Giant of the Bible


Section10. - Isaac.
(Chap. xxii - xxvi. 33.)

(1) The Dispensational Application. In the chapter to which we are now come, the outward application has a prominence which it scarcely has elsewhere in the book of Genesis. No wonder, since in Isaac we have Christ personally, the central theme of the Spirit of God. The lapse here of that individual application which we have found so continuous hitherto - the thread, indeed, on which the other truths are strung - has its own significance and beauty. Of course it may be said that it is difficult to say whether this lapse be more than one in our knowledge; and indeed we have no plummet to fathom the depth of our ignorance. "If any one think that he knoweth any thing, he knoweth nothing yet as he ought to know." Still the fullness of detail on the one side, so coinciding with the apparent failure on the other, seems to speak plainly. It is (it I may venture to say so) as when the geologist finds a sudden upburst from beneath disturb the regularity of the strata he is tracing out, but finds in it the outcropping of seams of precious metal or mineral, thus exposed for man’s behoof and need. It is no disturbance really of the divine plan - no interruption to that continual thought and care for us which the individual application argues. What untold blessing in being thus permitted, in fellowship with Him whose record this is, to occupy ourselves with Christ!

Is there not a lack of ability generally for this, in spite of the way in which God is opening His Word to us, that speaks sorrowfully for the state of our souls? Are not Christians dwelling upon that which they count of profit to them, to the losing sight very much of that which is of greatest profit? Is not even the gospel preached without the witness of that box of ointment for the head of Christ which He said should be told every where "for a memorial [not of Him, but] of her"?
Isaac is undoubtedly the living type of Christ which gives Him to us most in the work He has done for God, and thus for us. For a moment, as it were, from the solemn institution of sacrifice the vail is almost removed. Man for man it is must suffer: man, but not this man. Isaac is withdrawn, and faith is left looking onward to the Lamb that "God will provide for Himself" as a burnt-offering.

But if Isaac be the type of this, another comes no less distinctly into view. It is a father here who gives his son. Abraham seems, indeed, the most prominent figure, and necessarily for the type. It is the father’s will to which the son obediently gives himself. In the antitype, the God who provides Himself the lamb answers to the father in this case. It is the Son of God who comes to do the Father’s will. But what a will, to be the Father’s!

"And it came to pass after these things" - the break is plain with what had gone before, - "that God did tempt [or "try"] Abraham, and said unto him, ‘Abraham:’ and he said, ‘Here am I.’"
We wonder at this strange testing of a faith God held precious. Was it not worth the while to be honoured with such a history? This was his justification by works now, God bringing out into open sight before others that which He Himself had long before seen and borne witness of. And then how wonderful to see in this display of a human heart the manifestation of the Father!

How all is measured out to Abraham! "And He said, ‘Take now thy son, thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest; and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.’" But who can fail to see that in these elements of sorrow that filled to the brim the father’s cup we have the lineaments of a sacrifice transcending this immeasurably? Let us not fear to make God too human in thus apprehending Him. He has become a man to be apprehended.

"Thy son, thine only son," God says to Abraham: and "God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth on Him should not perish, but have eternal life". Thus is manifested His love, that it is His Son that He has given - His only begotten Son. This is too human a term for some, who would fain do Him honour by denying this to be His divine title. They own Him Son of God, as "that holy thing" born of the virgin Mary; they own Him too as "God over all blessed forever;" but His eternal sonship they do not own.* But thus it would not be true that "the Father sent the Son to be the propitiation for our sins," nor that "God gave His only begotten Son." And this term, "only begotten," is in contrast with His title as "First-begotten," - "First-born among many brethren." The former as decisively excludes others from sharing with Him as the latter admits. And when the "Word was made flesh, and tabernacled among us" (Jno. i. 14, Cr.), the glory of Deity seen in the tabernacle of His manhood was "the glory as of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." Again, if God only could fully declare God, it is "the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him."
* Two popular commentaries, those of Adam Clarke and Albert Barnes, are infested with this doctrine.

