About Jesus Steve Sweetman
And Abimelech (ch. 26:1 - 34)
Verse 1 tells us that
there was a famine in the land. It
also states that this is not the same famine that was in the land years
earlier in Abraham's day. You
will remember that when Abraham left his homeland of
To me it is interesting
that the text specifically states that the famine spoken of here is not
the same famine in Abraham's day. I
find it interesting because liberal theologians suggest that it is the
same famine. The inclusion
of these words almost make you think that Moses, and the Holy Spirit
anticipated the liberal slant that would someday come to the Bible.
The same liberal scholars suggest that much of Genesis, that is,
in connection with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are al the same event.
We will see Abimelech in this chapter.
We saw an Abimelech earlier in Abraham's day.
The liberal scholars say he is the same Abimelech.
As a matter of fact, it is the same story told in a different
way, with the emphases on the word "story", meaning, it is not
necessarily a true account of an historical event.
We will see that Isaac lies about his wife being his sister, just
as his father Abraham did, and both lies were to an Abimelech.
Once again, the liberal scholars say there is only one event,
just told in another way. These
people view the moral of the story more importantly than its historical
accuracy. I believe the
event is historically accurate, and is just as important as the moral
implications behind the event. Sad
to say that this same liberal theology is now entering the Evangelical
church under the guise of Post-Modernism.
Concerning Abimelech, as
noted earlier in previous chapters, this name was a title like the tile
Caesar. It was not a
personal name. This event,
this Abimelech took place about 75 to 80 years after Abraham met up with
the Abimelech in his day.
In verse 2 God told Isaac
not to go to
In verse 3 God told Isaac
"to stay in the land a while" and He would bless him.
Note here that the blessings spoken of here would come as a
result of Isaac obeying God in the midst of hard times.
The Prosperity teaching would suggest that such blessings come
from faith, but once again, as we saw with Abraham, obedience is the key
to blessings. Of course, you
need faith, or trust in God to obey Him.
Still obedience here was the key to blessings.
IN Genesis 22 when Abraham was willing to sacrifice Isaac,
obedience and the fear of God was the key for blessings then.
It still is.
Concerning Isaac being
asked by God to stay in a land where there was a bad famine, this is an
example that God does not always lead us on an easy path.
Just because things are going right for you does not mean you are
in the will of God and being blessed by Him.
And, just because things might be going bad for you does not mean
you are being cursed by God and are out of His will.
Clearly, Isaac was in a bad spot, and that is where God wanted
him. Too often
Christians determine whether they are in God's will by how their life is
going. One's life is not the
standard to judge the will of God, if that was so, the apostle Paul was
out of God's will most of the time.
Also in verse 3 we see
that God reminds Isaac of the promises he made with Abraham concerning
the land. God says here that
He will give these lands to Isaac's descendents.
As I have stated many times earlier, the final fulfillment of
this promise will take place at the end of this age when Jesus returns
to earth, captures this land for Himself, and hands it over to a
Verse 4 continues on with
the reminder of the Abrahamic Covenant.
Another promise in the covenant was the fact that Abraham's, and
now Isaac's, descendents would be very numerous.
We also see the word "offspring" here, and as stated
earlier, because of what Paul says in Galatians 3, the
"offspring" is Jesus. Isaac's
offspring would be a blessing to all nations.
That began to take place with Jesus on the cross.
Jesus offers salvation to all nations, to all individuals, yet
not all nations and individuals want His salvation.
Yet when Jesus returns, put all things under His feet, all
nations of the earth will certainly be blessed because of His presence
and rule on earth.
Verse 5 says that all
this will happen to Isaac and his descendents because Abraham
"obeyed' God. Once
again, the blessings are a direct result of obedience.
For this reason, Abraham has become a great man of God, although
most of his life he did not exhibit this obedience.
It wasn't until God tested him with the request to sacrifice
Isaac that Abraham finally became the man of God he should have always
Verse 6 simply says,
"so Isaac stayed in Gerar."
