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Commentary » Genesis 26:1-Genesis 26:16 »

The Lord’s First Promise to Isaac

The words of John Wesley. “As a young boy in the family of a clergyman I had been “carefully taught that salvation could only be obtained by keeping all the commandments of God. I hoped to be saved, by, (1) Not being so bad as other people. (2) Having a kind of religio … More


As we read this we can see how Isaac was a man easily persuaded by circumstances and willing to let these things bend and shape his life rather than forcing them to serve him. He finds himself overwhelmed by a famine in the land and decides to go down to Egypt until it is over (v. 1). A hundred years before this his father Abraham had done the same thing with disastrous results. Despite the warning of Abraham’s experience Isaac set his course for Egypt. In fact we see great similarity of what happened to him and what happened to Abraham. Some of these things are (1) famine, (2) a plan to go to Egypt, (3) the stay in Gerar (v. 2), (4) he called his wife his sister, (5) the wife’s beauty, (6) Abimelech’s concern about committing adultery, and (7) Abimelech’s rebuke.

God promised to bless Isaac like his father Abraham (vv. 3-4). He moved to Gerar with his beautiful wife Rebekah (vv. 5-7). Isaac, like his father, resorted to lies as he told Abimelech that Rebekah is his sister. Deception is ingrained in the very fiber of our beings. As it always happens, lies hurt other people. For a long time the lie was undetected but as time passed Isaac became so used to living with his lie that he became careless in his behavior and acted in such a way that his deception was exposed (vv. 8-9). Abimelech confronted Isaac about what he had done and warned his people not to touch Isaac or Rebekah or they would be put to death (vv. 10-11). Isaac planted grain and the Lord blessed him (vv. 12-13). The Phillistines became jealous and finally Abimelech asked Isaac to leave the country (vv. 14-16).


I need to head the warnings of God in His Word and not fall into the same traps that Abraham and Isaac did. The key is obedience to God’s Word and not the circumstances of life at the time.

Genesis 26:1-16 (English Standard Version)

Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the LORD appeared to him and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws." So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, "She is my sister," for he feared to say, "My wife," thinking, "lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah," because she was attractive in appearance. When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. So Abimelech called Isaac and said, "Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, 'She is my sister'?" Isaac said to him, "Because I thought, 'Lest I die because of her.'" Abimelech said, "What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us." So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, "Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death." And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father's servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.) And Abimelech said to Isaac, "Go away from us, for you are much mightier than we."

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