Today, we're going to return to our verse-by-verse study in the book of Genesis, and we're going to look today at some events that took place in the life of Abraham's son, Isaac, after Abraham's death in Genesis 25. We're going to see some people mistreat Isaac. We're going to see some people be mean to Isaac, and we're going to see how God used even the most rotten things that people did to him to get Isaac.
Isaac exactly where God wanted him so that God could bless him in the highest. And then, as followers of Christ, we're going to talk about how this very same dynamic is true in our lives today. And we're going to talk about how you and I need to worry far less about how people are treating us and how we need to worry far more about trusting God to be bigger than how people are treating us. So are you ready? All right.
I don't know if you need this, but I do. So come along, and let's allow God to speak to our hearts. We're in Genesis chapter 26, and we started verse 1. Now, there was a famine in the land besides the earlier famine of Abraham's time, which was in Genesis 12. And Isaac went to the city of Gerar to Abimelech, the king of the Philistines. And the Lord appeared to Isaac and said, Do not go down to Egypt, which is where Isaac was headed. And he said to him, Stay in this land that is in Philistine country for a while, and I will be with you, and I will bless you. So Isaac stayed in Gerar. And Abimelech said to all the people, anyone who molests this man or his wife shall surely be put to death. Now, let me show you a map.
We'll go back and show you a map of where Gerar is today. And you can see it's near the coast of the Mediterranean in the land of the Philistines where, of course, Goliath was from, etc. Okay, verse 12. Then Isaac planted crops in the land, and the same year reaped 100 fold because the Lord blessed him. And he became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. Now let's stop and ask the question, Do you and I see the problem that's developing here?
Do you see it? All right, well, the problem is that Isaac is starting to put down roots here among the Philistines. God had told him to stay there for a while, not permanently. Because, remember, the Philistines did not know the Lord. The Philistines were not godly people. They sacrificed their children to their idols. They practiced sacred prostitution in their temples.
And yet here Isaac is becoming dangerously intertwined with them, owning land among them, raising crops among them, participating in the local economy right alongside of them. And soon his sons would begin marrying their daughters, and their daughters would begin leading his son's hearts away from the Lord. Now the Bible, Moses warned the Israelites about this. Deuteronomy 7. Moses said, Do not intermarry with them, the people of the land.
Do not give your daughters to their sons, and do not take their daughters for your sons, for they will turn your sons away from following me to serve other gods, and the Lord's anger will burn against you. And in fact, this very thing happened after the Exodus and after the Israelites entered the Promised Land. Look what Psalm 106 said happened. It said, They, the Israelites, mingled with the peoples and adopted their customs. They worshipped their idols, which became a snare to them. They, the Israelites, sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons, to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood. They, the Israelites, filled themselves.
They defiled themselves by what they did, and they prostituted themselves by their deeds. Look, therefore, the Lord was angry with his people. My point, friends, is that Isaac right now is at a point of great spiritual danger. All the lands that he's accumulated and the flocks that he's accumulated and the wealth that he's accumulated and the economic power that he's accumulated, human nature being what it is. God knew that Isaac was never leaving there all by himself. Do we all see this?
Everybody together? Okay. Now, the question then is, how is God going to get Isaac away from the Philistines and back into wholly separated living in the Promised Land where God's blessing can be the fullest on Isaac? How's he going to do that? Well, the answer is that God's going to use other people's bad treatment of Isaac to move him. Watch. Verse 14.
Don't miss this now. And Isaac had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. So the Philistines stopped up all Isaac's wells, filling them with dirt. Now, not only was this just a rotten thing to do, but it also meant economic ruin. I mean, if you've got no water, you got no crops.
If you've got no water, you have no flocks. This was a formula for economic disaster for all of his wells to be filled with dirt. And then after they did that to him, the king himself, no doubt bowing to political pressure from these people who were envious of Isaac. He also turned on Isaac.
Verse 16. Then Abimelech said to Isaac, move away from us. So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the valley of Gerar. So Isaac moved, but the problem is he didn't move far enough. He was still in Philistine country. He was still in spiritual danger.
So watch. Isaac's servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. But the herdsman of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsman and said, the water is ours. So Isaac named the well Esik, which in Hebrew means dispute, and he moved even farther away from Gerar. His men dug another well there.
And the same thing happened. The people of Gerar followed him and said, this is our water too. And so he named that well Sitnah, which in Hebrew means opposition.
And he moved even farther away. Finally, Isaac arrived back in the land of Canaan, back around where his father had lived. Look, verse 22, Isaac moved on and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it.
So he named it Rehoboth, which means room, saying now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in this land. Then from there, Isaac went to Beersheba. Let me show you a map and show you where Beersheba is.
