|설교 한 주일||July 10, 2011|
“Isaac, Man of Meek”
(Reading of Genesis 26: 12 – 25 NIV)
12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him. 13 The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy. 14 He had so many flocks and herds and servants that the Philistines envied him. 15 So all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth.
16 Then Abimelek said to Isaac, “Move away from us; you have become too powerful for us.”
17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar, where he settled. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them.
19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 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. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 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.”
23 From there he went up to Beersheba. 24 That night the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.”
25 Isaac built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD. There he pitched his tent, and there his servants dug a well.
Isaac planted something in that place. Where? Let’s see where he planted; where he started his business; where he put up his investment; where he put the flag of his life. It says, “Isaac planted crops in that land…” what land? Isaac was dwelling in Canaan together with Abraham, his father.
Unfortunately, about 70 years ago that Isaac had – Genesis 26:1 says; “Now there was a famine in the land—besides the earlier famine of Abraham’s time…” – so two times that there was drought. There’s no rain for long time so no crops. There’s nothing you can have from that field about 70 years ago which was the time of Abraham; so, that famine killed many people because of no food at all. Unlike today, we have a winter Olympics to be held in 2018 at Pyeong Chang, Korea. If we don’t have snow, there’s some snow machine that push or throw some artificial snow so everybody enjoy skiing or whatever. But at the time of Abraham and Isaac, even some less-developed country in this modern era, they don’t have any opportunity to enjoy that kind of machine. If they wanted to cultivate or plant a seed or they need some kind of things from the soil, they had to wait for the rain from heaven. If heaven gives rain, they have crops. If they don’t have rain, they have nothing to eat. They very much depend on the climate of that area.
As you know, Canaan is in the west side of Jordan River and east side of the Mediterranean Sea. That area has Mediterranean climate which is kind of hot. Not only that, but it is mixed-up with subtropical climate sometimes. They also have another climate that they enjoy in that area which is the desert climate. They have annual rainfall or precipitation in that area which is about 200 millimeters a year. Do you know how many millimeters you have in the Philippines? The Philippines has about 2,000 millimeters a year. But that area has only two hundred. They have a season that some few months they have rain or dews.
That area, Canaan, is, was and to be a very dry land. It was where Isaac was living, where Abraham was also living. Canaan means the Promised Land. Canaan comes from the name of Ham. The father of Canaan was Ham. Actually, the last child of Ham was Canaan. Do you know who the father of Ham is? The father of Ham was Noah. Noah was actually a man of soil. He is very good in cultivating or some plant in the vineyard so that according to the Bible, once he drank a lot of wine and he became drunk. And then he slept naked. Noah had three sons; the last son was Ham. When the last son saw his father Noah, “Oh, great! Beautiful! My father was naked!” It is not really clear in the Bible about what Ham had done to his father while Noah fell asleep because of drunkenness. But when his father Noah woke up, he was so angry to his son, Ham. “What did you do to me?” The two elder brothers of Ham did well for they cover the shame of their father Noah but Ham did not. If your father has drunk and he fell asleep naked, what would you do in the Philippine setting? In Korea, we don’t have fathers like that because all sons will already kill the father…I don’t know but it’s very hard to say. What is the clear reason? We don’t know but Noah cursed Canaan, not Ham. His grandfather cursed Canaan. Maybe, while Noah fell asleep, Ham did some shameful things against Noah while that time, Canaan, the grandson of Noah was standing there or did it with his father to his grandfather. My point is that Canaan was cursed by Noah when you see Genesis chapter 9.
What had Noah’s youngest son done to Noah? Never mind; anyhow, Noah was very upset. Some studies say that Ham and Canaan slept with his mother and grandmother that is why Noah was so upset. Maybe it’s homosexuality; it’s very famous in that time; so, with his father maybe. This is what we are doing in these days, isn’t it? We have third gender. Do you have third gender? If you say ‘yes’ to third gender, we have to say to another gender, fourth gender until one hundred gender you will have.
