Links Daily Devotional

Sticking to the Promise

Now there was a famine in the land—besides the earlier famine of Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. (Genesis 26:1, NIV)

Like many of you, I meet regularly with a local Links Fellowship. We dig into the Bible, support one another in prayer, and join in looking to the Lord as the one who uniquely and preeminently guides our lives.

This year, we have been studying through the book of Genesis, making continuing connections to the New Testament. If there is any doubt in your mind as to the importance of the Old Testament, be certain of this: There was no doubt in Jesus’ mind nor the minds of the apostles. They held fast to the wonders of God revealed in the pages of the only Bible they had—sans gospels, epistles, Acts and Revelation.

After the death of Abraham, Isaac was leading his growing family when he moved out of the region of Hebron further south to Gerar in order to escape a famine.

In one way this appeared to be a simple decision. No food means no life. So, particularly as a tent dweller, you go where the getting is good. You go find food.

But Isaac was a child of promise living in a land of promise. The region settled by his father Abraham around the trees of Mamre was the very place where God had led Abraham from out of Ur in the east. The land possessed a place in the heart and mind of Isaac, just as it had with his father. Now, with no food at hand and no sign of rain, Isaac was faced with an apparent direct assault on the promise.

We cannot know for sure what Isaac was thinking, but we may say that his decision to go to Gerar, where Abimelek and the Philistines had been so gracious to Abraham in years past, was an act of faith. That’s right. Some have argued that there was doubt in Abraham’s mind and then Isaac’s when they chose to sojourn outside the region where they had settled. But we can contend just as adamantly that Isaac went with the flow of necessity precisely because he knew that the promise was fixed. “Faith,” after all, “is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

The old commentator Matthew Henry observed the scene this way: “The intrinsic worth of God’s promises cannot be lessened in a believer’s eye by any cross providences.”

God will be God. In the very progression of his promises to us, he may lay down challenges to our faith in him and in what he has promised. The key question in such an hour is this: Are you a believer? Will you, like Isaac, act in wisdom and in faith, counting on God to fulfill a promise that looks like it is fading? It’s a pattern Isaac learned on an altar above Moriah, on a mountain Abraham came to call “The LORD will provide.”

Jeff Hopper

September 23, 2013

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