Isaac and the Wells January 14, 2008Posted by Matt in Bible, god, love, peace.
Tags: Bible, giving, Isaac, love, peace, turning the other cheek
I’m a voracious reader, but have always been incredibly bad about regularly reading my Bible. So, in an attempt to try something new, I’ve begun listening to the Daily Audio Bible podcast, which is available on Itunes, during my short commute to and from work each day. Each day a guy named Brian reads scripture in his annoyingly breathy voice, choosing selections from the Old Testament (beginning with Genesis), the New Testament (beginning with Matthew), Psalms and Proverbs.
Today’s scripture came from Genesis 26 and 27, which deals with the relationships of Isaac, Jacob, and Esau, both with each other and with those outside the family. There was a story, though, that caught my attention this morning, one that I know I’ve read before but perhaps have never really thought about.
17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 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 herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek, [b] because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. [c] 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, [d] 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.
I was really struck by the attitude of Isaac who, when the herdsmen of Gerar complained about the placement of his well, willingly gave in to avoid an unneeded conflict. Even more amazing is the fact that it happened not just once, but twice.
So, it made me think about us, in today’s modern world. Imagine that you had a prized possession that was very important to you. Then imagine that somebody came along, claimed it belonged to them rather than you, and took it from you. What sort of reaction would you have?
Would you fight them physically to have it returned to you? Would you take the person to court, suing them for the rights to the object of your desire? Would you take to the airwaves, proclaiming how terrible this person is in an attempt to ruin their reputation?
Or would you take the road that Isaac took and graciously move on?
It’s a hard situation for us, in our overly-aggressive modern world where we vehemently defend what we see to be ours – either in terms of physical possessions or rights or ideals – but it is one that many are regularly faced with. It’s not easy to put our love for others (even our enemies) and a desire for peace above our own wants and desires.
I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount:
Matt 5: 38-42
38″You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’[g] 39But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. 41If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. 42Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.