As we conclude this passage, I want to leave you with a few thoughts. First, remember what God says to Isaac, “Fear not for I am with you.” The command to “fear not” is repeated by God to numerous people on all kinds of occasions. Improper fear is an enemy of the Christian. We are to only have one fear; the fear of God. Isaac learns this. Isn’t interesting that God will be known as the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac. A child of God will not be without problems. Though you might be blessed by God, troubles may come upon you. They may even take your life. We must not listen to the world that says that God wants you to be healthy and wealthy and you should seek those things. Jesus promised persecution for his followers. The father promised to discipline his dearly loved children as a loving father ought to do. But God tells us not to be afraid of the trials, the disease, the sudden disaster. These cannot touch you unless God wills it. And though these things hurt they are accompanied with blessings and mercy. George MyIne encourages us by telling us, “are you not sometimes afraid, and you know not why? Faith fails, and you cannot account for it. The promises pass from your mind, and you cannot recall them. The ground on which you stand seems to sink under your feet. “A horror of great darkness” has fallen upon you. It is “sudden fear.” My Christian friend, there is only one remedy for it — you must take it to Jesus. He will soon restore your peace. Courage shall return to your heart, while He says, “Fear not!”
4. FAMILY TRIALS 34-35. The chapter ends on a negative note and a foreshadowing of problems to come. In one sentence, we have a summary of Esau’s adult life. Problem one: Esau is a polygamist. This goes against God’s original intent for marriage established at creation. Not one of the polygamist marriages of the Bible ever works out well. Problem two: Esau marries two Hittite women. He chooses to mix the line of Shem and the line of Canaan. He has married himself to women who are part of Ham’s curse. Not a good idea. Problem three: The Hittite women made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah. We just saw all the ways that Isaac honored his father. Esau on the other hand dishonors his father in these marriages. He dishonors his grandfather who sent his faithful servant 450 miles to get a wife for Isaac because he could not have a wife from among the Canaanites. And here Esau marries two. No wonder that he is called sexually immoral and unholy in the book of Hebrews. Nothing is sacred to him. He married pagans, he trades his birthright for a bowl of soup. What a heartbreak this must have been for Isaac and Rebekah. Some of you know this heartache after your wayward children. Their spouses are a source of bitterness to your spirit. You love them but their actions have brought nothing but pain and trouble to you. Isaac and Rebekah knew what you are going through.
a. We See Plainly 26-31. As Isaac is in Beersheba, Abimelech, Ahuzzath, and Phicol make a visit. Some people have said that Isaac’s words are harsh to them, but I think they’re accurate. “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?” Isaac moves away from them after they showed aggression. Isaac has been trying to live at peace with them. What more do they want? They say, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you.” They realize, because of the blessings that Isaac has, that Isaac has a God, Yahweh, on his side. Instead of trying to fight Isaac and the Lord they want to make peace. They say, “do us no harm, just as we have not touched you,” and here is the kicker, “and have done to you nothing but good and sent you away in peace.” Liars! We did nothing but good, except envied and hated you and stole from you. Besides that, it’s all been good. And we didn’t chase you away we sent you away in peace. This is typical of the world. They will buddy up with God’s people when it suits their needs. If harassing God’s people and stealing from them is advantageous then that’s what they do but if it is more profitable to be at peace and flatter God’s people, well, then that’s there m.o. The last line that they say, “you are now the blessed of the Lord,” is true. Abraham was the blessed of the Lord and now that privilege has passed to Isaac. That must have been an encouragement to Isaac that God had caused these Philistines to recognize this. Since they came in peace, Isaac agrees to the treaty like his father did and the peace that Abraham had with the Philistines is restored to Isaac. Isaac lived out what Paul calls the church to do in Romans 12:18, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceable with all.” b. We Have Found Water 32-33. At the end of verse 25, we were told that Isaac’s servants began to dig a well at Beersheba. Was a brand new well or a re-digging of Abraham’s well we are not told but on the day that Abimelech leaves the servants found water. Isaac’s response is to name the well the well of oath just like Abraham. Isaac sees that he is receiving the covenant and the blessing that God gave to Abraham. He has had this truth confirmed over and over again. By naming the well in Beersheba, Beersheba he is demonstrating to the world truthfulness of God’s word.
a. The Lord Appears 23-24. Some time passes and Isaac moves on from Rehoboth back to Beersheba. On the night that they arrived and set up camp, the Lord appears to him. God knows what we need when we need it. After all this trouble with the Philistines, God has some encouragement for Isaac. First, God says that he is “the God of Abraham your father.” Look at how close God is to Isaac. He does not say, I am El-Shaddai but your father Abraham’s God. The God of the Old Testament is not some far-off vengeful deity. He is our father’s God. Then the Lord says, fear not. Why? Because he was with Isaac too. He was Isaac’s God just like he was Abraham’s. Then God goes back to the covenant promises, his stated word. I will bless you and multiply you. And then God reminds Isaac of his place in all this, “for my servant Abraham’s sake.” Not because of who Isaac is or what he has done, but because of his deceased father. That’s grace again. That’s undeserved or unearned favor. b. Isaac Worships 25. After the Lord leaves Isaac, his response is to build an altar, hold a worship service, and make plans to stay there for a while. The encouragement of God, the reminder of the blessing and promise and the statement of the certainty of the blessing and promise invoke worship. Honoring God and giving thanks, according to Romans 1, are the correct response to God.
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.