Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Water: A Symbol of Grace

"Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah" (Genesis 26:21).

Genesis 2 calls attention to the well of water that sprang up in Eden and then became four rivers that went, figuratively speaking, to the four corners of the earth. Throughout the Bible, water is frequently a symbol of God’s grace and provision to man. In the last chapter of the Bible, the water of life is seen flowing from the throne of the Lamb to provide life to all nations (Revelation 22:1–2).

We saw earlier that Abraham built altars everywhere he went as a sign of his ministry to the unconverted. The image of Isaac’s ministry is the well. At the beginning of Genesis 26 we read of another famine in the land, and under God’s guidance (v. 3) Isaac took his family to the land of Gerar for safety. We find out that the people of this place were undisciplined and largely unconverted causing Isaac to fear them. Like Abraham before him, Isaac told the people that Rebekah was his sister, but the truth soon emerged that she was his wife (though his sister by adoption, Genesis 24:59–60).

God blessed Isaac in Gerar, and soon the Philistines who lived there ordered him to move on. “You are too powerful for us,” they said (vv. 12–16). So Isaac moved to the Valley of Gerar and dug a well, but the Philistines took it away from him (vv. 17–20). He moved on and dug another well, but they quarreled over it too (v. 21). Finally, he moved to Rehoboth and dug a well, and they left him alone (v. 22).

God appeared to Isaac at this well and reiterated the patriarchal covenant. At this spot, Isaac built an altar and established public worship (vv. 23–25). A little “garden of Eden” was restored. What happened next is revealing. The king of Gerar, who earlier had driven Isaac out, visited him and asked to make a covenant with him. Why? “We saw clearly that the LORD was with you,” is his reason. So Isaac made a covenant with them, including them in the extended family of the LORD, and they had a feast together. Then Isaac’s servants reported that they had found yet another well.

When persecuted, Isaac did not hit back. Instead, he continued about his business of providing water. Eventually, God changed the hearts of his adversaries, and many souls were saved.

How do you plan to change the hearts of adversaries to the faith? While admitting only God by His Spirit changes hearts, He does use human means. Isaac’s ministry was the well; by what means will you reach out to the lost?