Thursday, August 27, 2009

Meeting God at Beersheba -- Genesis 26:23-25


Then he went up from there to Beersheba. The LORD appeared to him the same night and said, "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 the sake of My servant Abraham." So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac's servants dug a well.

As I read this Scripture portion, I understand it to say Isaac had moved to Gerar (Genesis 26:1), then moved to the valley of Gerar (26:17) and then moved within that valley again (26:22). Now in verse 23 we read that Isaac goes from ‘there’ to Beersheba.

Beersheba you will remember is where Hagar went after Abraham and Sarah had sent her away (Genesis 21:14). In Genesis 21:33 we learned that Abraham had planted a grove there and had called on the name of the Lord there. In Genesis 22:19 we read that this is where Abraham went to and dwelt after Isaac was spared by God from being sacrificed. And now here in Genesis 26:23 Isaac comes to Beersheba once again. Why he went there and exactly how far Beersheba was from where he last dwelt, is not clear. We do know that Beersheba was at one end of the country in Biblical times, the southernmost part. Given how God had used Beersheba in the past for Hagar and then Abraham, perhaps God wanted to take Isaac there, as a means of Isaac reconnecting with the Almighty as we see in this section. Sometimes God, even though we may feel ‘we’re finally home’ as Isaac did in verse 22, wants us to be totally reliant on Him and thus He moves us again and meets us where He takes us. The secret of a victorious life under His care is to be ready to pack up just when you think He’s allowed you to settle.

What happens at Beersheba? God does indeed meet there with him too -- just as the angel of God called to Hagar there when she was desperate and fearing that Ishmael was dying and just as God met there with Abraham his father. In many respects, Beersheba becomes the place where Abraham’s family meets alone with God.

Notice the text says the “Lord appeared to him the same night”. Those of us that are Type A personalities are often teased and sometimes ridiculed because of our “action- and goal-oriented” approach to life. Yet, throughout Scripture, I detect incidents where God acts very much like a Type A. This is one of them. He didn’t give Isaac a chance to settle in and get comfortable in Beersheba. That same night Isaac arrives there, God appears and tells him who He is. He assures Isaac of His presence with him and thus no need to fear. And He goes further, assuring him of being blessed and that his own descendants would be multiplied. But again, as we noted earlier, God is doing all of this for the sake of His servant Abraham. Never underestimate what God will do for your family and your descendants – grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and beyond – because of your relationship with Him. As I live my life and watch my grandchildren mature, this very thought of a blessing for them from God alone is, admittedly, a major driver in my desire to have a close and Holy relationship with God. I pray it may it be yours as well.

Isaac accepts the words of the Lord and in response he builds an altar there and he too calls upon the name of the Lord, just like his father did. Then he pitched his tent to stay there awhile, long enough that it was necessary for his servants to dig a well for them to have water. When God comes and meets us somewhere, we need to recognize His visit. Somehow, we need to establish a means whereby we give Him praise for that and then we need to stay awhile and cherish His words given to us there. We don’t build altars today as they did in Bible days, but we can identify a locale or a specific item in that vicinity that we will always remember as the place where God spoke to us, and we’ll want to visit there often. We’ll want to share that place with our children and grandchildren so they know that God had met us there and be open to His calling them, perhaps in the same spot.


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