On Perseverance

Genesis 26

The Word of God, Jesus Himself, appears to Isaac and warns him not to go into Egypt, but rather to stay in the land which the Lord had promised to Abraham. In so keeping with this, Isaac was reminded to keep his focus on the faith of Abraham, which had led to his covenant with the Lord. Further, Egypt represents this sort of fallen world, a world which had been built up outside of the presence of the Lord, whilst the land of promise was built solely on the promise of the Lord and represents sort of this world to come. The Word further reiterates this by telling Isaac to live in this land as a sojourner, never rooting himself too strongly to the this world or the things of this world. This detachment is so imperative to us as the faithful, for when we cling too strongly to the things of this world, we tend to allow them to distract far too much from the things which are eternal. Consider the man who, when beckoned by Jesus to “follow Me,” stated that he would, but first he wanted to go and bury his father. Consider that fact, he had God Himself standing before him, saying come with Me, and he couldn’t help but think about his earthly relationships.

The word continues His promise to Abraham here through Isaac, explaining that He will multiply his seeds as the stars of heaven. “I will give your seed to all these lands; and the nations of the earth will be blessed.” This is another important statement. Notice, it is not certain nations will be blessed, or the nations I have chosen; no it is all nations. It is not a reference to a singular geographic nationality, but rather a promise that both the Jews and the Gentiles, all in fact who receive the promise of Abraham, will be blessed. The Lord then continues with what this looks like and how to receive this promise. To receive the promise of Abraham, we must first look to Abraham to see what this looks like. “Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, my ordinances, my laws.” All who are truly faithful should seek to imitate that behavior, as we read in the Gospel of Luke, “Why do you call to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ but not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). According to Jesus, the truly faithful are those who hear His voice and obey it; or as James admonishes us, “But be doers of the word, not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (James 1:22).

This chapter ends with an interesting quarrel. A quarrel between Isaac and the herdsmen of Gerar. The two wells, Injustice and Enmity, represent this opposition between righteousness and unrighteousness. On the one side, you have Isaac, who is righteous through his faith; and on the other you have the herdsmen who represent the fallen world. We see Isaac and his servants digging wells seeking fresh water, as the land is in famine; and the herdsmen claiming the water as their own, refusing to allow them to have any of it. Is that so different to how the world would behave today? In the midst of the worst blight, you could find the most perfect garden, and then would be disputing over land ownership rights before any of it’s fruit could be distributed. The herdsmen here fight over possession to the very water that could bring about life. Finally, Isaac and his servants find the well named Room, as a reminder that the Lord WILL make room for the righteous in this world, so that the faith may continue to grow and multiply. But, it’s ever so imperative that we recognize that it was not without tribulation that they found this well. So it ever shall be in the world, those who seek for the faith to continue to grow and multiply will be constantly forced to endure adversity, oftentimes not even realizing that their own resistance is fighting against the will of God, for nothing happens which He does not allow. Many times, it is through the very adversity that we learn the patience and humility needed to persevere.

After this dispute, the Lord once again appears to Isaac and reaffirms the promise of Abraham. which further emphasizes the never changing nature of our God. This is our reassurance that these same promises that were given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, continue to this very day; as Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and always.

Indeed, to this very day, these same promises hold true. Those who obey God, who trust in Him, who abide in Him, persevering even through the trials and adversities, will receive the promise of blessings to come. We must be sojourners in this life, not clinging to worldly labels or allowing our possessions to possess us; forsaking national heritage and pride, and instead, recognizing that we are citizens of a kingdom which is not on the earth, but rather in heaven. We must keep our heart and mind firmly focused on the things of the Lord. And whether in times of joy or sorrow, we must build, as Isaac here does, an altar to Him and offer up our sacrifice; praise, supplication, love.

As children of God, we must never allow the adversity or circumstances of the world overshadow our devotion to the Lord. Currently, most parishes in every nation are shuttered because of the current pandemic. But we must remember that this has happened because He has allowed it to. Never grow angry with these situations. Perhaps the Lord is forcing us to slow down, to “be still and know that He is the Lord.” Make your home your monastery, make your heart your altar, praise Him for all that He has done, and never lose sight of Him, remembering His promise, “the one who perseveres to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13).

Christ is in our midst.

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