Greetings in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Praying for you, your family, your community, and the rest of the world. Right now, the whole world is suffering because of the Coronavirus (COVID-19). Let’s pray together to God, Our Ever-Loving Father, His mercy and protection on all, and God’s healing on those who are infected by the COVID-19. We all believe God’s grace and love rest on all who look upon Him every moment with faith in Him.
For we are Gods masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)
Isaac was the one and only son of Abraham, the father of faith, who faithfully followed God under all circumstances. Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith. God loved Abraham. Isaac saw his father’s faith since he was very young. Later, Isaac also became a man of faith.
Great faith is God’s masterpiece molded through many years of walk with God. The first encounter with God was when Isaac was a strong teenager. Isaac was offered as a sacrifice, but he did not resist. Isaac obeyed Abraham, his father. When Abraham tied up Isaac, Isaac could easily overpower Abraham, who had reached the age of mid 110 years. However, Isaac obeyed because Isaac saw his father’s obedience to God throughout his life. God saw the faith of Abraham and Isaac, and God stopped Abraham. They united again in God. God was pleased with Abraham, and Abraham got the name of the father of faith.
Since then, they walked together in faith. Isaac experienced more and more about God and learned how to walk with God. Abraham returned to the Lord in his old age, and Isaac continued living in the promised land. However, a severe famine came. As his father did before, Isaac left the promised land to escape from the hardship of the server famine. His choice was also Egypt, as his father did.
On the way to Egypt, Isaac stopped at the land of Philistines. But Isaac planned to still go down to Egypt. Then God came to Isaac and said,
“Do not go down to Egypt, but do as I tell you. Live here as a foreigner in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. I hereby confirm that I will give all these lands to you and your descendants, just as I solemnly promised Abraham, your father. I will cause your descendants to become as numerous as the stars of the sky, and I will give them all these lands. And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed. I will do this because Abraham listened to me and obeyed all my requirements, commands, decrees, and instructions.” (Genesis 26:2b-5)
God stopped Isaac’s plan, and God revealed His blessed covenant. Isaac used to hear the blessed covenant from Abraham, but he had never heard from God directly. Isaac now personally met God, and Isaac was in the most challenging time.
Whenever a life challenge came, Isaac used to go to His father, Abraham, to talk and listen to Godly wisdom. But now, Abraham was no longer with him. As a severe famine struck the land inherited from his father, he remembered what Abraham did. Then he just copied what Abraham did. The journey was harder than he thought. On the way to Egypt, Isaac temporarily stopped at the land of Philistines. But soon, Isaac realized that he was in the middle of a foreign land. Nobody welcomed him, and Isaac could see only strangers surrounding him. Isaac even felt the threat of losing his own life. How pitiful his life became!
Isaac could not sleep through the night. He got up many times in the middle of the night while worrying about his situation. Isaac wished his father, Abraham, were with him. He knew his father would guide him, who had such strong faith in God. Isaac was so lonely in the middle of the night in a foreign land. He felt completely helpless. His worldly worries kept circling in his head. Nights were long, and mornings were far. He was a just foreigner in a foreign land, where nobody cared for him.
God saw Isaac, who could not go back to sleep each night due to the heavy burdens of the world. Isaac was still young in faith compared with his father, Abraham. By the way, Abraham walked a long time with God, and God slowly and steadily molded Abraham to the Abraham that we know now. Abraham also used to be a completely raw material in faith when he was young. Abraham also needed lots of God’s interventions and encouragement. God knew Isaac needed the same care and nurture of God. But God forcefully did not work on Isaac. God let Isaac choose and learn by his own mistakes, and God kept presenting spiritual growth opportunities before Isaac. After all, Isaac’s struggle was one of the most important ingredients to becoming the man of faith whom God truly desired.
The server famine was the first spiritual growth opportunity that God presented to Isaac. God let Isaac choose. Isaac’s choice was to flee, not to confront the famine without fighting back in faith. What did Abraham do when the server famine came, Abraham was young in faith and fled. So did Isaac. Isaac took the same course of action as Abraham did.
Yes, to Isaac, it was the first most significant trial in faith. Isaac was confronted with it alone without his father, Abraham. Being alone made a real difference. Surely when he was offered as a sacrifice, it wasn’t easy to endure. Still, he could endure because he saw Abraham’s face filled with the faith that was so profoundly deep and even mysterious to Isaac. Of course, Isaac kept asking himself how Abraham, his father, could sacrifice his own son. However, when he saw his father’s face, all of his questions became irrelevant. In his father’s face, he saw the pure and true faith in God. Even at the moment of binding him up to sacrifice him, the faith in his father’s face had never shaken. Since then, Isaac could not forget his father’s face in true faith for the rest of his life.
Isaac wanted to see his father’s face again, but his father was no longer with him. He badly needed his father, but he found he was alone. Then Isaac closed his eyes and remembered what his father did during such a difficult time. His father bowed down humbly before God and prayed.
