As our journey with Abraham closes, we embark next on Genesis 26 with Isaac. Genesis 26 is a really interesting chapter that basically consists of Isaac retracing his father’s steps. There is again famine in the Promise Land. Isaac moves and settles in the land of the Philistines – just like Abraham. When the Philistines take notice of the beautiful Rebekah, Isaac resorts to deception to save his own skin – just like Abraham! (Parents, take note! Your children will follow the example that you set for them.)
But we also watch as Isaac follows in his father’s steps of faith. You may have noticed that Genesis 26 has a lot of wells in it. I find these wells particularly fascinating. Verse 18 reads, “Isaac 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” (NLT). As I think about wells from a modern-day, life-application perspective, I think of digging down into the origins of our faith – of tapping into the legacy our early Christian parents and pioneers have left us. Wells also symbolize drilling down and setting our roots deep into our own personal relationship and communion with God. Of course, the enemy tries to stop up these wells, doesn’t he? But we are to keep building new wells and digging deeper and deeper until our soul’s thirst is at last satisfied by “living” water.
As we all know, Isaac made some mistakes in his life. I get annoyed, for instance, that this whole “lying that your wife is your sister” business keeps popping up – not just twice but three times in Genesis! What in the world is their problem? Why doesn’t God handle things a little more sternly? But I really like what Pastor Bob Deffinbaugh has to say when he points out that the deception is really just a “symptomatic sin and not the root sin” (Bible.org). Deception, in these cases, is merely a side-effect of a root problem of fear. “This fear was the product of an inadequate concept of God.” And that’s what I love so much about Genesis 26:24. After Isaac has finally returned to the heart of the Promise Land following a really, really long detour, God appears to Isaac that very same night and confirms a simple but amazing promise: “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you.” You see, God doesn’t punish and condemn Isaac for his mistake. Instead, He responds by re-introducing Himself to Isaac! God introduces Himself as a Protector and a Promise-Keeper who desires a personal relationship with Isaac.
“So Isaac 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” (vs. 25). Isaac responds with worship, by calling on the name of the Lord. Up to this point, I think Isaac has known God as the God of his father Abraham, but now Jehovah is his God – the God of Isaac! And then, guess what. Isaac digs another well. This well will be named Beersheeba – that is, “Well of Oath” or “Well of Promise,” forever reminding Isaac and us of a God who is an eternal Covenant-Keeper.