Read Genesis 26
Isaac and Abimelek
1 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 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.”
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, 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 you 29 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.
Jacob Takes Esau’s Blessing
34 When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and also Basemath daughter of Elon the Hittite. 35 They were a source of grief to Isaac and Rebekah.
This passage, like so many others that we have read in Genesis thus far, is full of twists and turns. Throughout Genesis 26, we see God appearing to Isaac multiple times to remind him and assure him that, just like his father Abraham, he will continue to be blessed because of God’s covenant with Abraham. Even when Isaac messes up and is caught lying to Abimelek, God preserves and ultimately blesses Isaac to the point where his crops flourished and his wealth greatly increased.
This chapter also includes an interesting exchange between Isaac and King Abimelek (and two of his advisors). Originally, Abimelek felt threatened by Isaac’s growing wealth and influence. When asked why they chose to come find him after originally sending him away, their answer tells us a lot about Isaac: “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you.” God’s hand on Isaac’s life was so evident that even a pagan king wanted to align himself with Isaac’s God.
What was said about Isaac can (and should) be said about each of us today. So far, we have read about different covenants between God and Adam, Noah, and Abraham. But because of the New Covenant, all followers of Christ have the Holy Spirit living inside of them. Romans 8:9-10 says this:
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
The world around us (even modern-day kings) is looking for hope. Because we have the Spirit of God in us, it should be evident that the Lord is with us. We should be marked by a distinct difference in how we go about our daily lives, how we engage with those around us, and how we live as people of hope.
Why did Isaac lie to Abimelek?
How did God specifically bless Isaac? What evidence was there of God’s hand on him?
What can you take away from this passage? How can you live in a way that the people around you clearly see that the Lord is with you?
Did You Know?
Verse 35 tells us that Esau’s marriages were a source of grief to his parents. Isaac and Rebekah weren’t being difficult in-laws; they were grieved because these Hittite women were Canaanites, who were under God’s curse (Genesis 9:25-27). Esau sought to make himself great in the eyes of the world instead of in the eyes of God.
Listen to this.
Confused by what we mean when we talk about the New Covenant? Read this article for a quick refresher.