Do Not Fear! – Genesis 26:1-33

Living Above Fear!
Genesis 26:1-33
Hope In Christ Bible Church 5/26/19
Well, as lovers of God’s Word, would you turn with me to Genesis 26? Here in the 26th chapter of Genesis we continue to gaze at God’s grace unfolding in His divine drama of the ages.
And He does that through men and women like you and me. Men and women of faith yet men and women whose lives are punctuated with failings, yes and even fears.
Look for a moment into the rearview mirror of your life. Have you ever lost the battle to fear?
Fear of others, fear of circumstances, fear of health concerns, fear of failing, yes and even fear of the future? Sure you have.
Friends, fear is a nasty enemy. For it is one of the most common causes of spiritual stagnation and failure.
Fear robs us of our joy, dims our hope, and leaves us shackled by burdens God never meant for us to carry.
A health related website created by the University of Minnesota states the following: “Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, intestinal problems such as ulcers, and … decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated ageing and even premature death.” Pretty clear, fear is bad for us. And it dishonors God. Do you realize that the phrase “fear not” appears at least 80 times in the Bible? And it’s in our text this morning! Here’s why. God knows our proneness to become agitated, worried, and fearful. And He knows how our enemy uses the tactic of fear to hinder joyful and victorious living. Well, there’s great news for you this morning from God as to how to win the victory over fear. And it comes to us in the life of Isaac. How can you live above fear? 5 words that flow from our text show us the path to take:
1. Promise of God 1-5
2. Protection of God 6-11
3. Provision from God12-17
4. Presence of God 18-25
5. Peace with others 26-33
Enjoying victory over fear begins with the
1. Promise of God 1-5
Notice the important backdrop in verse1, “Now there was a famine in the land, besides the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. So Isaac went to Gerar, to Abimelech king of the Philistines.
Famines. Famines were not uncommon in the Ancient Near East where life depended on rainfall. Without water storage systems and irrigation, no rain meant you soon loose your crops and livestock. And if you don’t get out of that place of famine, you will soon die.
That’s Isaac’s situation. You say, “but he’s a believer, and God has a famine hit the area where he lives?” Right.
This shows us that God’s children are not exempt from adversity. Yes, God allows us to go through tough circumstances just like unbelievers.
But, Christian, the big difference is this- God is with us as our Father, guides us even in these tough times, and causes us to trust Him more.
So Isaac heads southwest to the town of Gerar. That’s 15 miles inland from the Mediterranean.
Now that place of Gerar and the title “Abimelech king of the Philistines” should sound familiar to you.
That’s where Abraham journeyed with Sarah in chapter 20.
Remember? That’s the place where he said Sarah was his sister and the king took Sarah.
Now, there are lots of similarities between that story and what follows in our text.
Yet similar doesn’t mean same! Not at all.
And that includes Abraham’s going to Egypt in Gen. 12 and lying to Pharaoh about Sarah.
How can we be certain chapter 26 is not a retelling of Abraham’s deception?
Because you can’t conclude that and accept God’s inspired Word here at face value.
This can’t be the same famine of chapter 12 because God points out for us in v. 1, it was
“besides the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham.”
And second, we are told here that it’s Isaac (and not Abraham) here who goes to Gerar.
It’s also some 90 years later than Abraham’s visit there. So it’s most likely a different Abimelech.
So look now at what happens to Isaac as he’s running from the famine.
V. 2- “The LORD appeared to him and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you.’ ”
The divine directions are unmistakable.
Even though Egypt would have afforded lots of food for Isaac, his family, and animals, God tells him, “Don’t go there.”
Instead he must stay (the idea is settle down) where God tells him to be- there in the land of Promise.
Then he specifies, “Sojourn in this land….”
In other words, “Isaac, you are to remain during this time of famine here in Canaan. Don’t look to Egypt, look to Me.”
And here comes the wonderful promise of God.
By the way, God loves to follow this pattern we see here in dealing with His people. He appears, commands and then promises.
Look now at the tremendous promise God makes Isaac: V. 3- “Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I swore to your father Abraham. 4 “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”
Friends, we have heard this massive promise wonderfully rehearsed to Abraham multiple times. And now it is made to his son, Isaac! Why is this so important?
Because Abraham has died, but God’s promise didn’t die with Abraham! For He affirms it with nothing left out to Isaac!
It includes 3 specifics- the land, the blessing, and innumerable descendants like the stars in the heavens!
Don’t forget. Those who would be born in the line of Abraham and Isaac would be uncountable for man but not for God.
For Psalm 147:4 tells us “He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.”
So too, God knows every one of the thousands and millions of His chosen people, namely in this context, the children of Israel.
