וישׁכימו בבקר וישׁבעו אישׁ לאחיו וישׁלחם יצחק וילכו מאתו בשׁלום׃
Yitz'chak prepared a banquet for them, and they ate and drank. The next morning, they got up early and swore to each other. Then Yitz'chak sent them on their way, and they left him peacefully. (Gen 26:30-31 CJB)
BLESSED ARE THEY WHO ... REFUSE TO QUARREL.
ANOTHER STORY ABOUT WELLS.
Wells are so midrashic. From Rivka to Rachel, wells offer beautiful love stories. It is by a well that Yeshua revealed Himself to a whole Samaritan city. The parasha this week offers us another beautiful story about wells. A story that we should do well to heed and learn from. A story that is pertinent to our generation. What is this story? It is found in the 26th chapter of the book of origins called Genesis.It starts at verse 13. (Italicised texts in between verses are mine)
(13) The man (Yitz'chak) became rich and prospered more and more, until he had become very wealthy indeed. (14) He had flocks, cattle and a large household; and the P'lishtim envied him.
Throughout their history, the success of Jewish lifestyle has often drawn jealousy from the people around them..
(15) Now the P'lishtim had stopped up and filled with dirt all the wells his father's servants had dug during the lifetime of Avraham his father. (16) Avimelekh said to Yitz'chak, "You must go away from us, because you have become much more powerful than we are."
ISAAC, SON OF ABRAHAM
There was a treaty between the people of the Land and Abraham (Gen 21:22-34). This treaty was supposed to be passed on from Abraham to his son Isaac. Avimelch knew of that treaty but in his envy he tried to find some excuse to not honor it. The midrash teaches that many people in the Land did not believe that Isaac was Abraham's legitimate son. They did not believe in Isaac's miracle birth in his parents’ old age. They preferred to believe that Sarah got pregnant when she was in captivity. This gave them the excuse to not honor the covenant made with Abraham and then take his wells and lands.
The midrash also says that in order to stop gossips concerning about the descendance of Isaac,HaShem made Isaac look exactly like his father so that there was a saying in those days about them, “He who has seen the son has seen the father!” It is amazing that until this day, many people do not want to believe in the miracle birth of Yeshua but still believe the ancient gossip that Miryam got pregnant by a Roman soldier. But Yeshua proved who he was by His faithful characterial representation of His father so that he could also say to Phillip, (“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.)
Isaac had the legitimate title of “Son of Abraham,” but this title he is going to be tested as to whether he is a “Son of Abraham “ in title only or in deed and truth also.
TEST 1: WALKING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF ABRAHAM
(17) So Yitz'chak left, set up camp in Vadi G'rar and lived there. (18) Yitz'chak reopened the wells which had been dug during the lifetime of Avraham his father, the ones the P'lishtim had stopped up after Avraham died, and called them by the names his father had used for them.
As the descendant of his father, he “drank from the same well” as his father; learned from the same doctrine. Yeshua also taught the same doctrine as His Father. He did not create a new religion.
TEST 2: TRUST THAT HASHEM IS ABLE TO FULFILL THAT WHICH HE HAS PROMISED.
(19) Yitz'chak's servants dug in the vadi and uncovered a spring of running water. (20) But the herdsmen of G'rar quarreled with Yitz'chak's herdsmen, claiming, "That water is ours!" So he called the well `Esek [quarrel], because they quarreled with him. (21)
Isaac continued in the work of his father. His work was hijacked and stolen but Isaac and his people did not respond aggressively. They just then left and ...
They dug another well and quarreled over that one too. So he called it Sitnah [enmity]. (22)
Same story so ... After having tested Isaac's peaceful character in the same way that He tested his father Abraham's, HaShem is now ready to bless Isaac, as He had blessed Abraham.
He went away from there and dug another well, and over that one they didn't quarrel. So he called it Rechovot [wide open spaces] and said, "Because now Adonai has made room for us, and we will be productive in the land."
Hallelu-Yah!!!!! Now for the blessing of all blessings:
(23) From there Yitz'chak went up to Be'er-Sheva. (24) Adonai appeared to him that same night and said, "I am the God of Avraham your father. Don't be afraid, because I am with you; I will bless you and increase your descendants for the sake of my servant Avraham." (25) There he built an altar and called on the name of Adonai. He pitched his tent there, and there Yitz'chak's servants dug a well.
