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Genesis 26

Isaac and Abimelech (26:1–35)

Since water was such a scarce commodity in that semi-arid region, it was natural that the local people would show their hostility to Isaac by depriving him of water. They blocked off the wells that Abraham had dug (verse 15) and to which Abraham had a legal right (Genesis 21:25–31).

Wherever Isaac moved, the local people disputed his right to the water. Finally the Lord appeared to him and said, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you” (verse 24). The assurance of God’s presence was the greatest of all the covenant promises (Matthew 28:20). In gratitude, Isaac built an altar to the Lord, just as his father had done before him (Genesis 12:7).

26–33 As if to confirm the Lord’s assurance to Isaac, Abimelech came to visit him to make a treaty of peace. Abimelech clearly recognized that the Lord was with Isaac (verse 28), just as He had promised. By making a treaty with Isaac, this Gentile king sought to share in Isaac’s blessing; in this way the promise that Abraham’s offspring would bring blessing to all nations was beginning to come true (Genesis 22:18).

As we reflect on Isaac’s life, we see a man who from his birth was the beneficiary of the promises of God—so much so that even a Gentile king could recognize it. So many of the world’s people pursue happiness and prosperity without regard for God; they give no credence to spiritual realities. If they temporarily succeed in life, they give themselves the credit. These are the Esaus of the world; they prefer the pleasures of earth to the blessings of heaven. They would rather fill their bellies than feed their souls; their god is their stomach; their destiny is destruction (Philippians 3:19).

34–35 Esau married two Hittite women; the Hittites were one of the Canaanite tribes living in the land of Canaan (Genesis 10:15). The Canaanites were known for their ungodliness, and God did not wish His covenant people to intermarry with them. Thus once again Esau demonstrated that he was unfit to inherit the blessings of the covenant—both because he married two wives and also because they were Hittites.

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