"We see, in many a land, the proudest dynasties and tyrannies still crushing, with their mountain weight, every free motion of the Consciences and hearts of men. We see, on the other hand, the truest heroism for the right and the greatest devotion to the Truth in hearts that God has touched. We have a work to do, as great as our forefathers and, perhaps, far greater. The enemies of Truth are more numerous and subtle than ever and the needs of the Church are greater than at any preceding time. If we are not debtors to the present, then men were never debtors to their age and their time. Brethren, we are debtors to the hour in which we live. Oh, that we might stamp it with Truth and that God might help us to impress upon its wings some proof that it has not flown by neglected and unheeded." -- C.H. Spurgeon . . . "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." John 8:31, 32 . . . . .


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Saturday, December 7, 2019

GENESIS – An Expositional Overview of the Beginning of God’s Revelation: Chapter TWENTY SIX

Contributing commentaries by Sonny Islas and James Fire

GENESIS 26 – by James Fire

INTRODUCTION: We learn a lot from our parents; and sometimes we learn even when they aren’t intending on teaching us: because children are careful observers of their parents, they are in that sense always teaching them, in all the good and the bad and the ugly that we do.
Abraham (and Sarah) were no different in their education of their children, and we know that Isaac learned these lessons well because we see him repeating the same practices that his father Abraham did – both in the good and the bad capacities.

Pastors, Sunday School teachers, as well as parents have to be mindful that it’s not just in the lessons, advice and counsel that we give, but also our actions and responses to people and situations that teach our children, students and disciples.

Our ultimate role model is Christ Jesus: His deeds and words are flawless truth and righteousness and if we follow His example in all things, not only can we not go wrong for ourselves, but also everyone else who observes our words and conduct!

Let’s be intentional and choose the wise and the good example we see in Scripture, particularly where we see the perfect example of Christ.
Moses said to the children of Israel, just before they cross over Jordan and for the first time, enter into Canaan, the promised land the following:

19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: 20 That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them
GENESIS 26:1-2
1 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham [GEN 12:10]. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:

Abraham went down to Egypt when there was a famine, “a grievous famine” in the land of Canaan and he stayed there for a time, but the LORD drew him back where He promised He would bless this man of faith. Here the LORD instructs Isaac to remain in the land, and not travel to Egypt for help. So, he went to Abimelech, king of the Philistines there in Gerar, which we visited before in GENESIS 20:1 when Abraham lived there for a time.
The LORD then tells Isaac the following:

GENESIS 26:3-5
Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws

God is truth personified; He cannot lie; He shouldn’t ever have to make promises or oaths, because His word is good, and should be enough. Yet in His graciousness and as a matter of underscoring how serious He is about keeping His Word for us His saints, Paul the apostle relates the LORD’s high regard for Abraham:

HEBREWS 6:13-18
13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, 14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. 17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: 18 That by two immutable things
(a promise and an oath), in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
Why is GOD proceeding in these plans of peace and blessing upon Abraham and his descendants? Verse 5 says it all: Abraham obeyed His voice, kept His charge, His commandments, His statutes and His laws. I find that even Christians today don’t like that word “obedience” – they think that obeying GOD is somehow legalistic – that GOD blesses us anyway whether we are obedient or not, because after all, “it’s all about grace”.
Yet from cover to cover we see that it’s when the saints are obedient to the LORD, that His overflowing and generous blessings are poured out

Certainly, the LORD blesses the unsaved, the unregenerate, even the rebellious with the rain and sun; just go to your local grocery store and look how GOD has blessed America which is now guilty of every kind of sin that GOD hates. That IS a demonstration of Supreme Grace!

Yet it’s for His own children that the abundance of blessings are in store and waiting to be dispensed, when we walk in obedience – and when we obey it’s not with the expectancy of ‘payment due’. . .

“There GOD, I went and obeyed you, now bless me, You owe me!”
We obey – why? Because we love Him, because He is our LORD Who loves us and proved it on Calvary hill! And continues to prove it to us every day of our lives! And incidentally, it’s not “all about grace”, it’s all about Jesus Christ, Who is Himself grace AND truth!
And if in truth we call Jesus LORD, then we will obey Him and do the things that He says!