Isaac is no more the “Son of Abraham” in title only. He proved his true nature by doing the “works of Abraham” (John 8:39)
TEST 4: TO RECEIVE AN ENEMY.
(26) Then Avimelekh went to him from G'rar with his friend Achuzat and Pikhol the commander of his army. (27) Yitz'chak said to them, "Why have you come to me, even though you were unfriendly to me and sent me away?" (28) They answered, "We saw very clearly that Adonai has been with you; so we said, 'Let there be an oath between us: let's make a pact between ourselves and you (29) that you will not harm us,...
When a man's ways please Adonai, he makes even the man's enemies be at peace with him. (Pro 16:7 CJB)
By walking in the footsteps of Abraham, by acting like his father before him, Isaac dissipated all doubts concerning his identity. Now Avimelch has to admit that this is truly the son of Abraham. He has to honor the contract. As he tries to make peace with Isaac, he glosses over the true facts and pretends nothing has happened between them ...
... just as we have not caused you offense but have done you nothing but good and sent you on your way in peace. Now you are blessed by Adonai.' "
TEST 5: NOT SEEKING TO INDULGE IN REVENGE.
(30) Yitz'chak prepared a banquet for them, and they ate and drank. (An application of Ps 23:5)
(31) The next morning, they got up early and swore to each other. Then Yitz'chak sent them on their way, and they left him peacefully. (32) That very day Yitz'chak's servants came and told him about the well they had dug, "We have found water." (33) So he called it Shiv`ah [oath, seven], and for this reason the name of the city is Be'er-Sheva [well of seven, well of an oath] to this day.
A STORY FORESHADOWING THE FUTURE.
The Jewish nation faces the same situation today. The children of Abraham want to again drink from the wells of their father Abraham but face opposition from those in the land who do not honor the land ownership contract made with their father.
Paul and James teach us that trials and tribulation for righteousness' sake exist in order to build our character, teach us patience, and mature our faith. Just like these trials and tests tested Isaac’s character before receiving the divinely appointed blessing, Yeshua also learned obedience from the things He suffered. Today, Israel’s character as a nation is also shaped by the trials and tests created by its neighbors opposition.
There is a peaceful ending to this story. Avimelech decides to stop persecuting Isaac. We will find a similar ending when Jacob and Esau embrace upon Jacob’s return to the Land from his exile at Laban’s.
AND WHAT DO WE LEARN FROM THIS?
These stories do tell us the end from the beginning but is this story just the accounts of a quarrel concerning water rights? Is this just a foreshadow of the future of Israel?
Like Isaac, if we want to be recognized as the “Children of Abraham,” we must prove it by acting like Abraham in times of trials, especially in times of conflict with the world around us. Then this proverb, "When a man's ways please Adonai, he makes even the man's enemies be at peace with him." (Pro 16:7 CJB) will also apply to us.
We will not win the world to HaShem through violence, anger, harsh retaliatory actions or rhetoric. It is not the way of He who instead of retaliating and destroying His enemies (us!), gave His unique Son, so that everyone who trusts in him may have eternal life, instead of being utterly destroyed. (John 3:16) It is not the way of His prophets who died proclaiming the truth rather than adopting the vengeful ways of their opponents. It is not the way King David who said that it is the meek, not the strong and powerful, who shall inherit the land (Ps 37:11) It is not the way of the Master who though mistreated, was submissive did not open his mouth and like a lamb led to be slaughtered, remained silent before its shearers (Is 53:7). It is not the way of his early disciples who all willingly died for the sake of the congregation (Col 1:24). It is not the way of the disciples of the disciples who also died as martyrs (Foxe’s Book of Martyrs). It not our way.
May we like Abraham and Isaac allow our character to be tested through injustice that we may like Yeshua carry the cross of unwarranted suffering and death. He was promised a crown but he had to learn obedience before he received it (Heb 5:8) We have also been promised a crown and it will not come without the testing of our character either now or in the days to come. May we not fight it nor find it unjust but on that day, may we remember the words of Yaakov,
Regard it all as joy, my brothers, when you face various kinds of temptations; for you know that the testing of your trust produces perseverance. But let perseverance do its complete work; so that you may be complete and whole, lacking in nothing. ... How blessed is the man who perseveres through temptation! For after he has passed the test, he will receive as his crown the Life which God has promised to those who love him.
(Jas 1:2-12 CJB)