DON’T GIVE UP, YOU SHALL COME TO REHOBOTH!
“Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, ‘The water is ours!’ So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, ‘Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land’.” (Genesis 26:19-22).
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The narrative of the event in the life of Isaac, the son of Abraham, given here has very important lessons to help us in our lives today. Isaac was the heir of Abraham to whom was bequeathed the wealth of Abraham and also the covenant God had made to bless Abraham and prosper his generations. Now we see that having taken possession of his father’s estate and having re-opened the wells his father dug as recorded in the previous verses of this chapter, there was the need to go beyond where his father had stopped and dig up new wells. Wells were very important properties at this time because people had a lot of livestock whose need for drinking water depended heavily on the water of the wells dug up in these semi-arid lands of ancient Palestine. Wells were very critical to commerce and therefore very valuable assets. Isaac’s venture in digging up his wells was not without opposition. The men of Gerar made a claim on the land he dwelt and also on the wells which he had dug.
Relating this story and events to our lives, we will discover that we may also face similar opposition to our progress and face contentions in the good and positive endeavours which we have undertaken. Life very often is a battle where we are up against enemies that are against our prosperity and progress. You will discover that you scarcely face any opposition until you decide and embark on a project that is to bring good to yourself, your family and your community. Such was the case of Isaac. The enemy of our soul does not like to see us happy so he puts up a strong fight to discourage us and keep us from fulfilling our God-ordained destiny. The very fact that you decided to give your life to Jesus Christ angered Satan, because you walked out of his camp and denounced your sins, and hence he comes after you to oppose your progress on your heavenward journey. Notice that you are not insulated from the opposition and contentions of the enemy because you are a Christian; Isaac the son of promise faced the contentious events we read about here. Yet we shall see that because you are a Christian, God has empowered you to overcome all oppositions and contentions that arise against you. Maybe you are passing through the problems of “Esek” and “Sitnah”, just like Isaac did, maybe you are facing contentions and opposition to your progress in academics, business, career, marriage or your Christianity, I have a word for you today, do not be discouraged, you are coming out of those problems and moving to your “Rehoboth” in Jesus Christ name. Amen.
There are lessons we must learn here about Isaac’s response to the situation he faced here at Esek and Sitnah. Let us see examples here to help us deal with our own situations. First, we see Isaac’s non-violent disposition towards his opponents. There is no record here of Isaac going out to have a heated exchange with the herdsmen of Gerar over the wells of Esek and Sitnah. There is no record of his mobilizing his herdsmen to fight the herdsmen of Gerar so as to take back the seized wells. He could have done these things but that he did not do it is remarkable and is a lesson for us. His action here is consistent with our Saviour’s charge “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’, But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well” (Matthew 5:38-40). Not only did our Saviour charge us to respond this way, but he showed us practical example. 1st Peter 2:21-23 tells us “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled(abused) he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly”. Could I be speaking to some people who have suffered such grievous losses as in the cases of the terrorist attacks of Islamic militants (Boko Haram etc), and would such calls for non-retaliation in returning murder for murder, burnings for burnings, kidnap for kidnap, not be viewed as stupid and cowardly? Yet the foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of men and we will be blessed to appear “foolish” to men and heed the command of our Lord. Do not be discouraged dear brothers and sisters, you shall come to your Rehoboth, and these attacks shall be no more.