And praise God, He knows every one of us He has made part of His church!
Now you need to understand. There’s an expansion in what God tells Isaac in his promise.
Instead of God promising the land (singular) now in verse 3 and 4 God tells Isaac “I will give you and your descendants all these lands.”
This emphasizes the Promised Land which would includes lands currently inhabited by others. All those were Gods that He intended for His people!
So it is, the right to the entire land God makes clear not only to Abraham but also to his son Isaac and his descendants.
Now here’s what’s fascinating. We have seen that God’s covenant to Abraham was unconditional. God designed it and said He would do it.
Yet now, God shows us another angle, of the covenant to Isaac being conditional. You say, “Conditional on what?”
All that God promises He would do for Isaac- the land, descendants and blessing He clarifies in verse 5 were “because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”
So let’s ask, is God’s covenant to Abraham and Isaac conditional or unconditional?
And the answer is, “Yes!” It’s both.
It’s unconditional that God would perform it.
Yet, it’s conditional in how His people would enjoy it.
That’s like the new covenant, our salvation.
God unconditionally saves us by His grace.
Yet our enjoyment of salvation depends on our obedience.
Now don’t miss how God’s promise to Isaac would combat his fears.
Any time in the future that he might be tempted to doubt if God would bless him, give him a godly seed, and through them bless the world, what would he need to remember?
God’s promise. God had promised him all that, and Isaac could count on it!
So too Christian, when you begin to fear people or circumstances in your life, here’s what you must remember- God’s promises to you.
Peter calls these God’s “precious and magnificent promises.” II Peter 1:4
Christian, God promises to love you, to care for you, to lead you, to strengthen you, to guard you and one day to bring you into presence with great joy.
In fact, it’s God’s promise that gives us hope (and not fear) as we look to the future. II Peter 3:13 tells us, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
When you add all that up it means God in Himself has given you everything you ever need… and therefore you have no need to fear!
The promise of God delivers us from fear and so does the
2. Protection of God 6-11
In obedience to the Lord’s command we read, V.6: “So Isaac lived in Gerar.”
And it’s there that Isaac runs up against an unnerving trial: Verse 7 spells it out for us: “When the men of the place asked about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say, “my wife,” thinking, “the men of the place might kill me on account of Rebekah, for she is beautiful.”
Isaac finds himself in a perplexing situation.
He is afraid the powerful king would take his beautiful wife Rebekah for his harem and would kill him to get her.
Isaac’s dad, Abraham, had blown it twice in this trial, and now Isaac follows in his footsteps. He didn’t learn the lesson he should have from his father’s failure.
So he resorts to deception. He lies.
Rather than speak the truth, he tells the men of Gerar who asked about Rebekah that she was his sister.
Bad plan. It’s always a bad plan to lie!
For God warns, whether it’s sooner or later, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23
Watch how in Isaac’s situation God worked so that after the deception came detection.
V. 8- “It came about, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out through a window, and saw, and behold, Isaac was caressing his wife Rebekah.”
Isaac thought he could pull the wool over those men’s eyes. Yet God saw it all.
Proverbs 5:21 makes that so clear, “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He watches all his paths.”
God so providentially timed it so the moment their king looked out his window, what did he see?
Definitely not a platonic brother-sister relationship!
The word “caressing” has the idea of Isaac sporting with Rebekah. He was treating her with affection appropriate for a wife.
When the king sees that, he realizes, he has been duped. And watch his scathing rebuke:
V. 9: “Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, certainly she is your wife! How then did you say, ‘She is my sister?” And Isaac said to him, ‘Because I said, I might die on account of her.’ ”
Just like his father, whom is Isaac looking out for? Not his bride Rebekah but himself. He’s
concerned about saving his skin nor her sanctity!
And that placed Rebekah in a most vulnerable situation.
Husbands, don’t forget you premier responsibility before God in your marriage. Eph. 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
How did Christ show His love for His bride? By giving his life for us. That, husbands, God says is the gold standard for how you are to love your wife!
Now that king really goes after Abraham for his deceptive ploy. V. 10 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.”
Wow, those words must have stung like a bee!
For the king makes it clear that had he or one of the men unwittingly taken Rebekah to be their wife, they would suffered from great guilt.
Now watch the edict this pagan king then declares: (v. 11) “So Abimelech charged all the people, saying, ‘He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.’ ”
What an amazing response. That king could have been so angry at Isaac that he would order to have him hung on the gallows or put in prison for life.
But instead he declares a hands off, leave alone protection policy for both Isaac and Rebekah.
All those in his kingdom understood, you lay a hand on this husband and wife, and you will die!
Now, why does God preserve this story for us? Not just to entertain us but to encourage us- to encourage us with the certainty that God protected the marriage of Isaac.
