Genesis 26 reads like a little novel, full of plot twists and intrigue. It begins with “Now there was a famine in the land…” Included in the story are accounts of conflict, deception, ruined relationships, relocation, revenge, jealousy, fear. Much of the conflict in Isaac’s life revolves around water and wells. In that arid region, water was essential for survival. Without it, flocks and herds and crops would die, and eventually, so would the people.
After digging two wells which were basically taken from him (one well’s name meant “dispute” and the other meant “opposition”), he finally digs a well that no one quarrels about with him, so he names it “Rehoboth,” saying “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” (Gen. 26:22) It’s at this point that God appears to Isaac at night and says, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you.”
I find Isaac’s response both interesting and inspiring. He took four actions: built an altar, called on the name of the Lord, pitched his tent, and had his servants dig a well. Rather than wallowing in disappointments and fear, he responded by calling on God and worshiping Him with an altar. It was also his father Abraham’s tradition to build an altar wherever he had a memorable spiritual experience. God spoke and Isaac replied with worship and prayer.
God promised to bless Isaac and increase his descendants as he had for Abraham, and in belief, Isaac pitched his tent there and dug another well. I’m sure it was difficult to live in a hostile environment with hostile neighbors, but Isaac didn’t let that scare him off.
We shouldn’t either. Government leaders, society, secular culture – they may be hostile to the Christian cause. But how are we building our altars, calling on the name of the Lord, pitching our tents and digging in? Positive action trumps negative criticism, in my opinion. I’m wondering what actions I can take today to counteract fear? I’ll start with worship and prayer.