Digging New Wells

Genesis 26:18-25

June 7, 2020

Then Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham; and he gave them the same names which his father had given them. 19 But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of flowing water, 20 the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, “The water is ours!” So, he named the well Esek, because they contended with him. 21 Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over it too, so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so, he named it Rehoboth, for he said, “At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.” 23 Then he went up from there to Beersheba. 24 The Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you, and multiply your descendants, for the sake of My servant Abraham.” 25 So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.

A person can live without water for only three to five days on average.
It is second to air, as essential to sustaining life.
The third is food
Battles have always been and continue to be fought over access and rights to water.
This passage is a record of one such struggle.
Isaac follows in the footsteps of His father Abraham…
Settling in Gerar.
Lodging place
A region near the southern border of ancient Canaan…
Abimelech is king there
How did Isaac get there?
In Genesis 21:34, we read, “And Abraham sojourned in the land of the Philistines for many days.”
The next place we find Abraham is Hebron not far from Gerar.
It’s where both he and Sarah were buried
Likely where Isaac grew up
After Abraham’s death, Isaac moves back to Gerar.
Gen 26:1, Now there was a famine in the land, besides the previous famine that had occurred in the days of Abraham. So, Isaac went to Gerar, to Abimelech king of the Philistines.
As the inheritor of his father’s vast resources…
Isaac needed access to lots of water for thousands of animals and hundreds of people.
He knew where the wells his father were located so he decided to reopen them as his water source.
Gen. 26:18a, Then Isaac dug again the wells of water which had been dug in the days of his father Abraham, for the Philistines had stopped them up after the death of Abraham;….
Finding those wells useless…Isaac moved on to dig again
After the local Philistines claimed exclusive rights to the water, he accessed in Gerar…Isaac moved and dug another one.
(26:22) He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so, he named it Rehoboth, for he said, “At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.”
Rehoboth…open or wide spaces
Isaac had to dig a new well…he couldn’t live off what his father had done.
He couldn’t move forward by returning to the past
Folks…as we reopen our church…
We can’t move forward by returning to the past.
We can return to the past…if that’s what we want to settle for.
But if we want more…if we want to advance beyond where we were…
We can’t live off the past.
So…what will it take to move forward?
I want to answer that by considering what did it took for Isaac to successfully dig new wells.

Isaac Needed to Know the Land
Isaac needed to know land in order to find a place to dig.
Isaac had to have a good sense of his location.
He didn’t just go poking around the desert hoping to find a buried water basin.
Isaac had a pretty good sense of where water was by knowing where others dug.
He’d then likely ask himself some important questions.
Is there a place near there that isn’t already occupied?
Is there enough space for all my people and animals if I do dig?
What’s the water history of this place?
Is it good water?
Does it have a track record of long-term provision?
Like Isaac…we need to have a good lay of the land.
What’s going on around us…
There’s a great tool for getting to know who’s around you…
Bless Every Home SHOW PIC
When you go to the home page and sign up…they give you the names and addresses of 30+ of your neighbors.
You can track who you’ve prayed for.
There are other options for engaging those around you more personally.
Homes adopted, cared for, shared the gospel with and discipled
I use Bless Every Home and highly recommend it for anyone interested in knowing better where they live.
Another one that Kathy Simmons is familiar with is called…
Around the Corner Ministries SHOW PIC
Going Around the Corner gives you simple steps for reaching your neighbors, co-workers and friends with the gospel.
Look it up as well
We’d planned to have the founders at the church for a training, but the schedule blew up with all the recent events.
It’s something we’ll reschedule.
There’s no reason we can’t have 100% church-wide participation between these two ministries.
I’m asking our Community, Communication and Commitment teams to help us reach that goal.
One hundred percent participation by every family in one or both programs so we will have a solid understanding and relationship with those around us.
You can’t successfully dig new wells if you don’t know the land…the people.

