Now there was another famine in the land, subsequent to the one that had occurred in Abraham's time. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines at Gerar.
Thus Esau despised his birthright. Strange and sad that truths so important as those bearing on eternal life, even where believed, often exercise so slight influence. Yet so it is. How many like to hear the gospel in its fullness, and to be warned against neglecting it, yet in their lives show little of its power (Ezekiel 33:32
). How many live, content to know truth, forgetting that all our daily life tells for good or ill on our eternal life, and that opportunities are passing away. How many, believing that in every being there is a soul to be saved or lost, can yet see multitudes living in ungodliness without effort or even prayer for their recovery (cf. Luke 19:41
). Is not the spirit of Esau in these? He is called (Hebrews 12:16
) a "profane person." Yet no crime or great fault is laid to his charge. There is an attractiveness in his character. We see in him an impulsive, thoughtless man; not what would be called a bad son; his father's favorite; having some regard to his parent's wishes (Genesis 28:8, 9
); but swayed by passing things, and without self-denial. Hungry and weary with the chase, he craved the food he saw (cf. Matthew 4:3
). But the price? His birthright, the claim to a special benediction, the domestic priesthood (cf. Exodus 22:29
), were as nothing. He did not realize their value (cf. Hebrews 11:1
). The present was everything (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:32
). The pleasant, genial, headlong man is pronounced "profane." Observe -
I. THE GRADUAL EFFECT OF SELF-INDULGENCE (cf. Matthew 19:24). The birthright despised not through sudden temptation or any marked step of sin, but by worldly interests taking up the thoughts. Customs and maxims of the world tend to neglecting the birthright (cf. Matthew 6:83). This is no ideal danger. No sharp line to tell when danger begins. Things perfectly allowable, even laudable, may choke spiritual life. Even in good work the mind may be so engrossed in the work itself that communion with God fades. There is need of habitual self-denial (John 6:38); of keeping guard over the tendencies of daily life; of definite aims, not passing wishes; of making personal communion with God an essential part of each day's work.
II. THE DEADENING EFFECT IN RELATION TO REPENTANCE. "Time enough, is a fatal mistake (Acts 24:25; 2 Corinthians 6:2). So far as we know Esau never repented. Even when Jacob received the blessing he was sorry, but there was no real change, no confession of error. Self was still the ruling power.
III. THE CALL TO CONSIDER OUR BIRTHRIGHT (Romans 8:17; 1 John 3:2). Not merely a future blessing. Thinking of it thus leads to its being left out of view. Now there is reconciliation, peace, spirit of adoption, the Spirit's witness in our hearts, freedom of access in prayer, and promises to be realized in growing likeness to Christ and communion with him. Few would deliberately postpone to the end of life the claiming their birthright and making sure of it, the work of repentance and faith, and the casting away what has hindered. But many without set purpose do delay. Each time the call is put away is a victory for the tempter. - M.
There was a famine in the land. 1.
Here the first thing that suggests itself is the apparent contradiction of the promise given to Abraham, for instead of the land of abundance and rest Isaac found famine and unrest. Let us endeavour to understand that, and then we shall better understand this life of ours; for our life is to us a Canaan, a land of abundant promises, and especially so in youth. But we have not been long in this land of promise before we begin to discover that it falsifies itself, and then there arises in our mind the question that must have presented itself to Isaac, Has God broken His promise? We say God's promise, because the promises of life are all permitted by Him. The expectation of happiness is God's creation; the things which minister to happiness are scattered through the world by God. But if we look deeper into it we shall perceive that God does not deceive us. True it is, that Isaac was disappointed; he got no bread, but he did get perseverance. He did want comforts, but with this want came content — the habit of soul-communion with God. Which was best, bread or faith? Which was best, to have abundance or to have God? Tell us, then, had God broken His promise? Was He not giving a double blessing, far more than He promised? And so it is with us. Every famine of the soul has its corresponding blessing; for, in truth, our blessed hours are not those which seem so at first; and the hours of disappointment, which we are tempted to look upon as dark, are the ones in which we learn to possess our souls. If, in the worst trial earth has, there does not grow out of it an honour which could not else have been, a strength, a sanctity, an elevation; if we do not get new strength, or old strength restored, the fault is ours, not God's. In truth, the blessed spots of earth are not those which at first sight seem so. The land of olive and vine is often the land of sensuality and indolence. Wealth accumulates and engenders sloth and the evils which follow in the train of luxury. The land of clouds and fogs and unkindly soil, which will not yield its fruit unless to hard toil, is the land of perseverance, manhood, domestic virtue, and stately and pure manners. Want of food and of the necessaries of life, I had well nigh said that these things are not an ill, when I see what they teach: I had well nigh said I do not pity the poor man. There are evils worse than famine. What is the real misfortune of life? Sin, or want of food? Sickness, or selfishness? And when I see Isaac gaining from his want of food the heart to bear up and bear right onward, I can understand that the land of famine may be the land of promise, and just because it is the land of famine.
