Genesis 26:1-35

One of the truly awesome facts about Yahweh, the God of the Bible, is that He has and will continually show Himself faithful to His promises. Genesis 26 continues the record of God’s faithfulness to pass on the Abrahamic blessing and covenant to his son Isaac. Even though Isaac was not a perfect man, God fulfilled His promises to this man of faith. Isaac demonstrated his trust in God, as you will see in this chapter, by his obedience to the LORD’s commands. Scripture states, “There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines, in Gerar. Then the LORD appeared to him and said: ‘Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws. So Isaac dwelt in Gerar” (Gen. 26:1-6).

Isaac’s decisions during a new famine in the land.  Vs. 1-6

After the death of Abraham, the first thing that happened to Isaac was that his faith was tested by God through a famine in the land. God came to Isaac and specifically commanded him not to go down to Egypt during this famine. Isaac’s response was to obey God, and he demonstrated this obedience by dwelling in the land of Gerar. The city of Gerar was inhabited by Philistines, and was located at the southwestern border of the land of Canaan, near where the Gaza Strip is today.

Isaac’s faith was clearly demonstrated by his obedience to God. Why is this important? Because for all of us obedience will also be a revelation and proof of our faith. Why do I say this? Because anyone can profess faith in God, but what a person does, and how they behave, is what proves whether or not they truly believe in God. Remember that Abraham proved his faith by his obedience. In Hebrews 11:8 Scripture declares, “By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he would receive as an inheritance.” Scripture is clear; by faith Abraham obeyed. You can never separate these two concepts.

The Apostle James taught, “But someone will say, ‘You have faith, and I have works.’ Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe--and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (James 2:18-20). James is very direct in this statement. Your actions and behavior are the way you will know that you truly believe. God obviously knows your heart as to whether or not you have faith, but as Jesus said, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Therefore, show your faith by your works, so that men’s hearts will turn to the Father and glorify Him.

This is your land.

The second thing God told Isaac was that He was going to give all this land to him, and to his descendants, and that in his seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed. For emphasis, God repeats this promise twice concerning giving the land to him. These promises over the land of Canaan, are exactly the same as God had previously promised to Abraham in their many encounters together (Gen. 12:1-3; Gen. 13:15; Gen. 17:8). God is making sure that Isaac understands that the land of Canaan will be his homeland, and not Egypt. This is why today every Jew in the land of Israel is so confident that the land in which he dwells is his ancestral homeland.

Third, God told Isaac why all these blessings would be given to him. Notice in this exchange with Isaac, God reminds him that all of the blessings that came upon his father were specifically because he had obeyed God’s voice and kept His charge and commandments. This was a very strong encouragement to Isaac that God would require the same obedience from him. God’s ultimate desire for every believer is to recognize the importance of obedience to His Word. The Apostle Peter taught all believers that they were God’s, “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:2). The Lord has chosen you, and sanctified you by His Spirit, so that you will be obedient to Him, and fulfill His calling upon your life. What an awesome calling this is! Isaac had to see this truth, and so do we!

Therefore, what has the Lord asked you to do in service to Him? Here is where you need to obey His voice. If you want the greatest blessings God has to offer, they will only be found as you obey God. This is why God blessed Abraham, why he was going to bless Isaac, and why He will bless you.

The test of the famine.

It is important to remember that just because Isaac believed and obeyed God he was not exempt from the test of a famine. Many question why God doesn’t protect His people from every hardship, every problem, and every trial. But God does not promise any such thing! The Lord promises that He will be with us in the trial, strengthen us when we are persecuted, and direct our paths in every hardship. You see this truth throughout the Scriptures over and over again. After God commanded Moses to go and speak to Pharoah, He told him, I will certainly be with you” (Ex. 3:12). To Joshua God said, “No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you” (Joshua 1:5). King David was reminded of these same truths, and he wrote, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.” (Ps. 23:4). In the New Testament, when Paul was fearful for his safety the Lord spoke to him and said, “For I am with you, and no one will attack you to hurt you; for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:10). Finally, the apostle to the Hebrews wrote, “Let your conduct be without covetousness, and be content with such things as you have. For He himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5). This is the same assurance given to Isaac, “Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you” (Gen. 26:3). This must have been so comforting for Isaac to hear.