It's back in the promised land. It was in Beersheba where his father Abraham lived. It was in Beersheba where Abraham was able to be set apart from all the ungodly practices of the Canaanites and the Philistines. It was in Beersheba where God had made him all the great promises that he had made him as part of the Abrahamic covenant. And now Isaac was back where God wanted him, where it was spiritually safe for him, and where God could now unleash his full blessing on Isaac. Watch, that very night when Isaac got to Beersheba, the Lord appeared to Isaac and said, Do not fear, for I am with you and I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham. So Isaac built an altar there in Beersheba and called on the name of the Lord. There he pitched his tent and there his servants dug a well. And by the way, friends, Isaac never left Beersheba again for the rest of his life.
So can we summarize? How did God get Isaac back to Beersheba? Well, the answer is God used people, the people of Gerar, their jealousies, their betrayals, their evil treatment, their meannesses.
God used them like little tugboats, if you can understand what I'm saying, to just get Isaac's ship docked exactly in the birth where God wanted Isaac's ship. Do we all see that? Yeah. Okay. Now, do you think the people of Gerar realized that God was using them to do this for Isaac?
Do you? No, I don't think so either. Of course not. They were just being jealous. They were just being mean. They were just being unkind.
They were just being spiteful. But was God in control the entire time? Was he?
You betcha he was. And that's the whole point that I want us to see tonight. You got it? All right. Now, we're going to stop at this point and we're going to ask our most important question of the evening. So are you ready? Okay. Come on now. It's been a couple of weeks. So this is our, you know, back to church, back to lawn.
So what? Ready? Are we ready? All right. Here we go at all of our campuses.
One, two, three. Oh, beautiful. You say, Lon, I appreciate what you're saying here. I do. And I understand what you're saying, but I'm not 100% sure how it applies to me. Well, friends, it applies to me and you because God still uses this very same methodology today to move us as followers of Christ where he wants us to go. You know, Moshe Rosen, the founder of Jews for Jesus, was one of my good friends. Of course, he's with the Lord now. And I knew Moshe for 25 years and Jews for Jesus that he founded, in my opinion, is one of the most innovative and effective Jewish missions ever founded.
And it's been my privilege, as a matter of fact, to serve on their board for 28 years now. But what you may not know is that Moshe had been a missionary with another Jewish mission prior to his founding Jews for Jesus in 1973. In the early 1970s, when he was with this other mission, a fellow missionary in that organization set out on a crusade to discredit Moshe. He started spreading untrue accusations. This missionary started undermining Moshe's credibility and his integrity. This other missionary began sowing distrust and doubt about Moshe in the leadership of that mission. You say a fellow Christian did this to him? Oh, yes, my friends, some of God's biggest tugboats are fellow Christians. Trust me. Yeah.
Mm hmm. Anyway, as a result, Moshe got fired and he hadn't done anything wrong. But if that hadn't happened, here's what I want you to see. Moshe would never have been in San Francisco in 1973. Moshe would never have met up with a small group of Jewish hippies that had come to Christ who were hanging out in San Francisco. If he hadn't been fired unjustly, Moshe would never have organized them and began taking them on the streets and on the college campuses in and around San Francisco to share Christ.
Moshe would never have come up with some of the innovative things that he really invented to reach Jewish people that no one had ever tried before, all of which turned into Jews for Jesus in 1973. As a matter of fact, the way Jews for Jesus got its name was there was a group of those early Jewish believers that were on the campus of San Francisco State University and somebody in a very disparaging way as they came marching along said, oh, here come those Jews for Jesus. And Moshe said, wow, that's the greatest name I ever heard. And that's where the name came from. He didn't make it up. Somebody making fun of the group made it up. Isn't that great?
That's where the name came from. And Moshe said to me once, he said, you know, Lon, he said, looking back, getting fired, even though it was unjust, was one of the best things that ever happened to me. End of quote. Now, you said, well, Lon, that's a great story. But, you know, it's easy for a guy like Moshe to say that to you 20 years later after he's able to understand how it all worked out. It's a lot harder to say this when you're in the middle of being treated like this by people.
Well, that's true. This is why Second Corinthians five seven says we as followers of Christ walk by faith and not by sight. Walking by faith means I don't need to understand everything that's happening to me. What I need to understand is that my sovereign God is in utter control of everything that is happening to me, steering me right where he wants me. What I need to understand is Romans eight twenty eight, where God promises that he is working all things together for my good, including what people are doing to me.
The good things, the bad things, the ugly things, even though I can't understand it yet, that God is keeping his word to me. In other words, walking by faith means taking God at his word. Listen, with no visible proof, except that God promised me.