For in spite of Isaac’s foolish deception, God kept the king’s hands off of Rebekah and protected their marriage from foreign offspring and compromise.
God also affirms through that king the sanctity of marriage. Whether it’ an attack against God-given gender, adultery, or divorce, it’s an attack against God’s beautiful plan in marriage.
You mess with God’s plan for marriage and you mess up marriage, family, society and the church. And in so doing, you attack the glory of God.
No, God hasn’t changed his mind. What he shared through Malachi still stands: Malachi 2:16 “For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel….. So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
No question about it. Isaac blew it and gave in to his fears.
Yet in spite of his failure, God protected his wife and marriage.
And that would instill deeper confidence in Isaac for the rest of his life that because of God’s great protection, he could live by faith and not by fear.
On his second missionary tour, the apostle Paul entered the sin-filled city of Corinth with the gospel. Some Jews resisted and blasphemed, and things were getting tense as many Corinthians “were believing and being baptized.”
And Paul begins to battle fear. So the Lord in a vision at night tells Paul these words to fortify his faith:
“Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” Acts 18:9–10
There it is. God’s promised protection kept Paul from being crippled by fear.
And friends, when you are convinced that God guards and protects you as His own, then that drives out fear.
I love how God through the prophet Isaiah consoles his people with wonderful assurance: “For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ “ Isaiah 41:13
Instead of fear of what might happen there’s joy over who’s in control. That’s how Jude, the half-brother of our Lord in spite of all the attacks of false teachers could say, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy….” Jude 24
Well, this brings us to the third antidote to our fears:
3. Provision from God 12-17
Would you take in with me how God blessed Isaac?
V. 12 Now Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the LORD blessed him, 13 and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy; 14 for he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him.
There in the vicinity of Gerar, Isaac plants crops and raises flocks and herds.
And what happened? Harvest time came and he reaped 100x more than what he had planted. And his sheep, goats, and other animals were no doubt multiplying by- quantum leaps.
Why? Because Isaac used some kind of Miracle Grow plant formula or some special technique for farming? No, it was because God chose to bless him that way.
Moses would later tell the children of Israel after they had entered the Promised Land that it was God’s hand, not theirs, that had given them their wealth.
Deuteronomy 8:18 “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
King David may have had Isaac’s situation in mind when he describes God’s blessing on His people saying, “in the days of famine they will have abundance.” Psalm 37:19
King Solomon understood how God can bless in such tangible ways. He points out in
Proverbs 10:22 that “It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.”
And our Lord Jesus, after Peter had told Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” Mark 10:28–30
Now here’s where we must be very careful. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10), yet He never guarantees wealth and financial prosperity to His children.
In fact, in that same conversation Jesus had with Peter, He warned of the great liability of riches. Mark 10:25 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Remember the extremely rich man in Luke 18? He became very sad when he found out what it would cost him to follow Christ.
Jesus then looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” Luke 18:24
Do you realize that none of the apostles had financial prosperity? In fact, Peter tells the beggar at the temple gate, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” Acts 3:6
So, we must be careful not to equate wealth as a sure sign of God’s blessing. And we dare not conclude that a lack of wealth is the absence of God’s blessing.
For even the apostle Paul testified of being “in hardship…, in hunger and thirst [and] often without food.” II Cor. 11:27
Yet, Paul enjoyed the greatest treasure of all, from God’s hand, Jesus Christ, the pearl of great price!
Now back to Isaac’s unique blessing of God. That was God’s gracious provision. He was rewarded by God and yet resented by men.
The Philistines of Gerar become jealous of Isaac’s prosperity. And look what they do to him: V. 15- “Now all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines stopped up by filling them with earth. 16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us.’ 17 And Isaac departed from there and camped in the valley of Gerar, and settled there.”
There in the valley, Isaac would have found good pastureland.
I have read how even today, Syrian shepherds will rent a parcel of ground and raise their flocks. Yet if their sheep multiply and the shepherds have many to sell in the open market, the land owners tend to become jealous. Because of that they may refuse to renew the land lease and force the shepherds to move somewhere else.
That’s what Isaac experiences. And you can be sure of this, God’s provision for him, the blessing of God’s hand on his life grew his faith and reminded him he had no need to fear future days.
And Christian, when you seek first God’s kingdom, not your own, you can be confident God will provide for all your needs, (not your wants)!
Paul knew that firsthand and assured the Philippian Christians, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19
So remember, people of God, God’s faithful provision in your life, particularly true riches in Christ, those show you why there’s no need to fear. For He as our Father obligates Himself to care for us as His beloved children.
4. Presence of God 18-25
Well as we follow the saga of Isaac’s situation, we find out more about the fear factor in his life.