LUKE 6:46-48
46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? 47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: 48 He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock
Notice that the house is built on a foundation that’s on a rock, and to get to that rock, you have to “dig deep”. Where is Jesus in our lives? Is He deep, at the very foundation of our lives: is He in fact the very foundation Himself? Do we have a deep commitment to our LORD? Or is He more on the surface and not that intimate and deep in our hearts? A commitment, sure – but not that deep? An obedient heart for the LORD shows a deeply committed child of GOD.

It’s for honoring our heavenly Father as well as for our spiritual health and prosperity that we obey the LORD in doing those things He commands us.
When we read and follow the WORD; this feeds and strengthens our spiritual man, gives us knowledge, wisdom, direction, comfort and counsel.

When we pray, the LORD bestows upon us His peace that surpasses all our understanding and also provides us direction and strengthens our relationship with the Author of Life. 

When we gather together in fellowship, we find encouragement from one another, we learn the Word together and this strengthens the bond between us as His saints, and together we are able to meet the challenges that the LORD brings us; together we can withstand the attacks by the enemy and the world under his government.

We see that the LORD made these exact same promises to Isaac’s father (GENESIS 12:1-7; 15:5; 22:17; 22:16-18), and now these promises are transferred to Isaac. Do we see these promises transferred further to Jacob? Yes, we do indeed!
Let’s see:
EXODUS 32:13
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it forever
(See also DEUT 7:13; 30:16).
We see in the testimony of Scripture that these blessings that GOD promised to Abraham, associated with the Abrahamic Covenant are transferred from Isaac, to Jacob, and to Jacob’s twelve sons and then to the nation of Israel as a whole.
There is no mistaking that GOD has chosen the Hebrew, known later as the Jew and the Jewish nation as His chosen people, rather than the Islamic people, and that it’s GOD Himself that granted these blessings to the land as well as the Messianic line and the Messiah Himself to the nation of Israel, because Abraham believed GOD and he was obedient in all things.
So, despite that the nations today demand the Jewish people to give land to ‘the Palestinians’, Israel is right in keeping the land, in refusing to negotiate ‘land for peace’ and maintaining Jerusalem as her capital. The UN, the European Union, the Arabic nations and Muslim population have no say in this matter – in the eyes of GOD this is an established covenant that will not and can not be broken, because it’s based on His promise, His Word!
Remember ZECHARIAH 12:3
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.
GENESIS 26:6-7
And Isaac dwelt in Gerar: And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister [GEN 12:11-13; during his time in Egypt. And GEN 20:2 during his time in Gerar]: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon.
Uh oh! And here we go; one of the lessons that Isaac learned from his Dad, who most likely related the entire event to Isaac as he was growing up!

GENESIS 26:8-11
And it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out at a window, and saw, and, behold, Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife. And Abimelech called Isaac, and said, Behold, of a surety she is thy wife; and how saidst thou, She is my sister? And Isaac said unto him, Because I said, Lest I die for her. 10 And Abimelech said, What is this thou hast done unto us? one of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us. 11 And Abimelech charged all his people, saying, He that toucheth this man or his wife shall surely be put to death

Now Abimelech has been through this before with Abraham in GEN 20; and whereas with Abraham, he gave him gifts of sheep, oxen and servants along with restoring Sarah to him and he then invited Abraham to live among them.

This time around, Isaac and Rebekah are there for “a long time” and the chances of someone committing adultery with Rebekah was all the more likely, but the king discovers that they’re married and he doesn’t offer gifts to Isaac; however, he does tell his people that any who touches either Isaac or Rebekah shall be put to death (something he didn’t say the last time when he was dealing with Abraham).

GENESIS 26:12-14
12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the Lord blessed him. 13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him

It seems that this man Isaac can’t escape the blessings of GOD. It’s because he lived a life of obedience to the LORD, following the example of his father, Abraham. He has what we call, ‘the Midas Touch’, everything he touches turns to gold. GOD goes out of His way to bless this man just as He has promised to bless Israel if they were obedient to the Word of the LORD. 

The possessions that Abraham gave to Isaac (remember in the last chapter, he practically gave everything to Isaac!) and multiplied like crazy: he went from being “great” in possessions, to “very great”! And we see here that the Philistines of Gerar were envious!
It’s the same today; GOD has blessed Israel enormously. In a single generation, the Jewish people turned the land that was given to them (practically a territory of pencil-thin dimensions) that was swamp-filled with malaria infested mosquitoes and parched deserts into a veritable garden of Eden, in fulfillment of prophecy (ISAIAH 41:11-20; 60:1-15).  And Israel's neighbors are very jealous of their prosperity (and it shows!)! As we see more of these blessings come to pass for Israel, we witness her neighbors are very jealous for these blessings! And of course, this is intolerable for the enemies of GOD, so what do they do?

