Included in Blessing

Genesis 26:26-33

26Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”

28They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.”

30Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.

32That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.

Introduction

When you hear the word “blessing,” what comes to you mind? Practical things, financial, health, safety, good relationship, employment, good grades, friendship, career advancement, successful business, popularity, and everything! Those are the many things we may pray and expect from God.

When God blesses us, He is gracious to include even unexpected things that we may not ask from Him but He deems essential to our testimony as believers.

Not many people have sufficient idea about blessings that come from God.

Receiving blessings from God was practically illustrated when the Queen of Sheba visited King Solomon. She came from the land of Sheba (present day Yemen) to Jerusalem. After listening to King Solomon she gave him gifts.

It says in 2 Chronicles 9:9, 9Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. There had never been such spices as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

One talent is approximately 34 kilograms. The current (year 2018) gold price per kilogram is more than CAD$53,000. So basically, the Queen of Sheba gave King Solomon 4,080 kilograms of gold which is worth CAD$216,240,000.

In this generation, she must be multi-billionaire to give such amount of gift.

Three verses later it says in 2 Chronicles 9:12, 12King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for; he gave her more than she had brought to him. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.

Someone estimated in 2016 that King Solomon was worth more than two trillions US dollars in today’s economy. It was no surprise that he gave more than he received from the Queen of Sheba.

King Solomon represented God’s wisdom and generosity. The Queen of Sheba represented believers seeking God’s wisdom, and her response exemplified how believers should respond to God’s wisdom. When King Solomon gave more than what he received from the Queen of Sheba, it represented God giving us more blessing more than we can give when we give God His tithes.

The Lord Jesus said in Luke 11:28, 31, 28“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” 31The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now something greater than Solomon is here.

The Bible records God’s instructions of what we should do to have access to the abundance of His grace. We are challenged to believe and obey His word.

The total result of listening, believing, and then putting into practice the instruction of God is blessedness. Such blessedness ss practically illustrated when the Queen of Sheba received more from King Solomon than the gift she gave him. God can bless us more than we can give Him.

We are blessed when we obey God. Actually, the Lord promised us to receive more blessing if we give Him His tithes. To believe that we will be blessed when we hear and obey God’s word exposes the magnitude of our faith in Him. What are included in God’s promise of blessings?

When God promised to bless Isaac, He included peace, picnic, and provision.

1. Peace

26Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”

28They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.”

Previously, Isaac went to live in Gerar during the famine, and God blessed him there. King Abimelek saw that Isaac was growing wealthy and told him to move out of Gerar. Did King Abimelek assume that Isaac was blessed because he was in Gerar? Did he suspect that Isaac’s wealth comes from Gerar.

Wherever Isaac settled, God blessed him as He promised. King Abimelek may have heard that the wealth of Isaac continued to grow even in Beersheba. Perhaps, some Philistines who were residents of Gerar went to Isaac and bought their food supply or even cattle and sheep from him.

King Abimelek was wise to seek peace with Isaac because Beersheba was just few miles away from Gerar. So, he anticipated that Isaac may continue to accumulate more servants, and he was scared that Isaac might invade Gerar. He acknowledged that the Lord was with Isaac, and God blessed Isaac indeed.

He knew from experience that it was futile not to fear God. He may have remembered when God warned him so that he sought peace treaty with Abraham. Abimelek brought along with him Phicol, the commander of his army when he sought peace treaty with Abraham.

Many years later, Phicol was still the commander of his forces. Abimelek may have associated the loyalty of Phicol to him with having peace with Abraham, and he knew that Isaac was Abraham’s son. So, he presumed that having peace with Isaac also would probably have similar result of having peace with Abraham. He knew that God blessed both Abraham and Isaac.

When God blesses us, we do not need to worry about our safety. God can cause us to have peace even with those who were hostile to us before. We cannot escape from hostility but we can have peace included in God’s blessing when we decide to put into practice the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Christ answered when He was asked in John 6:28ff, 28 “What must we do to do the works God requires?” 29Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

The Lord Jesus corrected the concept of His listeners about God. Like most of us, we assume that God requires us to do something for Him when He gave His commandments. Indeed, commands require one to do something, ey?

In reality, there is nothing we can do on our own effort and human initiative that is acceptable to God, why? Even our righteousness is considered filthy rags or dirty napkins in the eyes of God. It teaches us in Isaiah 64:6, 6All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.

And, such reality has been modified when we accepted and believed in Christ as our Savior and Lord. How? The Holy Spirit empowers us to perform and do things acceptable to God. When we ignore the Lord and do things on our own, with our human effort and initiative, they become worthless before God.

The Lord Jesus declared that believing in Him is the work of God. Faith comes from God. Nobody would believe in Christ except those whom God has brought to Him. Jesus proclaimed in John 6:44, 44No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.

To believe in Christ is practically display in our obedience to His words. The Lord who gave His instruction in the Old Testament is the same Lord that gave His instruction in the New Testament so that we obey the whole Bible.