It was all about having fresh water in a desolate place. For the Philistines were sabotaging his wells.
They would throw rocks and dirt into the well even putrid animal carcasses.
Well, imagine your major source of water for survival is from a well. For someone to destroy it would be tantamount to a threat to war!
So watch what follows in v. 18- “Then Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham; and he gave them the same names which his father had given them. 19 But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of flowing water, 20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek (that by the way means argument) because they contended with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over it too, so he named it Sitnah (and that Hebrew word means opposition).”
Isaac, unlike those herdsmen, was a peacemaker. When his enemies keep stopping up his wells, what does he do? He doesn’t retaliate. Instead verse 22 tells us-
“He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth (means “room enough”), for he said, “At last the LORD has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.”
God brought Isaac through that time of conflict. And watch what God does when Isaac moves further south to Beersheba (v. 23) where Abraham had lived nearly a century before.
And friends, this gives us the high water mark of this entire chapter.
V. 24 “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 the sake of My servant Abraham.’ ”
So wonderfully and so timely, God reassures Isaac why he must not fear.
What’s the heart of it? He was the God of his father Abraham? He would bless Isaac? He
would multiply his offspring. Yes, a thousand times, yes!
Yet it’s even bigger than that. The overwhelmingly encouraging reason why God commands Isaac not to fear he says is this: “Do not fear, for I am with you!”
O may God help us get ahold of this life-changing, joy-filling, and fear-crushing truth.
Christian, you must not fear any situation or any person, for God is with you!
Isaiah 41:10 drives home this soul-enthralling encouragement: ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Fellow believer, the God who is with you, is the God who loves to help you. Therefore, you can live by faith and not fear!
In response to that fear-conquering assurance of God’s presence, Isaac worships God.
V. 25 “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.”
How can you know you are walking by faith and not by fear? One certain way is if you are worshipping God. Calling on Him and praising Him.
Now the phrase in Hebrew from which we get “calling on the Lord” also has the idea of making proclamation to the Lord. There’s a missionary focus here.
It includes Isaac’s declaration of faith in God to those around him.
Friends, don’t forget, the unsaved people God has put in your life, they need to hear from you the difference God’s presence makes in your life.
That’s what David does in Psalm 34:4 when he boasts of God saying, “I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
So beloved of God, don’t keep silent. Speak up and let the whole world know how His dwelling frees you from the vice grip of fear!
The Promise, Protection, Provision and
Presence of God give us victory over fear and also 5. Peace with others 26-33
Guess who shows up to work things out with Isaac? Old king Abimelech!
V. 26- “Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with his adviser Ahuzzath and Phicol the commander of his army. 27 Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?”
Great question! “You didn’t want anything to do with me and told me to leave your land. So what do you want from now?”
V. 28: “They said, ‘We see plainly that the LORD has been with you;’ so we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, even between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, 29 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..’ ”
Isaac must have been thinking, “What on earth are you talking about? You did nothing but good to me…. Really?”
But it must have been music to his soul what they said next, “You are now the blessed of the LORD.”
That was spot on, absolutely true. And that perfectly fulfilled what God had promised not only Abraham but also Isaac, “I will bless you (v. 24)!
They were troublemakers, but Isaac again shows himself to be a peacemaker.
V. 30 tells us, “Then he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 In the morning they arose early and exchanged oaths; then Isaac sent them away and they departed from him in peace.”
Friends, living free of fear and full of faith helps us have peaceful with others.
We don’t have to protect our own back since we know God does.
Instead, we can “pursue peace with all men” Heb. 12:14.
And we can be diligent “to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Eph. 4:3
Some of you here today are dealing with difficult people in your lives. At home, in your workplace, with relatives or friends.
Be done with your fear and step forward in faith to show them Christ’s love. For Christ the Prince of Peace loves to give peace where there is none.
It took work and perseverance for Isaac to dig all those wells and put on a feast and make a peace treaty with that enemy king. Yet God gave grace and blessed his hear of obedient faith. For the story ends with these words:
V. 32 “Now it came about on the same day, that Isaac’s servants came in and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, ‘We have found water.’ 33 So he called it Shibah; Do Not Fear!
Genesis 26:1-33
Hope In Christ Bible Church 5/26/19
Well, as lovers of God’s Word, would you turn with me to Genesis 26? Here in the 26th chapter of Genesis we continue to gaze at God’s grace unfolding in His divine drama of the ages.
And He does that through men and women like you and me. Men and women of faith yet men and women whose lives are punctuated with failings, yes and even fears.
Look for a moment into the rearview mirror of your life. Have you ever lost the battle to fear?
Fear of others, fear of circumstances, fear of health concerns, fear of failing, yes and even fear of the future? Sure you have.
