Three great spiritual principles are evident as we continue to look at the history of the partriarchs outlined in the first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis. Chapter 26 relates an outline of Isaac’s career.
Briefly, Isaac had to move on because there was famine where he dwelt. But God intervened to stop him going to Egypt as Isaac was planning. Instead he stayed in Gerar. But that brought problems with the people already there. In the first place he lied to them about his relationship with Rebekah his wife. Then as the years went by and God blessed him, his flocks and household became so extensive that the existing inhabitants of the land became concerned that Isaac’s wealth and the number of his servants would challenge them and eclipse them. To avoid conflict he therefore moved on until his neighbours ceased to feel uneasy about him.
Now, it is too easy to take this account literally instead of spiritually. No doubt God does bless his people materially today. But that is not the lesson from this passage.
Firstly, Isaac was moved on because of circumstances. Famine came and there was no option but to move on.
God moves in our circumstances to achieve his purpose. It was no good complaining to God about the famine. Isaac took the obvious step and acted on it. He did not need a message from God to do that ! He simply took adversity as a challenge to overcome and to deal with.
But notice that as Isaac makes the common sense move in response to his situation, then God intervenes to encourage him, to reassure him and to redirect his plans.
As we move, God will direct and encourage our way. Standing still and being defeated by our situation will get us nowhere and achieve nothing.
Secondly, God’s blessing and our obedience will incite a reaction from the unbelieving world about us. That is inevitable. But we must maintain our identity as God’s people, obedient to him. We can only agree to disagree and go our separate ways. We cannot agree to go the world’s way and disobey God. Isaac moved again and again until his neighbour stopped threatening him and his possessions.
Thirdly, this world expects us to react as it does – in hostility and self interest. But we are to maintain a mindset of God’s love and grace in all things, at all times. Isaac throws a banquet for his enemies – he does not use his superior strength to overwhelm them and take over their lands and so deprive them of their livelihood, as they feared because that was what they would have been tempted to do in Isaac’s place.