(Summary of the sermon – 03 Apr 2016)
Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the Lord blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him. Now the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and they had filled them with earth. And Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.”
Then Isaac departed from there and pitched his tent in the Valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them.
Also Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found a well of running water there. But 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 quarreled with him. hen they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one 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, because he said, “For now the Lord has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”
Then he went up from there to Beersheba. And 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 My servant Abraham’s sake.” So he built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord, and he pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.
Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath, one of his friends, and Phichol the commander of his army. And Isaac said to them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?”
But they said, “We have certainly seen that the Lord is with you. So we said, ‘Let there now be an oath between us, between you and us; and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, since we have not touched you, and since we have done nothing to you 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. Then they arose early in the morning and swore an oath with one another; and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace.
It came to pass the same day that Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, “We have found water.” So he called it Shebah. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day.
SONS OF GOD
Isaac was the only son of Abraham. He was beloved and precious. We also become the dear children of God when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. But the book of Romans says that we are called the sons of God when we are led by the Spirit of God.
Every Christian fights a battle of the flesh and of the spirit. Often, the proof of our nature as sons of God is in the way we behave and respond in life. If we don’t live as sons of God, we cannot experience God’s blessings.
Let us look at Isaac’s life and see how he responded to some difficult circumstances.
- SOWING IN THE LAND OF FAMINE
The Bible says that in the midst of famine, Isaac sowed and he reaped 100-fold. He was led by the Spirit of God and he reaped the benefits of that. What do our lives look like? Is Jesus the Lord of every decision, concern, problem and need of ours? Or are we in control? Are we willing to obey God and stay committed to Him even if it looks and sounds foolish? Isaac obeyed God and sowed even though the ground realities told him that it was not a good idea.
- BE STILL
God blessed Isaac and the Philistines grew envious of him and forced him out of the land. So he headed out to the valley of Gerar. The name ‘Gerar’ meant ‘dryness’. Even there, God continued to be with him. We can be certain that when we succeed in life, there will be envious people around us. But even though they harm us and we face dryness in our lives, God will still be with us. He will not abandon us. We need to learn to be still during such times. Being still, of course, does not mean passivity and lack of action. It means that we must trust in God who fills us with everlasting peace and continue doing what He calls us to do. Isaac kept digging wells in that valley.
As Isaac dug the wells, people came and quarreled with his men. We need to remember that as we try to move ahead in life, there will be quarrels and oppositions.
I remember that soon after I came to know and believe in Jesus, my family tried to tell me to go easy on my passion in following Jesus. They said that too much of anything, even of God, is not good. But God wants us to continue digging spiritually in our lives too. Only then can streams of water flow through us. As we know, a strong sailor is one who charters rough waters. Our character similarly becomes stronger as we go through pain and persecution.
- PEACE AT LAST
Isaac moves to another place called Sitna and digs wells there. Here he didn’t face any opposition. A verse in Mathew 22 (Message version) says – ‘there is a great irony here proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate, but don’t quit, don’t cave in. It’s all well worth it in the end’.
Isaac named this place as Rehoboth, which meant ‘wide place’. He was blessed and comfortable there. He experienced rest now. But he didn’t settle down there. He pressed on.
As Christians, when we experience healing, rest, contentment, answer to a prayer, or prosperity, we feel like settling down there and getting comfortable. But God often calls us to move on to the next level.
- PLACE OF COVENANT
Then Abimelech asked Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs which you have set by themselves?”
And he said, “You will take these seven ewe lambs from my hand, that they may be my witness that I have dug this well.” Therefore he called that place Beersheba, because the two of them swore an oath there
Isaac moved to Beersheba. It’s a place of covenant. Until we reach the place of Covenant, we cannot settle down. Jesus the Lamb of God made a Covenant with us. He gave His life to purchase ours. The Cross was the Beersheba in our lives, the place of Covenant.
There at Beersheba, God appeared to Isaac and told him not to fear because He was with him. When we are at the place of Covenant with God, we will experience His presence, power, leading and guidance.
Let me conclude by drawing your attention to another covenant. The book of Malachi says that marriage is a covenant. But imagine if the husband and wife decide after a while that they have enough on their plates and that they aren’t interested in taking care of their covenant. That would be terrible right? I remember a time when soon after my younger son Jhunu was born, I was very busy with work. So much so that Jhunu couldn’t recognize me as his dad. He assumed his older brother was the dad. That shook me up and I realized that I needed to take care of my marriage and family! So, if marriage and family is such an important covenant relationship, then think of how much more important our Covenant relationship with God is?