Fear Not For I Am With You: God’s People Struggle

a. Unstopping the Wells 18. Our story starts off with Isaac having to dig again the wells of water that his father Abraham had dug. Why does he have to do this? Because the Philistines had filled the wells in after the death of Abraham. It’s been a few weeks since we looked at Genesis chapter 21 but remember what had happened there. Abraham was sojourning in the same area and had dug a well but the servants of that Abimelech had seized the well. Then Abraham and Abimelech made a peace treaty. Apparently, the Philistines believed that the treaty only lasted as long as Abraham was alive because as soon as he was dead they stopped up the wells. They did not extend that treaty to Isaac. And so Isaac goes back to the old wells and digs them out again renaming the wells what Abraham had named them. Isaac honors his father and reestablishes what is father had built and also sends a message to the Philistines that he has now taken his father’s place and that they are in violation of the old oath. b. Contention and Enmity 19-21. At this point, the Philistines have not responded to what Isaac is doing. But Isaac begins to expand his reach by digging new wells. The Philistines were tolerant of him opening the old wells, but digging new and expanding? They were not okay with that. Isaac servant did a new well and the Philistine herdsmen lay claim to the well, saying “The water is ours”. Isaac gives the well a derogatory name, “Contention,” and then moves from that location. Then they dig a second well. The Philistines find out that Isaac is still trying to expand and so they lay claim to that well too. Isaac calls the well Sitnah or enmity. Isaac has declared the oath between his father and the Philistines dead. They are now enemies. Remember that the Philistines were envious of Isaac. That envy had turned to hatred and now Isaac and his blessings are a stench to them. c. Finding Some Room 22. Isaac moves again and they dig a third well. This time the Philistines leave him alone. We are not told what the Philistines were thinking as to why they didn’t pursue him, but Isaac says it was God. “The Lord has made room for us.” This is the faith of Isaac. God is restraining their evil against him and so he will be fruitful in the land. This is how the world usually treats God’s people. This is a continuation of the envy that we looked at last time. The world will continue to harass, even to the point of absurdity, God’s people if given the chance. But God is sovereign and he often, not always, spares his people from the world’s hatred.

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