Saturday, February 6, 2010

Digging Wells

Gen. 26

It seems to me this chapter spends an inordinate amount of time discussing wells. The digging of and quarreling over wells. Wells found and wells filled in. With a well, well here and a well, well there. Here a well, there a well, everywhere a well, well. Old MacDonald had a well, eei, eei, oh!

What’s the point?

To set the scene, there is a famine in the land. The second famine in a relatively short period of time. People are skittish, worried about survival in this tough time. Who knows how long the recession famine will last? But somehow, Isaac is getting richer and richer, his herds are multiplying as is his household. Isaac’s neighbors, who are working twice as hard to produce half as much, are sick and tired of watching Isaac prosper, of his people and livestock using up valuable resources. Finally, the king of the land comes and says, “Go away. You are too powerful for us.”

Now Isaac has not been sitting on his duff just watching the corn grow. He and his household have worked hard for what they’ve gotten. But Isaac uproots and moves his entire household to a new place. The servants re-dig wells originally dug by Abraham but filled in by the Philistines after Abraham’s death. Then, as soon as water is found, the Philistines scream, “The water is ours!” Isaac moves, digs a well. The Philistines scream, “That water is ours, too!”

Remember, there is a famine in the land. Famine comes from no water. How come Isaac is finding water here, water there, water everywhere? I don’t know. Could be luck, could be God’s miraculous provision. Could be just plain hard work and common sense since Isaac’s servants are digging up old wells. Wells filled in. Wells that produced before. There’s a lesson to be learned here, but it’s not the main point.

How come, during a famine, the Philistines didn’t try digging up the old wells…the wells they themselves filled in? And why would you ever fill in a water- producing well? That’s probably a lesson, too, but…

The capitalist pig in me will refrain from making a point about how, had the Philistines been smart, they would have welcomed Isaac and his water finding, well digging employees into their region rather than creating a climate so hostile Isaac’s only choice was to move somewhere else.  And my sister, the bleeding-heart liberal, will graciously return the favor by not pointing out that, had Isaac's employees and business been more concerned with the welfare of those around them rather than merely using up valuable resources for their own selfish gain, the Philistines wouldn't have been so hostile.  (Good thing we aren't arguing these points, huh?  And that my sister and I really do love each other...dearly.)

Regardless of the reason, make no mistake, these people were hostile. This chapter begins with a story about Isaac not wanting to admit Rebekah is his wife for fear of his life. Do you think a culture this base would hesitate to murder Isaac and his entire household over water…during a famine? I don’t think Isaac kept moving and digging wells out of great faith in God’s provision. I think he kept moving because he was scared for his life.

And God provided anyway.

In fact, God provided so abundantly, the king who forced Isaac to move the first time comes and says, “We see plainly that the Lord has been with you. Let there be an oath between us that you will do us no harm.” What? When did Isaac become the bigger threat?

Here’s the point. When life takes a turn that has you running scared, moving from place to place looking for somewhere, anywhere to stop and settle back down again, God is providing. And He will keep providing until your enemies are vanquished.

Now, that’s a good point!

Until next time,


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