sailhamer): “Esau” (עֵשָׂו [ʿēśāw]) was “red” (אַדְמוֹנִי [ʾaḏmônî], which is a play on אֱדוֹם [ʾeḏôm, “Edom”; cf. v.30; 36:1]), and his body was “hairy” (שֵׂעָר [śēʿār]), a play on his name ʿēśāw, “Jacob” (יַעֲקֹב [yaʿaqōḇ]) grasped the “heel” (עֲקֵב [ʿaqēḇ]) of Esau.”

27 So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents. 28 And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

  1. As might be expected, the boys had different personalities and different strengths. Sadly, this became the cause of parental favoritism between the two. (Never good!)
  2. Interestingly, the difference between them becomes ironically reversed in the account that follows. Here, Esau is described as a hunter, while Jacob was quiet (mild / peaceable / righteous). Yet what happens is that the hunter becomes the hunted, and the peaceable man becomes a source of strife.

29 Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary. 30 And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.” Therefore his name was called Edom.

  1. The “red stew” was a stew of lentils, which surely smelled delicious to a man hungry from labors in the field of his father (or from a long day of unproductive hunting). Authentic Texas chili was originally called a “bowl of red,” and it was probably as appetizing to Texans as the original “bowl of red” was to Esau. It ended up being part of his downfall, and another reason of his appropriate nickname.

31 But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” 32 And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” 33 Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34 And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

  1. Although this sounds sneaky, it wasn’t. Obviously Jacob took advantage of a weakened Esau, but Jacob was straightforward with his offer. No deception was involved. If Esau wanted some of Jacob’s stew, then Esau would need to surrender his birthright. To any reasonable person, they would have laughed at the absurd offer and walked away. After all, it was just one meal, and doubtless there were other servants of Isaac who could have found Esau something to eat. He wouldn’t have starved to death on the floor of Jacob’s tent. Yet Esau was prone to the dramatic, and exaggerated his hunger to the point of utter desperation. It seemed he didn’t even hesitate on the matter, and he sold his birthright as quickly as he gulped down his meal. Perhaps Esau thought he would weasel his way out of the deal with his father – probably he wasn’t thinking at all, but rather just living according to his base desires of the moment.
  2. The result was that “Esau despised his birthright.” He saw no value in what had been available to him in God. – Do we value our birthright? Do we understand what it is we have received in Christ? Hebrews 12:14–16, “(14) Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: (15) looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; (16) lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” As born-again Christians, we dare not take our birthright for granted!

Genesis 26

  • Isaac and the Philistines (26:1-33). Isaac’s deception (1-11)

1 There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar.

  1. Famine = danger, and a natural reason to move to other areas. Famines were not totally uncommon in Canaan, although Isaac had more than enough reason not to fear them.
  2. Already, there is a link here to the history of Abraham, and there is a distinct parallel to the account in Genesis 20. 
  3. FYI: “Abimelech” is probably a title, rather than a proper name. Also, the term “Philistines” simply described the region; not the ethnic people. “Philistines” would have made sense to the Hebrews of Moses’ day as he compiled/wrote the book of Genesis, but that group of people would not arrive on the coast of Canaan until after the time of the Patriarchs.

2 Then the LORD appeared to him and said: “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. 3 Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4 And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; 5 because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.”

  1. As much as Isaac mirrors the actions of his father, God puts a limit on him as to how far he could go. Isaac could go to the city of Gerar, but he was not allowed to go south towards the land of Egypt. Isaac is unique among the Patriarchs as being one who never once left the Promised Land, always staying in the land of his inheritance. Even among the Philistines, he was still in land that God had promised to him and to his descendants. Isaac may be engaging in a struggle of faith, but God put limits on how far he would go.
  2. God knew the struggle in Isaac’s heart, which was why God reemphasized the covenant with him. God promised him life, provision, blessing, children, land, and even the Messianic promise. Everything God had promised to Abraham, God also promised to Isaac. Though the father had died, the word of God had not. God’s blessing continued, because God never fails!
  3. Why – why did God promise such a thing? Because of Isaac’s father. Abraham had been obedient, demonstrated beyond doubt when he laid Isaac on the altar. In fact, that may be one reason God said so much of Abraham’s obedience. No doubt Isaac would have remembered his father binding his hands and feet, and lying on that stone altar with a knife raised high above him. He would have remembered his father’s faith in God’s provision, trusting that God would raise Isaac from the dead, if need be. He would have remembered how God miraculously intervened and provided His own sacrifice in Isaac’s place. Or, at least, this is what Isaac should have If he had, he may not have made the decisions that he did!
  4. BTW – Was Abraham’s obedience important? Without question! God reiterated His covenant promise to Isaac “because Abraham obeyed.” Did Abraham’s faith earn the covenant of God? Absolutely not. The covenant was promised back in Genesis 12, long before Isaac ever existed. It was believed upon (anew) in Genesis 15, again before Isaac was born. Abraham’s faith was in God; it was demonstrated through his obedience. Yes, his obedience was important, in that his original faith was important. Because Abraham obeyed the commandments of God, it showed that his true faith was in the person and promises of God.
    1. That slight difference makes all the difference in the world when it comes to salvation. People either believe they earn heaven, or that they’re given heaven. Those who think they earn it, never do; those who rely on Jesus to give it to them are the only ones assured of going.
  5. Again, Isaac should have remembered the faith (and the previous mistakes) of his father. Instead, he continued to push forward with his own plans…