John thus, whose peculiar theme is the divine manifestation in the Word made flesh, dwells upon this term, "the only begotten." "Had the Father no bosom,"’ it has been well asked, "before Christ was born on earth?" Nay, if there were no Son before then, there was of necessity no Father either. "He that denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father" The Jews even understood that in claiming God to be His Father, He made Himself equal with God. Men argue from it now to show that, it true in the fullest way, it would make Him inferior! No doubt one may fail, on the other hand, by insisting too much on the analogy of the merely human relationship. We are safe, and only sate, in adhering to Scripture; and there the revelation of the Father and the Son are of the essence of Christianity.

"He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." Here we are apt to fail, not in over estimate of the Son’s sacrifice, but in losing sight of the Father’s. It is this surely that in these words the apostle insists on: it is this which peculiarly the type before us dwells on. Let us not miss by any thought of impassivity in God the comfort for our hearts that we should find in this. We may easily make Him hard where we would only make Him changeless. But what to us does it imply, this very title, "Father" and who is the Author of this fount of gushing feeling within us, which if it were absent we should necessarily regard as the gravest moral defect? "He that planted the ear, shall He not hear? He that formed the eye, shall He not see?" and He who gave man the tender response of the heart to every appeal of sorrow, what must He be who has made us thus?

God has given His Son, and His heart has been declared to us once for all. If He try us too, as He tried Abraham, how blessed to think that in this carefully measured cup of his, God was saying, as it were, "I know - I know it all: it is My Son, My Isaac, My only one, I am giving for men." The tree is cast into these Mara-waters thus that sweetens all their bitterness.
Isaac’s own submission is perfect and beautiful. He was not the child that he is often pictured, but, as it would appear, in the vigour of early manhood. He nevertheless submits himself absolutely. How fitting a type of Him who stops the resistance of His impulsive power with the words, "Put up again thy sword into its sheath: the cup which My Father hath given Me, shall I not drink it?"

Through all this trial of Abraham’s we must not miss the fact that the faith of resurrection cheers the father’s heart. The promises of God were assured in him, of whom He had said, "In Isaac shall thy seed be called." If therefore God called for him to be offered up, resurrection must restore him from the very flames of the altar; and "in a figure," as the apostle says, from the dead he was received. The figure of resurrection here it is very important to keep in mind, for it is to Christ in resurrection that the events following typically refer. In fact, Isaac is spared from death; and here occurs one of those double figures by which the Spirit of God would remedy the necessary defect of all figures to set forth Christ and His work. Isaac is spared; but there is substituted for him "a ram caught in a thicket by his horns." Picture of devoted self-surrender, as we have seen elsewhere the ram is; he is "caught by his horns" - the sign. (as others have noticed) of his power. Grace recognizes our impotence as claim upon us might: as He says, "I looked, and there was none to help, and I wondered that there was none to uphold therefore Mine own arm brought salvation to Me"

In figure, however, Isaac is raised from the dead; and as risen, the promise is confirmed, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." It is Christ raised from the dead who is the only source of blessing to the whole world. The value and necessity of His sacrificial work are here affirmed. Death has passed upon all men, for that all have sinned; only beyond death, then, can there be fulfillment of the promise however free.

With the typical meaning of what follows (in ch. xxiii and xxiv.) many are happily familiar now. Sarah passes away and gives place to Rebekah, the mother to the bride (xxiv. 67). Sarah is here the covenant of grace in connection with the people "of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came." God’s dealings with the nation, in view of this, (for the present,) end, and a new thing is developed, the Father's purpose to a bride for His risen Son. The servant’s mission shows us the coming of the Holy Ghost to effect this. Isaac remains in Canaan, as Christ in heaven. The Spirit of God, having all the fullness of the divine treasury "under His hand," comes down in servant-guise as the Son came before. Thorough devotedness to the father’s will and the son’s interests marks the servant’s course. For those who are by grace allowed to be identified with the blessed service thus pictured, how instructive the fact that even his name we have no knowledge of. From what Abraham says, in chapter xv, of the steward of his house, it is generally inferred that it is Eliezer of Damascus, but this is by no means certain. Certainly he is the representative of One who does not speak of Himself, or seek His own glory; and for those whom He may use as His instruments, the lesson is plain.

So also is that of the waiting upon God which is so striking in Abraham’s messenger. What sustains in prayer like singleness of eye? If it is our own will we are seeking, what confidence can we have? Here we find prayer that God answers to the letter. If Christ’s interests be ours, how fully may we count upon God glorifying His beloved Son! "Let it be she whom Thou hast appointed for Thy servant Isaac." How blessed to be working on to an already predestined end!

