Isaac: 22. Jehovah Appears to Isaac

Genesis 26:1‑5  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
The chapter opens with the account of Isaac tried by “famine in the land,” as Abraham had been a hundred years before. It was meant to put faith to the proof passingly, as the Canaanite then in the land tried it permanently. But well did father and son know that the time had not arrived for possession. For this the object of their hope must come in power; and the prospect of Christ's day, we may be assured, filled the heart of Isaac with joy, as we are expressly told of Abraham (John 8:5656Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. (John 8:56)). Meanwhile they were content to dwell in the land of promise, as not their own, looking for the coming glory, not on earth only but in heaven too. Here therefore they bowed to whatever tribulation God might send. We shall see, however, distinctions as interesting as they are instructive.
“And there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine which was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines to Gerar. And Jehovah appeared to him and said, Go not down to Egypt: dwell in the land that I shall tell thee of. Sojourn in this land; and I will be with thee and bless thee; for to thee and to thy seed I will give all these lands; and I will establish the oath which I swore to Abraham thy father. And I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and to thy seed I will give all these lands; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (vers. 1-5).
Here we have Isaac's distinctive trial of faith. Abraham was called to get out of his land and from his kindred and from his father's house to the land that Jehovah would show him, as He did. But Isaac was charged not to leave, but to sojourn in that land. This had its own difficulties, which grace does not spare. Blessed is the man that endures temptation or trial; for having been proved, he shall receive the crown of life which He promised to those that love Him, and meanwhile the proving of our faith works patience. Isaac accordingly, expressly forbidden by Jehovah, did not go down into Egypt even under the pressure of famine in the land. Abraham, as we know, did go; but there he dishonored Jehovah, his wife, and himself, however rich he became in consequence.
Personally Abraham was a man of faith far more thoroughly than his son. And the son was forbidden where no interdict was laid on the father. Isaac was called, whatever it might cost, to abide in the land, and not go down to Egypt. The land, as all know, typifies heavenly places, as he does Christ, dead, risen, and in heaven, though the Philistines were there as yet uncleared.
This is the trial now. If we have been given to know that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenlies in Christ, our responsibility is to walk worthily of the call wherewith we were called with all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love. It is in this very association that we are prepared to face the sharpest trial. We must expect to be visited by every wind of that teaching which is in the trickery of men, in craft for the systematizing of error; but we are exhorted to be truthful in love and grow up unto Him in all things, Who is the Head, Christ. Our conflict is not against blood and flesh, like Israel in their day, but against principalities, against authorities, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenlies. For this reason we need to take to us the panoply of God; and withal we need to pray at all seasons with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance. Our exposure is all the more because our blessing is of the highest: just as Isaac was the object of incomparable favor then, and called to abide where he was.
So are the saints now. What can match their revealed and blessed relationship? Is it possible to conceive greater privileges? Nothing is easier than to despise the pleasant land, and to cast longing eyes on Egypt. There flourish the resources of the world, the incentives to flesh, the pleasures of sin for a season. In the land such attractions are not; there was a famine as to all that feeds nature. But the word to those whose blessing lay in Canaan is, Go not down to Egypt: dwell in the land that I will tell thee of. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee and bless thee.
We are diligently to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, even as also we were called in one hope of our calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, Who is over all and through all and in us all. Far beyond the oath to Abraham is our security, far beyond the lands of Israel or earth is our inheritance, though we rest on the same One Who is the Seed of blessing for them and all the nations; and we boast a Father infinitely above their father Abraham.