6 So Isaac dwelt in Gerar. 7 And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, “She is my sister”; for he was afraid to say, “She is my wife,” because he thought, “lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.”

  1. This was exactly the mistake of Abraham. Isaac told the same lie to the same people of the same city as his father had done 90 years earlier. In fact, Isaac went one step further. Whereas Abraham could legitimately say that Sarah was his sister (being that she was a half-sister); Rebekah was truly Isaac’s cousin and not a sister at all. This was a bald-faced lie, told out of fear for his life. He had married a beautiful woman, but did not trust the Lord God to protect him, despite God’s specific promise to do so.

8 Now it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife. 9 Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Quite obviously she is your wife; so how could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘Lest I die on account of her.’ ”

  1. How long Isaac lived in Gerar is not said. Apparently his residence was not far from the Philistine king, because Isaac believed he could let down his guard with Rebekah, and they were close enough to Abimelech’s home that the king could see plainly that these were not brother & sister, but husband and wife.
  2. Regarding “showing endearment,” or “laughing” (ESV) or “caressing” (NASB), NET Bible: “The Hebrew word מְצַחֵק (métsakheq), from the root צָחַק (tsakhaq, “laugh”), forms a sound play with the name “Isaac” right before it. Here it depicts an action, probably caressing or fondling, that indicated immediately that Rebekah was Isaac’s wife, not his sister. Isaac’s deception made a mockery of God’s covenantal promise. Ignoring God’s promise to protect and bless him, Isaac lied to protect himself and acted in bad faith to the men of Gerar.” It’s also related to the word used of Ishmael when he mocked the baby Isaac long ago. Just as Ishmael had mocked the covenant promises of God, so did Isaac…and he was the recipient of those covenant promises!
    1. What should Isaac have done? Trusted the Lord!
  3. The bottom line? Abimelech quickly discovered the truth, and confronted Isaac. Thankfully, he had not attempted to take Rebekah for his own wife, as had the earlier Abimelech with Sarah, during Abraham’s deception.

10 And Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.” 11 So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, “He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”

  1. The king was rightly offended, understanding the guilt of sin far better than did Isaac at this point.
  2. In the end, Isaac and Rebekah received legal protection by an order of the king, but Isaac also greatly damaged his witness as a man of God.
  3. Thankfully, that witness would not be forever lost, as God Himself set about to restoring it. 12…
  • Isaac’s departure (12-25)

12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him. 13 The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; 14 for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him.

  1. That’s a lot of prosperity! The original Hebrew is filled with superlative after superlative. God made the man Isaac greater and greater and greater – the blessings kept pouring in.
  2. Question: Why did God bless Isaac so much? Answer: God is gracious! God is merciful! God promised to bless Isaac, and that was exactly what He did.
    1. FYI: This isn’t an endorsement of the prosperity gospel; it is a demonstration of how God showed a difference between Isaac and the Philistines. Only one lived in a relationship with God – only one was a recipient of God’s covenant promises. This isn’t a roadmap of how we can get rich; it’s a picture of God’s undeserved grace.
  3. The problem for the Philistines is that they didn’t view God’s blessing as a reason to learn why Isaac was blessed; they simply became jealous. Envy leads to strife; strife leads to separation…

15 Now the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and they had filled them with earth. 16 And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”

  1. Basically, the Philistines forced him out. If Isaac had so many herds to water, then the Philistines took steps to ensure he wouldn’t be able to water them where he was. They “stopped up all the wells” to which he had a familial claim, and told him to get out.
  2. Ironically, Isaac’s original deception of Abimelech was due to his fear of the Philistines & his lack of trust in the Lord. Now with God’s blessing, it is the Philistines who fear Isaac as they understood his wealth and might.

