Genesis 26:26-35 – WE’RE NOT GOING TO LIVE IN FEAR!
She is new to Shalom, the Aged Care Facility where I work as a Chaplain. Jane (not her real name) is old and frail, and anxious. She clings onto my hand, frantic eyes wide and pleads “Will you stay here and talk to me. I don’t have any friends here. I need someone to stay with me. Please don’t leave me alone.” I can almost smell the fear it is so palpable as she looks into my eyes and tentatively glances around the room at her new surroundings.
That’s when I notice Francis (not her real name) at a table nearby, listening to our conversation and pretending to read a book. I breathe a sigh of relief. After all Jane can’t live the few remaining years her life in fear. Meeting new friends can only help. The perfect opportunity for Jane to meet a new friend. We arrive at her table and I introduce Jane to Francis.
Fancis, a rather tall and well built woman stands to her feet and before I can stop her she slams her considerable sized book on the table in front of her. With venom in her voice she yells at the top of her vocal range, swearing into Janes face “Get a ^%#@* grip on yourself woman! … Keep her away from me!” All of a sudden the loungeroom was a battlefield, Jane’s wheelchair was her trench and each strange face her enemy. She was afraid and I was her only ally, vainly waving a peace flag while it was being shot to pieces.
The shock of this confrontation is almost too much for Jane and I quickly wheel her away from her “potential friend” before she has a heart attack. I shake my head in disbelief as Francis continues her tirade from a distance. If Jane was fearful about being in a new place she is now TRAUMATISED against meeting anybody new. Who knows how the next stranger might respond? She feels REJECTED AND ISOLATED.
Isaac is also in a new place and among strangers, but initially he is tolerated and they allow him to farm the land. For someone who has never farmed before, Isaac has an unbelievably fruitful season, a bumper crop, by the time we get to Genesis 26:12. He is being blessed by God, and God, it seems, has incredible farming skills.
Although Isaac becomes very prosperous in his business, his RELATIONSHIP with his Philistine neighbours is in a mess. Isaac is seen as a THREAT and is ordered out of Gerar by the authorities. REJECTED AND ISOLATED in a strange place. Jane understands how he feels.
Isaac moves eventually to BEERSHEBA after a number of provocative incidents which, like a fully cocked flintlock on an ancient musket, were ready to create a spark that would ignite the priming powder of war. The Philistines are itching for a fight and they vandalise his wells by filling them with dirt.
Isaac is still pretty upset about the vandalism of his fathers wells. So when the Philistine King Abimelech walks into camp with his army commander, Phicol, he isn’t exactly receptive. He says “Why have you come here? You obviously hate me, since you kicked me off your land” (Genesis 26:27 NLT). He’s not being paranoid. They do hate him!
Abimelech acknowledges that he can see that the Lord is with Isaac. I spoke with a man the other day who can see the difference that faith has made but he is still unwilling to commit his life to Christ. Why is that? Is it because he is unwilling to come under God’s authority and to be accountable to Him?
Obviously Abimelech is a little bit afraid of the reprisals that might occur because of the vandalism to Isaacs wells. He says he wants peace. He says “Let’s make a covenant. Swear that you will not harm us, just as we have never troubled you. We have always treated you well, and we sent you away from us in peace…” (Genesis 26:28 NLT). What gall! Treated him well? He has just finished running him out of town, almost instigating a war in the process, and he says that he sent him away in peace! Thems fighting words!
Here’s Isaacs opportunity to get even by running Abimelech out of town, but Isaac doesn’t take it. He sees the bigger picture. He begins being intentional about peace. He starts thinking in effect “How long can we look at each other down the barrel of a gun?” The Australian pop singer Johnny Farnham would have been proud. “We’re not gonna sit in silence, WE’RE NOT GONNA LIVE WITH FEAR, Oh-o-o-o, whoa-o-o-o!” (The Voice).
Isaac prepares a non aggression treaty. They eat and drink together, a sign of their mutual agreement. Jesus says “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9 NASB). Paul says “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.” (Romans 12:18 NASB). The next morning they sign the treaty by making a solemn oath with each other in front of witnesses. Then Abimelech leaves in peace (Genesis 26:30-31) and in that atmosphere of peace and security comes more good news.
“That very day Isaac’s servants came and told him about a new well they had dug. “We’ve found water!” they exclaimed. So Isaac named the well Shibah (which means “oath”). And to this day the town that grew up there is called Beersheba (which means “WELL OF THE OATH”)”. Isaac sees a connection with the finding of this well and the peace treaty he has just made with Abimelech, but mostly this is the place where God appears to him and reaffirms His covenant of blessing (Genesis 26:24-25).
Don’t miss it. Not having to live in fear is not just trying to please everyone around you. Deep-seated peace comes when I am in relationship with Christ who is my peace. Jesus says “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27 NLT). Reconciliation with God leads to reconciliation with others.
The invitation of peace with God and eachother is found in Christ. To followers of Christ, Paul writes, “You were His ENEMIES, SEPARATED from Him …Yet now He has RECONCILED you to Himself through the death of Christ …” (Colossians 1:19-22 NLT).
2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (NLT) says “… we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. … anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. … And God has given us this task of reconciling people to Him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And He gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making His appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
Now that’s some PEACE TREATY. Forgiven! Restored! Loved! “WE’RE NOT GONNA TO LIVE IN FEAR! OH-O-O-O, WHOA-O-O-O!”
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