Daily D – Genesis 26:26-31
Genesis 26:26-31 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?” They 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 that 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.” Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.
The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ge 26:26–31.
Genesis 26 is an interesting chapter. It stands in contrast to what came before it and what follows it in one significant respect. Each conflict Isaac had ended peacefully and with blessing.
In Genesis 16:12, Hagar has fled from the mistreatment she received at the hands of Sarah. Among the things God says to her as he reoriented her life is how the son she was then bearing would “be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in open hostility toward all his brothers.”
In Genesis 25, we have one of those places where Moses summarizes time and activity to bring us up to date. He does this periodically throughout this wonderful storybook. These summaries function kind of like the silent movies when one scene would end and on the screen would flash words like, “Meanwhile back at the ranch . . .”
Ishmael died at the age of 137. Verse 18 gives us details we might well expect from the family of “a wild donkey of a man.”
And they lived in open hostility toward all the tribes related to them.
The next story is that of Jacob and Esau. These twin boys could not get along in the womb (verse 22), exiting the womb (verses 24-26), or as young men (verses 27-34). We are not surprised to find significant conflict between these two.
This brings us back to chapter 26. God promised to bless Isaac as he had blessed his father Abraham (verses 1-6). Then Isaac followed in his father’s footsteps, not the faithful ones, and told everyone his wife was his sister (verse 7). This did not sit well with Abimelek when he saw this was not so. Yet this episode ends peacefully (verse 10).
God then blessed Isaac abundantly (verse 12). He harvested way more than one would expect for a first-time farmer. He became so abundantly wealthy so quickly, Abimelek asked him to move away because he was becoming too powerful (verse 16).
Read on down the page and we come to today’s text. After a series of minor tussles over water rights, Abimelek arrived with his personal advisor and his secretary of defense. They met and agreed to a peace treaty. Isaac fed them a feast (verse 30) and the next morning “sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully,” (verse 31).
What happened next? God blessed Isaac even more abundantly with another well, a well flowing so abundantly a town was built around it.
Isaac is the least developed character among the patriarchs. One author called him a placeholder between Abraham and Jacob. He did no daring deeds. Songs are seldom sung about him. He lived a peaceful and quiet life. Compared to Ishmael, Esau, and Jacob, he’s a real softy. Derring-do was not his style.
His purpose and pace were peaceful. Wouldn’t that be a nice outcome today? Read the stories of Ishmael, Esau, and Jacob through the lens of Isaac’s life. Their self-seeking choices led to conflict. They made life harder than it had to be.
Yes, there were other participants in their conflicts. Even so, we can look at their lives and see where they made the decisions that led to pain and problems. We see where they could have made different choices leading to less stress and less conflict. Going out on a limb here, but maybe that’s why we have their stories. Maybe that’s why we have a lesser-developed Isaac story.
As for me, I think I prefer Isaac’s quieter, more peaceful life than that of the wild donkey of a man, Big Red, and the manipulative Jacob. Consider John 14-16. When Jesus talks about the coming Holy Spirit, he talks about peace. The Apostle Paul begins his letters with “grace and peace.” Peace is listed among the fruit of the Spirit.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God,” (Matthew 5:9).
We sure could use more peace today. More Isaacs, please.
I will make the choices of a peacemaker.
Our Father, make me a peacemaker. Saturate my life with your peace. Empower me to bear your peace in every conversation and in every activity. As far as it depends on me, empower me to live at peace with everyone. Amen.
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1 Chronicles 22:9-13 But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’ “Now, my son, the Lord be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the Lord your God, as he said you would. May the Lord give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel, so that you may keep the law of the Lord your God. Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the Lord gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”