Do you have this assurance that the Lord will be with you? You should have great confidence, because Jesus promised, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:20). Life is not ever easy, because we live in a fallen world, and there will be periodic trials and hardships that we all experience. But knowing that He is with us, is so comforting and encouraging to know. You especially learn this fact that He is with you, not only through sunny days and easy times, but you also learn this truth in the midst of difficult times. Why? Because difficulties cause you to cry out to God for His help, grace, and strength. This is when you will see the Lord reveal Himself, and then you realize He has been with you all the time. Be assured, He is with you right now! Go to Him in faith and prayer, and invite His Spirit to strengthen you!

Isaac’s stumble.  Vs. 7-11

The next test Isaac encountered was the same one his father Abraham was tested with (Gen. 12:13; Gen. 20:2). Issac’s wife was beautiful, just as Sarah was, but would he lie and say that she was his sister just as his father had done twice before? Scripture records, “And the men of the place asked about his wife. And he said, ‘She is my sister’; for he was afraid to say, ‘She is my wife,’ because he thought, ‘lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.’ Now it came to pass, when he had been there a long time, that Abimelech king of the Philistines looked through a window, and saw, and there was Isaac, showing endearment to Rebekah his wife. Then Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Quite obviously she is your wife; so how could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” And Isaac said to him, “Because I said, ‘Lest I die on account of her.’” And Abimelech said, ‘What is this you have done to us? One of the people might soon have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt on us.’ So Abimelech charged all his people, saying, ‘He who touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death’” (Gen. 26:7-11). So, Isaac fails this test of honesty.

One of the first questions people ask about this text is whether or not this is the same Abimelech that Abraham lied to back in Genesis 20? The answer is no; this is not the same man. How can we be sure? Because Genesis 20 takes place 90 years before this encounter with Abimelech. In addition, the word Abimelech is a royal title like Pharaoh or Caesar, so this man that Isaac lied to was simply the king of Gerar.

But the most important question is, why did Isaac feel he had to lie to Abimelech? The answer is fear. Note that the text declared that, “He was afraid to say, ‘She is my wife,’ because he thought, ‘lest the men of the place kill me for Rebekah, because she is beautiful to behold.’  Whenever fear grips your heart, and you yield to it, you will always be snared by it into some kind of compromise. Solomon declared, The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe” (Prov. 29:25). Fear always equals a snare to your soul. Fear and faith are complete opposites to one another. Faith cannot be in the same heart where fear reigns. Jesus revealed this fact when He asked His disciples, Why are you so fearful? How is it that you have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). If you are a fearful person, or you are fearful of people and their opinions and responses toward you, then you will fall into a snare and will compromise God’s word and your morals. Fear will always cause you to compromise the truth again and again, until you ask God for the boldness of faith to overcome your fears. Where do you get this boldness of faith? Boldness of faith is simply the fruit of the Holy Spirit imparted to you when you ask for His power to fill your heart. Paul declared that, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5:22-23). The word translated faithfulness is actually the Greek word that 99% of the time is translated faith in the New Testament. When you walk in faith, you will be faithful to God’s calling upon you. So, when fear grips your heart, cry out to God for the infilling of His Spirit, and His love and faith will fill your soul. Jesus said, If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:13). The important thing to remember is that the word ask in this verse, is in the present tense, which means Jesus wants you to continually ask for the infilling of His Spirit in your life. Don’t allow fear to control you, instead allow the fruit of the Spirit to motivate you to stand in the boldness and confidence of faith! Ask for His infilling today!

Where did Isaac get the idea to lie about his wife?
This is an important question to consider. Why? Because Isaac wasn’t even born when Abram was in Egypt (Genesis 12), or when he lied to Abimelech during that first famine in Genesis 20. So where did Isaac get the idea to lie in exactly the same way as his father Abraham had done? The plausible and likely scenario was that Isaac had somehow heard the story of what Abraham had done, and decided that this was an easy way to stay alive when fear gripped his heart. Isaac does the exact same thing as his father did, and he brought the same reproach and reproof from an unbelieving King down upon him. Always remember that your example of how you live, and the choices you make will be either seen by your children, or told to them later. Therefore, be the example of what a believer should do and speak, because others are always watching you (1 Tim. 4:12). When you fail, acknowledge it and ask forgiveness, because this is also an example you want your children to follow.   

