HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
Heavenly Father, Your love never grows old; it is new every day. A song of praise to You rises in my heart.
Read GENESIS 26:1–25
Isaac and Abimelek
26 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2 The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring[a] all nations on earth will be blessed,[b] 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” 6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.
7 When the men of that place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”
8 When Isaac had been there a long time, Abimelek king of the Philistines looked down from a window and saw Isaac caressing his wife Rebekah. 9 So Abimelek summoned Isaac and said, “She is really your wife! Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’?”
Isaac answered him, “Because I thought I might lose my life on account of her.”
10 Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”
11 So Abimelek gave orders to all the people: “Anyone who harms this man or his wife shall surely be put to death.”
12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.
16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”
17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.
19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek,[c] because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah.[d] 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth,[e] saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”
23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the Lord appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”
25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.
- Genesis 26:4 Or seed
- Genesis 26:4 Or and all nations on earth will use the name of your offspring in blessings (see 48:20)
- Genesis 26:20 Esek means dispute.
- Genesis 26:21 Sitnah means opposition.
- Genesis 26:22 Rehoboth means room.
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning: great is Your faithfulness, Lord.1
As 21st-century Christians, we may be inclined to criticize Bible characters who fail the Lord. We are more inclined to cheer the heroes in their great exploits than to honor the weaknesses of those who fail – thinking that they should have been perfect. We may fail the Lord just like the patriarchs did, yet we can experience forgiveness, knowing that our destinies are secure.
Immediately after the Lord prophesies seven wonderful promises to Isaac (3,4), history now repeats itself. Just like his father Abraham before him, Isaac forgets the astonishing pledges made by the Lord. He lies to Abimelek’s men about his relationship with his wife Rebekah, claiming that she is his sister (7). Just as with his father, God intervenes and prevents an adulterous affair from taking place (8–11). Furthermore, God restores Isaac as he confesses his fears and insecurity (9). God is committed to Isaac in the same way He was committed to Abraham.
These verses do not advocate deliberate rebellion against the Lord. They are, however, a potent reminder of the mercy of God for the contrite heart that repents. They also reinforce that God is committed to the covenants He makes. He is devoted to His servants. God has no obligation to dig you out of the hole that you sometimes find yourself in. Yet in His full knowledge of how He wants to use you and in His commitment to you fulfilling your destiny – and fulfilling it more than you will ever know – God provides a way of escape. In doing so, He brings glory to His name.
Right now is a good time to thank God for His faithfullness to His plans for your life. Bring to the Lord any unrepented sin of which you feel ashamed.
Mighty God, I can identify with Isaac as I, too, was born a devout coward. I know what it is like to say the expedient thing rather than the right thing. Forgive me, Lord.
1 Lam 3:22,23
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