Finding (living) Water

Genesis 26:32-33 records that on the same day that Isaac had made a peace treaty with Abimelech, the king of Gerar, his servants came to him and told him regarding the well they had dug, that they had found water and Isaac called that well Shebah (and hence the name of the city where he had moved to is Beersheba). Shebah means an oath in Hebrew.

What is important to note is that it is to Beersheba that Abraham first brings Isaac after the sacrifice on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:19) and dwelt there. It is in Beersheba that Abraham makes an oath of peace with Abimelech, the then king of Gerar (Genesis 21:22-34). Why is Beersheba important? Because it was a step in the direction of the promised land that God had promised Abraham.

The contention over the wells of Abraham, namely Esek and Sitnah, by the herdsmen of Gerar made Isaac retreat to a place of no contention as he names the well that he dug there Rehoboth (Genesis 26:20-22). To Abraham and Isaac, the wells were a sign of God’s provisions while to the philistines and the men of Gerar, it was a sign of property which made them fill/stop the wells that Abraham had dug (Genesis 26:17) and fight over the one that Isaac had dug (Genesis 26:19). The contention that ensues, can be seen, in hindsight, as God nudging Isaac to move toward the promised land.

However, what is noteworthy is that Isaac does not stay where the well Rehoboth was (even though there was no contention there), but instead moves to Beersheba (possibly because he trusted in God as did his father, looking forward toward a city whose builder and maker was God himself (Hebrews 11:10)), and on that same night, the Lord appears and assures Isaac of his covenant with his father, Abraham. Isaac responds by building an altar first, and worshipping the Lord God before pitching his tent there and digging a well there. (Genesis 26:25). After the peace treaty amongst whom he deemed were his enemies (who hated him), his servants report of finding water (Genesis 26:32).

Points to ponder:
While the digging of the well indicates that one intends to live in that land and use the water to sustain his family and flocks, we see here that Isaac did not dig the well, first to find water, before pitching his tent and building an altar to worship God. In fact, that order was reversed.  He gave God the priority over his and his family and flock’s physical needs. He built the altar first, worshipped God and then pitched his tent and dug the well, and God enables him to find water in that well.

This resonates with the very model Jesus laid out for us – that we ought to seek the spiritual things first (God’s kingdom) and all the things that are needed to sustain us shall be added unto us (Matthew 6:33). In other words, in order to find water that sustains us physically, we ought to seek first the living Water that saves us spiritually, i.e., seek the living water that only Jesus can provide – the water that bring not just sustenance of life, but salvation to life aka eternal life (John 4:10-15). Have you found (living) Water? i.e., have you believed in Jesus’ Lordship and saving grace?

Genesis 26:32-33 (KJV)
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.

Fear Not – what does that mean?

Grammy Award winning singer, Chris Tomlin beautifully expressed this motif, that if God is with us, then there is nothing or no one that we need to be afraid of, in his song, Whom Shall I fear? (The God of Angel Armies). Now hold that thought.

Genesis 26:24 gives the account of the Lord appearing to Isaac, on the very same night, that he had moved up to Beersheba and the Lord first identifies himself to be the God of Abraham, Isaac’s father. Then the Lord says that he will bless and multiply Isaac, for the sake of Abraham, but before this reassurance is given, the Lord starts out by telling Isaac to Fear Not. Why? Because the Lord says that he was with Isaac.

Isaac was in a foreign land. His servants had just been in contention with the servants of the king Abimelech of Gerar. And while these events could have given him the sense that he was alone in battling the circumstances and life issues, the Lord comes through with the assurance that he was with Isaac and so Isaac had no reason to fear. There was nothing Isaac had to be afraid of because God was with him.

Points to ponder:
When fear seems to grip your heart and you feel that you are all alone, battling the issues of life, you can call on to the Lord and when he is with you, you have nothing to fear. No matter what the situation is and how dire things seem, when you have the God of angel armies with you, fear not.

Jesus’ name was prophesied by the prophet Isaiah and proclaimed by the angel Gabriel to Mary that he shall be called “Emmanuel” meaning God with us (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). And Jesus promised that he is with those who love him and obey his commands, following him, always, even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20).

The question that remains is “Are you afraid?”. In other words, that can be translated into “Is the Lord with you?” Now take note, if the God of angel armies, the Lord is not with you – then that is a dreadful thing!

Genesis 26:24 (KJV)
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.

In times of famine …

Genesis 26:1 starts out by saying that there was a  famine in the land and distinguishes this famine to be second to the one that happened during time of Isaac’s father, Abraham (Genesis 12:10) immediately. Interestingly though, you will notice that both Abraham and now his son Isaac, relocate to tide over the famine by moving south toward the land of Egypt. Abraham goes to Egypt, and Isaac goes to the philistine land of Gerar, ruled by Abimelech. In both accounts, we see that instead of seeking the LORD for solace over the famine, Abraham and Isaac both seek the provisions of a foreign land and king. God had promised Abraham, a land flowing with milk and honey – implying that it would be a prosperous land – a promise that a couple of famines cannot undermine. Yet we see from this account of father son duo, that even ones of faith, can sometimes focus on the things they see (like a famine) and forget to seek the LORD God.

Points to ponder:
In times of famine, may we not seek the provisions and solace of any earthly king or kingdom, but instead let us seek the LORD God and his righteousness, and all things shall be added unto us (Matthew 6:33). If you are in a famine – a famine for relationship, a famine for provisions – seek ye the LORD God first.

Genesis 26:1 (KJV)
1 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar.