How did Abimelech realize that Rebekah was not Isaac’s sister?

Scripture declares that Abimelech looked out his window and saw Isaac showing endearment to Rebekah his wife. What does this mean? The word endearment literally means to physically caress, behave amorously, or to sexually fondle. Isaac was touching and caressing Rebekah in some way so that it was clear to Abimelech that Rebekah was his wife, and not his sister.  The same word is used to refer to sexual immorality that is mentioned in Exodus 32:6 where it is written of the Children of Israel that, “They rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” The word play is the same word used here in our text. Moses was declaring that the people were involved in sexual play, in an immoral sense. How can we be sure of this fact? Paul’s commentary on this specific occurrence in Exodus is given to us in 1 Corinthians 10:7-8. There Paul writes and warns the Corinthians, “And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’ Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell. Paul makes it absolutely clear that the Israelites were committing sexual immorality as they rose up to play.

Outside of marriage, this kind of sexual touching is clearly immoral. Inside of marriage, it is completely acceptable and natural. This is a very important distinction for people to make. Why? Because sex is not dirty or wrong. God is the One who created sex, but He wants it to be done within the boundaries of marriage! God saw that all that He created was good, even sex! When God finished His creative acts, He is the One who said that it was all, “very good” (Gen. 1:31). But then God turned right around and told man that, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him” (Gen. 2:18). This is when God created the woman, and He performed the first marriage there in the Garden of Eden. One of the reasons God ordained marriage was to keep people from sexual immorality, and to allow them to express their affection toward one another in a sexual way. The Apostle Paul taught, “Nevertheless, because of sexual immorality, let each man have his own wife, and let each woman have her own husband. Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Cor. 7:2-5). May these verses help to clarify what should rightfully take place between a husband and a wife.

Isaac’s sojourn in the land.  Vs. 12-22

Now consider a truly awesome declaration of what took place during this famine in the land. Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold; and the LORD blessed him. The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him. Now the Philistines had stopped up all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, and they had filled them with earth. And Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.’ Then Isaac departed from there and pitched his tent in the Valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water which they had dug in the days of Abraham his father, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham. He called them by the names which his father had called them. Also Isaac’s servants dug in the valley, and found a well of running water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, ‘The water is ours.’ So he called the name of the well Esek, because they quarreled with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also. So he called its name Sitnah. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, ‘For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land’” (Gen. 26:12-22). 
What took place during this time of famine in the land? God blessed Isaac just as God had promised to do. Isaac planted his fields and he reaped a hundredfold from what he planted. To reap a hundredfold sounds like an incredible blessing. God was faithful to His promise to bless Isaac and the labor of his hands. But do you realize that God will be just as faithful to bless you? He has promised! Peter preached this message to the newly formed church in the first century. He said, “To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities” (Acts 3:26). The Lord has blessed you by first saving you, and then turning you away from your iniquities. That is the greatest blessing that could ever come to your life, that you could be forgiven of your sin, to have salvation, and to have fellowship with God. However, this is just the beginning of God’s blessings to come into your life. In Ephesians 1:3 Paul declared, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ.” Is this not an amazing declaration! If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you have already been given every spiritual blessing simply because you are in Christ! How do you experience these blessings? They are received by faith through the grace of God. He will assure you that you have been chosen by Him, and that you are holy in your standing before Him today. He has also blessed you by adopting you as His son or daughter, making you acceptable in Christ. These are just a few of the spiritual blessings listed in the first chapter of Ephesians. If you are willing to trust and obey Him, then God’s grace imparts these blessings into your hearts and minds. In Hebrews 6:12 it declares the same message, “That you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” The word patience in this promise means that you need endurance or steadfastness with these promises. That is exactly what we saw in the life of Abraham and Isaac.

Notice where Isaac needed this endurance and steadfastness. We read that as Isaac became wealthy, this stirred up envy in the Philistines. This envy in their hearts brought about the conflict and quarrels between Isaac’s herdsmen and those of the Philistines. The Apostle James taught that envy is self-seeking and creates conflict. He explained, “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing will be there” (James 3:16). Envy and self-seeking are attitudes of the heart that we all must deal with at times. If you allow envy to control you, it will create a multitude of conflicts and every evil thing will be there. That is why you need to deny yourself and take up your cross and follow Christ. Take that envy to the cross, and put it to death!