Then Isaac slowly bowed his head before God, and prayed as his father did. He prayed and prayed because he could not sleep. When everything was so quiet, the world rushed on to him. The cold reality of having a completely indifferent face came to him and never left during nights. Although he fled from the server famine, he could not escape from the cold reality. Wherever he looked, he saw unfriendly Philistines, and he even felt a threat from them. He felt that he was trapped because there was no way out. Isaac prayed throughout the night. God saw Isaac, who was humbly and fervently praying to God. Yes, Isaac was ready to take another step toward the man of faith whom God wanted.
The server famine in his father’s land and the threat that Isaac met in the foreign land were what God specially prepared for Isaac. Indeed, both were God-provided spiritual growth opportunities specially prepared for Isaac. Isaac did not waste both opportunities. Isaac took on the latter opportunity and overcame it with prayer. If not, God would have had provided yet another spiritual growth opportunity for Isaac, which would simply prolong his training period. If Isaac had kept complaining about what’s happening in his life, then God would have had provided yet another hardship specially designed for Isaac till Isaac quietly came back to God with prayer.
Before God, Isaac authentically spread out all of his hardships, troubles, and life concerns one by one like a child before his/her loving father. Isaac did with his humble and contrite heart. When Isaac lifted up his eyes to God, his eyes were just like the eyes of a female slave look at the hand of her mistress. His prayer was a true plea for God’s mercy. His near-silent but contrite prayer at night in the middle of the Philistines was the loudest plea to God. Isaac eagerly waited for God, and God lovingly heard Isaac’s prayer.
Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. (Psalm 123:2)
Upon hearing Isaac’s humble, contrite, and authentic prayer, God rushed down to Isaac. God saw Isaac was ready to inherit the covenant promised to his father. The holy covenant given to Abraham was so precious, and God eagerly waited till Isaac was ready in faith. Jesus told,
“Don’t waste what is holy on people who are unholy. Don’t throw your pearls to pigs! They will trample the pearls, then turn and attack you. (Matthew 7:6)
As God appeared to Isaac, God promised to protect Isaac who was in fear. God is full of love, compassion, and mercy, and especially for his beloved child. God, who knew the danger in Egypt, prohibited Isaac from going down to Egypt. His father, Abraham, had miserably failed in Egypt before. The same danger was waiting for Isaac in Egypt.
Then God shared his sympathy. Isaac had a difficult life in the foreign Philistine land, where nobody like him. God comforted Isaac by opening the heavenly gate and immensely blessed Isaac. Isaac came to stay temporarily before heading for Egypt, the final destination, but God promised to give him the land where he temporarily stayed. That’s not all. God promised to multiply his descendants as numerous as the stars of the night sky. And all the nations of the earth would be blessed through Isaac’s descendants. God repeated all of the blessings given to Abraham, his father. God personally came and poured out His blessed covenant on Isaac!
God also did not forget to restate the importance of obedience. We humans love to do things with our own might rather than trusting in God. God asked to listen to God, and obey, which was what God truly wanted. After all, why does God want from us anything, who created heaven and earth?
But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the LORD: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)
So Isaac decided to listen to God and obeyed. He stayed in Gerar, the land of Philistines. It was Isaac’s first victory in faith. He stood firmly on faith, and God was immensely pleased with Isaac.
However, the journey of Isaac’s faith just started. Isaac was still prone to sin. Soon Isaac lied about his wife, Rebekah, by telling her as his sister because he was in fear of losing his life, not his wife! Isaac was high on the mountain top one day, but he fell like a rock falling into a deep ocean the next day. As God rescued Abraham by intervening with Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, God intervened Abimelech, king of the Philistines. Thus, the Philistines could not touch Isaac and Rebekah. However, Abimelech humiliated Isaac by exposing his lie to the entire country. What a shame! Isaac must have wanted to find even a rat hole to hide from his wife and the Philistines.
However, God was always with Isaac. God loved Isaac because Isaac was his beloved child. Isaac planted his crops that year, and he harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted. God blessed him, and Isaac became a very rich man, and his wealth continued to grow. He acquired so many flocks of sheep and goats, herds of cattle, and servants that the Philistines became jealous of him. God blessed Isaac, but the Philistines did not like Isaac.
After all, we are of God and live for His glory, not of this world for fleeting glory. God is with us always. Then what can the world do to us? Yes, the world does not like us. But God, who created heaven and earth, is on our side. The world, at most, gives us temporary earthly pain. The world cannot interfere with God’s love toward us. God’s love always triumphs over all kinds of attacks of the world. Let’s see how the Philistines attempted to destroy Isaac and how Isaac responded in faith.
Then the Philistines filled up all of Isaac’s wells with dirt. These were the wells that had been dug by the servants of his father, Abraham. The Philistines took away what he received from his father, Abraham.
It was not all. Abimelech, the king of Philistines, did order Isaac to leave the country. “Go somewhere else,” he said, “for you have become too powerful for us.”
So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. He reopened the wells his father had dug, which the Philistines had filled in after Abraham’s death. Isaac also restored the names Abraham had given them.
Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. But then the shepherds from Gerar came and claimed the spring. “This is our water,” they said, and they argued over it with Isaac’s herdsmen. So Isaac named the well Esek (which means “argument”). Isaac did not dwell and left the place, which was Isaac’s Godly response. It was not easy, but Isaac could do so by praying to God in faith. In turn, God was Isaac, and God went with Isaac.
Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). The second attempt did not work either, but Isaac did not give up in faith, and he continued in prayer.
Abandoning that one, Isaac moved on and dug another well. This time there was no dispute over it, so Isaac named the place Rehoboth (which means “open space”), for he said, “At last God has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.” Isaac finally won the victory in faith by being patient while yielding to the Philistines. What Isaac did in faith tells Godly wisdom to us who live today in this world. As Isaac did, we should respond to the world in faith and prayer.
From there Isaac moved to Beersheba, where God appeared to him on the night of his arrival.
“I am the God of your father, Abraham,” he said. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you. I will multiply your descendants, and they will become a great nation. I will do this because of my promise to Abraham, my servant.” (Genesis 26:24b)
God saw what Isaac did to the world in faith and prayer. God was pleased with Isaac, and God comforted Isaac by retelling the grandiose and awesome promise originally made with Abraham. How joyfully Isaac’s heart was when listening to God’s greatly blessed covenant!
Then Isaac built an altar there and worshiped God. Isaac knew exactly what to do because he saw again and again what his father, Abraham, did — building an altar and worshipped God by calling His name in thanksgiving wherever he went.
It was not all. God’s hand is always much greater than what we can imagine.
One day King Abimelech came from Gerar with his adviser, Ahuzzath, and Phicol, his army commander. “Why have you come here?” Isaac asked. “You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land.”
They replied, “We can plainly see that God is with you. So we want to enter into a sworn treaty with you. Let’s make a covenant. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace. And now look how God has blessed you!”
King Abimelech watched what’s going on with Isaac’s life. He did everything he could to give pains and hardships to Isaac to make Isaac diminished and even destroyed. He sent multiple times his people to take away wells. At that time, well was the source of life. Even so, God did not allow Isaac’s life to be diminished, but instead, God his life prosper. King Abimelech then became fearful of Isaac and changed his mind to make a treaty. What a wonderful God!
So Isaac prepared a covenant feast to celebrate the treaty, and they ate and drank together. Isaac was generous in faith and God. He did not pour back his bad tastes of the past inflicted by King Abimelech but gave a great feast while welcoming King Abimelech. Isaac showed an example of how to deal with our enemy when they came back to us to ask for peace. Yes, Isaac did not retaliate. But in fear of Isaac, Abimelech came with his army commander and his best advisor. After all, Isaac became a fearful man of God for King Abimelech.
Early the next morning, they each took a solemn oath not to interfere with each other. Then Isaac sent them home, and they left him in peace.
That very day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. “We’ve found water!” they exclaimed. So Isaac named the well Shibah (which means “oath”). And to this day the town that grew up there is called Beersheba (which means “well of the oath”).
God saw Isaac’s Godly generosity and blessed Isaac again and again.
If your enemies are hungry, give them food to eat.
If they are thirsty, give them water to drink.
You will heap burning coals of shame on their heads,
and the LORD will reward you. (Proverbs 25:21-22)
Isaac was born as the heir of the promise of God to Abraham, but Isaac could not receive the promise. He was not yet ready and needed to grow in faith till being fully mature in God to become the true heir of God’s promise.
God, then, provided spiritual growth opportunities one by one. The first opportunity was the server famine. Isaac was too young in faith at that time, and he chose to leave the promised land. Yes, he failed, but God was with Isaac. Why? God loved Isaac. God went with Isaac to the land of Philistines. God, then, saw Isaac’s humble and contrite prayer. God waited till Isaac was ready to receive God’s promise. As Isaac’s faith was ready, God came to Isaac and gave God’s covenant, which was originally made with his father, Abraham.
However, Isaac was not yet up fully mature in the faith to be the true heir. God gave another opportunity, but Isaac failed by lying to people in fear of the Palestine around him. Even so, God was with him. God protected Isaac by intervening in King Abimelech.
Then God gave yet another opportunity. The Philistines took away two wells from Isaac without any reason except being a foreigner. For this time, Isaac patiently endured. He dug three wells, and gave up the first and the second wells to the Philistines before owning the third well.
God was so much pleased with Isaac and gave blessings to Isaac to the fullest. King Abimelech saw what God did to Isaac and came to beg entering into a sworn treaty with Isaac. Yes, it is what God does. God did a marvelous thing to Isaac, who patiently endured in faith and prayer. When we endure in faith and prayer like Isaac, God is pleased with us. Then why doesn’t God provide us with His unfathomable blessings?
Isaac did not retaliate but greeted King Abimelech. Isaac provided a covenant feast to celebrate the peace treaty. What a triumphant life of Isaac! It is a wonderful lesson that we can learn from Isaac today. In God, we can be triumphant like Isaac as we faithfully follow God in faith and prayer and then be generous even to our enemies by sharing God’s blessings, including our eternal salvation.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your father in heaven. (Matthew 5:43-45a)