He obeyed God. I
suppose if God spoke to us as He did to Isaac and Abraham, we might say
that we would find it easy to obey God as well.
Well, that may or may not be the case.
We see "like father,
like son" in verse 7. Abraham
lied twice that we know of about his wife being his sister, although in
fact she was his half sister. Here
Isaac lied about his wife for the same reason Abraham lied about Sarah,
and both lies were to the Abimelech, king of the Philistines.
Rebekah was very good looking and Isaac feared men would kill him
so they could take Rebekah, so he just simply told everyone that she was
Here again, we see the
frailty of man. Isaac was
able to trust God by staying in a land ravaged by famine, but he
couldn't trust God to protect him from wild men while in the land.
You would think that if God could protect
Isaac from death due to starvation, He could protect him from any
kind of hostile attack that would lead to death.
In verse 8 we note that
Isaac stayed in this land for "a long time".
Earlier in the chapter God told him to stay for a while.
So he certainly obeyed God on this point.
Isaac's lie gets exposed
in verses 8 and 9. Abimelech
was looking down from his window. Usually
kings and those in authority would live on the most elevated land.
This was partly due to prestige and also protection.
So Abimelech was looking down out of his window and he saw Isaac
"caressing" Rebekah. This
obviously was more than simply touching.
It was some kind of sexual touching, and some suggest that
Abimelech saw the couple actually in the process of having sex.
That told Abimelech right away that Rebekah was not Isaac's
sister, but his wife, so Abimelech called Isaac in to give account of
himself. Isaac confessed
that he had lied and that Rebekah was his wife and that he was afraid of
someone killing him to get to his wife.
This is exactly the same fear the Abraham had.
Abimelech's response is
interesting. He told Isaac
that because everyone thought that Rebekah was single and thus
available, that some man might have slept with her and in the process
brought guilt on them. Isaac
lie to protect himself could have caused undue guilt on someone else.
This suggests that Abimelech and the Philistines did have some
sense of morality and marriage fidelity.
You might think that all the pagan nations were strictly immoral,
and to a degree that was true, but still in some places and cultures
there were some moral standards to be upheld. Many
of these moral standards allowed men to have a wife, and even wives, but
there was a distinction between a wife and concubines.
Men could have concubines, but they and their children were
clearly second class people. What
Abimelech appears to be saying is that some man might have taken
Rebekah to be his wife. That
would have been wrong, but it would not have been wrong if a man had
taken her to be his concubine, yet if the concubine was someone else's
wife, that would be wrong..
When we fail to tell the
truth, that can have many repercussions.
Other people can respond to your lie, thinking it was truth, and
the things they do might not necessarily be good.
One small lie can lead to many problems by many people.
Your lie could actually cause someone to sin, and this is what
Abimelech was suggesting to Isaac.
Once getting this out in
the open, in verse 11, Abimelech gives an order to kill any one who
molests either Isaac or Rebekah. Once
again, the man of God, even though caught in a lie, has found
protection, and I would suggest, protection from the Lord.
Of course God would have protected Isaac anyway.
He really didn't have to lie.
I've said this before, but I think we can view the nation
Verse 12 simply says that
God blessed Isaac by giving him a hundredfold of crops.
I think God's blessing on Isaac and his people had more to
do with they being God's chosen people that Isaac fully trusting in God,
although I'm not discounting Isaac's trust didn't have anything to do
with the blessing. Like all
of us, Isaac's trust in God wavered at times, but God still blessed him,
and will bless us as well. But,
my point here is that God through the Abrahamic Covenant had committed
Himself to the descendents of Abraham, so I believe this blessing had
something to do with the covenant promises as well.
Besides trust and the
covenant, as stated before, Isaac obeying and fearing God had lots to do
with being blessed by God. Faith
as so often is taught by prosperity teachers, is not the full story when
receiving God's blessings. Along
with faith comes obedience and fearing God.
They are just as important.
In verses 13 through 15
we see that Isaac became very wealthy.
He would have been more wealthier than his father Abraham.