The notion and reality of resurrection

Yearly we celebrate Easter in memory and celebration of Jesus’ victory over death, but the plan of God’s power and control over death is not one that is evident only after the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In fact, the very notion of resurrection can be traced back to the very beginning of time – to the time of Abraham. When God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, Abraham believed God and was willing to sacrifice his son, because he knew that God would be able to resurrect his son from the dead (Hebrews 11:19). We are made clear that Abraham had the notion of resurrection i.e., the power of God to raise from the dead, even before he set out to the place where he was going to sacrifice Isaac, for he said to the young men who traveled with him – wait here, while me and the lad (Isaac) go yonder to worship, and note how he does not say – “I” will go back to you, but instead he says “we” will come back to you. If Isaac was to be sacrificed and Abraham did not believe in God, he would not have seen the glimpse of God’s power over death.

Points to ponder:
God stops Abraham from sacrificing his son, which made resurrection a notion for Abraham, despite his tremendous faith and belief in God. God however, did not stop himself from sacrificing his only begotten Son, Jesus, for the sake of the world, and after three days, God raised him up from the dead, making resurrection no longer just a notion, but a reality. And Jesus said, that he is indeed the Resurrection and the Life, and if anyone believes in him, though s/he was dead, yet shall s/he live – that is life eternal. Resurrection from our spiritual death hinges upon our believing in Jesus Christ and that is not a mere notion, but a reality. Do you believe?

Genesis 22:5 (KJV)
And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

Hebrews 11:17-19 (KJV)
17 By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,
18 Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:
19 Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

Worship means …

Generally in many churches and Christian get togethers, we see a time set aside for praise and worship and sometimes it ends up becoming an act of singing songs, raising hands, clapping and dancing (for some). While there is nothing wrong with the outward expression of our emotions in such setting, we ought to be careful to not get caught up in the deception that worship is about outward expressions or actions.

Genesis 22:5 gives the account of what Abraham told the young men (possibly servants) who accompanied him and Isaac, as he went to sacrifice his son, as God had commanded him to. It reads “And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

Though this text may seem as a mere conversation, the gravity of what was being expressed is in essence extremely profound. Abraham was verbalizing his faith and acting on it, but instead he refers to it as “worship.” In fact, this is the first time the very word “worship” is mentioned in the Bible and it is used in conjunction with not only faith but accompanying action. Worship is an outward action of our inward faith – it is from within – where we worship God in our Spirit.

Points to ponder: 
From this account, not only can we learn that true worship is about God and not us or anything we do or express. Worship is obeying God and doing what he commands us to do. Expressing our faith not merely in words but in action, by obeying God’s commandments, is worship. Obedience indeed is better than sacrifice (1 Samuel 15:22) – which is a gesture of worship (Romans 12:2). Are you and I true worshippers – worshipping God from within – in our Spirit?

Genesis 22:5 (KJV)
And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.

Faith requires patience

In the test of Abraham’s faith, God had asked Abraham to go to a place that God was going to show him and sacrifice his only son, Isaac, the son whom he loved. Genesis 22:4 records that it took Abraham three days to reach the place where he was asked to go.

Three days is considerably a long journey considering the fact that at the end of that journey, he would need to sacrifice his son, Isaac and as a Father, I wondered as to all the possible excuses that Abraham could have come up with, to just turn back and not do as he was tested to. Yet, with faith, believing God, he trekked along until he came to the place where he was to offer God his sacrifice.

Points to ponder:
Faith requires patience. The test of faith in our lives may have us wait patiently on the Lord, believing in him – and, what is important is that, irrespective of the duration of time (be it a day or three days or more), we ought to remain focused and faithful to God, so that we don’t fail these tests.

Are you and I, focused and faithful, staying on the course even if the end result may not seem to be what we’d like and even if the wait may seem like it is a long time. Do you have patience? for faith requires patience.

Genesis 22:4 (KJV)
Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.

No matter what – I will believe

Many decisions that ought to be taken are not taken due to one of the following reasons:
1. we try to rationalize the situation assuming that our finite and limited human minds has infinite comprehension and abilities or
2. we think of the consequences of the decision and are paralyzed for fear of life or fear of being ridiculed.

In today’s text, taken from Genesis 22, we will look at Abraham, who chose to believe NO MATTER WHAT.

As a backdrop to this character, Abraham was promised a son by Yahweh God in his old age and true to the promise, he was granted God’s favor in the form of a son, Isaac. However, God wanted to test the love that Abraham had for Him over his son Isaac, and asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, the son he loved. This request would seem ridiculous to say the least, and for all practical purposes could have been easily deemed irrational. Is God irrational in asking for the son, who was promised and gifted in the first place? The consequences of Abraham’s action in following God’s command would mean that Abraham’s promised line through Isaac would cease, upon the sacrifice of Isaac, unless God would provide a way in preventing him for killing his son or would raise his son from the dead, the latter thought being more irrational than the first. Abraham nonetheless believed NO MATTER WHAT the consequences would be.

If Abraham had rationalized or thought of the consequences, he would have ended up being no different than anyone else. His act of obedience, trusting in God’s faithfulness, not only solidified his friendship with God but also earned him an entry into the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11:8-12),  and his belief in God was credited unto him as righteousness. (Romans 4:3) Our belief  in God can credit to us righteousness. Believing in Jesus, as the savior of the world, imputes on us God’s righteousness.

Points to ponder:

  1. What is God asking of you and me today in the area of believing Him at His word?
  2. Can we take the step to believe implicitly, without rationalizing or thinking of the consequences, NO MATTER WHAT?