Turn to Genesis 26:1-17. Chapter 26 of Genesis tells us more about Isaac than any other of the sections which speak of this son of Abraham. In this passage, we have three distinct scenes set before us. First, a description of Isaac’s sojourn in Gerar and God's confirmation of the covenant made with Abraham is presented in verses 1-6. Next, Isaac's repetition of the same sin that his father previously committed is presented in verses 7-11. Finally, a description of God’s blessings on Isaac’s life and the envious behavior of the Philistines is presented in verses 12-17.  



I. God confirms the covenant to Isaac. 

In Genesis 26:1-6, we see Isaac’s sojourn in Gerar and God's confirmation of the covenant. We learn an important lesson from this section which is that the Christian's confidence is drawn from God's unchanging covenant promises not from our changing circumstances. That lesson is thrust upon us with the very first words of verse 1 in which Moses stated, “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.” This verse sets the context for everything that happens in Chapter 26, but especially for what happens in verses 1-17. The circumstance of famine lets us know why Isaac went to Gerar and to Abimelech, the Philistine king, in the first place. 

In verses 2-5, God reveals himself to Isaac. It is important to remember that this is the first time that God has spoken to Isaac, as far as we know. This is a very eventful and important passage because, in these verses, it is made clear that the covenant which Isaac is going to receive is, in fact, the covenant which God made with Abraham. God reveals Himself to Isaac and then He reiterates the covenant promises that He previously made to Abraham. At the same time, God gives Isaac a warning and specific directions. First, God tells Isaac not to go to Egypt but to stay in the land in verse 2. We are not told why here, but it does give us cause to wonder, especially in this case of Isaac, given his compliant personality, whether God did not want him going down into Egypt, lest he be influenced by surroundings. In verse 3, God tells Isaac to stay in this land, even though it is in the midst of a famine, and that He would bless him and that His presence would be near him. Just as he had received blessings from the Lord in Genesis 25:11, Isaac is blessed again by the Lord in surprising circumstances. In verse 4, the Lord reiterates the covenant promise made to Abraham when God says that He will multiply Isaac’s descendants and give them the land. Furthermore, God also says that they have a mission, and their mission is that they would be a blessing to the nations. Thus, Isaac's descendants are given this covenant promise in order that they would be a blessing to the nations. Finally, in verse 5, God says that the reason He is going to do these things is because Abraham obeyed the Lord and kept His commandments. Now even Abraham, however, received this blessing from God by grace. Overall, these verses are a reminder to us that Isaac has done absolutely nothing to deserve the promises of God. 



II. Isaac's failures.

In Genesis 26:7-11, we learn that Christians are always liable to the temptation to doubt God's providential care. Specifically, we see that Isaac, after this great act of faith and trust in God, immediately imitates his father's cowardice, and he earns the reproach of pagans. Even the Philistines see the inappropriateness of what Isaac has done once he is discovered. At one moment, Isaac trusts God, yet in the next moment, he attempts to find a way to protect himself. In doing so, he violates God's law. When the fear of the men of Gerar overtook Isaac, he sinned. Isaac has heard the voice of God pronouncing Abraham's covenant and blessings upon him. Yet, he falls prey to unbelief. That is a warning to us. Unbelief can come upon us and it crouches at the door like sin. In this context of unbelief, Isaac uses the same ploy that his father did.   

Even though this story is similar to the story of Abraham's encounter with Abimelech, the details are too different in these accounts for this to be called a duplication which was accidentally put in by the author. Abimelech sees Isaac behaving towards Rebekah in a way that brothers do not behave towards a sister. Immediately, Abimelech knows what is going on. Therefore, he calls Isaac and he rebukes him. First, notice that Abimelech's respect for marriage shows us the power and the reality of the light of conscience. Abimelech didn't have the Bible, but he knew that marriage was a sacred relationship and it ought not be violated. The ultimate source of morality is found in the Creator God. In relation, that standard of morality which is set by the very character of the Creator God is not only revealed to us in Scripture, but God tells us in the Bible that He writes it on our hearts. Second, as we see God protecting Isaac by this pagan prince, we should remember that no one is outside the reach of God's employment in His providential protection of His people. God rules the world for the sake of His people, and God uses even this pagan monarch to protect Isaac and the line of promises.  



III. God blesses Isaac.  

In Genesis 26:12-17, God blessed Isaac in the midst of famine conditions, but the Philistines envied him for the prosperity God had given him. From this passage, we learn that God often blesses His people in spite of their weakness, however, we also learn that all temporal blessings are mixed in this fallen world. We are told in verses 12-14 that God caused Isaac to reap a hundredfold his crop in the midst of a famine year. This was clearly the blessing of God. It is clear, not only in this passage, but in the passages to follow that the Philistines understood that this blessing was because of God. They recognized that God's hand of favor was upon Isaac, but the Philistines were also jealous. As a result of this jealousy, they filled up the wells dug by Abraham’s servants. Even though God's temporal blessing was real, it does not mean that Isaac was impervious to the jealousy of the wicked. The same is true for us. God may truly bless us with certain temporal blessings in this life, however, that does not mean that we will not face certain trials and difficulties in this fallen world. There will be a place where those blessings will be unmixed, but not here. May God strengthen us to trust Him until we reach that place.