Secondly, Isaac must have talked to God about his situation. It is not here recorded in these verses if he prayed, yet his testimony in Genesis 26:22; “The LORD has given us room” will prove the point that he prayed. Every Christian must value prayer for it is his only channel of telling God about his situations and circumstances. In prayers, we can talk to God about men and we can table our matter before the Judge who judges rightly. Secular courts may do much to arbitrate and resolve disputes, but a Christian has a higher court to resort to for justice – the Court of Heaven. In prayers, he has a 24/7 access to this court and will have justice for his grievances. Are you in trouble and discouraged, take your matter to God in prayer. In the example we saw about our Lord Jesus Christ in 1 Peter 2:21-23, we see that instead of his abusing his abusers, he committed himself to God, the just Judge, in other words, He prayed. I usually see a sticker that reads “Don’t just get Mad, get a Lawyer” pasted on Barristers cars, but without an intention to disparage their profession, I would like to say, “Don’t just get Mad, Don’t just get a Lawyer, Pray to God!” Entrust your case to the able arbitration of the greatest Advocate, Jesus Christ and be sure that there can be no miscarriage of justice in Heaven’s court, where the just Judge, God presides. The enemy we have to deal with is just not a physical enemy but a spiritual one. No matter what human beings are doing against you now, recognize they are acting out the script of Satan, the enemy of your soul. The Bible tells us “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the Cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Hence, prayer is our spiritual weapon to counter and subdue the enemy and destroy his works against our lives.
Thirdly, Isaac dug another well yet again. He did not retire after his first well, Esek, was seized by the herdsmen of Gerar, but went on to dig Sitnah. Even Sitnah again was contested and seized; he did not give up but dug yet again and got Rehoboth. Persistence is the lesson very well illustrated here. Your first, second or even third trials at an endeavour may not bring the required breakthrough, but if you remain persistent, you will eventually have your breakthrough. There would have been no Rehoboth if Isaac had given up at Esek or at Sitnah. There is the historical account of Thomas Edison’s invention of the electric light bulb. It is said he was unsuccessful at inventing the light bulb until the 1000th attempt. That again is a lesson at persistence. He is reported to have viewed his 999 unsuccessful attempts not as failures but as steps to his eventual success the 1000th time. Dear friend, do not give up on your dreams and visions because of your present circumstances. Persevere and be persistent and you will wear out the enemy that opposes you. Lessons you learn from your many attempts may be what you need to have a big breakthrough in your next attempt. Pick up yourself yet again and put in for that exam again, apply for that position yet again and start that project yet again. Pick up again on your spiritual thirst and hunger, strive yet again to overcome that besetting sin, pray yet again for the anointing of God’s Spirit and seek Him to use you yet again. “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9). Never, never give up, persevere and you shall come to your Rehoboth.
Fourthly, Isaac moved away from Esek and Sitnah and from the herdsmen of Gerar. This must be the final lesson we must learn in this story. Isaac recognized the need to move away from his contentious neighborhood. The men of Gerar had proved inhospitable and hostile to him and he could no longer put up with their attacks. It was a good decision he made because it proved vital to his coming to his Rehoboth. Friends when you have prayed over the situation and persisted long in it and yet there is no change, listen very closely to God, it may be time to change the environment you are in to another one. I will advice the greatest caution to be taken in doing this and for God’s direction to be earnestly sought because we must not forget that a wrong movement such as that of Elimelech and his wife Naomi and sons made in going from Israel to Moab in the time of famine proved very disastrous. (Ruth 1:1-5). Isaac moved to this new land and he dug again another well and there were no opposers to contend and seize his well. He named that well “Rehoboth” saying “Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land” (Genesis 26:22). May the LORD lead you to your Rehoboth in Jesus Christ name. Amen. May He bring you to that place, that career, that business, that spiritual estate where there shall be no more contentions to your progress and prosperity in Jesus Christ name. Amen.
In Conclusion, I want you to know that God has a Rehoboth – a convenient, spacious, and contentions-free room for you to thrive. You are not meant to suffer forever, but to come to your Rehoboth after you may have suffered a while (1 Peter 5:10, Hebrews 4:9). Don’t stay down, don’t get discouraged and do not give up. Take a cue from Isaac’s response to his situations and apply these lessons to your own situation. Pray earnestly to God today, lean on His direction and be certain He will answer you and bring you to your Rehoboth as He did for Isaac. Finally, keep in mind that there is that eternal home for our souls up above and beyond the skies. Never give up on God and never go back to the world and to sin. Keep on your pilgrimage and one day, I say one day, you shall arrive in Rehoboth – Heaven at last!
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