Remaining Faithful at Gerar
“1 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2 The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring[a] all nations on earth will be blessed,[b] 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” 6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.” Genesis 26:1-6 NIV
This new year I’ll start with a confession. There are more times than I’d like to admit that I want to quit. When my job gets difficult, I want to quit. When the church makes a decision I don’t agree with, I feel like quitting. When getting up to exercise becomes harder to do, I feel like quitting. Isaac, in today’s verses, teaches me the importance of being faithful in my seasons at Gerar.
Isaac learned in Genesis 26 the important lesson of “staying.” As chapter 26 begins, a famine hits the land and Isaac wants to move onto a new place to live in order to get a fresh new start. He probably thought, “Whew! Things are sure difficult here in Gerar now, but Egypt sure looks good. Egypt has enough food. Egypt has enough resources. Egypt has enough jobs. Things would surely work out better for me if I moved to Egypt.” Before he ups his family and relocates, God appears to Isaac and reveals something to him. “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham.”
I wonder if Isaac doubted God and tried to justify himself. “God I have done my best to follow You, and here I am in the middle of a famine! God, this isn’t how I thought things should be. I thought things would be better here in Gerar than they are. Surely things would be better if I left and went to Egypt. The money is better there, the job stability, the retirement benefits, and most of all, they have food! God, if you really wanted me here, why is there a famine? Why now? Why here? Why me?”
But God speaks to Isaac and tells him to remain in Gerar (or the land of the Philistines). God does not call Isaac to the land of comfort or to a place where things come easy to him. Instead God calls Isaac to remain faithful where he is. God does not promise prosperity or stability. God does not offer comfort, position, popularity, or money. God simply says, “I will be with you and I will bless you.” For the faithful man of God, that must always be enough. Simply to know that God is with me and that He will bless me.
There are too many times in my life that God has placed me in my own Gerar, but I have instead left determined to move onto better and more exciting opportunities in Egypt. I am not saying that God never wants people to move or to relocate, but I believe that Genesis teaches me that there are times that I need to be faithful in the season I am in regardless of what is going on around me. There are times when God calls me to move on from a season in my life, but I must learn, as Isaac learned, that there are definitely times when God wants me to stay, despite the challenges around me. There are those times in life when God calls me to be faithful at Gerar rather than running to Egypt. Although the season may be difficult and the resources are scarce, God calls me to remain and to be faithful. Although the economy looks poor, expenses are high, and income stays low, God calls me to remain and be faithful. There are no grand promises except, “I will be with you and I will bless you.”
This says that I need to want His presence and His blessing, more than I want my way and my own possessions. Isaac wanted God’s promises and blessings more than he wanted anything else. I must do likewise.
Verse 12-15 shows me the result of contending and enduring for God.
“12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.” Genesis 26:12-15
Genesis shows me that sometimes the Isaac had to work for the promises and blessings of God (as he had to plant the crops). It also shows me that those same promises and blessings of God are just waiting on the just on the other side of my obedience and faithfulness to Him. There were many quitting points between for Isaac between verses 6 and 12. I must say that I am not sure of the timeframe between verses 6 and 12. It could have been a few months or a few years, but in verse 12, it is obvious that God is coming through on His promises.
What if Isaac had bailed out during verse 7 when others questioned him about his wife? What if Isaac had moved to Egypt after he had lied to Abimelek? After all, lying to a chief official must have been an embarrassing failure to say the least. Would he still receive the same blessings? The truth is that he probably would not have. Isaac was blessed because he endured for the promises of God and contended for the presence of God.
Too many times God’s people, myself included, end up leaving Gerar before we experience the blessings and promises of God. I believe that this is the year to remain at Gerar and to be blessed!