Isaac kept moving away from the Philistines.

With each conflict over the land and water rights, Isaac chose to keep moving further away from the Philistines. He ends up moving north to a place called Rehoboth, which means room or spaciousness. This place is most likely the modern Israeli city of Rehovot. The name Rehovot means, broad places, which is almost identical with the meaning of Rehoboth. Rehovot is 12 miles southeast of Tel Aviv in the coastal plains of Israel. An interesting personal note, this is the same place I lived and worked on a Kibbutz in 1970. It was fertile ground in Isaac’s day for farming, and it is still one of the primary agricultural areas in Israel today.

It is important to understand why the Philistines kept filling in the wells of Abraham and Isaac, and why there was so much conflict over these wells. Water in that part of the world, and especially during a time of famine was very precious. The area of Gerar is very close to the Negev desert, and so water was like gold to the people living there. You cannot exist without water. In eastern cultures, if you took water from someone else’s well without permission, they many times would kill you. So, these conflicts were over a very sensitive and sharp issue for everyone. But what did Isaac do when these conflicts resulted? He simply attempted to mitigate the conflicts by first moving, and digging another well in another locality. He doesn’t go to war with them, and neither does he hassle with them, he just simply moved on. But it did not matter what they did to him to frustrate him, Isaac still succeeded, because God was with him and continued to bless him.

God confirms His covenant again.  Vs. 23-25 

It is also clear that one of the reasons Isaac kept moving when these conflicts arose, was because of his fear of what might happen because of these clashes. You will see this fact revealed by what God now says to him. Scripture records, “Then he went up from there to Beersheba. And the LORD appeared to him the same night and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.’ So he built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD, and he pitched his tent there; and there Isaac's servants dug a well” (Gen. 26:23-25). It is important to remember that God doesn’t tell someone not to fear, when there is no struggle with fear in their heart. But God’s reassuring word to him, “Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you,” must have been a real comfort to him. It appears that this is the second time that Isaac has a personal encounter with the LORD. In this appearance to Isaac, God tells him almost the same things that He said the first time when He revealed Himself to him. Oh, how we all need to hear the same truths over and over again. Why? Because we are slow in heart to believe them. Remember when the disciples were slow to believe in Christ’s resurrection, Jesus said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25). May God make us quick to hear and quick to believe!

God’s constant reassurance!

I love the example in this chapter that God confirms and reconfirms His promises to Isaac, because I believe He does the same thing with you and me. Now you may think, Well okay, but the Lord hasn’t ever appeared to me, or spoken out of heaven to me. How will He ever be able to reconfirm His promises to me? The answer is, you have a Bible. Isaac didn’t have the Bible in his hand so that he could open it any time he chose to get reassurance. But you do! This is one of the biggest reasons people in the Bible had the Lord appear to them regularly. You don’t need His direct appearances to you, because Jesus already came and revealed the Father. You have the entirety of Scripture in your hands, and every prophetic Word God has ever given to reconfirm His promises. All you need to do when you are fearful and afraid, is to open your Bible and allow God to speak to you. What an awesome privilege you have!

There are even books that have taken God’s promises and cataloged them for you so you can easily see them all in one place. Isaac would sure have liked to have had a promise book like that! When you read promise books like this, you realize very quickly that God really loves you and wants to bless your life. Having these promises does not mean that you will not have trials. But it does mean that you will have an ability to know that God is with you and for you. This is how you allow the Lord to reconfirm His promises to you every day, as you study your Bible.   

In previous studies, I have already discussed that when God assures someone not to fear or not to be afraid, that this encouragement is one of the most often used phrases in the Bible. Why? Because we are so quick to worry and be afraid, forgetting that He is with us, and will not forsake us. We must trust and be confident that He loves us, and holds us in the palm of His hand!
What was Isaac’s response to God’s words of reassurance to him? Notice that Isaac builds an altar to worship, and then he calls on the Name of the LORD. This again demonstrated Isaac’s faith in God, and that he had received the encouragement that God had spoken to his heart. Remember that Isaac was not a perfect man, but He was a man of faith. Any of us who believe in God are also flawed men and women. However, the general direction of our life is to worship Him, call upon His name, and to follow Him. That is exactly what Isaac was doing. He listened to what the Lord had promised him, and he responded by worshiping and bowing down before the Lord. This is all God asks of any of us. Worship and calling upon His name should be our natural response when we see all of the great blessings He has bestowed upon us. David reminds us, Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Ps. 103:1-2). I hope you will worship today as you remember all His benefits that He has bestowed upon you!