Since by human sinful nature we cannot fully obey God’s Law in the Old Testament, by His grace, the fulfillment of the Old Testament Laws will become a reality to us when we believe and accepted Christ as our Lord and Savior.

The Lord Jesus said in John 20:29, 29Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

God’s blessing includes peace and feasting or picnic if you would accept it.

2. Picnic

30Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.

Before Isaac was born, God instructed Abraham to name his son Isaac. God told Abraham and Sarah that they will have a child in their old age.

And, they laughed because they can hardly believe what God said. So, God instructed them to name their child Isaac. “Isaac” means “He laughs.”  Well, God wanted them to name their son Isaac not just for them to remember that they laughed when God told them that they will have a son, but the Lord may have intended that Isaac would experience much gladness in his life.

Truly, when King Abimelek came to seek peace treaty with him, Isaac accepted the proposition without malice. He held a feast for his visitors. The feast may have been held in an open air, so, they have picnic and celebrated their friendship. As a result, when King Abimelek and his retinue or group left Isaac, they were very much assured that there will peace between them.

International Peace Garden

If you want to have picnic or camping, you may consider visiting the International Peace Garden. The International Peace Garden located at the border of Canada and US was established as a living symbol and tribute to the historic fact that Canada and the United States of America have been at peace with each other for (now) more than 200 years.

The unveiling of a cairn, built of field stones gathered from nearby fields by students from both countries and situated right on the 49th parallel, to mark the creation of the International Peace Garden, took place on July 14th, 1932. An estimated crowd of 50,000 came to celebrate this momentous occasion.

The cairn reads; TO GOD IN HIS GLORY, we two nations dedicate this garden and pledge ourselves that as long as men shall live, we will not take up arms against one another.

At the International Peace Garden, there’s camp site where visitors from both sides of the border can have picnic. Picnic is great when there’s peace.

One can plan for picnic or prepare for elaborative feast but it is doubtful if one enjoys it if there’s no peace. We can only have total peace from God. Peace is not about the absence of problem. One may face challenges but still can have peace. Life on earth is stormy but we can have peace from Christ.

When God blesses us, we can have peace, picnic and provisions, too.

3. Provision

32That day Isaac’s servants came and told him about the well they had dug. They said, “We’ve found water!” 33He called it Shibah, and to this day the name of the town has been Beersheba.

The town has been named Beersheba ever since Abraham and King Abimelek had taken an oath not to harm each other. Similarly, Isaac and King Abimelek had taken an oath not to harm each other in Beersheba.

“Beersheba” is a combination of the Hebrew words “Beer” and “Sheba.”

“Beer” is a Hebrew word for “well” and “Sheba” is a Hebrew word for “seven.” In short, “Beersheba” means “well of seven.” The town of “Beersheba or well of seven” got its name when Abraham gave seven lambs to King Abimelek as a witness that Abraham excavated a well and found water in the desert of Beersheba.

On that same day, when Isaac and King Abimelek made a treaty of peace not to harm each other, Isaac’s servants excavated a well and they found water. Water must be very important because most part of Beersheba was desert.

And God provided water in the desert of Beersheba for Isaac and his household right after the peace treaty of Isaac and Abimelek was completed

Abundance of water is one of the most wonderful things to happen when it’s hot.

Heat Wave

As of this writing, it was reported that the summer heat wave that feels like 45 Celsius in the eastern part of Canada had more than 54 casualties. Humans, animals and plants need water to be refreshed during hot summer.

The demand of water in the desert may have caused Isaac and his house to rejoice when his servants found water. They may have even extended their feasting even after King Abimelek has left Beersheba.

Interestingly, it says in John 7:37-39, 37On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. 

Personally, do you believe that the Lord can refresh the thirst for practical needs? If so, then, before planning or deciding for practical aspects of life, it is very important to pray for wisdom from the Lord.

God allows good or bad things to happen as He rearranges, redirects or realigns everything for the betterment of our life. As we grow spiritually mature, we will find out that God’s plan for us is the most wonderful experience we can ever have. One reason we struggle when we have problems is that we have human thirst for practical things that are opposed to God’s will.

Thus, God allows difficulties when He deems necessary for our good.

Isaac’s lifestyle was a great example of how we may practice our faith in God when others are hostile to us. Abimelek was hostile to Isaac but he realized that God favored Isaac. So, when King Abimelek sought peace treaty with Isaac, Isaac did not deny Abimelek the opportunity to become his friend again.

Isaac held a feast for the formerly hostile King Abimelek and his companions. Such is gesture that God wants us to respond when other seek peace with us if they want to forget the hostility they have done to us.

It says in Romans 12:14ff, 14Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. 17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Keep remembering that these commands are not meant to be done by human efforts. They were given as opportunity to practice faith in the Lord by seeking His help to apply them in our life. We can only obey them by godly effort.

When there’s desire to obey these commands, the Holy Spirit has initiated and leads us to realize that we have to submit to His Lordship. The Lord wants us to experience His blessing when we obey His commands.

Such is the fulfillment of seeking His kingdom and righteousness so that all things we need, He will give them as well.

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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