Remember, Abraham was wealthy in his own right, and he gave all
that wealth to Isaac. So
Isaac had his inherited wealth as well as the wealth he had accumulated.
He was so rich that the Philistines began to despise him.
They actually filled in all of Isaac's wells with dirt.
These wells were dug by his father Abraham.
The Philistines did not want Isaac
In verse 16 we learn that
Abimelech told Isaac to move on because he had become too powerful for
them. Verse 17 states that
Isaac did as requested. This
shows us something about the nature of Isaac.
He must have been a gentle type man.
We saw his sensitive side when he mourned his mother's death.
He was a very powerful man at this point.
He could have easily just told Abimelech to get lost.
If a battle would have occurred, Isaac would have won.
Isaac wasn't a fighter. To
avoid the fight he left to another place and reopened wells that Abraham
had made there, that the Philistines had filled in as well after Abraham
In verses 19 through 22
we see Isaac had built two fresh new wells where he relocated, but those
who had already been residing in the area quarreled with him.
They felt that was their water because they were in that area
before Isaac had moved in. You
can see how nomadic herdsmen could easily find themselves in dispute
with one another as they moved from place to place.
Isaac decided to leave
that area, like he left Abimelech's area of residence earlier without
any incident. Once again, we
see the somewhat passive nature of Isaac here.
He doesn't seem to be a fighter.
He simply moves on and prevents any conflict.
He builds a third well once he moved on and their he settled
without any problems.
In verses 23 and 24 we
see God speaking to Isaac again, re-affirming the Abrahamic Covenant.
God tells Isaac not to be afraid.
He also tells Isaac that He is the "God of Abraham."
We see this phrase a lot in Genesis, and actually throughout the
Bible. Elohim is the
God of Abraham. Why would
God address Himself like this? I
believe the reason is that all nations on the earth in those days were
polytheistic. They believed
in more than one god. So to
distinguish Elohim from all these other Gods, one way to do this is to
say that He is the God of Abraham.
On a more personal note,
being the God of Abraham would be especially important to Isaac.
When he hears the heavenly voice, God makes sure that Isaac
understands who he is listening to.
He is the God that spoke the covenant to his father.
God told Isaac that He
would indeed bless him with many descendents.
This is the re-affirmation of
part of the covenant spoken to Abraham.
I use the word "spoken" because God spoke the covenant
to Abraham. He did not
"make" the covenant with him.
God made the covenant with Himself as we have clearly seen in
The next phrase is
interesting. God says that
He will increase Isaac's descendents because of Abraham.
It was not because of Isaac.
The reason for this is because God spoke the covenant to Abraham,
and Abraham proved that he believed what God had told him when he was
willing to sacrifice Isaac on the altar.
This is why so much attention is given to Abraham, both in the
Old Testament and also in the New Testament.
So when thinking in terms of Jesus returning to earth, and
restoring the nation of Israel to what God wanted all along, we must
think in terms of Jesus doing these things as a product of God promising
these things to Abraham. God
doesn't necessarily restore
The Jewish leadership in
Jesus' day were always claiming to be children of Abraham and that they
were serving the God of Abraham. John
8 is all about this. Jesus
tells them that they aren't really Abraham's children because they don't
have the faith of Abraham, and they don't obey God as Abraham did.
In fact, Jesus said that their father was the devil, not Abraham.
We see how Jesus felt about the Jews, and the satanic influence
that controlled Jewish society. This
satanic influence is part of the story and history of the Jews
throughout the Old and New Testaments.
Verse 25 tells us that
God built an altar, worshiped the Lord, pitched his tent, and a servant
dug a well. Every time we
see God speaking to either Abraham or Isaac, the first thing they do
afterwards is they build an altar to worship.
Of course, we don't build altars today because things have
changed in New Testament times.
The altar was the cross. We
can't build an altar better than that altar.
Jesus was the sacrifice. There
is nothing more to sacrifice. We
certainly can't match Jesus' sacrifice.