What about Canaan? Why Canaan, the grandson, the youngest? Some other studies said maybe Noah was thinking, “I cursed your little son so that you have to know how much I have pained in my little son, which Ham did against me.” – I hope dear brothers and sisters that when you read the Bible, I want you to read it very carefully. There is something like a gem stone that you cannot compare with any other things. There’s such a great clue and blessings you will have from the Bible.
Canaan was a dry land. God promised, “I will send you in that area, that Canaan, the promised land because that land is flowing with honey and milk. Flowing with milk and honey is a metaphor showing that that area is perfect, no problem. If you go there, everything is okay. But there is one thing negative – the Promised Land must have been a land of extraordinary fertility. There’s so many cultivating; there’s a fertilized land, so rich soil they promised but the area has no rain.
We come to the Lord. God promised in His plan so we will enjoy our life like a flowing milk and honey but in our Christianity when we believe in Jesus Christ, our life is not like always flowing with milk and honey. If so, God lied? God is a liar? No, he never lies. There is milk, there is honey always flowing. When? – When God is with you. Remember, not from that land, not from that place, not from your job, not from your spout, not from your background, not from your president. Trust God, there’s a promise. When you see with your eyes, “I lift my eyes to see the land is full of water so I will go…” But what Abraham did, “It’s up to you…you first…I’m after you…” Abraham got the last. Abraham possibly got only small piece like nobody like; however, there was a promise of God – “I will be with you…I will make you a great nation…” Where can you get the promise? – From the Bible, not from that land.
There are plans of God embedded. In 2 Samuel 1:21 says, “O mountains of Gilboa, may you have neither dew nor rain, nor fields that yield offerings. For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul-no longer rubbed with oil.” In 1 Kings 17:1 says, “Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” Even in Zechariah 8:12 says, “The seed will grow well, the vine will yield its fruit, the ground will produce its crops, and the heavens will drop their dew. I will give all these things as an inheritance to the remnant of this people.” According to the Bible, in that land, in that time, in that culture, they need dew; they need rain from heaven. So, in that area in Canaan, the people believe in very funny idols because they don’t know when they get rain so they served, believed, begged and prayed to idols – Baal and Asherah. That is how the people in Canaan believed.
The famine of Abraham’s time in Genesis 12:10, even in Genesis 26, Isaac’s time as well, “Now there was a famine in the land-besides the earlier famine of Abraham's time—” So, if Canaan is not full of milk and honey – I don’t say it was absolutely no milk or absolutely no honey; there is, but who provide it to you? It’s only God, when you go with God you will have it – the honey and milk.
First, obedience is Isaac. Isaac obeyed God. Why? “Do not go down to Egypt.” “But here, I have nothing in this land! No rain, no money, no job…” And then Yahweh said, “Where are you going?” “To Egypt…” “Why?” “Because there is job there, there is water, there’s food, there’s fish…everything…” You never go there because you want to have more good relationship with God. “I want to go to Egypt because in this place, it’s very hard for me to find anything to eat.” It’s understandable. But at that time, God said, “Don’t go there…” Yahweh said. In many cases, what do we do? “Lord, see…you have your eyes, see my situation...” when we have no faith, “…because I can see there is water…here, there’s no job so I have to go there…” But God says, “No, not there…” Why God said ‘don’t go to Egypt’? – Because Egypt is full of idols. There are so many people who believed in idols, not God. “Do not go down…” so what he did? Isaac stayed in Gerar which is part of Palestine. He stopped there while he was seeing in Egypt, “Here, no food…no rain…no dew…” We have to remember always when God says very strongly in your life which is it’s very hard to believe, trust me there is miracle. Believe, you can have it; if you don’t believe, you can’t have it.
