“And there was a famine in the land…” (Genesis 26:1) In the will of God we will face trials. Here we read of Isaac during this time of famine. God instructed him to NOT go down to Egypt but to go to Gerar, and to live among the Philistines. Gerar would prove to be a place of great blessing but also of intermittent conflict.
Abraham, Isaac’s father, had previously been in Gerar and had dug a good many wells to provide fresh water for his family and flocks. After his death, the Philistines, out of malice, filled in the wells with earth. Now Isaac began to open up the wells his father had dug and this became a source of conflict. Isaac, being a peaceful man, and desiring to avoid strife in the measure that was possible, pulled up stakes and moved on. He went to another well Abraham had dug. It, too, was contested. This happened several times until Isaac reached Rehoboth and there he dug a well that was not contested. Isaac said, “For now the Lord hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.” (Genesis 26:22)
What can we learn from this episode in Isaac’s life? Firstly, that God’s delays are not His denials. Secondly, He leads us step by step in ways we do not always understand. God said, “And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them and not forsake them.” (Isaiah 42:16) God is sovereign in His dealing with us, graciously so. He is the God of all circumstances.
“My goal is God Himself, not joy, nor peace,
nor even blessing, but Himself, my God;
‘Tis His to lead me there–not mine, but His–
At any cost, dear Lord, by any road.”
I’m sure that Isaac did not understand why he had to continually move on, even though God had told him that He was with him, and that He would bless him. God eventually brought Isaac to Beersheba, again to a place with a well. There Isaac’s servants, upon digging, declared to him, “We have found water.” (Genesis 26:32) There also, God appeared to Isaac and declared His commitment to him, and the blessing of Abraham upon him. So it was that Isaac not only put down stakes in that place but Beersheba became to him a place of worship. “And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the Lord.”(Genesis 26:25) God allowed the conflict over the wells because Isaac had not yet arrived at the place to which God wanted to bring him, the place of the highest good and blessing.
So, today, may we entrust ourselves afresh to this sovereign, gracious God: this God of Abraham and Isaac.
If circumstances in our lives change and seem unsettling, if there is opposition and conflict, let us look up to the Great Shepherd of our souls, and believe Him for the next step.
Let us ever remember that He is at work in us, working in us to will and to do of His good pleasure, in the place of His choosing, for His glory and our blessing. He never makes a mistake.