God’s oath.

It is vital to understand that when God makes these promises to Isaac, He is taking an oath. Every time you see the words, “I will bless you,” the Lord is proclaiming an oath based on His own character and faithfulness. God did this with Abraham, and now with Isaac, based on the previous oath He had made to his father. This is why God told Isaac I will do what I have promised, “I will bless you and multiply your descendants for My servant Abraham’s sake.” The concept of an oath is a very important point that every believer should understand. We are told in the book of Hebrews what the purpose of an oath is. Note what the apostle declared. “For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, ‘Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.’ And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us” (Heb. 6:13-18).

God made an oath to Abraham, and now to Isaac, for the express purpose that they might have strong confirmation in the immutability of His Word. In other words, God took this oath to strengthen Abraham and Isaac’s faith to assure them that He would not fail to perform what He had promised. This is also to give each of us who believe in Jesus today, that same assurance that His Word is both sure and steadfast. God will fulfill His Word!

When the Father sent Jesus to the Jewish people, who are called the circumcision in the Scripture, He was again reaffirming His promises made to Abraham. We see this truth revealed in Romans 15:8 where Paul declared, “Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers.” So, when Jesus came to this earth this was the Father confirming His promise to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. He was confirming the fact that He does not lie, and He will do what He has promised. Everything that we are studying here in Genesis has been reconfirmed in the New Testament by the work of Christ for us. As a Christian, your salvation is a part of this oath given to Abraham and Isaac. You must see that just as God’s Word was faithful to them, He will be faithful to you!

Abimelech’s treaty with Isaac.  Vs. 26-33

“Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath, one of his friends, and Phichol the commander of his army. And Isaac said to them, ‘Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?’ But they said, ‘We have certainly seen that the LORD is with you. So we said, “Let there now be an oath between us, between you and us; and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, since we have not touched you, and since we have done nothing to you but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the LORD.” So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. Then they arose early in the morning and swore an oath with one another; and Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. It came to pass the same day that Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, ‘We have found water.’ So he called it Shebah. Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba to this day” (Gen. 26:26-33).

Why does Abimelech come to Isaac seeking this treaty with him? I believe this was an insurance policy for him, because he saw God was blessing Isaac, and he was becoming stronger every day. The king begins speaking with Isaac as if he sent him away in peace, when in reality, it was just the opposite. Isaac has it right when he asked Abimelech, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?”

How does Isaac respond? He is incredibly gracious with Abimelech and invites him to dinner and to stay the night. In the morning, they both swear an oath to live in peace together. Why was Isaac so gracious? Because this is always God’s way, and the way He wants us to treat those who are in conflict with us. Don’t make the situation worse, seek peace and hopefully some resolution. David encouraged this same thing with his enemies, Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it” (Ps. 34:14).

Paul taught the same principle in the New Testament, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Rom. 12:18-19). This is what Isaac was trying to do with Abimelech. But what happens when someone or some nation won’t allow you to live in peace, and goes to war with you? In the following paragraph, consider what has historically taken place.