GENESIS 26:15-16
15 For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. 16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we

In these early chapters we see that the Philistines begin to come against Isaac, the father of Jacob who later becomes Israel and start to fill in the wells that Abraham dug up. While it doesn’t say it, I wonder if Isaac implored their king, Abimelech to intervene and stop his men from doing this, but the answer Isaac received was, “Get out, you’re too big of a threat to us!” So, he leaves the city and settles in the valley of Gerar and works very hard in digging up some of the older wells that his father dug up:

GENESIS 26:17-19
17 And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. 18 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. 19 And Isaac's servants digged in the valley and found there a well of springing water

The Philistines meant to afflict Isaac and persecute him by filling in these wells with dirt, forcing him to move, but what actually happened was they managed to push him to a location where there was a springing well, that is, a well that didn’t require drawing water, as with the usual wells. The water was free flowing and made access all the easier, providing great blessing to Isaac and his people! Yet the Philistines weren’t done yet!

GENESIS 26:20-25
20 And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac's herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek (“glistering”); because they strove with him. 21 And they digged another well and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah (“opposition, accusation”). 22 And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth (based on a root word meaning “enlargen, to broaden”); and he said, For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land23 And he went up from thence to Beersheba (“well of an oath”). 24 And the Lord appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake. 25 And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well.

Here we see the place of rest for Isaac and his people; the same GOD Who made promises and oaths to Abraham has granted Beersheba to Isaac, ‘the well of an oath’. He appears to Isaac just as He did to Abraham and reaffirms the same promises and blessings to Isaac as He did with Abraham, and like his father, Isaac here builds an altar and calls upon the name of the LORD.

GENESIS 12:7-8
And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord
We see here a picture of Satan, represented by the Philistines, who did all that they could to stop up all the wells and prevent Isaac from getting to the water. 
Likewise, our enemy will seek to do the same with us: keep us from getting to the water of the Word of GOD. He’ll keep us busy doing other things until we find our Bibles covered over with dust. 
That’s about the time when our lives become as dusty as our Bibles, and dried up so that the living waters stop flowing. The enemy will seek to drive us away from obedience to GOD, away from His blessings; but just as Isaac trusted in the LORD, calling upon His name and building up an altar for worship, Isaac’s faithful shepherd, the LORD Himself led him to a place of even greater blessing, much to the frustration and anger of the Philistines.

GENESIS 26:26-31
26 Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends, and Phichol the chief captain of his army.27 And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? 28 And they said, We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee. 29 That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the Lord. 30 And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. 31 And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another: and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace

The greatness of Isaac’s wealth and power was too much for Abimelech, and we’re reminded of the reason why he showed Isaac the door and admonished him to get out of the city: The LORD’s blessing was so vast that they feared Isaac, because he was mightier than the entire city of Gerar! But listen to Abimelech’s words: “we have done nothing but good”? “sent you away in peace”? I suppose throwing dirt into wells and fighting over water that was granted to Abraham is a good and peaceful gesture?!

But this ends ‘well enough’ (no pun intended - yes it was!) – they feast together, and these Philistines enjoy Isaac’s hospitality that night, and leave in peace in the morning.

When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him
GENESIS 26:32-35
32 And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac's servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water. 33 And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day. 34 And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: 35 Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah

It’s a grievous thing when we see children of godly parents marry those outside of the faith, who are not children of GOD, but children of this world. It’s been said before, “A bird and a fish might love each other, but where could they build a home together?” 1 COR 7:39; 2 COR 6:14.

There is a far greater difference between a Christian and an unbeliever (EPH 5:8; 1 JOHN 3:10) than there is between a fish and a bird. They are of entirely different spirits, different natures. The saint of GOD is indwelt by the Spirit and governed (or should be) by godly desires, godly wisdom, godly worship of the LORD, whereas the unbeliever is governed by none of those things, but rather for the things of this world, which the Christian is to abhor: greed, lust for wealth, pride, ambition, selfishness etc.

1 JOHN 2:15
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him

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