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Five Places

Five Places

Genesis 26:12, 20, 27, 32-33
12Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. 20And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. 27And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you? 32And 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. 33And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.

Isaac has been described as the mediocre son of a great father (Abraham) and the mediocre father of a great son (Jacob) and the main action of his life occurs at the following five places: on a mountain, by a field, alongside some desert wells, in a Philistine apartment, and at a supper table.

On a Jerusalem mountain:
The submissive son, Isaac, meekly submits to being used as a burnt offering.

Genesis 22:1-14
1And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. 2And he said, Take now thy son thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. 3And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him. 4Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. 5And 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. 6And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. 7And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? 8And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. 9And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. 10And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. 11And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. 12And he said, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. 13And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.

By a Hebron field:
He went out in the field to meditate and lifted up his eyes and he saw the camels coming bringing Rebecca.

Genesis 24:1-14
1And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. 5And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest? 6And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. 7The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that swear unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. 8And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again. 9And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swear to him concerning that matter. 10And the servant took ten camels of the camels of his master, and departed; for all the good of his master were in his hand: and he arose and went to Mesopotamia, unto the city of Nahor. 11And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. 12And he said, O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. 13Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: 14And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master.

Alongside some desert wells:

Genesis 26:15-35
15For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. 16And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. 17And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. 18And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham; and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. 19And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20And the herdsmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, The water is our’s: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. 21And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. 22And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. 23And he went up from thence to Beersheba. 24And 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. 25And he builded an alter there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac’s servants digged a well. 26Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar, and Ahuzzath one of his friends and Phichol the chief captain of the army. 27And Isaac said unto them, Wherefore come ye to me, seeing you hate me, and have sent me away from you? 28And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath bewixt us, even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; 29That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD. 30And he made them a feast, and they did eat and drink. 31And they rose up betimes in the morning, and sware one to another; and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. 32And 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. 33And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day. 34And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: 35Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah.

At a supper table in his own home:

He felt he was at the point of death. He instructs Esau to kill a deer and prepare him venison that he might eat and bless him before he dies.

In a Philistine home:
Isaac repeats the sin of his father many years back.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (a reminder:)
There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it.

In time of famine, he forsakes Palestine and moves into the Philistine area. He lies to King Abimelech concerning Rebecca, saying she is his sister. Abimelech discovers the truth of the matter and reproves Isaac.

But in spite of Isaac’s carnality, God reaffirms the Abrahamic covenant to him and blesses him greatly in material things.

Alongside some desert wells:

The willing worker. The Philistines soon become jealous of his great success and retaliated by filling up with earth some old wells once dug by his father, Abraham. Isaac spends a great deal of time clearing the debris from those clogged water holes.

Genesis 35:28
And the days of Isaac were an hundred and fourscore years.

Isaac lives to be 180 years old and Ishmael died at 137.

Genesis 25:17
And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years; and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people.

Most of you know the story of the two sons Isaac and Rebekah had and of all the trouble they had with Jacob and Esau.

Rebekah overhears a conversation with Isaac and Esau and immediately enters into a plot with Jacob to deceive Isaac, that Jacob might obtain the blessing, but she was totally wrong by taking matters into her own hands. It is never right to do what is wrong.

For some time Isaac had ruled as patriarch. He had inherited the wealth of Abraham, so he had many servants (318) and large herds. Then a famine forced a migration. Isaac’s original plan was to go to Egypt, but God told Isaac to settle in the land of the Philistines.

Upon settling in Gerar, Isaac’s harvests were great and his flocks grew rapidly. The number of servants increased dramatically.

Though Isaac’s occupation was that of a shepherd and herdsman, he chose to do some farming while in Gerar. The harvest was phenomenal. He reaped one hundred times more than what he had planted. In other words he had a bumper crop. A farmer would consider himself fortunate to have one crop like that in every ten years of planting. In Isaac’s case it occurred his first year of seeding.

The bountiful harvest may have been partially due to irrigation from the various wells, but what definitely is known, though, that God’s blessings were upon him.

Since the Philistines envied him, it is possible to suggest he exceeded the wealth of any of them.

As God multiplied the wealth of Isaac, the Philistines first reaction was envy. Their envy then grew into fear. Isaac had many servants and great wealth. They feared that he might use his power to take control of the territory.

Their leader, Abimelech, asked Isaac to leave. Abimelech had let Isaac settle in the land.

But his feelings toward Isaac seemed to have changed, perhaps under pressure from the feelings of the people.

Isaac returned to an area where his father Abraham had previously dug some wells. The Philistines had filled them in after Abraham’s death. Isaac’s servants cleaned them out and Isaac renamed the wells with the names Abraham had given them.

But God had blessed Isaac so much that these wells were not sufficient to meet his needs. So Isaac’s servants dug a new well and found fresh water. It was this point, however, that things began to go wrong again. The local Philistines argued angrily with Isaac’s servants over the new well. Isaac wanted peace. The well was rightfully his, but rather than fight over the well, he let the Philistines have it and dug another well in the area.

Again the Philistines disputed with Isaac. Again Isaac chose peace to fighting, so he dug a third well.

This time no one contested with Isaac for his property. Isaac’s peaceful response did not mean he was unconcerned about the trials he faced, but he preferred peace with his neighbors, rather than strife.

Lest me think the issue of the wells was something minor, we should remember that life often depended on well water. Wells were not conveniences or luxuries, but necessities.

Isaac had been willing to uphold his peaceful testimony in the face of opposition. Now God was proving he had been right.

In looking at the life of Isaac, godly patience, though born of grace, is also born out of difficult experiences.

Romans 5:3
Tribulation worketh patience.

James 1:3
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

We are encouraged to wait on God by the Scripture which says

Psalm 37:23
The steps of a good man (or a woman) are ordered by the Lord.

God is able to keep His promises no matter how difficult the circumstances of life may become.

Isaac had been faithful to his heritage by both resisting and trying to make peace with the Philistines.

He decided to go to Beersheba. There, some seventy-five years before this time, Abraham had planted a grove of trees there to serve as a permanent place of worship to the Lord:

Genesis 21:22-34
22And it came to pass at that time that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: 23Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. 24And Abraham said I will swear. 25And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away. 26And Abimeleh said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but today. 27And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant. 28And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. 29And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? 30And he said For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. 31Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them. 32Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. 33And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God. 34And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.

Isaac was not disappointed by his trip to Beersheba. The first night he was there, the Lord appeared to him and promised to be with him and bless him for Abraham’s sake.

Isaac was encouraged and built an altar to the Lord. There he and his servants dug a new well. This was Isaac’s way of demonstrating his faith that he and his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan as promised by God.

Like Isaac, when our faith and patience grow weak, we need to find a place to commune with God, there to be reassured of God’s presence with us and His promise to bless us no matter what opposition or difficulties we may have to face.

The Bible counsels that we should be patient and forgiving toward those who do us wrong. Isaac had been severely and repeatedly mistreated by the Philistines, yet he forgave them. We too must learn to be patient with those who oppose us, forgiving them and giving them another chance to do good.

The exhortation of the Bible is that we not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not, meaning if we do not lose heart. (Galatians 6:9).

As we patiently seek to please God, He can make even our enemies to be a peace with us:

Proverbs 16:7
When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be a peace with him.

As we practice the Christian virtues of love, patience and kindness, just to name a few, we are loudly proclaiming the difference Jesus Christ has made in our lives.

James 5:8
Be ye also patient, stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh. (King James Version)


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