In the desert, access to water can mean life or death. Not just enough water to drink, but enough to grow and sustain crops and livestock. And when there’s a famine in the land, that water is even more precious. So when Isaac was faced with such a famine and water shortage, he set out for a land known to have more lush green than where he was, that land was Egypt. However, God had other plans. “The Lord appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt;live in the land where I tell you to live. 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.” (Gen 26:2-3)
Isaac was so successful in this land that the King ‘ordered’ him to relocate. “Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.””
(Gen 26:16) This move drove him to the Valley of Gerar where he successfully reopened several wells that his father Abraham had originally dug but the Philistines had since closed. Then he began to dig more wells. He had many people and livestock to care for so was in need of much fresh water. Now here is where we see the perspective that Isaac has, a full and complete trust in God.
“Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. But 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. Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. He 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.”” (Gen 26:19-22)
Here we have a large group of people, digging to discover water deep below the surface and building a well to retrieve the water. Then another group of people lays claim to that water. Notice that Isaac did not quarrel with them. In fact it happened twice. Both times, he simply moved on and dug another well. Never did he act entitled to the well his men had just dug, he simply moved on. He even ends by giving credit where credit is due…
Have you ever had someone lay claim to something that was rightfully yours. Perhaps nothing as obvious as the results of your own hard work, but perhaps it was a property line dispute, or credit on the job. Perhaps even someone got the promotion you felt you deserved because they claimed credit for something you did. There are many ways this plays out, but in any case… there will be times where someone else lays claim to what you believe is rightfully yours. How will you respond?
Isaac’s response should teach us something. He never laid claim to anything he didn’t feel the Lord had given him. It didn’t matter how much work went into digging and building the well, if it was not for his to claim, the Lord would not bless it. If others challenged, it must not be his to claim. Once there was no challenge, he recognized that the Lord had given him this place.
It’s one thing to understand we are not entitled to hand outs. But Isaac did not even feel entitled to the results of his own hard work, unless the Lord blessed it.
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