Friends, fear is a nasty enemy. For it is one of the most common causes of spiritual stagnation and failure.
Fear robs us of our joy, dims our hope, and leaves us shackled by burdens God never meant for us to carry.
A health related website created by the University of Minnesota states the following: “Fear weakens our immune system and can cause cardiovascular damage, intestinal problems such as ulcers, and … decreased fertility. It can lead to accelerated ageing and even premature death.” Pretty clear, fear is bad for us. And it dishonors God. Do you realize that the phrase “fear not” appears at least 80 times in the Bible? And it’s in our text this morning! Here’s why. God knows our proneness to become agitated,
worried, and fearful. And He knows how our enemy uses the tactic of fear to hinder joyful and victorious living. Well, there’s great news for you this morning from God as to how to win the victory over fear. And it comes to us in the life of Isaac. How can you live above fear? 5 words that flow from our text show us the path to take:
6. Promise of God 1-5
7. Protection of God 6-11
8. Provision from God12-17
9. Presence of God 18-25
10. Peace with others 26-33
Enjoying victory over fear begins with the
1. Promise of God 1-5
Notice the important backdrop in verse1, “Now there was a famine in the land, besides the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. So Isaac went to Gerar, to Abimelech king of the Philistines.
Famines. Famines were not uncommon in the Ancient Near East where life depended on rainfall. Without water storage systems and irrigation, no rain meant you soon loose your crops and livestock. And if you don’t get out of that place of famine, you will soon die.
That’s Isaac’s situation. You say, “but he’s a believer, and God has a famine hit the area where he lives?” Right.
This shows us that God’s children are not exempt from adversity. Yes, God allows us to go through tough circumstances just like unbelievers.
But, Christian, the big difference is this- God is with us as our Father, guides us even in these tough times, and causes us to trust Him more.
So Isaac heads southwest to the town of Gerar. That’s 15 miles inland from the Mediterranean.
Now that place of Gerar and the title “Abimelech king of the Philistines” should sound familiar to you.
That’s where Abraham journeyed with Sarah in chapter 20.
Remember? That’s the place where he said Sarah was his sister and the king took Sarah.
Now, there are lots of similarities between that story and what follows in our text.
Yet similar doesn’t mean same! Not at all.
And that includes Abraham’s going to Egypt in Gen. 12 and lying to Pharaoh about Sarah.
How can we be certain chapter 26 is not a retelling of Abraham’s deception?
Because you can’t conclude that and accept God’s inspired Word here at face value.
This can’t be the same famine of chapter 12 because God points out for us in v. 1, it was “besides the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham.”
And second, we are told here that it’s Isaac (and not Abraham) here who goes to Gerar.
It’s also some 90 years later than Abraham’s visit there. So it’s most likely a different Abimelech.
So look now at what happens to Isaac as he’s running from the famine.
V. 2- “The LORD appeared to him and said, ‘Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you.’ ”
The divine directions are unmistakable.
Even though Egypt would have afforded lots of food for Isaac, his family, and animals, God tells him, “Don’t go there.”
Instead he must stay (the idea is settle down) where God tells him to be- there in the land of Promise.
Then he specifies, “Sojourn in this land….”
In other words, “Isaac, you are to remain during this time of famine here in Canaan. Don’t look to Egypt, look to Me.”
And here comes the wonderful promise of God.
By the way, God loves to follow this pattern we see here in dealing with His people. He appears, commands and then promises.
Look now at the tremendous promise God makes Isaac: V. 3- “Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you, for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath which I
swore to your father Abraham. 4 “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”
Friends, we have heard this massive promise wonderfully rehearsed to Abraham multiple times. And now it is made to his son, Isaac! Why is this so important?
Because Abraham has died, but God’s promise didn’t die with Abraham! For He affirms it with nothing left out to Isaac!
It includes 3 specifics- the land, the blessing, and innumerable descendants like the stars in the heavens!
Don’t forget. Those who would be born in the line of Abraham and Isaac would be uncountable for man but not for God.
For Psalm 147:4 tells us “He counts the number of the stars; He gives names to all of them.”
So too, God knows every one of the thousands and millions of His chosen people, namely in this context, the children of Israel.
And praise God, He knows every one of us He has made part of His church!
Now you need to understand. There’s an expansion in what God tells Isaac in his promise.
Instead of God promising the land (singular) now in verse 3 and 4 God tells Isaac “I will give you and your descendants all these lands.”
This emphasizes the Promised Land which would includes lands currently inhabited by others. All those were Gods that He intended for His people!
So it is, the right to the entire land God makes clear not only to Abraham but also to his son Isaac and his descendants.