Isaac Needed to Have Perseverance
Reading the entire section (18-25) you find that Rehoboth was the third location Isaac had dug a well.
Verse 25, tells us his servants dug another one in Beersheba.
Well of seven (Abraham bought the property with 7 ewe lambs)
Four wells all together
The bottom line is that Isaac didn’t give up just because the herdsmen gave him a hard time.
Building something that’s life-sustaining takes perseverance.
It’s not easy
Isaac’s first inclination was to go back to what worked for his father, Abraham.
It’s only natural.
But the conditions had changed so, Isaac had to adapt…and persevere.
The stay-at-home order and other restrictions have taken the wind out of some of our sails.
I don’t know about you, but this has been an exhausting experience.
Still…we must persevere…though the obstacles are great.
James 1:12, reads, Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
And the best way to do persevere is by working together.
Encouraging one another
In 1996, myself and nine other members from my former church took a mission trip to Kenya.
Missionaries, Mark and Martha Jane Grossman
The project was to build a latrine for the village…
The first task was to dig a 9 ft. deep pit.
Hand tools and buckets
Then line the pit with rocks.
It was hard work
But the effort was made easier by cooperation.
I’ve often heard people ask the question, “Why go all the way to a place like Kenya when there’re plenty of needs right here?”
Because sometimes we need to go away to come together.
Mission efforts can concentrate our attention…and teach us how to work together.
Isaac was on a mission…he had to find water and lots of it.
It wasn’t just something he wanted to do…it was something he had to do.
And he couldn’t do it alone.
After establishing himself in Rehoboth…
He moves to Beersheba…
Verse 25, reads, So, he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.
…and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.
Isaac didn’t go it alone…and he didn’t give up.
Churches are either in mission mode or maintenance mode.
Mission mode inspires perseverance and maintenance mode…status quo.
The whole goal of maintaining something is to keep it in original condition.
Fine for antique cars and historic buildings
The objective of missions is expansion…development…increase.
And these require perseverance.

[Isaac Had to Know the Land; He Needed to Persevere]
Isaac was a God-follower
Isaac followed in his father’s footsteps as a leader and a follower.
He led others as he followed God
(22) He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so, he named it Rehoboth, for he said, “At last the Lord has made room for us, and we will be fruitful in the land.”
(25) So, he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord, and pitched his tent there; and there Isaac’s servants dug a well.
This is what differentiates God-honoring churches from other groups.
The second follow people.
Very corporate model
They find out what people want…then try to provide it for them.
That’s the foundation of the prosperity gospel movement in the church.
Promise people they can have whatever they desire if they give God what the leaders say He wants.
Buying the Lord’s favor
It’s the consumer mentality…imposed on Scripture.
Consumer versus conformer…
Following people or following God…
To successfully dig new wells…we must be like Isaac and follow God.
This sounds easy…but it’s not…because the temptation to follow people is always present and demanding.
2 Timothy 4:3-4, For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.
The time has come.
God-following isn’t the same as it used to be.
A generation ago following Him was basically a matter of choice.
If someone accepted Jesus as their Savior, they’d join a church and get acclimated as a member without resistance from non-believers.
But now…institutional and cultural resistance of Christians and the church are measurable.
In a recent article from The Gospel Coalition “…it seems clear that the overall history of higher education in America has gone from “Protestant establishment” to “established nonbelief,” as George Marsden’s The Soul of the American University puts it.”
The author goes on to write, “My Baylor colleague George Yancey has argued that he is more likely to experience discrimination in academia for being an evangelical than for being an African American.”
2019 Annual Church Profile data for our convention lists 287,655 fewer church members than the previous year.
I don’t have time to list all the evidence here…but it’s not hard to find the research.
In my role as a chaplain…several steps had to be taken in order for me to provide a brief weekly staff devotional email during the pandemic.
Words of encouragement from Scripture
And I serve at a faith-based facility!
But one person out of 450 employees complained…
Here’s the point from this passage regarding resistance.
Isaac encountered it from the Philistines and the herdsmen.
And he kept on moving because He was following God.
We can bank on the fact that there will be resistance to any legitimate effort to follow the Lord, advance the Kingdom and please our Savior.
Also…the Lord sometimes uses obstacles to get us to go where He wants us to be.
Question: Do you ever let resistance to following God keep you from reaching His destiny?
Beersheba is a biblically significant place.
It became the historic southern border of Israel.
It’s where God spoke to Jacob in a dream.
Genesis 46:1-4, So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!” “Here I am,” he replied. 3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. 4 I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”
Abraham…Isaac…and Jacob had to followed the Lord to a desert place and encountered Him there.
Psalm 105:4, reads, Seek the Lord and His strength; seek His face continually.
Two different Hebrew words are used to express the idea of seeking the Lord in this verse.
The first…darash…means to inquire or search carefully for something.
Solving a problem
The second is…bakash…which means to request something desired.
Prayer request
We are to darash the Lord because His strength is able to bring us through every obstacle and challenge.
And we are to bakash His face to hear His instructions.
His face imagines God holding your checks in His hands…looking you straight in the eyes…and telling you something with clarity
Like a parent to a child
The word and prayer
Listen…God doesn’t make it hard to follow Him…we do.
When our focus centers in people rather than following Him.
The governor moved Allegheny Country to the green phase on Friday.
God is green lighting us to dig new wells…
To discover how and where our church can be part of what He’s doing in our community and city for His glory.
There are new wells to dig.
We have to choose to do the digging.
You may have some personal digging to do too.
What’s He have in store for you?
If you’re willing to understand the landscape of your heart…
And follow the Lord.