As for Rebekah, it is to be noted that she is already of Abraham’s kindred: it is not an outside stranger that is sought for Isaac; and this is surely impressed on us in chapter xxii, where Nahor’s children are announced to Abraham. It is in the family of faith that the Church is found: it is the gathering together of the children of God who are scattered abroad (Jno. xi. 52); not, as so many imagine, identical with the whole company of these, but only with those of the present period - from Pentecost till the Lord calls up His own. "Thou shalt go to my land and to my kindred, and take a wife for my son Isaac." Rebekah does not, therefore, I believe, represent the call of sinners by the gospel, but the call of saints to a place of special relationship with Christ on high. This is what began at Pentecost, plainly, where the hundred and twenty gathered were already of the "kindred;" and this is the character of the work ever since, although all that are saved now are added to the church. But this is a special grace none the less. We are in the mission-time of Genesis xxiv, and the Spirit of God is seeking a bride for the risen Son.

It is thus also, I doubt not, that Rebekah is found by the well of water, the constant figure of truth as a living reality for the soul. Already she has this, when the call is received to be Isaac’s bride in Canaan. Indeed Isaac’s gifts are already upon her before she receives this. She is betrothed, as it were, before she realizes or has received the message. So at Pentecost, and for years after, the Church, already begun, knew not the character of what had begun. It is only through Paul’s ministry that her place with Christ is fully at last made known. Simplicity of faith is found in Rebekah; she believes the report of him whom she has not seen, and as the messenger will have no delay, so she on her part seeks none. The precious things she has received are earnest already of what awaits her. Details of the journey there are none; but at the end, Isaac comes to meet her. "And Rebekah lifted up her eyes, and when she saw Isaac, she lighted off the camel. For she had said unto the servant, ‘What man is this that walketh in the fields to meet us?’ And the servant had said, ‘It is my master.’ Therefore she took a vail and covered herself,"

What a word for heart and conscience in all this! Are we thus simple in faith, thus prompt and unlagging? And at the end of our journey nearly now, when the cry has already gone forth, "Behold the Bridegroom!" for those to whom the Interpreter Spirit has spoken, - shall there not be with us any thing that answers to this beautiful action of Rebekah’s, when "she lighted off the camel" and "took a vail and covered herself"? It is He whose glory Isaiah saw, before whom the seraphim cover themselves; and the nearness of the place to which we are called, and the intimay already ours, if we enjoy it, will only manifest themselves in deeper and more sell-abasing reverence. The rest is Isaac’s joy. What gladness to think of His who even in glory waits as a Nazarite yet, to drink the wine new with us in His Father’s kingdom!

In chapter xxv. we find another wife of Abraham, and a hint of the multiplied seed which was to be his; from which Isaac, as the heir of the promises, is separated entirely. Ishmael’s family is then rehearsed. These three, - Isaac and his bride, Ishmael, and Keturah’s sons, - seem sufficiently to point out the diverse blessing of the family of faith in the Church, Israel, and the millennial nations.

Further than this, whether the dispensational application can be traced, I am not clear. It is plainly a history of failure that begins very distinct in character from the previous one; which, moreover, seems to have a plain end in chapter xxv. 18.

I (2.) The Individual Application. We now come to the individual application. And here the apostles words in the epistle to the Galatians are precise enough, - "We, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. We are not children of the bondwonan, but of the free." As Ishmael represents the child of law then, so does Isaac represent the child of grace. And this, as he has shown us in the beginning of the same chapter, is not merely the true child, but the child in the child’s place It is simple that he who stands on the one hand for the Son of God should on the other represent the sons of God. It is sonship, then, that is presented to us in Isaac - the place of the child.

In contrast with Ishmael, we find one born by divine power, not natural strength, - of grace, not law. His name, "Laughter," speaks of the father’s joy in him, - for us, how precious a thought, the Father’s joy! Our joy in such a place we naturally think of, and it may well be great; but how much greater, and how it deepens ours as we apprehend it, the Father’s joy! The different interpretations of the parable of the pearl are in similar contrast. Who can wonder at the thought that a pearl of great price, precious enough to be bought the surrender of all one has, must needs be Christ? But what a revelation to the soul that finds that under this strong figure is conveyed Christ’s love for His Church! Thus Scripture, in its own unapproachable way, puts the arms of divine love about us.