Now here’s what’s fascinating. We have seen that God’s covenant to Abraham was unconditional. God designed it and said He would do it.
Yet now, God shows us another angle, of the covenant to Isaac being conditional. You say, “Conditional on what?”
All that God promises He would do for Isaac- the land, descendants and blessing He clarifies in verse 5 were “because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”
So let’s ask, is God’s covenant to Abraham and Isaac conditional or unconditional?
And the answer is, “Yes!” It’s both.
It’s unconditional that God would perform it.
Yet, it’s conditional in how His people would enjoy it.
That’s like the new covenant, our salvation.
God unconditionally saves us by His grace.
Yet our enjoyment of salvation depends on our obedience.
Now don’t miss how God’s promise to Isaac would combat his fears.
Any time in the future that he might be tempted to doubt if God would bless him, give him a godly seed, and through them bless the world, what would he need to remember?
God’s promise. God had promised him all that, and Isaac could count on it!
So too Christian, when you begin to fear people or circumstances in your life, here’s what you must remember- God’s promises to you.
Peter calls these God’s “precious and magnificent promises.” II Peter 1:4
Christian, God promises to love you, to care for you, to lead you, to strengthen you, to guard you and one day to bring you into presence with great joy.
In fact, it’s God’s promise that gives us hope (and not fear) as we look to the future. II Peter 3:13 tells us, “But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.”
When you add all that up it means God in Himself has given you everything you ever need… and therefore you have no need to fear!
The promise of God delivers us from fear and so does the
3. Protection of God 6-11
In obedience to the Lord’s command we read, V.6: “So Isaac lived in Gerar.”
And it’s there that Isaac runs up against an unnerving trial: Verse 7 spells it out for us: “When the men of the place asked about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he was afraid to say, “my wife,” thinking, “the men of the place might kill me on account of Rebekah, for she is beautiful.”
Isaac finds himself in a perplexing situation.
He is afraid the powerful king would take his beautiful wife Rebekah for his harem and would kill him to get her.
Isaac’s dad, Abraham, had blown it twice in this trial, and now Isaac follows in his footsteps. He didn’t learn the lesson he should have from his father’s failure.
So he resorts to deception. He lies.
Rather than speak the truth, he tells the men of Gerar who asked about Rebekah that she was his sister.
Bad plan. It’s always a bad plan to lie!
For God warns, whether it’s sooner or later, “Be sure your sin will find you out.” Numbers 32:23
Watch how in Isaac’s situation God worked so that after the deception came detection.
V. 8- “It came about, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out through a window, and saw, and behold, Isaac was caressing his wife Rebekah.”
Isaac thought he could pull the wool over those men’s eyes. Yet God saw it all.
Proverbs 5:21 makes that so clear, “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the LORD, and He watches all his paths.”
God so providentially timed it so the moment their king looked out his window, what did he see?
Definitely not a platonic brother-sister relationship!
The word “caressing” has the idea of Isaac sporting with Rebekah. He was treating her with affection appropriate for a wife.
When the king sees that, he realizes, he has been duped. And watch his scathing rebuke:
V. 9: “Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, certainly she is your wife! How then did you say, ‘She is my sister?” And Isaac said to him, ‘Because I said, I might die on account of her.’ ”
Just like his father, whom is Isaac looking out for? Not his bride Rebekah but himself. He’s concerned about saving his skin nor her sanctity!
And that placed Rebekah in a most vulnerable situation.
Husbands, don’t forget you premier responsibility before God in your marriage. Eph. 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”
How did Christ show His love for His bride? By giving his life for us. That, husbands, God says is the gold standard for how you are to love your wife!
Now that king really goes after Abraham for his deceptive ploy. V. 10 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.”
Wow, those words must have stung like a bee!
For the king makes it clear that had he or one of the men unwittingly taken Rebekah to be their wife, they would suffered from great guilt.
Now watch the edict this pagan king then declares: (v. 11) “So Abimelech charged all the people, saying, ‘He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.’ ”
What an amazing response. That king could have been so angry at Isaac that he would order to have him hung on the gallows or put in prison for life.
But instead he declares a hands off, leave alone protection policy for both Isaac and Rebekah.
All those in his kingdom understood, you lay a hand on this husband and wife, and you will die!
Now, why does God preserve this story for us? Not just to entertain us but to encourage us- to encourage us with the certainty that God protected the marriage of Isaac.
For in spite of Isaac’s foolish deception, God kept the king’s hands off of Rebekah and protected their marriage from foreign offspring and compromise.
God also affirms through that king the sanctity of marriage. Whether it’ an attack against God-given gender, adultery, or divorce, it’s an attack against God’s beautiful plan in marriage.
