17So Isaac moved away to the Gerar Valley, where he set up their tents and settled down. 18He 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.19Isaac’s servants also dug in the Gerar Valley and discovered a well of fresh water. 20But 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”). 21Isaac’s men then dug another well, but again there was a dispute over it. So Isaac named it Sitnah (which means “hostility”). 22Abandoning 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 the Lord has created enough space for us to prosper in this land.” Genesis 26:17-22
Between the promise and the provision, there are problems. Between the well and the water are arguments and hostility. Before we can get to the wide-open spaces of grace we must face the conflict in front of us. Isaac was now the head of the home and the leader of the family after Abraham’s death. God told Isaac to stay in Gerar permanently. Why do you think Isaac may have wanted to move on? Why do we miss out on what God has for us? It’s usually two things- 1. History: When Abraham lived there years ago (Gen 20:1), Abimelech, the king of Gerar, had a run-in with him because he lied about his wife Sarah being his sister. God was able to redeem this situation but it could be that this didn’t sit well with the local people of Gerar. Why else would the locals fill up Abraham’s wells when water was so hard to come by? 2. Hard Work: God was asking Isaac to set up a shop and care for his family in a place with no walls in the middle of the desert. Would Isaac trust God for provision despite the impossible situation? Not only did Isaac need to dig past the bitterness of his history but he also needed to work past the hardship of his present situation. God led him to walk here and now he had to work here. Instead of provision coming in on a silver platter God was handing Isaac a shovel. Gerar wasn’t the first place Isaac had faced the cruelty of having all their hard work sabotaged. In vs 14 of this chapter the Philistines had filled up their family well due to jealousy at how blessed Isaac was in crops and herds. God had provided for him then and He would do it again. When we can face History and Hardship we will see the Holy Moments: After they had re-dug Abraham’s well it was time to move into something new. Isaac’s family had increased in size to the point that what worked before wouldn’t work anymore. They needed some freshwater. They needed a new well. In the Hebrew text, the Scriptures indicate that the words “springing water” here literally mean alive or living water. God was providing life-sustaining water for Isaac's family, servants, and herds but they still had to do the digging.
We live in an age of entitlement. We feel like instead of serving we are deserving of having it all handed to us on a silver platter. Isaac could have had this attitude. He was, after all, the son of Abraham and was, by all standards of measure, quite wealthy. Yet, instead of waiting for special privileges he grabbed a shovel. Instead of taking the easy route, he re-dug the wells in the land of his enemies. Instead of running away at the first, second, and third sign of resistance he stood strong and kept digging. A lot of times we think resistance means we’ve missed it, when, as is the case here, resistance was part of the process of faith. Entitlement offers a short cut to sacrifice. It whispers convincingly into my ear, “You deserve it easier. You deserve it better. Why should you have to wait?” Today I want to learn from the man who laid himself down as a sacrifice to God on Mt. Moriah. The Christian faith isn’t for the faint of heart. The Christian faith requires a shovel. Part of what we are called to do is to redeem the past by re-digging old wells through reconciliation and forgiveness. Part of what we are called to do is to take new ground by digging new wells. We do this through being obedient to bring the water of life to a world that seems to be growing in resistance to God’s Word while simultaneously dying of thirst. The bottom line is that this spiritual breakthrough can’t happen automatically. It will happen supernaturally as each of us grab a shovel and begin to dig deeper into the Lord than ever before.
I thank You, Lord, in advance, for the wide-open spaces of grace You will provide for us. When the challenges of life feel like they are closing in when the work we have done over so many years seems to have caved in when the places You are leading us to stand to require pressing in I will grab a shovel and keep digging into You! Forgive me for any place where I have walked in entitlement. I’m moving from deserving to serving. Entitlement is about my title and I lay that down. I will go where You’re calling me to go and I will do what You’re calling me to do. There’s a lot of hard work ahead, but I’m all in.