THE HERDMEN OF GERAR
Genesis 26:12 Then Isaac sowed in that land, and received in the same year an hundredfold: and the LORD blessed him. 13 And the man waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great: 14 For he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants: and the Philistines envied him. 15 For all the wells which his father’s servants had digged in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines had stopped them, and filled them with earth. 16 And Abimelech said unto Isaac, Go from us; for thou art much mightier than we. 17 And Isaac departed thence, and pitched his tent in the valley of Gerar, and dwelt there. 18 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. 19 And Isaac’s servants digged in the valley, and found there a well of springing water. 20 And the herdmen of Gerar did strive with Isaac’s herdmen, saying, The water is ours: and he called the name of the well Esek; because they strove with him. 21 And they digged another well, and strove for that also: and he called the name of it Sitnah. 22 And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.
Isaac now has his own famine in the land of God’s promise. For the Lord God would show him, as he did his father, that it was not the promised land that would support him. But it was the God of the promise who would be his Sustainer. So the first two verses set forth that which is to establish the true meaning of the passage. Genesis 26:1 And there was a famine in the land, beside the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went unto Abimelech king of the Philistines unto Gerar. 2 And the LORD appeared unto him, and said, Go not down into Egypt; dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of:
For first we read that this was a famine just like Abraham’s famine. But then we are instructed that it was not the same famine. This was Isaac’s famine! And secondly, we read that Isaac only knew to do by imitation as his father Abraham had done. Genesis 26:18 And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham: and he called their names after the names by which his father had called them. He was retracing his father’s steps. Unstopping his father’s wells. Calling them by the names his father had previously assigned them! This was the need of the Lord to instruct him not to go down to Egypt, for that was his intention to do as his father had done in his famine! (Genesis 12:10).
It is true that we have wondrous examples given to us, and we are instructed to follow them, but only as they followed the Lord! 1 Corinthians 11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. James 5:10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Therefore as we continue reading, we see in verses twenty and twenty one the words, he called. That is, Isaac has to dig and name his own wells. Isaac has to experience this for himself! Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: For Isaac can live in his father’s example only as he lives in the Lord God’s faith! Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Notice that it does not say, “the faith IN,” but “the faith OF!” For it must be Christ’s faith, as he alone is it’s author and finisher! Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;
The church’s rich heritage does include the footsteps of the flock (Song 1:8), but religion only by historical example is exclusively the Whore’s religion! Religion by faith is exclusively the true lifestyle of that with the Lamb! 1 Peter 2:20 For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. 21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
Now we read in our verse twelve that Isaac sowed in that land. He was to learn his life lessons by experiencing what the Lord God would teach him, but only in the place of God’s choosing! Elijah would not have received those daily meat sandwiches had he not been by the brook of God’s choosing. For that is where the ravens were instructed to deliver his meals! 1 Kings 17:4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
Acts 17:26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
Therefore we read that even when the Philistines would state, Go from us, to drive him from the place of God’s appointment, Isaac departed, but left Gerar, but only went into the valley of Gerar!
For even the word, “Gerar” has instruction as to why Isaac was sent there. For that Hebrew word is derived from the same Hebrew word translated into English as, “cheweth,” in Leviticus 11:17; as “shall destroy them,” in Proverbs 21:7, and as “they catch them,” in Habakkuk 1:15. So this was the place where Isaac would come to learn by experiential faith, and not just by provided example. For here, these circumstances would “chew” him up. They would “destroy” his natural man, with its inordinate affections and fleshly imaginations, (2 Corinthians 10:5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;), and would do so effectually, “catching” him as a fishermen does the fish in his net!
And you would be doing yourself a great injustice, dear Reader, if you are reading this thinking to be eliminated from these same life struggles! You will learn by experience not to think of these fiery trials as strange. And you will learn that you shall have them as they are common to all men! 1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.
“Must Jesus bear the cross alone,
And all the world go free?
No, there’s a cross for everyone,
And there’s a cross for me.”
Thomas Shepherd 1693
Those who are enemies of the experienced cross are in peril of their immortal souls! Philippians 3:18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, [their physical appetites], and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
And for one to realize his lack of spiritual maturity, and that he has been comfortable with his fleshly and worldly walk with his imagined god, he must be taken out of his comfort zone! The man in his bathrobe and slippers walking the halls of the hospital is looked upon by those in their beds, as he passes by, as being strong. The one eyed man is king in the world of the blind! But let him go home and be among the strong and energetic, and he will realize just how weak he actually is!
Isaac was fine dwelling in the tents with his family. Hebrews 11:9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: But put him in the land of the chewing up, the land of the destruction of his fleshly confidence – in his Gerar – and he will even deny his God-given wife for fear of his life! Genesis 26:7 And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon.
Also in verses twelve through fifteen, listed above in our text, we see that Isaac had to learn just what a blessing from God really is! Houses of religion are being filled with souls seeking for religion to make them financially rich! They are even being lied to that being poor is not God’s will! But that is not the Bible’s god! Matthew 5:3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Proverbs 28:6 Better is the poor that walketh in his uprightness, than he that is perverse in his ways, though he be rich. 2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 1Tim. 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
That physical blessing in the presence of the Philistines proved to be a curse later on! For every handful of grain that Isaac planted he received a hundred handfulls in return. But what did that do to his outward struggles with those worldlings among whom he lived? It states in verse fourteen, and the Philistines envied him. And themselves being filled with envy, they filled Abraham’s old wells with earth! (v.15). 1 Corinthians 15:48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy:
For, dear soul, an envy filled heart is that which put our Lord on the cross! Matthew 27:18 For he knew that for envy they had delivered him. Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. Titus 3:3 For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another.
Now the work of Isaac’s servants who dug the wells is overcome by The Herdmen of Gerar! Philistines, filled with envy, will do no work to dig a well, but they will surely work to stop one up! For the flesh lusteth against the spirit, so that, as a believer, you can never do what you will without an inner struggle! See Galatians 5:17. To the believer the wells of living water are his life and joy! But to an unbeliever, filled with envy, they are looked at as dangerous holes in the ground, which their animals, or children might fall into and perish! For those who look upon the Lord Christ without anointed eyes, there is no beauty that we should desire him. (Isaiah 53:2).
The presence of the spiritual man in the realm of the religious man will always end up in their crucifixion of him! For the light of God in his soul is a condemnation to them and their sinful hearts! John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
These herdmen were to be in charge of their animals. That is what a herdsman does! But, without the purifying agency of the Holy Spirit, there is never any proper dealings with the base, animal-like emotions and affections of the human spirit! And since the entirety of the Harlot’s religion is conducted in the realm of base human emotionalism, mistaken for the Spirit of God, you now have all these religious denominations, and splinter groups! For they “separate themselves” from every form of light! Jude 19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. 1 John 2:18 Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
And their desire to flee from the light of gospel condemnation will eventually separate them into the final realm of “outer darkness!” Matthew 22:13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
May God have mercy. gb