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Never Give Up - Isaac Digs Another Well

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Genesis 26:17-22 (New King James Version)

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 quarrelled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, because they quarrelled with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarrelled 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.”
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In Genesis 26 we read the encouraging account of Isaac's experience in a place called Gerar - in the land of a people called the Philistines. There was a famine in the land of Canaan and so Isaac went to Gerar. The Lord promised him that if he stayed there for a while instead of travelling to Egypt, He would bless him and his descendants (v4). Isaac obeyed, and God blessed him indeed. Verse 12 states that "Isaac sowed seed in that land and received in the same year one hundred times as much as he planted and the Lord favoured him with blessings." God is always faithful to His word. Although Isaac initially made some mistakes in Gerar (v7-10), this did not stop God from blessing Isaac for his obedience.
However verse 14 states that the Philistines envied Isaac. In the midst of God blessing Isaac, those around him became jealous. They must have thought to themselves "this man isn't even one of us, he is a foreigner, so how comes he has so much?" They didn't understand that Isaac's wealth wasn't from his own efforts as such, but it was from his God. In fact, the envy was such that Abimelech - King of the Philistines - ordered Isaac to move away as he said "you are much mightier than we." This situation teaches us a couple of simple truths. Firstly, when God blesses you, some people around you or associated with you may become envious. Secondly some people don't mind being friends or acquainted with you as long as they are (in their opinion) stronger than you in some way or at least equal to you - whether it be financially, spiritually or otherwise. However as soon as God blesses you and promotes you to another level, they can't handle it. This is what happened with Isaac and the Philistines.
So Isaac moves away - no fight, no fuss. He puts up no resistance whatsoever. Now he is in a new place, and he needs water for this flocks and herds, so his servants dig wells. However we see that as soon as they did so, the Philistine shepherds from Gerar quarrelled with them and made a claim to the wells. Notice, they did not dig for water themselves, but as soon as Isaac's shepherds found water, the claimed the wells! Isaac at this point could have given up, but he did not. He tried again, and his servants dug up another well. However the Philistine shepherds still opposed him. Isaac decided to try yet again, but this time Isaac did not dig the 3rd well in the same place. He moved away. The scripture doesn't say how far he moved, but he did. What I love about Isaac is that he wasn't afraid to move on and try again. He didn't waste energy fighting. He didn't grumble over the fact that his servants did all the hard work of digging the wells but others were benefitting from it. This time, he persevered. His servants dug, and the Philistines left him alone. Isaac made an adjustment by changing his location, and God gave him the victory.
It's the same with us. At times if we are not getting the breakthrough, it may be a signal that God wants us to make some kind of adjustment or change in order to triumph. It may not be a physical/geographical move as with Isaac, but it may be a change in thinking or attitude etc. From Isaac we can also learn that once we make up our minds not to give up, there comes a point when God steps in and gives us us rest from the enemy. Isaac kept on digging and eventually the Philistine shepherds could no longer keep on contending!
Isaac was so wealthy and blessed. Yet some may think that him being blessed would shelter him from conflict, opposition and struggle. This kind of viewpoint is not biblical. Isaac had to overcome obstacles as did many other great people of faith in the Bible. Actually, God's blessings often attract some level of opposition because Satan hates seeing God's people blessed and happy in any way, so he will oppose in various ways. At the same time, God will allow Satan to do so, because ultimately as we learn to overcome difficulties and win battles in life, our faith grows stronger and we become more like Christ.
Let me end this article of a very quick note! I observed something in the writing this piece. I realised that Isaac overcame a generational struggle. If you read Genesis 20 and Genesis 21:25-34 along with Genesis 26:18 you will see something very interesting. Isaac went through EXACTLY the same issues as his father Abraham - the same issues with his wife in Gerar and the same struggle about the wells with Abimelech and his servants. However Isaac overcame a situation his father did not. In Genesis 21: 25-34, Abraham suffered the injustice of having the wells he dug seized by Abimelech's servants. However we do not read where (for one reason or another) Abraham persevered and got his wells back. He complained and reasoned with Abimelech about it, but that was all. Now in Genesis 26, Isaac faces the same fight as his father over the wells. However Isaac goes one step further. He not only contended, but he kept on digging until he overcame Abimelech's men and successfully had abundant wells with no contention. This is a lesson to us, especially us men - that we will often have to overcome situations our fathers faced. It may be big, it may be small, but we as sons will have to face something our Dad did - whether we like it or not, whether we know it or not. I can tell you from my own experience that this is true. However we can take courage to know that through God's blessing and grace, each generation can continue overcoming and persevering so that each generation can be stronger and more victorious than the one that preceded it.

 

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