You got what I'm saying? It means taking God at his word with no visible proof that it's going to come true, except that God promised me. That's walking by faith. You know, in John Chapter four, we have a great example of this, one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Once again, the Bible says Jesus visited Cana, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. And when this man learned that Jesus had arrived, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son who was close to death. Now, the secret to understanding the beauty and the miracle of this story is to look at a map and to realize that Jesus was in Cana.
This man's son was lying ill in Capernaum. And between the two towns, there's approximately 30 kilometers, about 20 miles. The point, this is critical to what happens next, is that Jesus and his boy were 20 miles apart. You got it?
Okay. Verse 50. And Jesus replied to the man, You may go, your son will live. I love the rest of this verse. And the man, say the next five words with me.
What do they say? The man what? Took Jesus at his word.
Say it again. Took Jesus at his word and departed and headed home. And while he was still on the way, on the way where? On the way back to Capernaum, on the way home, his servants met him with the news that his son was living. And when he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, the fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour. Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, your son will live. And thus he and his whole household believe. What a great story. And the key to this whole passage is in verse 50, the words, the man, what did he do?
Say it again. Took Jesus at his word. How do we know the man did this? Well, because he turned and went home. He turned and headed home with no visible proof that his son would be okay, with no tangible proof that his son would be okay, except Jesus's promise.
But the man believed that promise. All he had was Jesus's word, but he took Jesus at his word and turned in faith to go home. My friends, this is what walking by faith is about for you and me today. It means taking God at his word that he will work all things together for your good, even though you can't see it, even though you can't understand how he's going to do it yet in time and space. We've got two choices. We can take Jesus at his word or we can doubt him.
That's it. And I want to urge you, take Jesus at his word. He's never broken a promise to anybody else.
He's not going to break a promise to you. Got it? Do we got it?
All right. And so, let me say in conclusion, you know that person who's really making life miserable for you? You know that person that's really making life tough for you?
Maybe it's a boss or a neighbor or a relative or a member of your nuclear family or a coworker, whoever. Well, maybe even on the human level it looks like they're winning right now. Hey, don't worry about that. Don't you worry about what it looks like right now. God is not finished yet.
Don't you worry about it. When God finishes, God will have kept his word to you. I promise you that. So when you pass that person this week, just remember that they are only God's little tugboats. You know the little picture we had of the tugboat? Yeah, just look at them and imagine that little picture and say, God's little tugboat. You don't know you're God's little tugboat, but that's okay.
You don't need to know it. You are just God's little tugboat. That's all you are. And all of that meanness and all of that spitefulness and all of that hatred and all of that malice and all of that gossip and all of that scheming that you're doing. All you're doing is getting me right where God wants me to go just like he did Isaac. So praise God for you.
And friend, listen. They don't understand they're doing this for you. If they understood they were doing it for you, they'd dislike you so much they'd start treating you nice. They don't know they're doing it. Ah, but you know they're doing it, don't you?
You know they're doing it, don't you? Because you have the promise of God that he's using even their ill treatment of you to get you right where God wants you. So when you see them this week, there's no reason to hate them, my friend. There's no reason to resent them. There's no reason to fantasize about getting them back.
No, no, no. You don't need to do that. They're helping you. Just kind of toot toot and go about your business. Give them a big smile and just say praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. And you go about your business and you do your business of just obeying Christ and God will do his business of using these people to get you into the place of the richest blessing he can get you. Do we understand? He did it for Isaac.
He'll do it for you. Let's pray together. Dear Heavenly Father, I don't think there's anything more frustrating than to be ill treated by other people. I don't think there's anything more hurtful than that. And I don't think there's anything that makes us feel more helpless as followers of Jesus than to have somebody treat us like that and to know that we should not go down and mud wrestle with them.
It's frustrating, Lord, to feel like sometimes they're winning and they're coming out on top. Oh, but God, thank you for your word tonight that shows us those people of Gerar thought they were coming out on top and all they were doing was putting Isaac into the place of the richest blessing of God. So, Lord, help us see the people around us that same way. Help us to remember that you are bigger than any treatment that people give us and that you are sovereign and your plan will be worked out, Lord, and you'll use them to do it. So give us the right attitude of looking past their real treatment and just saying, Lord, thank you.
Their pawns and instruments in your hand. Help us see them that way and believe that your word that you're going to turn them into good for us is going to come true. Encourage our hearts tonight, Lord. We need it and lift our spirits and fortify us for living for you this week. And we pray these things in Jesus name. And what did God's people say? Amen. Thank you.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-13 23:20:22 / 2023-03-13 23:28:51 / 8