God’s Enduring Faithfulness in Times of our Periodic Impatience.

Our culture has an obsession with greatness that often leaves us normal people asking, if I can’t be great, is my life really worth anything? Yet there is greatness in spiritual simplicity. The greatest thing we could do is to know Jesus Christ, walk with Him, and serve in His local church for the Gospel’s sake. Let God be great through your obedience.

Isaac was a simple man, mostly known for being the son of Abraham and the father of Jacob – yet God used him to perpetuate an eternal seed.

Regression (verses 1-11)

Isaac faced the second of 13 famines mentioned in Genesis and started to react like his dad, turning to a pagan king instead of God when he was hurting. God stopped Isaac on his way to Egypt and spoke to him in mercy. Isaac didn’t go any further, but he succumbed to another temptation. Focused on protecting himself, he lied to the Philistines about his beautiful wife just as his father had. When his lie was revealed, he learned that others are always watching us, and sometimes pagans or the unsaved can stand more astutely than we.

There are several lessons we can learn from Isaac’s regression:

  • Saints do regress at times – but then they forsake their sin and are renewed to keep walking by faith.
  • Children have a tendency to repeat the mistakes of their parents.
  • Physical appearance can be the source of many temptations, especially in a culture obsessed with measuring beauty.
  • Don’t forget the difference between the temporary and the eternal. God reminded Isaac that his life is just a sojourn on earth (verse 3).
  • We can become unreasonably attached to material possessions. It is much better to love God and His Word, even more than our necessary food (Job 23:12).
  • When trials come, our faith is tested, and weaknesses are exposed. Sometimes others see our faults, to our shame. One of God’s purposes in trials is to expose our darkness in order to get rid of it.

In a moment of fear, Isaac went the wrong direction, sought the wrong help from the wrong person, and was caught in the same lie as his father – all the while, gradually losing sight of the spiritual simplicity the Lord expected him to embrace. In mercy, God re-spoke His covenant promise to Isaac while he was regressing.

Renewal (verses 12-25)

As God blessed Isaac, he experienced persecution. His heart responded righteously, and he inched his way back to the place God wanted him. By verse 22, his perspective has shifted from “me” to “us.” In Beersheba, God appears to Isaac again, speaking grace in his obedience. Isaac’s entourage of people is able to worship together, settle, and be provided for.

Digging a well staked a claim to the land and provided for one’s family. Wells were also ways to perpetuate culture. Isaac perpetuated the spiritual culture of God’s covenant people by establishing them in the land God had promised.

Reward (verses 26-35)

Back in the right place, Isaac experiences the rewards of obedience. He enjoys God’s presence, peace, provision, and protection.

The chapter ends with one of the hardest trials a Christian parent can face – a child walking away from the faith. In God’s providence, the children even of righteous, faithful parents can leave the faith, and blame the faults of their parents. James 1:13-15 says it is our own lusts that tempt us into sin. We cannot blame our sin on the failures of others. The same grace that is sufficient to renew them after a failure is also sufficient to keep us.

Application Points

  • Have you been caught up in our culture’s obsession with greatness? God values simple obedience. Just continue to know Jesus Christ, walk with Him, and serve in His local church for the Gospel’s sake. Let God be great through your obedience.
  • Resist the temptation to protect yourself instead of trusting God’s promises. If you have regressed, return to God’s intention for you and experience His blessing again!
  • Have you made excuses for your own sin by blaming the failures of others? Read James 1 and recognize that each person is responsible for their own life. Turn back to God and receive His grace – then extend grace to the person you’ve blamed!

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore:
  • Hebrews 4:12 – The power of God’s words.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:12 – Be alert against temptation.
  • Psalm 78:19 – Never doubt that God can provide for your needs.
  • Romans 8:35 – No trial can separate us from God’s love.
A Hymn to Encourage: “Come Thou Fount”

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come.
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at Home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

Quotes to Ponder:

Every event of every day is a test. Feast or famine, life or death, every encounter, every word, every glance tests us for good or for evil.