This sermon was based on Genesis 26.
God’s Promise to Isaac
1Now 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. 2And the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. 3Sojourn 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. 4I 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, 5because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
Isaac and Abimelech
6So Isaac settled in Gerar. 7When 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. 8When 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. 9So 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.'” 10Abimelech 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.” 11So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
12And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The Lord blessed him, 13and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. 14He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. 15(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.) 16And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”
17So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18And 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. 19But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, 20the 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. 21Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah. 22And 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.”
23From there he went up to Beersheba. 24And the Lordappeared 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.” 25So 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.
26When Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army, 27Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?” 28They 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, 29that 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.” 30So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31In the morning they rose early and exchanged oaths. And Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace. 32That same day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well that they had dug and said to him, “We have found water.” 33He called it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.
34When 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, 35and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.
- God had given promises to Abraham but in Isaac’s lifetime it doesn’t seem like these promises are going to happen.
- We can experience this today, that faith is dry and irrelevant and the promises of God will not come to pass.
- Isaac had to go back to the ancient wells and re-dig them. The promises of God were renewed for his generation.
- Our challenge is not to be put off by the dryness but to recognise that God’s promises are still alive and relevant for today.
- Isaac had to go and unclog the ancient wells. It was hard work and he had to act.
- God calls us to give ourselves to the ancient practices of prayer, discipline, fasting, meditation, reading scripture, worship, repentance and mission. It begins with us being dissatisfied with what we see in the society around us and channelling that into commitment to be part of the solution.
- When the church responds in this way there is a change that God brings. Spiritual practices are life giving!
- It doesn’t all rely on us, although we have to put in effort, spiritual awakening in our society will come by the power of God.
- The image of water and wells in the bible is so closely linked with the Spirit of God.
- Every ancient well points to Jesus who is the one who gives us the Holy Spirit.
- The ancient practices are not just a tick list of things to do or a formula. They are ways in which we tap into the Spirit of God. When we experience the power of God through the Holy Spirit it starts in us and then flows out from us.