Did the people of Abimelech keep their oath with the descendants of Isaac? No, they did not. The Philistines were, and have always been, the archenemies of the Jews. The greatest enemies of David and Solomon were the Philistines, and even today the people who live in the ancient lands of Abimelech, the Gaza Strip, hate the Jews, and for years have shot missiles into the cities of Israel. In addition, the worse atrocity that has ever taken place since the Holocaust, occurred on October 7, 2023. This invasion along with the brutal massacre that took place revealed the Gazan’s vile hatred toward their neighbor. This brutality resulted from the ancient hatred referred to by the Prophet Ezekiel (Eze. 35:5). On that day, over 3000 people from Gaza came across the border and killed over 1,300 men, women, and children. They raped the women, beheaded others, burned people alive in their shelters, killing and burning those bodies. They took over 250 hostages back into Gaza, killing many of them while in captivity. The bigoted hate-filled antisemitism of those in Gaza is simply unbelievable. Should the nation Israel respond in the same way Isaac did in the face of these atrocities and genocide? Absolutely not. This was an act of war committed against innocent men, women, and children. The actions of those in Gaza were nothing like what King Abimelech did by filling in a few wells with dirt. The actions of those from Gaza in 2023 were a murderous slaughter of innocent people. In this circumstance you should not seek your enemy’s peace or prosperity, but should respond in a just war to stop something similar from happening again. This is the way the United States, Great Britian, France, and every country responded when they were attacked before the Second World War. Notice how God responded and instructed Moses to deal with the Ammonites and the Moabites that listened to the evil counsel of Balaam, in his attempt to destroy the Children of Israel. God declared, “An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation none of his descendants shall enter the assembly of the LORD forever, because they did not meet you with bread and water on the road when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. Nevertheless the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loves you. You shall not seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days forever” (Deut. 23:3-6). Notice that God tells them not to seek their peace nor their prosperity. If you are interested in what constitutes a just war, please click on this link to study my explanation concerning the first war in the Bible.

Esau’s failure.  Vs. 34-35

The following two sentences are a short addendum which contrasts the life of Isaac and his willingness to be obedient to God with that of his brother Esau. Scripture records, “When Esau was forty years old, he took as wives Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite. And they were a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah” (Gen. 26:34-35).

Why are these passages important? Because Scripture describes Esau as a profane man who despised the things of God (Heb. 12:16). This is why Esau married two women that were Hittites. As you remember, Abraham commanded his servant that Isaac was not to take a wife from the women of the land. Why? Because these women came from idolatrous backgrounds, and Abraham did not want these idolatrous practices brought into the family. By Esau taking these wives from the people of the land, it showed that he could care less about God’s will and purposes. In Genesis 28:9, Esau will take a third wife who was the daughter of Ishmael, again rejecting God’s will. In addition, Issac will also command Jacob his son to only take a wife from the daughters of Laban, Rebekah’s brother, proving that this issue of intermarrying with the women of the land was a very important thing to Isaac, just as it was to Abraham (Gen. 28:1-2). Scripture is clear that Esau’s decision to marry these Hittite women was a grief of mind to Isaac and Rebekah. The phrase “grief of mind,” literally refers to a severe emotional upset, mental distress or anguish. This is the meaning of these Hebrew words. Therefore, Isaac and Rebecca were very upset with Esau and his unwise choices concerning his wives. Now why would that be their reaction? Because they knew the consequences that would follow.

If you are a single Christian man or woman, one of the most essential and important commands in Scripture is that you should not marry an unbeliever. Paul’s instruction in 1 Corinthians 7:39 is crystal clear when he writes, “A wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives, but if her husband dies she’s at liberty to be married to whom she wishes only in the Lord” In other words, you can marry anyone you want to, just make sure that person is truly a Christian who is sincerely following the Lord. Who you marry is the second most important decision you will make in life. The most important decision in life is, will you choose to believe and receive Jesus and follow Him? Who you choose to marry will be a monumental decision, because this will affect every aspect of your life, and the lives of the children that you will raise. You should also be concerned that this Christian has more than just a nominal relationship with the Lord. In other words, are they a Christian in name only? Why is this important? Because just as Esau’s choice caused “grief of mind” to Isaac and Rebekah, so your poor choosing of a mate will also cause you tremendous grief within your heart and mind. I’ve done marriage counseling for over 50 years, and I have counseled many people that have confessed to me their “grief of mind” over the person they chose to marry. If you choose an idolater whose god is this world, I guarantee you that you will have trouble all the days of your life. But let me also say that just because you choose a believer to marry, doesn’t mean that you won’t have struggles in your marriage. But you will have someone you can pray with, and who is guided by the truth of God’s Word. Marriage requires two people to die to self, die to pride, and die to their self-will. This death to self is what true discipleship means, and is your only hope of experiencing a marriage that God intends. But a person who is not a true believer, will not be willing to die to themselves, because they are thinking only of themselves. They will be thinking a hundred and eighty degrees opposite from what God requires. If you are single reading this right now or dating someone, please read my article “Issues to Consider Before Choosing A Mate.” Then choose wisely. Here is a link to this article.