OK fine. It’s true. I am A LOT like my mother. From my insatiable desire to have EVERYTHING picked up; my excessive use of ziplocs; and my incredible superwoman like ability to put my husband’s cup in the dishwasher before he’s even finished drinking. I know, incredible right?
Devotional Scripture: Genesis 26
Key Verse: “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.” Gen. 26:3
But what’s even scarier is how my daughter already mimics me (the good and the not so good) at the very grown up age of seven (no pressure huh). But it happens. We all carry things from childhood to adulthood – be it unwanted baggage or a need to simply Ziploc something.
Isaac did too (the good and the bad of his faithful father). Evidenced by the one full chapter dedicated to his life. On the surface it appears as though Genesis 26 is simply a recording of Isaac’s life. Beginning with a famine and ending with a covenant between him and the Philistines, just as there was in the days of his father.
Parts of it mimic the life of Abraham so strongly it feels a bit like Deja Vu. While in Gerar Isaac committed the SAME sin his father had (claiming Rebekah was just his sister). For the SAME reason. In the SAME town. Against the SAME king. (Or son of the same king or grandson…we don’t really know. Abimelech may have just been a tribal name.) But either way…ironic huh?
Isaac’s story plays out a little different than dad’s however. Not realizing Abimelech was peeking out the window, Isaac blew his cover when he got a bit too frisky with Rebekah. Whatever they were doin’ (ahem) it was obvious Rebekah was no sister. (Go ahead and giggle. I did.)
Surprisingly Abimelech doesn’t punish Isaac, but protects him instead. Warning the people to stay away from Isaac and his good lookin’ woman or face death. Wow! I bet Isaac didn’t expect that one. But maybe he should have. Maybe he should have expected protection – just not from Abimelech.
Verse 2 tells us Isaac hadn’t planned on staying long in Gerar. He was on his way to Egypt until God appeared saying “Do not go down to Egypt…Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you.” So Isaac stayed but just as we tend to do, doubted if God was really with him. If he fully believed it, I don’t think he would have lied. Because when we’re fully convinced of God’s presence we’ll not only walk forward with confidence but have the courage to do it right.
So being the gracious God he is, he made his presence known to Isaac by increasing his yield a hundredfold! Ummmm, ok! The farmer’s wife in me can’t. even. fathom. He made Isaac extremely wealthy. “He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him” (v.14). And even amid a famine he found water! Everywhere he dug he seemed to be successful.
There was no doubt God was with this man. The Philistines recognized it as well, “We see plainly that the LORD has been with you” (v. 28). (I hope someday people say that about me!)
But none of it would have happened if Isaac hadn’t stayed in the land. Look again at verse 3 “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you.” In order to experience God’s presence and blessing, Isaac had to stay in the famine ravished land of Canaan. Where things looked rather bleak. He had to obey God’s command; the word of the LORD.
And it’s no different today. If we want God’s presence in our lives. If we want his blessing. It starts with obedience to His Word. His commands. “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love…” (Jn. 15:10) Then blessing will follow…“But the one who looks into the perfect law…being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing” (James 1:25).
Absolutely blessing follows obedience. Yet sometimes it doesn’t feel like it does it? We try so hard and yet where is the blessing? Which makes us doubt yet again God’s presence in our lives. But the problem isn’t God’s presence. And maybe not even our obedience. The problem is our narrow view of blessing. (Ugh, now I’m preaching to myself.)
Just like my kids, I can get fixated on one thing I want. One thing that would just make me the happiest girl in the whole entire world. (Or so I think.) And when it doesn’t happen I’m devastated. So completely undone because God isn’t giving me what I want, I become blind to the other blessings I’ve already been given. Like joy and hope and peace and eternal life, just to name a few.
But maybe the thing I wanted. The one thing I spent so much time begging him for, would have ruined me. Maybe it would have ruined my children. Maybe the blessing lies in the fact that God didn’t give me what I asked for. The fact of the matter is we don’t determine the blessings…God does. But they will come. If we obey. Because God keeps every bit of His word.
Yet that doesn’t mean life will be easy. Note how even though God was with him, Isaac still had trouble with the Philistines. They quarreled and fought with him over many of the wells. Then in the last two verses we’re told his son Esau married two foreign women “and they made life bitter for Isaac and Rebekah.” Sweet friend, take note, the presence of hard things is not necessarily an indication of God’s absence. Isaac faced some tough times, yet God was clearly with him.
And he’s with us (Matt. 28:20), BUT we absolutely need to obey.
Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you truly believe God is with you? If so, how is it reflected in your life?
Would you agree blessing follows obedience? How would you say God has blessed you?