God’s Promises Provide Enduring Strength
“I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” Genesis 26:24
When famine swept through Canaan, many people headed to Egypt to find food. Isaac traveled to Gerar, the Philistines’ capital city. Perhaps he intended to go on to Egypt because God warned him, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you” (Genesis 26:2–3).
Isaac obeyed and stayed. So all was well, right?
First, Isaac lied about his relationship with his wife, Rebekah. After the Philistine king forced Isaac to tell the truth, Isaac stayed in the land, and God blessed him with bountiful harvests and wealth (26:12–13). The Philistines, however, grew jealous and said, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful” (v. 16). Isaac then moved to an area where his father, Abraham, had dug wells. But the inhabitants quarreled with Isaac over the new wells he dug.
Three times Isaac moved, searching for a place where he and his household could live in peace (26:19–22). Finally, he returned to Beersheba, where his parents had lived for many years. That night, God assured Isaac that he had settled in the right place. In Beersheba, he would prosper (vv. 23–24).
Despite some failures, Isaac endeavored to obey God and to live at peace with others, but that didn’t guarantee a trouble-free life for him or his family. During those years of multiple relocations, Isaac may have wondered if appeasing his neighbors and attempting to obey God were worth the effort. But Isaac persevered anyway, and God eventually rewarded him with rest and blessing.
A series of setbacks, conflicts, or failures can make us wonder if following God is worthwhile. In those seasons, we may not even want to get out of bed in the morning. But God calls us to persevere. If we call out to him, he will respond with a message of encouragement: “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”
On days when I battle fear, the promise of God’s presence motivates me to get out of bed and move forward with the tasks he has given me. What will his promise help you achieve today?
Read Genesis 26:1–11. Contrast God’s promise in verses 2–6 with Isaac’s actions in verses 7–11. Why do you think Isaac yielded to fear? What prompts you to yield to fear in spite of God’s promises?
Read Genesis 26:26–33. Why does the Philistine king, Abimelech, come to visit Isaac? What does that suggest about the influence of Isaac’s previous dealings with Abimelech and the Philistines in chapter 26?
Isaac didn’t have the teaching of Romans 12:9–21, but how did he live out those biblical principles? Which of those principles prove difficult for you to live out from time to time?
The events of Genesis 26 are a time of testing for Isaac. What does James say about testing in James 1:1-18? What have you learned about God and yourself during times of testing?
Denise K. Loock
This devotion is part of our Do Not Be Afraid series.