How striking too is the fact of Isaac’s persistent dwelling in Canaan in this connection! Abraham is found outside, and Jacob for many years, while while Joseph spends most of his life outside: Isaac, of all of them, is the only one who is never found any where but in the land of Canaan. If it be a question of a wife of his kindred, still he must not leave to seek her; when he is in the Philistines’ land, and thus on the border, God interferes by a vision, and says, "Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I tell thee of; sojourn in this land, and I will bless thee." And to us, surely, the Church of the first- born ones, whom first of all among men God has claimed for Himself, the land in which we are to abide is marked out with all possible distinctness: we are claimed by Heaven, destined for the Father’s house; and when revealed with Christ in the glory of heaven, then shall be the "manifestation of the sons of God." Meanwhile it is for us to remember the words to us so full both of warning and encouragement, "Go not down into Egypt; . . . sojourn in this land, and I will bless thee."

Isaac’s life is indeed full of blessing, with little incident, a striking contrast to Jacob and his varying experiences; he sows and reaps, and digs his wells of water in a security little disturbed. He is thus the fitting type of the child of God abiding in the serene enjoyment of his unchanging portion. This is the real Beulah of Bunyan’s allegory, "where the sun shines and the birds sing day and night;" or, as Scripture better says, "a land which the Lord thy God careth for; the eyes of the Lord thy God are always upon it." Bunyan’s land, however, is at the close of his pilgrim’s course; and there indeed it is too often found, if found at all. But it would be a sad mistake to suppose that one must wait till then to find it. Blessed be God, it is not so: the joy of our place with God is ours by indefeasible title, and cannot be lost, save by our own connivance. God’s word for us all is, "Sojourn in this land, and I will bless thee."

Yet peaceful and full of blessing as is this life of Isaac, the entrance to all its blessedness is found by a narrow doorway of exquisite trial. Isaac’s sacrifice is the true beginning of his history, and the key to all that follows. This we have seen when regarding him as the undoubted type of the Son of God. It is the self-surrender of the cross which explains all that after-history. And if here, at first sight, the application to us might seem to fail, it is only to a very superficial glance. Nay, the precise aspict of the cross here is such as to bring out the lesson for us in the most striking and beautiful manner. It is as self-surrender into a Father’s hands that it is presented in the type we have been considering; and seen in this way, not only is there no difficulty in the application, but the whole becomes at once a vivid picture of significant and fruitful beauty.

"I beseech you therefore, brethren," says the apostle, "by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your intelligent service. And be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." (Rom. xii. i, 2.) How admirably this ex:presses the meaning of the type before us! It is a sacrifice, a living sacrifice, we are called to,a sacrifice in life, although as such it speaks of death : - how clearly Isaac’s presents this thought to us! Here, what might seem a difficulty in the larger application becomes a special beauty in the individual one. Isaac, given up to death, does not really die. In will and intent he does; in fact, it is his substitute. So Israel, at an after-time, coming to pass through Jordan to the land of their inheritance, find Jordan all dried up, and a broad way made over its former bed.

There is no need to interpret. Death in the reality of it we do not know: we do not die, but are dead, with Him who is "resurrection and life" to us. The sorrow, the bitterness, the sting, of death was His who is now, as the consequence of it, in the glory of God for us; but by virtue of it, our position is changed; our place is no more in the world; we belong to Him and to heaven, where He has gone for us. On the one side of it, this is in fact our salvation, our perfect blessing, our highest privilege; but it involves, on the other, the living sacrifice of our bodies, of that which links us with the world out of which we have passed. Alas! that we should have to speak of this as trial, but this is surely what all sacrifice implies, and "sacrifice" the apostle calls it. But it is a living sacrifice - a sacrifice, not in death, but life, - a holy offering, acceptable to God, - a surrender to Him, in which we prove what is His good and acceptable and perfect will. Trial there may be here, to such as we are; but to faith, only unspeakable privilege - the entrance upon a path which is perfect freedom. "God forbid that I should glory," says the apostle, "save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me and I unto the world."

