Monday, December 6, 2010

Genesis 26:23-25 What's in a Name?

Next, Isaac goes up to Beersheba.  Abraham had lived there, and had even sworn a treaty with Abimelech there (Genesis 21:22-32).  Abraham had planted a tree at Beersheba to commemorate the treaty.  Whether that Abimelech is the same one that Isaac is now dealing with is something I am uncertain about, for some commentators believe it is his son or grandson because of the length of time involved -- over 60 years.

"That night the Lord appeared to him and said, 'I am the God of your father Abraham.  Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.'  Isaac built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord." (Genesis 26:2-25 NIV)  I wonder if the way this text is written ('called upon the name of the Lord') -- as opposed to just 'prayed' -- is so that we get the clear picture that Isaac is relying upon the character of God.  A person's name was much more than just a handle to call them by.  It was a kind of summary of who they were.  So, to me, this seems to be saying that Isaac was entrusting himself to God's character (His wisdom, faithfulness, power, etc.).  Isaac pitches his tent there and his servants dig a well.  They must have been pretty tired of digging wells by that time.  This is at least the fourth one they dug, not to mention the ones from Abraham's era which they had unstopped!

It is interesting to me that the Lord says that He will increase Isaac's descendants for Abraham's sake.  I know that God is keeping the promises which He made to Abraham.  Even though Abraham has died by this time, the Lord continues to keep His Word to His servant.

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