God’s Promise to Isaac
26 Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the LORD appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
Isaac and Abimelech
So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance. When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I thought, ‘Lest I die because of her.’” Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”
So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, 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 contended with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, saying, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”
From there he went up to Beersheba. And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD and pitched his tent there. And there Isaac’s servants dug a well.
When Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army, Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?” They said, “We see plainly that the LORD has been with you. So we said, let there be a sworn pact between us, between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the LORD.” So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths. And Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace. That same day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well that they had dug and said to him, “We have found water.” He called it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.
When Esau was forty years old, he took Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite to be his wife, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite, and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.
Genesis 26 Commentary
by Hank Workman
“Now there was a famine in the land… The Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you…” Genesis 26:1-2
Did you catch that? You may want to reread those 2 verses again. Anything stand out?
There was a famine in the land and God asked Isaac to stay. Isaac was told to not move on where there would have been plenty and instead sojourn around within that land. It made no sense but God required this faith in Him from Isaac during this hard situation.
I don’t think I like this. There are many, many times when situations are so desperate; when things seem to close in; when it feels as though there’s a famine of sorts spiritually and God says, “Stay right here.” And all I want to do is pack it up and move on. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not typically a ‘cut and run’ kinda guy – but there come those times when there is nothing on the horizon, the famine of sorts is right there and the longing to get beyond it, move on is at the forefront of my mind. God always seems to require I stay right there.
For Isaac, his staying would bring some aspects of difficulty. Living in the land, he was afraid of his wife’s beauty and lied she was his sister. Sound familiar? Like Father, like son. He would be seen caressing his wife and called into account for the lie. There were arguments over wells and settling and so forth. The physical difficulties of staying there in this land would be hard.
But in the end, because of Isaac’s obedience, God blessed him in the famine. Because of Isaac’s steadfastness, God brought about blessings that were evident to the people. The Lord was with him through it all.
Maybe you’re in such a place. I know I am currently. This is a reminder to stay close to God and His instruction. To not lean on your own understanding of things, but to fully rest in Him despite the surroundings. God is working in your character. He is molding you in your faith. He is ever watchful and asking us to be faithful even when it’s hard. Don’t move. Be diligent. Seek Him in this time. Don’t be afraid. He is with you.
Genesis 26 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
In Genesis 26, God reiterates His promise made long ago to Abraham. Being a descendant, Isaac was still under this covenant relationship of God. Let’s look at exactly how God describes His relationship with Abraham when speaking to Isaac…
I will make your offspring as numerous as the stars of the sky, I will give your offspring all these lands, and all the nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring, 5 because Abraham listened to My voice and kept My mandate, My commands, My statutes, and My instructions.”Genesis 26:4-5 HCSB
It is interesting to me that God paints Abraham in a positive light despite the shortcomings we have read about in previous chapters. There are several points to consider.
First, Abraham’s entire life was not documented in Scripture. In fact, in Genesis 21, Abraham is 100 years old and in Genesis 25 he dies at a ripe age of 175. That’s basically the average lifespan of a man today compressed into 5 chapters. Furthermore, those chapters only give us a few snapshots of his life. It’s clear that only the highlights (and lowlights) were documented, leading us to an incomplete picture of what the day-to-day life of Abraham really looked like.
We can summarize from God’s words in Genesis 26 that Abraham was faithful to God. Yes, he had some major blunders (just like all of us), but the big picture of his life was summarized as obedient by God Himself. This would indicate that during the mundane, ordinary times of life, Abraham was living in relationship with God. On one hand, we can empathize with Abraham’s struggles because we all go through times of struggle and growth. But on the other hand, Abraham was considered righteous by God which was credited to Him by faith.
When God promised Abraham and his descendants that the world would belong to him, he did so, not because Abraham obeyed the Law, but because he believed and was accepted as righteous by God.Romans 4:13 GNB
How did this tangibly play out in Abraham’s life?
Abraham believed and hoped, even when there was no reason for hoping, and so became “the father of many nations.” Just as the scripture says, “Your descendants will be as many as the stars.” 19 He was then almost one hundred years old; but his faith did not weaken when he thought of his body, which was already practically dead, or of the fact that Sarah could not have children. 20 His faith did not leave him, and he did not doubt God’s promise; his faith filled him with power, and he gave praise to God. 21 He was absolutely sure that God would be able to do what he had promised. 22 That is why Abraham, through faith, “was accepted as righteous by God.”Romans 4:18-22 GNB
These are incredible thoughts. Righteousness is produced in our lives when we believe by faith that God will fulfill His promise. Consider, we aren’t the ones to deliver on the promises of God. He simply asks that we trust Him. Abraham believed when there was no reason to believe. His faith was not weakened by the facts.
When we trust in Jesus, we also become righteous. It is not by our own doing, but by the work He did on the cross. Abraham’s life is a beautiful picture of how holiness is produced in our lives simply by trusting in God.