Do you understand this, beloved reader? Can you appropriate so strong and triumphant an expression? To glory in that which puts away one’s sins is easy, and it is the cross which does this; but the apostle is not speaking of glorying in that which puts away his sins, but in that which crucifies him to the world and the world to him! The joy which he manifests here is that which gives power for the path we are considering, alone makes it really practicable. Joy is an essential element of the spirit in which alone God’s path can be trodden. It is a Father’s will to which we are called to surrender ourselves - the will of One who alone has title to have one; His will by which we have been "sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ" a self-surrender into a Father’s hand, to whom we are far, far more than Isaac was to Abraham!

And yet, indeed, there is trial and sorrow in this path, as upon what path that man’s feet have ever trodden is there not? Can the world give you one upon which it can insure you freedom from suffering for a moment? Do the "lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life" promise more to you? Can you trust its promise better than those "exceeding great and precious ones by which we are made partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust"? No; if you be Christ’s, you know you cannot. But then, beloved, if this be your decision, (and the Lord seeks deliberate, "intelligent" service) let it be whole-hearted, and unwaveringly maintained. Surrender must be real: there must not be limitation and reserve. If God be worthy of trust, He is worthy of full trust; and full trust means full surrender - nothing short!

Alas! it is the foxes, "the little foxes, that spoil the vines." It is the little compromises that destroy the vigour and freshness and reality of Christian life. It must be so, unless God could connive at His own dishonour. There is no such reserve with Isaac. He yields himself implicitly into his father’s hand and will; and bitter as the cup presented to him may be, in result it is to find life in the place of death, and all the promises confirmed to him. For us, if in the world, there must be tribulation; not only is this the appointed way to the glory already revealed to faith, but even now we may with the apostle "glory in tribulation also, because tribulation worketh patience, and patience experience, and experience hope, and hope maketh not ashamed, because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given unto us.

Thus Isaac’s offering has the most pregnant meaning with reference to his after-life. In the two following chapters, the individual application seems to fail, and give place to the dispensational, as I have already remarked, although on the other hand it may be mere dimness of spiritual sight which cannot find it. Rebekah should at least have some significance here, and her taking her place in Sarah’s tent seems to identify her as a form of that principle of grace which there can be no question Sarah represents. Her name also, "binding," seems in this way to add to the idea of grace that of assured perpetuity, as having found its justifying and abiding ground. Rebekah would remind us thus of that which the apostle tells us - that God hath "accepted us [the word is literally "graced"] in the Beloved." How this suits with the typical teaching of Isaac's life is plain enough, sonship implying, surely, the perpetuity here spoken of.

"And it came to pass, after the death of Abraham, that God blessed his son Isaac, and he dwelt by the well Lahai-roi." These dwelling-places are certainly characteristic and distinctive, as Abraham’s at Hebron and Lots in the valley of Jordan or at Sodom. A well, too, was a natural and suitable accompaniment for the tent of a pilgrim: water is a first necessity for the maintenance of life, and so is for us the "living water" - the Spirit acting through the Word. "The words that I speak unto you," says the Lord, "they are spirit and they are life."

The way that water ministers to life and growth is indeed a beautiful type of the Spirit’s action. Without water, a plant will die in the midst of abundance of food in actual contact with its roots. Its office is to make food to be assimilated by the organism, and to give power to the system itself to take it up. Although the word may sometimes be otherwise used, yet in Proverbs v. 15 the well is distinct from the cistern as the place of "running," or "living," water. Such wells were those that Isaac digged, not mere artificial cisterns, as we find in chapter xxvi, "And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water." Such wells should not all the children of God covet to dwell by? Where not only our energy is manifest. but much more - the energy of the Spirit of God.

Our diligence depending absolutely on God for its success, but where nevertheless He meets without fail the heartfelt diligence that craves for its urgent need the living water. May not and should not every one of God’s Isaacs be, in his measure and way, a well-digger? What blessedness for him who has thus not simply the ministry of others, but his own springing well!

Isaac’s well, where above all he loved to be, was this Lahai-roi - the well that told to him, as once it had done to Hagar, of the gracious superintending care of an ever-living, ever-present God. What a world is this where sin has made Him a stranger, - which has made it necessary to seek God at all! How much stranger still a world that can do without Him! For the heart convinced of the desolation of His absence, what cry like that for the living God? Sonship in Isaac speaks to us here of this cry answered and the heart’s home found. And the very essence of Christianity is in this, that we are acknowledged sons.