You mess with God’s plan for marriage and you mess up marriage, family, society and the church. And in so doing, you attack the glory of God.
No, God hasn’t changed his mind. What he shared through Malachi still stands: Malachi 2:16 “For I hate divorce,” says the LORD, the God of Israel….. So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
No question about it. Isaac blew it and gave in to his fears.
Yet in spite of his failure, God protected his wife and marriage.
And that would instill deeper confidence in Isaac for the rest of his life that because of God’s great protection, he could live by faith and not by fear.
On his second missionary tour, the apostle Paul entered the sin-filled city of Corinth with the gospel. Some Jews resisted and blasphemed, and things were getting tense as many Corinthians “were believing and being baptized.”
And Paul begins to battle fear. So the Lord in a vision at night tells Paul these words to fortify his faith:
“Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city.” Acts 18:9–10
There it is. God’s promised protection kept Paul from being crippled by fear.
And friends, when you are convinced that God guards and protects you as His own, then that drives out fear.
I love how God through the prophet Isaiah consoles his people with wonderful assurance: “For I am the LORD your God, who upholds your right hand, who says to you, ‘Do not fear, I will help you.’ “ Isaiah 41:13
Instead of fear of what might happen there’s joy over who’s in control. That’s how Jude, the half-brother of our Lord in spite of all the attacks of false teachers could say, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy….” Jude 24
Well, this brings us to the third antidote to our fears:
3. Provision from God 12-17
Would you take in with me how God blessed Isaac?
V. 12 Now Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the LORD blessed him, 13 and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy; 14 for he had possessions of flocks and herds and a great household, so that the Philistines envied him.
There in the vicinity of Gerar, Isaac plants crops and raises flocks and herds.
And what happened? Harvest time came and he reaped 100x more than what he had planted. And his sheep, goats, and other animals were no doubt multiplying by- quantum leaps.
Why? Because Isaac used some kind of Miracle Grow plant formula or some special technique for farming? No, it was because God chose to bless him that way.
Moses would later tell the children of Israel after they had entered the Promised Land that it was God’s hand, not theirs, that had given them their wealth.
Deuteronomy 8:18 “But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth,
that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
King David may have had Isaac’s situation in mind when he describes God’s blessing on His people saying, “in the days of famine they will have abundance.” Psalm 37:19
King Solomon understood how God can bless in such tangible ways. He points out in Proverbs 10:22 that “It is the blessing of the LORD that makes rich, and He adds no sorrow to it.”
And our Lord Jesus, after Peter had told Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.” 29 Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, 30 but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.” Mark 10:28–30
Now here’s where we must be very careful. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Ps. 50:10), yet He never guarantees wealth and financial prosperity to His children.
In fact, in that same conversation Jesus had with Peter, He warned of the great liability of riches. Mark 10:25 “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Remember the extremely rich man in Luke 18? He became very sad when he found out what it would cost him to follow Christ.
Jesus then looked at him and said, “How hard it is for those who are wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!” Luke 18:24
Do you realize that none of the apostles had financial prosperity? In fact, Peter tells the beggar at the temple gate, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” Acts 3:6
So, we must be careful not to equate wealth as a sure sign of God’s blessing. And we dare not conclude that a lack of wealth is the absence of God’s blessing.
For even the apostle Paul testified of being “in hardship…, in hunger and thirst [and] often without food.” II Cor. 11:27
Yet, Paul enjoyed the greatest treasure of all, from God’s hand, Jesus Christ, the pearl of great price!
Now back to Isaac’s unique blessing of God. That was God’s gracious provision. He was rewarded by God and yet resented by men.
The Philistines of Gerar become jealous of Isaac’s prosperity. And look what they do to him: V. 15- “Now all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines stopped up by filling them with earth. 16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us.’ 17 And Isaac departed from there and camped in the valley of Gerar, and settled there.”
There in the valley, Isaac would have found good pastureland.
I have read how even today, Syrian shepherds will rent a parcel of ground and raise their flocks. Yet if their sheep multiply and the shepherds have many to sell in the open market, the land owners tend to become jealous. Because of that they may refuse to renew the land lease and force the shepherds to move somewhere else.
That’s what Isaac experiences. And you can be sure of this, God’s provision for him, the blessing of God’s hand on his life grew his faith and reminded him he had no need to fear future days.
And Christian, when you seek first God’s kingdom, not your own, you can be confident God will provide for all your needs, (not your wants)!
Paul knew that firsthand and assured the Philippian Christians, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19
So remember, people of God, God’s faithful provision in your life, particularly true riches in Christ, those show you why there’s no need to fear. For He as our Father obligates Himself to care for us as His beloved children.
4. Presence of God 18-25
Well as we follow the saga of Isaac’s situation, we find out more about the fear factor in his life.