Yet Paul, in Romans 12:1 and 2 says that the best act of worship
we can perform today is to present ourselves to God as living
sacrifices. We do know harm
to ourselves, but we live, each and every day by handing our lives over
to Jesus . This is true
worship for New Testament Christians.
In verse 26 we see
Abimelech again. He comes to
visit Isaac with his personal advisor and the head of his armed forces
who is called Phicol. When
we saw Abimelech and Abraham dealing with each other, that Abimelech's
leader of the armed forces was called Phicol as well.
For this reason, some people suggest that this Abimelech is the
same Abimelech that Abraham dealt with.
The problem with this is that by this time, seventy five or
eighty years had passed and it is questionable if that Abimelech was
still alive. We do
know that Abimelech is not a personal name.
It is a title, like the title Caesar or Pharaoh.
The question thus is asked, "was Phicol also a title and not
a personal name?" I'm
not sure anyone can really answer that question.
In verse 27 it appears
that Isaac was very surprised. He
asked Abimelech why he had come to see him since he was so hostile
towards him earlier. I think
this shows the quiet nature of Isaac as well.
If he had been a rough and tough man, I think he would been a bit
hostile himself when he saw Abimelech, but he wasn't.
In verses 28 and 29
Abimelech states why he came for the visit.
He was simply afraid of Isaac and his people even though they had
moved away, so he wanted to make a treaty with them, just as he, or the
last Abimelech, made a
treaty with Abraham.
Abimelech recognized that
the Lord, that would be the God of Abraham as He became to be known, was
with Isaac and his people. This
should have been the way it was throughout Old Testament, and even New
Testament Jewish history. In
the Law of Moses, that was not yet penned in Isaac's day, God told Israel
that if they obeyed Him, they would be the head and not the tale.
They would be the envy of all nations.
The Philistines recognized that Isaac and his people were more
powerful than they, that they were a people to be reckoned with.
Thus the reason for their fear and their proposal.
They wanted to work out the treaty while the two peoples were
living in relative peace.
Once again, we see the
graciousness of Isaac in verse 30. He
made the Philistines a feast and they all ate and drank.
Many of us might have been vindictive and drove the Philistines
away in retaliation for driving them away years earlier.
After the feast, the next day, verse 32 tells us that Abimelech
and Isaac made an oath with one another and Isaac sent the Philistines
away in peace. There were no
hard feelings on the part of Isaac.
Although more space in
Genesis is given to Abraham and to Jacob than it is to Isaac, this one
chapter says a lot about the man. He
does seem to be a gentle and gracious man, even towards those who didn't
really like him.
The peace treaty with
Abimelech was a blessing from God. Peace
is always a blessing, no matter the circumstances around the peace.
Verses 32 and 33 show another blessing from God.
Water was very important in those days in that area, because
there were few rivers, streams, and lakes.
Isaac's servants had built another well and they discovered
In verse 34 we see the
wandering nature of Esau. He
married two Hittite girls. The
text states that both Isaac and Rebekah were very grieved about this.
This would have gone against the ways of God that God wanted for
the children of
I believe the church has
always had the same problems that the Jews had in Old Testament times.
We've married ourselves to worldliness. We've
adopted worldly ways of doing things and worldly philosophies. The
result of this is a mixture between God's ways and the world's ways of
thinking. It is a watering
down process. After a few
generations of this watering down, what you have in Christianity is not
what once was, and is not what God wants either.
When it comes to
Christians marrying, the same problem is seen today.
Often a Christian will get married to a non-Christian.
That should never be.
When Abraham had his
servant go and find a wife for Isaac years earlier, the stipulation was
that the girl had to be from Abraham's extended family back in
In verse 35 we see that a
town was named after a well belonging to Isaac.
That was often the case. You
notice in this chapter that Isaac named the wells he and his servants
dug. Water was very
important back then because there were no lakes and rivers in the area.
Like in other parts of the world, communities would be built by
the source of water, and in this case that was wells.
Therefore, the names of towns were often named after the name of
the well it drew water from.