When God Blesses

Genesis 26:12-22

12Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.

15So 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. 16Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”

17So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.

19Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

Introduction

Everyone wants to be blessed. The Lord instructed in the Scripture how we can avail of His blessings. The Lord told Abraham in Genesis 12:3, 3I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.

How would God bless us when Abraham is no around anymore? When the Lord tested the faith of Abraham, he obeyed diligently. Because of his obedience the Lord promised him in Genesis 22:18, 18Through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Obedience to the Lord’s instruction and blessing are inseparable. By faith, we obey the Lord, and His blessing included in His instruction is assured. The Lord instructed the Israelites in Deuteronomy 11:26-28, 26I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—27the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; 28the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God.

Obedience to the Lord’s instruction is accompanied by His blessing. It was emphasized in Deuteronomy 28:2, 2All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God.

Is it proper for us believers with Gentile background to claim the Lord’s promise to the Israelites? Do you believe that the Lord who instructed the Israelites is the same Lord who said in Luke 11:28, 28“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

During the severe famine Isaac relocated to Gerar. Isaac was scared that the men of Gerar may take his beautiful wife. He may have planned to relocate to Egypt to avoid the men of Gerar. When the Lord told him not to go to Egypt, he obeyed and God blessed him. The Lord promised Isaac in Genesis 26:3, 3Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you.

Indeed, the Lord fulfilled His promise to bless Isaac but the Philistines living in Gerar were envious that he became fruitful more than them.

1. Envy

12Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the Lord blessed him. 13The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him.

The reason Isaac went to live in Gerar was because there was famine in the land. There was scarcity of food. Everyone was affected. So when Isaac harvested his crop, the people of the land may have come to buy food from him. The Philistines were very envious that he had become very wealthy.

It was not mentioned if Isaac had any experienced in planting crops. Yet, he had a great harvest. It’s recorded that he harvested 100 times as much as he had planted that same year he planted his crop. The Lord blessed him as He promised, so that his flocks and herds and servants increased.

It teaches us in James 1:17, 17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. 

We all desire to have good and perfect gift from God, and surely, He wants to bless us. However, we do not readily see where such gift comes from, or how God would bless us. Usually, we don’t receive it instantly. Why? God tests us if we are ready to be blessed. God tests us also if we trust Him to bless us.

King David

King David obeyed and God blessed him exceedingly. David trusted that he was the anointed king of Israel. He knew that his son Absalom was not anointed as king. When his son Absalom tried to grab his throne, David’s attitude was exemplary. He escaped but trusted the Lord to restore his kingdom to him.

King David declared in the hearing of his people in 2 Samuel 15:25-26, 25If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. 26But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.”

King David knew that the Lord chose him as king of Israel but he also allowed the Lord to work in and through his life. God’s design for us includes both pleasant and unpleasant situation. Whatever God has permitted will happen. It says in John 3:27, 27A person can receive only what is given them from heaven.

Truly, we can aspire for the best thing for us, we can dream to most wonderful life we can think of. Great things we desire to have, God allows some of them but not all. Why? Thing He won’t allow may not be helpful or useful to us.

You can easily read online many celebrities and materially successful individuals suffer from depression. Not everyone can handle success or popularity.

It is helpful to pray for wisdom, and that God would prepare you to handle great things you aspire for. It says Psalm 84:11, 11For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.

God is faithful not to grant things that would trigger discouragement or disillusionment to His people. Yet, believers cannot help but to desire popularity and material success. Be careful not to envy what others have accumulated.

It reminds us in James 3:16, 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

Have you seen children who pressure parents to buy the latest gadgets or trends similar to their friends? Workers strike for wage increase. Why? They saw their friend had luxurious vacation. They were envious and wish to experience it.

Envy and hostility of the Philistine toward Isaac became more apparent when he became very wealthy. Before God warned him not to relocate to Egypt, Isaac may have sensed their enmity. God’s blessing attracts envy and enmity.

2. Enmity

15So 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. 16Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”

Previously, King Abimelek warned his people not to harm Isaac and his wife. Although, the Philistines were envious of Isaac, they cannot do anything against him because of Abimelek’s order to prosecute anyone who would harm Isaac and his wife. But, when he observed that Isaac has become very wealthy, King Abimelek told Isaac to leave their country and relocate somewhere else.

17So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them. 19Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him.  21Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 

The term ‘Esek’ evolved from a Hebrew word for contention or strife. Isaac’s servants may have argued that they worked hard to find water.