To the realization of this living presence the Word is ever necessary. The word of God is that which (by the power of the Spirit) reveals to us the presence of God; and thus the apostle in the epistle to the Hebrews links the two together: "For the word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do." This, it is true, may seem to speak more of our manifestation than of His; but the one is the effect of the other, and how important it is to remember this! An exercised conscience and habitual self-judgment will be the sure results of a true walk with God. A profession of intimacy where laxity assumes the name of grace is the worst deception and dishonour to God’s blessed name.

And now we find with Rebekah, as with Sarah, that fruitfulness cannot be according to nature, or by its power. Grace as a principle implies dependence and intervention of the power of God. More than this, that which is first is natural, - Esau is rejected and the younger is taken up (though himself no better) in the sovereignty of God alone.

Striking it is that Isaac’s history ends (for in chapter 27 it is rather Jacob,) with a scene in the Philistines’ land, the similarity of which, too, to that in Abraham’s life must be plain to the dullest reader. The repetition of the lesson gives it emphasis, of course. The sin here must be one of special importance, and to which the believer must be specially prone to be thus emphasized. We cannot but remember that these Philistines are the great enemies of Israel at an after-period, and that the history of the Judges ends really, leaving them captive to these. If we take Scripture, the announcement of the sure word of prophecy, and remember the meaning which attaches to this Philistine power, is it not a decisive confirmation of the truth of the interpretation already given? For the history ot the outward church does assuredly end in the prevalence of that worldly successional power which in our days is again with so much energy asserting itself. Into this it is not now the place to go; but prophecy is not for us the mere prediction of the future, but the warning for the present: we are taught to judge now beforehand what is then to meet God’s judgment; and here Isaac’s failure and Isaac’s final superiority are alike instructive.

First, let us note that the Philistine’s land is part of God’s land for Isaac, but that it is famine drives him there, which recalls, and is meant to recall, that in Abraham’s time which drove him down to Egypt. God interposes to prevent Isaac also going down there: "And the Lord appeared unto him, and said, ‘Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I will tell thee of; Sojourn in this land" - not necessarily or merely the Philistines - "and I will be with thee and bless thee; for unto thee and unto thy seed will I give all these countries; and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; and I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries.’

The Philistines’ land, then, is included in this ground. It is part of the land, yet only the outside border toward Egypt, with the corresponding danger as a dwelling-place for the man of faith. This low border-land alone, as 1 have before remarked, could the Philistines occupy, although they might make their power felt far beyond. It will be evident the line of things we have to do with here, and that it is as we approach to this borderland of external truths that we reach the place where the traditional church has built her strongholds. She can parade her ceremonies and proclaim her mysteries, and make out the land to be her own; yet it is a land in which an Abraham may dig and an Isaac re-dig many a well of living water which the would-be possessors of it treat as the sign of a hostile claim, and contend for but to stop with earth. How effectually for ages did they do this! How much have the men of faith yielded for peace’s sake, as did Isaac here, until God gave them a Rehoboth. Indeed this is a ground noted for the yielding of timid saints.

The practical title to the land is the possession of the well. With it you may still find wonderful harvests, for it is a place of abundant fertility. In the region of outward things, if we have diligence to dig beneath the surface, we may find the sweetest refreshment and the fullest satisfaction, and may sow and reap a hundredfold. Here Isaac gained his riches and became great, for the Lord blessed him. And what is Judaism? What is the Old Testament, but such a country as this Philistines’ land, where men, seeing nothing but the letter, and misinterpreting that, have built up once more a system of carnal ordinances, darkening with shadows long since done away the blessed light which has visited them? And yet in this Philistines’ land, which is Israel’s really, (and which God’s Israel has always been so slow to claim,) how much awaits an Isaac’s diligence and care, to repay them with untold riches!

This final scene in Isaac’s history closes with his altar at Beersheba, and with the acknowledgment, even by the Philistines themselves, that Jehovah is with the man of faith. To the angel of the church of Philadelphia saith the Lord, "Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee."
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