2. And, secondly, we observe, respecting this famine, that the command given to Isaac differed from that given to Abraham and Jacob. Isaac evidently wished to go down to Egypt; but God forbade him (ver. 2), although He permitted Abraham and commanded Jacob to go thither. The reason for this variety is to be found in the different character and circumstances of these men. In the New Testament we find the same adaptation of command to character. The man of warm feelings who came to Jesus was told " that the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head." When the man from whom the legion of devils was cast out besought Jesus that he might be with Him, he received a similar rebuff; but the man of lukewarmness, who wanted to return to bury his father and mother, was not permitted for an instant to go back. The reason of the difference is this — that the man of impetuosity and forwardness needed to be restrained, while the lingering and slow man needed some active measure to stir him forward. It is almost certain that Abraham, being a wise man and a man of faith, was permitted by God to judge for himself, and that Isaac was required to turn back that he might learn the duty of trust; and that Jacob was commanded to go forth in order to cure his love of the world, and to teach him that life is but a pilgrimage. Hence we arrive at a doctrine: duties vary according to differences of character.
Fruitful lands are made barren for the sins of the inhabitants.
2. Multiplied famine God sends upon multiplied abominations.
3. In common judgments on nations God's saints have special afflictions.
4. God provides a place of refreshing for His in times of straits.
5. Saints may avoid public judgments in the way which God shows them. In the day of such a public calamity they may retire from place of judgments, especially when God points them out places of safety.
PeopleAbimelech, Ahuzzath, Bashemath, Basmath, Beeri, Elon, Esau, Isaac, Judith, Phichol, Rebekah
PlacesBeersheba, Egypt, Esek, Gerar, Rehoboth, Shibah, Sitnah, Valley of Gerar
TopicsAbimelech, Abim'elech, Abraham's, Beside, Besides, Earlier, Famine, Former, Gerar, Isaac, Occurred, Philistines, Previous
Outline1. Isaac, because of famine, sojourns in Gerar, and the Lord blesses him.
7. He is reproved by Abimelech for denying his wife.
12. He grows rich, and the Philistines envy his prosperity.
18. He digs wells.
23. God appears to him at Beersheba, and blesses him;
26. and Abimelech makes a covenant with him.
34. Esau's wives.
Dictionary of Bible ThemesGenesis 26:1
8739 evil, examples of
4823 famine, physical
5503 rich, the
LibraryThe First Apostle of Peace at any Price
'Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold, and the Lord blessed him. And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. For all the wells which his father's servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for …
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture
"Thou Art Now the Blessed of the Lord. "
"Thou art now the blessed of the Lord."--Genesis 26:29. THESE words truly describe the position of many whom I address at this time. There are hundreds here upon whom my eye can rest, and to any one of whom I might point with this finger, or rather, to whom I might extend this hand, to give a hearty shake, and say, "Thou art now the blessed of the Lord." I need not say it in the same spirit, nor for the same reason, that the Philistines did. They had behaved basely towards Isaac, and now that he …
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 38: 1892
There are few subjects on which the Lord's own people are more astray than on the subject of giving. They profess to take the Bible as their own rule of faith and practice, and yet in the matter of Christian finance, the vast majority have utterly ignored its plain teachings and have tried every substitute the carnal mind could devise; therefore it is no wonder that the majority of Christian enterprises in the world today are handicapped and crippled through the lack of funds. Is our giving to be …
Arthur W. Pink—Tithing
Whether Every Lie is a Sin?
Objection 1: It seems that not every lie is a sin. For it is evident that the evangelists did not sin in the writing of the Gospel. Yet they seem to have told something false: since their accounts of the words of Christ and of others often differ from one another: wherefore seemingly one of them must have given an untrue account. Therefore not every lie is a sin. Objection 2: Further, no one is rewarded by God for sin. But the midwives of Egypt were rewarded by God for a lie, for it is stated that …
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica
The conduct of Father Abraham, although not approved of by Inspiration, but simply recorded (Gen. xxvi. 7), gave early Christians an opinion that the wicked may be justly foiled, by equivocation and deception, for the preservation of innocence or the life of the innocent. In such case the person deceived, they might argue, is not injured, but benefited (Gen. xxvi. 10), being saved from committing violence and murder. The Corinthian maiden was accustomed to be veiled (as Tertullian intimates), and …
Hippolytus—The Extant Works and Fragments of Hippolytus
An Obscured vision
(Preached at the opening of the Winona Lake Bible Conference.) TEXT: "Where there is no vision, the people perish."--Proverbs 29:18. It is not altogether an easy matter to secure a text for such an occasion as this; not because the texts are so few in number but rather because they are so many, for one has only to turn over the pages of the Bible in the most casual way to find them facing him at every reading. Feeling the need of advice for such a time as this, I asked a number of my friends who …
J. Wilbur Chapman—And Judas Iscariot
The Plan for the Coming of Jesus.
