Live By the Word (Genesis 26)

In Genesis 26, we continue to see the story of Abraham continued through Isaac. Just as God was with Abraham and blessed him – even in spite of his behavior at times, we see that He was also with Isaac and blessed him – even in spite of his behavior at times. Again, the biographical details of Isaac’s life serve to reveal to us the character of God.

In chapter 26, Isaac is held up as Abraham’s son not only by birth but by life experience as well. Just as we saw with God’s miraculous provision of children to Isaac in 25:19-28, the chapter repeatedly shows Isaac experiencing the very same things Abraham experienced. First, God makes the same promises to Isaac that He made to Abraham regarding land, offspring, and blessing (26:1-5; see the promise to Abraham in 12:3 and 15:5). Second, God blesses Isaac even in the face of his own sin of lying to Abimelech about his wife (26:6-13; see the similar episode with Abraham in 12:13ff). Just as God used the situation to protect and bless Abraham, He also used it to protect and bless Isaac. Third, Isaac battles with the people of Abimelech’s land over wells until the Lord finally provides room and space and peace for him in the land (26:14-22; see the similar episode with Abraham in 21:25ff). The reason this peace over the wells is so significant is because it demonstrates the patriarchs (Abraham and Isaac) occupying and settling the land just as God promised. Fourth, God brings Isaac to Beersheba where he settles and worships the Lord (26:23-25; see the similar episode with Abraham in 21:33). Fifth, God gives Isaac peace and prosperity in the land through his treaty with Abimelech (26:26-33; see the similar episode with Abraham in 21:22ff).

Are all of these similarities mere coincidences? Hardly. The point in this startling similarity is that God is carrying out the plan He began with Abraham. He is doing exactly what He said He would do. He had promised to multiply Abraham’s offspring. He had promised to give Abraham’s offspring the land. He had promised to bless Abraham’s offspring. He had promised to bless those who blessed them and curse those who cursed them. In chapter 26, we see those promises kept. The similarities between Abraham and Isaac are a testament, ultimately, to the faithfulness and consistency of their God. The process was long and slow, but God kept doing what He said He would do. Despite any and all appearances to the contrary, the promises were kept and the plan endured. The favor and promises of God assured the blessing of Isaac – in spite of everything else – and guaranteed His success.

As we step back and consider this incredible declaration about God, we must recognize that God is the same today as He was then. God is still faithful to His promises. His plan is sure and it is being carried out. To us it may still appear long and slow, but God is doing what He said He would do. Moreover, it is the same plan that was being carried out in Genesis. You see, there was some initial, immediate fulfillment of God’s promises in Isaac but greater fulfillments came later as God multiplied the nation of Israel and gave them the land as their possession (Josh. 21:43-45; 23:14). And now there is even greater and grander fulfillment of the promises in the person and work of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 1:19-20; Gal. 3:16). The promise of numerous offspring is fulfilled in Jesus Christ who makes everyone who believes a child of Abraham. The promise of land is fulfilled in Jesus Christ who is establishing a kingdom that will cover the whole earth – a new earth in which righteousness dwells. The promise of a great name is fulfilled in Jesus Christ who has been given a name above every name so that at that name every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord. And the promise that all the nations will be blessed is fulfilled in Jesus Christ who has made a way for Gentiles to be part of the people of God along with Israel. And, in the future, there will come a day when these promises are fully, totally and completely fulfilled. There will be a day when the people of God will be too numerous to count, and they will come from every nation, tribe, people and language. There will be a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells – a glorious “Promised Land”. In the grandest senses of the words, God will bless those who bless His people – eternally – and curse those who curse His people – eternally.

In the life of Isaac, God was faithfully carrying out the plan He had established before Isaac was ever born. And we should realize that, even today, God is still faithfully carrying out the plan He established and put into place long before we were ever born. We can trust the Lord because we have numerous examples like our text today that remind us He is faithful to His word. There is no need for us to worry. In the past, He did what He said He would do. In the present, He is doing what He said He would do. In the future, He will do what He said He would do. This is wonderfully encouraging. We should trust the God who is faithful and sure and true. Nothing can (or will) thwart His plans.