26: 1Now 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.
I want to remind you about the name Abimelek. I mentioned this a few weeks ago, but this is likely a title and not a name. Many scholars feel this is a title like “Pharaoh.” So Isaac is going back to the same place his father did, but going back to a different king. One of the supporting reasons is the blindsided nature of the king when the following event takes place (it should have been obvious and he should have recalled his treaty with Abraham if it were the same fellow).
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 all nations on earth will be blessed, 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.”
It seems like the history of what had happened is known to this king, that’s why he says something bad would happen if they had been with Isaacs wife. Notice too, God reiterated His promise and relationship with Isaac before he went into this place. In comparison to Abraham, Isaac straight up lied about Rebekah, and additionally had even more history of God providing to go off of. This scenario is riddled with deception and failure, yet God still demonstrates His mercy.
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 Lordblessed 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.”
During this entire time of Isaac living in disobedience, and the time afterward, God was still blessing him! He had lied for an extended amount of time yet he was reaping riches because God had blessed him!
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, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, 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.
26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”
28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.”
30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.
32 That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33 He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.
The main driving point behind today’s text is that we cannot use God’s blessings on us or our success in our ministry to determine our obedience. Many times God has used someone who was walking in partial or whole disobedience. He is merciful to create a beautiful ministry out of someone who is not perfect… that IS the underlying narrative of the Bible: God uses broken people to bring reconciliation. That means if you are looking at your life and everything seems to be going perfect, God is blessing you, your ministry is growing, that doesn’t mean you’re doing everything correct. In the same way you cannot evaluate everything and determine that just because it is falling apart you are being disobedient. Your life or ministry’s success is not a litmus for your obedience.
As we march further into the end times this is more important than ever. We will see a lack of response to the truth from the church. The church will slowly die and there will be less and less people adhering to God’s Word. We are told these things in Scripture! So, if we are using our congregation size or success in ministry as a litmus to our faithfulness we will assuredly be led astray. God guarantees that as the end draws near there will be less people wanting the truth, as they will trade it for lies. In fact, if the church is growing rapidly as we approach the end we need to evaluate what we are preaching. This story ends with the masses turning their back on God and worshiping a created being who claims to be God.
Lord, as we march into the end times I pray that I am able to see You and not be distracted by the things happening around me. Help me to not think I am being obedient just because of how things are going well. Remind me of Your Word and how You are merciful even in our disobedience. Keep me faithful as the world tries to deceive us. Keep me from being led by the Antichrist into seeming success. Keep me from being preoccupied with the here and now but instead listen to You speak change.
Friends, we are here. The end is here. I now not how long God will patiently endure our open disobedience to His Word. It has been said for years that the end is nigh, but without a doubt we are closer today than yesterday… obviously! I believe if you look at Scripture and observe the prophecies being told you would be shaken. These moments have been predicted hundreds of years ago. Regardless of the day and hour, if Christ returned today would you be happy about how you are spending His time? Your life was purchased with a mighty price, the bloodshed of His Son. You are His. Have you been respecting Him by your use of your time? You very well may be looking into the face of that mighty King within months, weeks, days, perhaps even hours. We know not the time but we are to be eagerly awaiting His return, not shamefully petitioning for more time to change. Give it all to Him today, so that tomorrow if you see Him you will not be ashamed.