God's Darling, Psalms 8:5-8.--the plan for the new man--the Hebrew picture by itself--difference between God's plan and actual events--one purpose through breaking plans--the original plan--a starting point--getting inside. Fastening a Tether inside: the longest way around--the pedigree--the start. First Touches on the Canvas: the first touch, Genesis 3:15.--three groups of prediction--first group: to Abraham, Genesis 12:1-3; to Isaac, Genesis 26:1-5; to Jacob, Genesis 28:10-15; through Jacob, …
S. D. Gordon—Quiet Talks about Jesus
And to Holy David Indeed it Might More Justly be Said...
22. And to holy David indeed it might more justly be said, that he ought not to have been angry; no, not with one however ungrateful and rendering evil for good; yet if, as man, anger did steal over him, he ought not to have let it so prevail, that he should swear to do a thing which either by giving way to his rage he should do, or by breaking his oath leave undone. But to the other, set as he was amid the libidinous frenzy of the Sodomites, who would dare to say, "Although thy guests in thine own …
St. Augustine—Against Lying
Covenanting Performed in Former Ages with Approbation from Above.
That the Lord gave special token of his approbation of the exercise of Covenanting, it belongs to this place to show. His approval of the duty was seen when he unfolded the promises of the Everlasting Covenant to his people, while they endeavoured to perform it; and his approval thereof is continually seen in his fulfilment to them of these promises. The special manifestations of his regard, made to them while attending to the service before him, belonged to one or other, or both, of those exhibitions …
John Cunningham—The Ordinance of Covenanting
Jesus Sets Out from Judæa for Galilee.
Subdivision B. At Jacob's Well, and at Sychar. ^D John IV. 5-42. ^d 5 So he cometh to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 and Jacob's well was there. [Commentators long made the mistake of supposing that Shechem, now called Nablous, was the town here called Sychar. Sheckem lies a mile and a half west of Jacob's well, while the real Sychar, now called 'Askar, lies scarcely half a mile north of the well. It was a small town, loosely called …
J. W. McGarvey—The Four-Fold Gospel
Appendix ii. Philo of Alexandria and Rabbinic Theology.
(Ad. vol. i. p. 42, note 4.) In comparing the allegorical Canons of Philo with those of Jewish traditionalism, we think first of all of the seven exegetical canons which are ascribed to Hillel. These bear chiefly the character of logical deductions, and as such were largely applied in the Halakhah. These seven canons were next expanded by R. Ishmael (in the first century) into thirteen, by the analysis of one of them (the 5th) into six, and the addition of this sound exegetical rule, that where two …
Alfred Edersheim—The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah
Sundry Sharp Reproofs
This doctrine draws up a charge against several sorts: 1 Those that think themselves good Christians, yet have not learned this art of holy mourning. Luther calls mourning a rare herb'. Men have tears to shed for other things, but have none to spare for their sins. There are many murmurers, but few mourners. Most are like the stony ground which lacked moisture' (Luke 8:6). We have many cry out of hard times, but they are not sensible of hard hearts. Hot and dry is the worst temper of the body. Sure …
Thomas Watson—The Beatitudes: An Exposition of Matthew 5:1-12
The Section Chap. I. -iii.
The question which here above all engages our attention, and requires to be answered, is this: Whether that which is reported in these chapters did, or did not, actually and outwardly take place. The history of the inquiries connected with this question is found most fully in Marckius's "Diatribe de uxore fornicationum," Leyden, 1696, reprinted in the Commentary on the Minor Prophets by the same author. The various views may be divided into three classes. 1. It is maintained by very many interpreters, …
Ernst Wilhelm Hengstenberg—Christology of the Old Testament
The Old Testament opens very impressively. In measured and dignified language it introduces the story of Israel's origin and settlement upon the land of Canaan (Gen.--Josh.) by the story of creation, i.-ii. 4a, and thus suggests, at the very beginning, the far-reaching purpose and the world-wide significance of the people and religion of Israel. The narrative has not travelled far till it becomes apparent that its dominant interests are to be religious and moral; for, after a pictorial sketch of …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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