Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Scripture Passage

      Genesis - Chapter 26 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. Once during Abraham's lifetime, the fields had not produced enough grain, and now the same thing happened. So Isaac went to King Abimelech of the Philistines in the land of Gerar,
    2. because the LORD had appeared to Isaac and said: Isaac, stay away from Egypt! I will show you where I want you to go.
    3. You will live there as a foreigner, but I will be with you and bless you. I will keep my promise to your father Abraham by giving this land to you and your descendants.
    4. I will give you as many descendants as there are stars in the sky, and I will give your descendants all of this land. They will be a blessing to every nation on earth,
    5. because Abraham did everything I told him to do.
    6. Isaac moved to Gerar
    7. with his beautiful wife Rebekah. He was afraid that someone might kill him to get her, and so he told everyone that Rebekah was his sister.
    8. After Isaac had been there a long time, King Abimelech looked out a window and saw Isaac hugging and kissing Rebekah.
    9. Abimelech called him in and said, "Rebekah must be your wife! Why did you say she is your sister?" "Because I thought someone would kill me," Isaac answered.
    10. "Don't you know what you've done?" Abimelech exclaimed. "If someone had slept with her, you would have made our whole nation guilty!"
    11. Then Abimelech warned his people that anyone who even touched Isaac or Rebekah would be put to death.
    12. Isaac planted grain and had a good harvest that same year. The LORD blessed him,
    13. and Isaac was so successful that he became very rich.
    14. In fact, the Philistines were jealous of the large number of sheep, goats, and slaves that Isaac owned,
    15. and they stopped up the wells that Abraham's servants had dug before his death.
    16. Finally, Abimelech said, "Isaac, I want you to leave our country. You have become too powerful to stay here."
    17. Isaac left and settled in Gerar Valley,
    18. where he cleaned out those wells that the Philistines had stopped up. Isaac also gave each of the wells the same name that Abraham had given to them.
    19. While his servants were digging in the valley, they found a spring-fed well.
    20. But the shepherds of Gerar Valley quarreled with Isaac's shepherds and claimed the water belonged to them. So the well was named "Quarrel," because they had quarreled with Isaac.
    21. Isaac's servants dug another well, and the shepherds also quarreled about it. So that well was named "Jealous."
    22. Finally, they dug one more well. There was no quarreling this time, and the well was named "Lots of Room," because the LORD had given them room and would make them very successful.
    23. Isaac went on to Beersheba,
    24. where the LORD appeared to him that night and told him, "Don't be afraid! I am the God who was worshiped by your father Abraham, my servant. I will be with you and bless you, and because of Abraham I will give you many descendants."
    25. Isaac built an altar there and worshiped the LORD. Then he set up camp, and his servants started digging a well.
    26. Meanwhile, Abimelech had left Gerar and was taking his advisor Ahuzzath and his army commander Phicol to see Isaac.
    27. When they arrived, Isaac asked, "Why are you here? Didn't you send me away because you hated me?"
    28. They answered, "We now know for certain that the LORD is with you, and we have decided there needs to be a peace treaty between you and us. So let's make a solemn agreement
    29. not to harm each other. Remember, we have never hurt you, and when we sent you away, we let you go in peace. The LORD has truly blessed you."
    30. Isaac gave a big feast for them, and everyone ate and drank.
    31. Early the next morning Isaac and the others made a solemn agreement, then he let them go in peace.
    32. Later that same day Isaac's servants came and said, "We've struck water!"
    33. So Isaac named the well Shibah, and the town is still called Beersheba.
    34. When Esau was forty, he married Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite.
    35. But these two women brought a lot of grief to his parents Isaac and Rebekah.

Genesis - Chapter 26

Entered: August 21, 2006
The Lord begins to speak to Isaac as He did with his father Abraham. Because of a drought, Isaac was tempted to move to Egypt. But God told him not to do this because His promise was to give to him and his descendants the in which he was living. Isaac pulls the stunt of his father, and passes his wife off as his sister, afraid he will be in danger because of her beauty if the men of the land think he is her husband. Isaac was very prosperous, as was his father. Due to this there began to be bickering between his servants of the men of the land over water rights and space. Eventually king Abimelech asked Isaac to leave because he had become too powerful and too much of a threat. Isaac went to Beer-sheba. But even after this move Abimelec feared him and went to Isaac with his army commander to make a covenant of peace with him. The chapter ends on a negative note concerning Esau.

Entered: July 12, 2011

Chapter 26 could easily be confused with chapter 20, they are so similar. As there were similarities between Isaac and his father Abraham regarding the inability to have children, so also there was similarity in how they dealt with danger in another country. As with his father, when famine came, Isaac proposed to move to Egypt but God came to him and told him not to go there. So Isaac went to Gerar where his father had also gone for a time. In Gerar, history repeated itself. As with Abraham, Isaac passed off his wife as his sister for fear of being killed because of her, he was rebuked by Abimelech because of his deception, there was strife between the men of Gerar and Isaac's servants over wells, Isaac grew wealthy in Gerar, and Abimelech made a treaty with Isaac.

When God instructed Isaac not to go to Egypt, He also confirmed His covenant with Abraham, assuring Isaac that the covenant would continue with him: "For I will give all these lands to you and your offspring, and I will confirm the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. 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." (26:3-4) With the assurance of God's blessing fresh in his mind, Isaac went to Gerar and right away used deception as a cloak of protection. Unlike his father, Isaac could not ease his conscience with the knowledge of his wife being his half sister. Why would Isaac fall back to deception when feeling threatened despite the fact that he had been assured of God's blessing? Maybe for the same reasons any of us do it. 

One of the most likely reasons I would act similarly in Isaac's situation is that I would feel the need to be actively involved in addressing the threat rather than waiting on God's solution, which would seem like doing nothing to protect oneself. When feeling threatened, all our senses tell us to "Do something." But seeking God's help and waiting for it to come is doing something whether it feels like it or not. And, it is doing the best thing we can do, a much better solution than Isaac's deception. Regardless of how we might want to frame Isaac's attempt at protecting himself, it was a lapse of faith.