The term ‘Sitnah’ is a Hebrew term for accusation which ironically, the word “Satan” (the accuser) has evolved from. Did Satan influence the men of Gerar to quarrel with Isaac’s servants? Isaac felt like Satan has accused him.

The servants of Isaac who also served his father Abraham may have known the wells they made in the time of Abraham. The Philistines filled those wells with dirt, soil and stones. Why? It should have been useful for them. Right?

Was it their way of showing enmity or hostility toward Abraham? Maybe!

The people who lived in the valley of Gerar when Isaac settled there were also hostile to him. They didn’t prevent him from digging wells. When Isaac found water, they quarreled with him. They claimed that the water belongs to them.

Can you relate that such enmity to hatred that has been experienced by immigrants when they settle in another country? Have you heard of stories when immigrants were told, “You steal our job! Go back to your country!”

Most immigrants who come from underdeveloped nations usually work harder than many local people. No wonder, why they are more preferred by employers than those habitual grumblers who complain about work conditions.

As believer, what should you do when you face such enmity from others?

The Lord Jesus teaches in Luke 6:27-31, 27Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31Do to others as you would have them do to you.

This is easily understood but not readily practiced because it’s godly command that requires godly effort. When Christ said that we are to love our enemies, He wants us to rely upon Him. His Spirit would empower us for us to love enemies, turn the other cheek, or give to anyone who asks us.

Isaac exemplified such godly attitude when the men of Gerar quarreled and forcefully took the wells that his servants excavated.

Is it very easy for you to give away things you have worked hard for?

House in the Middle of a Street

A lone apartment building stands in the middle of a newly built road after an elderly couple refused to relocate. They insist on living there because they believe that the relocation compensation offered by the government is not enough to cover their rebuilding costs. Now the only 5-storey building left standing, cars drive around it while the couple lived inside.

Right! We want compensation for our hard. It is not easy to freely give away things that we worked hard for. There will always be people who may take advantages of anybody’s vulnerability. What should we be our attitude?

It teaches us in 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18, 15Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. 16Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Is it God’s will to be taken advantage of? Can you easily accept when people try to pay less than what you deserve?

When the people of Gerar quarreled against Isaac, was it God’s will for him not to be compensated for their hard work in discovering water? Was the enmity of the people of Gerar an instrument of God for Isaac to move to the place God has prepared for him to stay? Nobody wants to live among hostile people.

Isaac just relocated to another place until they found a place where no one quarreled with them. When God blessed Isaac, He also expanded his territory.

3. Expansion

22He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.”

“Rehoboth” is a Hebrew term for wide, broad open place where everyone can move freely. Normally, it’s a place that’s open for public use like plaza. Isaac felt like he had much freedom after nobody quarreled with him. He acknowledged that the Lord has given him wide space for progress.

The experience of Isaac when they discovered the well of ‘Rehoboth’ has similarity to the experience of Jabez after he prayed for God’s blessing.

In 1 Chronicles 4:9-10, 9Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, “I gave birth to him in pain.” 10Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request.

Jabez may have experienced painful situations in his life. The root word of his name ‘Jabez’ probably means grieve, painful or sorrowful. Jabez did not wish to endure his difficult life any longer. He pleaded for God to bless him and enlarge his territory. He expressed his faith that if God’s hand is with him, he will not be harmed physically or by difficulties of life. And God blessed him greatly.

What difficulty are you experiencing right now? God may have been using that situation to test you faith and to trust in Him.

Storm of Life

When Jesus and His disciples were sailing, a furious storm came. The disciples were scared and said in Matthew 8:25-26, 25“Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” 26He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.

Storm of life scares us but it also exposes our faith in Christ. If Christ is with us, shouldn’t we sense joy and peace in midst of concern?

The initial understanding of having Christ as Lord and Savior is for believers to have eternal life. Eternal death is the most difficult problem of mankind. Do you believe that Christ has saved you from that problem?

If Christ can save us from the most difficult problem of mankind, it should be easier for Him to save us from more simple difficulties. Right?

Can you accept the God allows daily problems for us to evaluate if we really have faith in Christ?

When the disciples cried for help, Christ told them that they have little faith. When we worry about difficult life situation, it only exposes our little faith.

The more we experience problem, the more we come to the Lord for help.

The more we experience God’s answer to our prayer, our faith in Christ expands.

The more our faith expands, the more we have courage to explore other possibilities and opportunities in life.

The more we explore other possibilities and opportunities, the more we experience God’s blessings.

Like Isaac and Jabez, God expands our territories according to our faith in Him.

May God bless you and expand your territories according to your faith in Him!

<‘)))>< ltsii/2018 ><(((‘>

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