God is the blessing of sowing. No rain, not only me but the people, the Palestine has no rain. I do trust how God is working in this way. Verse 12 says, “Isaac planted crops in that land…” the land where God pointed; it’s not that land where you want to go. This is the God-centered life. “…and the same year reaped a hundredfold…” That is good but it’s not there only, “…because the Lord blessed him…” When you see verse 13, “The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow…” Many cases we just miss but His blessing not stops there for only one hundred times. Until when? You may not name; the great is you may not possibly understand why God blessed me this much. When you trust God, when you listen to the Lord, when you don’t follow what you can see with your eyes, it says in verse 13, “…his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy.” Where? – In Canaan, not Egypt. Isn’t it the honey and milk is flowing for him in Canaan?
Second, he (Isaac) is very much meek. The people and even the captain of that area very much envied Isaac because he got rich already. He actually pushed him away from his land, Palestine. But, even he was evacuated by force, even Isaac did not recognize why, another force always pushes him away from that place where we can see the blessing of God. What Isaac did if somebody pushes, “This is not yours!?” “I did it. I planted it. This is my investment! This belongs to me!” But somebody come, “This is not yours! This is ours…” What Isaac did? “Okay, if you get it God will give me.” Do you have that faith? But we have a consequence, “Wow, I have hundredfold from this land and then you protest that this is yours? No, I’ll sue you in court…” If God gives this and if we have somebody who claims this land Canaan, this place, this time where we are staying; the time we live in this place is not permanent. We cannot live in this place forever. When time comes that your number’s up, somebody push your body with your coffin into the fire.
He was actually meek when he was robbed of his wells. Peacemaking is Isaac, blessing is God. Verse 20 says, “He was meek with the well of ‘Esek’” ‘Esek’ means dispute. Isaac found a well. He dug a well and they had fresh water in that place but the Palestine came and said, “This is not yours, it’s mine!” And the servants quarreled to each other and dispute so Isaac named that well as Esek. And then he moved to another place to go; dug well and they have fresh water. Then they complained about the Palestine, “This is ours!” This is the life how Isaac experienced where God said that you stayed that place. God said, “You stayed in that place…” which means you see what I am doing in your life and at the same time you show them what I am doing in your life. But, we Christians are always thinking about God’s blessing as, “This is mine…I’ll use it for myself…” that’s it.
What kind of sermon you want to listen? Bless all of you, everything is yours, use it for yourselves; be rich and enjoy your life, that’s it? Nope. Jesus never lived that life. Jesus even had no place to put his hand. Let’s change our attitude to see the wealth. Of course God will make us a great nation. God will make us such a great rich person. At the same time, God is waiting for us to show His love through our life. I have one outreach church in the mountain, a very small building; this building as well, they complain, “This is mine!” “Okay, it’s yours! This is not mine. I have nothing. I have no purpose, it belong to the Lord.
At the last well he found, there’s no more Palestine came. In verse 22, he named ‘Rehoboth’ which is some place, actually, the room. No more Palestine came. No more complain. No more argument. Brothers and sisters, in our lives sometimes we have Esek, sometimes we have Sitnah, but those were not ours. God will give us some room for the rest with His peace in Jesus Christ. Do we really have the well that Jesus gives us so you named that well, Jesus?
The Bible says in Matthew 5:5, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth…” Even when you see James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift is from above…” sometimes Sitnah, sometimes Esek; but we have to say that this is from the Lord. “…coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights...” this is how James said about perfect gift which is Jesus Christ.
Are you really tiresome digging your well to have some water for your life? Yes, you may but remember, that is not your first well or your last well as well. Our ultimate inheritance is Jesus Christ. Are you still digging your well just like Isaac did? If so, make yourself more meek, more humble, make peace. If somebody ask you for your garment, give them; let him have because God will give you another well with plenty of room and you and your family and friends will dwell in that place with real peace. So, let’s learn. Isaac learned obedience from his father. Abraham learned. Abraham obeyed God. If you want your children how to obey you, learn how to obey God. Show your children that you obey and how to obey God before you say you obeyed. Obedience is based on total trust of God, not based on what you can see right now. At last, Isaac is safely settled and richly blessed. This is the life of Isaac. What is yours?
Rev. David Bang