TEXT: GENESIS 26:24-25
Isaac was the son of a famous father (Abraham), and the father of a famous son (Jacob, who became Israel). THIRTEEN chapters in Genesis are devoted to telling the story of Abraham, and around TEN chapters to the story of Jacob. They are major characters in the plot. But Isaac’s story is told in just TWO — chapter 24 (the account of Abraham finding him a wife, Rebekah), and this 26th chapter.
Nevertheless, Isaac’s life was by no means insignificant. He was the child that Abraham waited 100 years for — the child of promise. He was a miracle baby; conceived after Sarah had given up on all possibility of it still happening. Isaac was the one who carried on the line in the purposes of God. And on his deathbed, it was Isaac who lay his hands upon Jacob, unwittingly though it was, and set apart the future of Israel.
Even down to the present day, the Jews speak of “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” He is listed among the champions of faith in Hebrews 11, where is says: “By faith (he) blessed Jacob and Esau in regard to their future.”
Isaac was the child of promise that Abraham had endured in faith for, but being the son of Abraham was NOT the key to his spiritual success. He carried on the line of God’s plan, and was used by God to set apart the next generation, but being the father of Jacob was NOT the key to his spiritual success. Isaac himself lived a life of faith, and carved out for himself the place God had predestined for him in history.
We find three things in the life of Isaac which are symbolic of spiritual necessities for anyone who desires to live a life of faith. If you examine the life of any man or woman who is experiencing real spiritual victory, you will discover these three characteristics.
Our text is Genesis 26:25, which we read a few minutes ago … “So (Isaac) built AN ALTAR there, and called upon the name of the Lord, and he pitched HIS TENT there: and there Isaac’s servants dug A WELL.”
The first thing we see in this verse is that:
1. ISAAC BUILT AN ALTAR
“So he built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord.”
It was a time of great difficulty for Isaac. God had greatly blessed him in the land of the Philistines where he was living, so that the Bible says (verse 13): “(Isaac) began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous; for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants. So the Philistines envied him.”
The envious Philistines filled in all his wells, and their king, Abimelech, said to Isaac: “Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we.” So he began moving from place to place, encountering opposition and conflict, until finally he came to Beersheba.
I don’t know just how low and anxious Isaac was feeling at this point, but the night he arrived in Beersheba, God appeared to him, and God spoke to him wonderful words of assurance and promise. He reiterated to Isaac the covenant He had made with his father, Abraham: “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for my servant Abraham’s sake.” Isaac knew all about altars, didn’t he? You recall the gripping account of when Isaac was just a boy, how in obedience to God, Abraham took him up Mount Moriah and laid him on an altar. On that occasion, the Lord was testing the DEDICATION of Abraham — would he be obedient? Even to the point of sacrificing his own son? And the answer the Lord received was a resounding YES. Abraham’s heart was DEDICATED to God. And at the last possible moment God stayed the knife. “Stop Abraham! … for now I know that you fear (me) since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
What was Isaac’s response to the revelation of God? “So he built an altar there and called on the name of the Lord.”
An ALTAR speaks of DEDICATION.
With a word coming from the Lord like that, you and I will be encouraged to ask and ask and ask something from Him…but we can see in the life of Isaac, that instead of asking something he dedicated his life unto the Lord. (ALAM NYA NA HIGIT PA SA ANUMANG BAGAY O PABOR ANG PWEDE NIYANG MAKAMIT KUNG ANG KANYANG BUHAY AY NAGAWA NYANG IAALAAY SA KANYANG PANGINOON.)
The apostle Paul implores us in ROMANS 12:1, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service”.
I read about a man by the name of Taylor Smith — a man greatly used by God – and he had a practice every morning, before he would get out of bed, he would pray this prayer: “Lord Jesus, this bed is the altar; my body is the sacrifice; I offer it afresh to you in total dedication.”
What about you, this evening? Have you built an altar? Have you offered yourself as a sacrifice to God? Have you re-affirmed that dedication to the Lord recently? Dedication needs to be done often in our lives. The call of ROMANS 12:1 is for us to have lives characterized as “LIVING sacrifices” to Him.
Maybe you need to do what Elijah had to do in 1 Kings 18. When the nation of Israel was living in idolatry — worshipping the baals and the Ashorah poles — Elijah challenged the false prophets to a contest on Mount Carmel to see which God was real. He called down fire from heaven and demonstrated the power of the only true and living God. BUT WHAT DID HE DO BEFORE HE PRAYED FOR THE FIRE TO FALL? It says that HE REBUILT THE ALTAR OF THE LORD. The neglected altar. The broken-down altar. Elijah took Israel back to the place where their dedication had been left behind.
Back to the altar. And he rebuilt it for the fire to fall.
Maybe you need to repair the broken altar in YOUR life. Consecrate your heart to the Lord afresh today. (BAGO TAYO LUMAPIT AT HUMINGI NG TUGON, TUMPAK O TAMA LAMANG NA ATING AYUSIN ANG ATING MGA PUSO, ANG ATING MGA ALTAR SA PANGINOON.) An altar speaks of DEDICATION. Isaac built an altar.
2. ISAAC PITCHED A TENT
“… and he pitched his tent there.”
Isaac had heard the voice of the Lord in Beersheba – he’d met with God, and so he pitched his tent there. The people of God should always want to stay close to the presence and the direction of God! If God is speaking, this is where I want to be! But, would you notice, Isaac pitched a tent, he didn’t build a house.
The reason Isaac was in Beersheba was because this was where God was speaking. God had brought him here, but if God’s presence should move and lead him elsewhere, Isaac was ready to go. Here’s another sign of his dedication. His “house” was not some geographical location where all his possessions were established — his home was wherever God and His will were to be found.
A TENT speaks of DETACHMENT.
As Christians, we are pilgrims PASSING THROUGH this world. In order to PASS THROUGH, we must remain DETACHED from this world and all that it holds dear. OUR HEARTS BELONG TO ANOTHER KINGDOM.
Jim Elliot said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, in order to gain what he cannot lose.” No matter how hard you try, you cannot ultimately retain the things of this life. They’re passing away — moths are eating them, time and rust are corroding them. There’s no future in earthly stuff. Jesus said: “Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God …”
We must be detached from this world’s pleasure. We must be detached from this world’s praise. It’s a bad sign when this world praises us – and it’s even worse if we start desiring this world’s praise! 1 JOHN 2:15: “Do not love the world, or the things in the world” (Verse 17) … “The world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever”.
An altar speaks of DEDICATION; a tent speaks of DETACHMENT…
3. ISAAC DUG A WELL
“… and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.”
A WELL speaks of DEPENDENCE.
For Isaac it was a matter of life and death. It was a matter of DIGGING or DYING! He had to have water. And in that middle-eastern land, he had to have lots of it. Isaac dug wells wherever he went.
The same is true concerning God’s Word in our lives. Without it we will DIE spiritually! Jesus said in Matthew 4:4, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.”
The Bible describes a person who reads and meditates upon the Word of God as: “… a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth it’s fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper”. (PSALM 1:3)
For the child of God — for my life, for YOUR life — it’s DIG or DIE! We can’t live without the Word of God. We are dependent on God’s Word.
Isaac built an altar. Isaac pitched a tent. Isaac dug a well.
Are these characteristics present in your life today?
- Have you built an altar? Are you maintaining that altar — daily renewing your DEDICATION to the Lord. Consecrating your heart to Him alone.
- Have you pitched a tent? In your heart of hearts are you DETACHED from the things of this world?
- Have you dug a well? Are DEPENDENT upon the Word of God as your source? Are you continuing to dig for the water of life?