17 Then Isaac departed from there and pitched his tent in the Valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. 18 And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them. 19 Also Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found a well of running water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they quarreled with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also. So he called its name Sitnah.

  1. Isaac retraced the footsteps of his father, revisiting old wells, finding success with each one. Yet the Philistines followed close behind, claiming each one for themselves. They didn’t want Isaac anywhere near them, so they kept pushing him out further & further.
  2. Why didn’t Isaac stand and fight? After all, they feared his strength. Scripture doesn’t say – perhaps Isaac simply wanted to live in peace. What is apparent is how God used the selfishness and fear of the Philistines to push Isaac back to where he ought to have been. If the famine was over, there was no reason for Isaac not to be back in the center of the Promised Land, away from the Philistine Gentiles. Yet Isaac seemingly became comfortable; it took a little discomfort to get him moving again.

22 And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

  1. Finally, Isaac ended up in a spot which the Philistines did not dispute. This was where God had wanted him all along, and Isaac recognized the sovereign hand of God.

23 Then he went up from there to Beersheba. 24 And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.” 25 So he built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD, and he pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.

  1. Back where he needed to be, God reiterated the covenant once more. Isaac may have temporarily forgotten God’s promise to him, but God hadn’t. God is faithful, despite us! (What grace!)
  2. No longer did Isaac need to “fear” – he was right where God wanted him to be, both geographically and spiritually.
  3. Isaac’s response to the word of God: worship! Perhaps for the first time, Isaac didn’t build a well; he built an altar. He ensured that his heart was dedicated to the God who had been so merciful to him. (What is your response to God’s promises?)
  • Isaac’s covenant with the king (26-33)

26 Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath, one of his friends, and Phichol the commander of his army. 27 And Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?”

  1. After all the trouble, Isaac is understandably suspicious!

28 But they said, “We have certainly seen that the LORD is with you. So we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, between you and us; and let us make a covenant with you, 29 that you will do us no harm, since we have not touched you, and since we have done nothing to you but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the LORD.’ ”

  1. Notice the change. Earlier, the Philistines envied Isaac, and pushed him out due to fear. This time, they are perhaps still envious, but instead of fearing the hand of God upon Isaac, now they see it for what it is. Isaac’s testimony as a righteous man had been restored, and the Philistines now wanted a bit of what Isaac had.
    1. Live in such a way that others can see Jesus in you!

30 So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 Then they arose early in the morning and swore an oath with one another; and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.

  1. After all of the previous conflict, why would Isaac agree to such a covenant? Because it was the right thing to do. Romans 12:17–19, “(17) Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. (18) If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. (19) Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” Why punish the Philistines when Isaac could have peace with them? If God saw fit to do it, God would see it done. It’s no different with us…

32 It came to pass the same day that Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, “We have found water.” 33 So he called it Shebah. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.

  1. This was actually the second naming of the city. Back when the covenant of peace was made between Abraham and the first Abimelech and Phicol, they also had a well in the same area, calling it Beersheba. (One more parallel between Isaac and his father…this time, in a good way!) 

This is the most detail the Bible gives us about Isaac. Most of the rest of his days will be spent in the background between Esau and Jacob. Chapter 26 actually ends with a bit of transition to the next event, featuring his sons.

  • Esau’s Canaanite wives (12:34-35)

34 When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah.

  1. Esau was the same age as his father when Isaac was married, but instead of marrying a woman to help maintain the purity of the covenant, Esau continues to show disregard for the covenant altogether. He took wives from the Canaanites around him, to the disappointment of both of his parents. This later serves as an excuse for Rebekah to send away Jacob when his life is endangered (due to her own foolish scheming).

Conclusion:

Like father, like son. In many ways, Isaac followed in the footsteps of his father Abraham. With his mistakes, but (thankfully) also with his faith. It took Isaac a while, but eventually his trust was in the sovereign God who keeps His covenant promises.

God does keep His promises! We see it in the many sons & nations born of Abraham – we see it in the mighty nation that came from Ishmael – we see it in the provision & blessing that God gave to Isaac. God keeps His promises, no matter what.

God keeps His promises, even in spite of us! Isaac had heard the word of God, and what did he do? He immediately trusted in his own plans, endangering everyone around him. Even so, God was patient with him, sovereignly using even the difficulties in Isaac’s life to bring him back to the place he needed to be.

How much better it is to simply trust God the first time! Trust Him – don’t overcomplicate things… Trust His word – trust His sovereignty – trust His plan.

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