It was all about having fresh water in a desolate place. For the Philistines were sabotaging his wells.
They would throw rocks and dirt into the well even putrid animal carcasses.
Well, imagine your major source of water for survival is from a well. For someone to destroy it would be tantamount to a threat to war!
So watch what follows in v. 18- “Then Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham; and he gave them the same names which his father had given them. 19 But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of flowing water, 20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek (that by the way means argument) because they contended with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over it too, so he named it Sitnah (and that Hebrew word means opposition).”
Isaac, unlike those herdsmen, was a peacemaker. When his enemies keep stopping up his wells, what does he do? He doesn’t retaliate. Instead verse 22 tells us-
“He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth (means “room enough”), for he said, “At last the LORD has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.”
God brought Isaac through that time of conflict. And watch what God does when Isaac moves further south to Beersheba (v. 23) where Abraham had lived nearly a century before.
And friends, this gives us the high water mark of this entire chapter.
V. 24 “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 the sake of My servant Abraham.’ ”
So wonderfully and so timely, God reassures Isaac why he must not fear.
What’s the heart of it? He was the God of his father Abraham? He would bless Isaac? He would multiply his offspring. Yes, a thousand times, yes!
Yet it’s even bigger than that. The overwhelmingly encouraging reason why God commands Isaac not to fear he says is this: “Do not fear, for I am with you!”
O may God help us get ahold of this life-changing, joy-filling, and fear-crushing truth.
Christian, you must not fear any situation or any person, for God is with you!
Isaiah 41:10 drives home this soul-enthralling encouragement: ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’
Fellow believer, the God who is with you, is the God who loves to help you. Therefore, you can live by faith and not fear!
In response to that fear-conquering assurance of God’s presence, Isaac worships God.
V. 25 “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.”
How can you know you are walking by faith and not by fear? One certain way is if you are worshipping God. Calling on Him and praising Him.
Now the phrase in Hebrew from which we get “calling on the Lord” also has the idea of making proclamation to the Lord. There’s a missionary focus here.
It includes Isaac’s declaration of faith in God to those around him.
Friends, don’t forget, the unsaved people God has put in your life, they need to hear from you the difference God’s presence makes in your life.
That’s what David does in Psalm 34:4 when he boasts of God saying, “I sought the LORD, and He answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.”
So beloved of God, don’t keep silent. Speak up and let the whole world know how His dwelling frees you from the vice grip of fear!
The Promise, Protection, Provision and
Presence of God give us victory over fear and also 5. Peace with others 26-33
Guess who shows up to work things out with Isaac? Old king Abimelech!
V. 26- “Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with his adviser Ahuzzath and Phicol the commander of his army. 27 Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?”
Great question! “You didn’t want anything to do with me and told me to leave your land. So what do you want from now?”
V. 28: “They said, ‘We see plainly that the LORD has been with you;’ so we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, even between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, 29 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..’ ”
Isaac must have been thinking, “What on earth are you talking about? You did nothing but good to me…. Really?”
But it must have been music to his soul what they said next, “You are now the blessed of the LORD.”
That was spot on, absolutely true. And that perfectly fulfilled what God had promised not only Abraham but also Isaac, “I will bless you (v. 24)!
They were troublemakers, but Isaac again shows himself to be a peacemaker.
V. 30 tells us, “Then he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. 31 In the morning they arose early and exchanged oaths; then Isaac sent them away and they departed from him in peace.”
Friends, living free of fear and full of faith helps us have peaceful with others.
We don’t have to protect our own back since we know God does.
Instead, we can “pursue peace with all men” Heb. 12:14.
And we can be diligent “to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Eph. 4:3
Some of you here today are dealing with difficult people in your lives. At home, in your workplace, with relatives or friends.
Be done with your fear and step forward in faith to show them Christ’s love. For Christ the Prince of Peace loves to give peace where there is none.
It took work and perseverance for Isaac to dig all those wells and put on a feast and make a peace treaty with that enemy king. Yet God gave grace and blessed his hear of obedient faith. For the story ends with these words:
V. 32 “Now it came about on the same day, that Isaac’s servants came in and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, ‘We have found water.’ 33 So he called it Shibah; therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.”
As we close, let me invite you to deal with any fears in your life. Hidden or obvious fears.
Would you ask God to reveal any areas in which you live by fear and anxiety rather than trust in obedience?
Then give those to God in full surrender!
Closing prayer.
therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.”
As we close, let me invite you to deal with any fears in your life. Hidden or obvious fears.
Would you ask God to reveal any areas in which you live by fear and anxiety rather than trust in obedience?
Then give those to God in full surrender!
Closing prayer.