Now Isaac sowed seed in the land, and in that very year he reaped a hundredfold. And the LORD blessed him,
Ezekiel 33:32). How many live, content to know truth, forgetting that all our daily life tells for good or ill on our eternal life, and that opportunities are passing away. How many, believing that in every being there is a soul to be saved or lost, can yet see multitudes living in ungodliness without effort or even prayer for their recovery (cf. Luke 19:41). Is not the spirit of Esau in these? He is called (Hebrews 12:16) a "profane person." Yet no crime or great fault is laid to his charge. There is an attractiveness in his character. We see in him an impulsive, thoughtless man; not what would be called a bad son; his father's favorite; having some regard to his parent's wishes (Genesis 28:8, 9); but swayed by passing things, and without self-denial. Hungry and weary with the chase, he craved the food he saw (cf. Matthew 4:3). But the price? His birthright, the claim to a special benediction, the domestic priesthood (cf. Exodus 22:29), were as nothing. He did not realize their value (cf. Hebrews 11:1). The present was everything (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:32). The pleasant, genial, headlong man is pronounced "profane." Observe -
I. THE GRADUAL EFFECT OF SELF-INDULGENCE (cf. Matthew 19:24). The birthright despised not through sudden temptation or any marked step of sin, but by worldly interests taking up the thoughts. Customs and maxims of the world tend to neglecting the birthright (cf. Matthew 6:83). This is no ideal danger. No sharp line to tell when danger begins. Things perfectly allowable, even laudable, may choke spiritual life. Even in good work the mind may be so engrossed in the work itself that communion with God fades. There is need of habitual self-denial (John 6:38); of keeping guard over the tendencies of daily life; of definite aims, not passing wishes; of making personal communion with God an essential part of each day's work.
II. THE DEADENING EFFECT IN RELATION TO REPENTANCE. "Time enough, is a fatal mistake (Acts 24:25; 2 Corinthians 6:2). So far as we know Esau never repented. Even when Jacob received the blessing he was sorry, but there was no real change, no confession of error. Self was still the ruling power.
III. THE CALL TO CONSIDER OUR BIRTHRIGHT (Romans 8:17; 1 John 3:2). Not merely a future blessing. Thinking of it thus leads to its being left out of view. Now there is reconciliation, peace, spirit of adoption, the Spirit's witness in our hearts, freedom of access in prayer, and promises to be realized in growing likeness to Christ and communion with him. Few would deliberately postpone to the end of life the claiming their birthright and making sure of it, the work of repentance and faith, and the casting away what has hindered. But many without set purpose do delay. Each time the call is put away is a victory for the tempter. - M.
I. ISAAC IN HIS BUSINESS RELATIONS.
I. HIS PROSPERITY WAS EVIDENTLY DUE TO THE DIVINE BLESSING. His prosperity was wonderful. "Thirty, sixty, and a hundred fold," is the range of fertility in that land. Thus the yield of Isaac's land reaches the highest degree of productiveness.
Isaac sowed .... and the Lord blessed him.
I. ISAAC HAD A GOOD FATHER. Happy the son whose father was chosen partner with God in a divine covenant, and twice blessed the son whose father had this testimony that he pleased God in the fulfilment of such a covenant, Not only great favour rests upon the head of such a father, but the richest blessings are pledged to his posterity.
II. ISAAC HAD TRAITS OF HIS OWN TO WHICH HIS PROSPERITY WAS LARGELY INDEBTED. His very name indicates that he was "a son of laughter and joy." True to his name, his nature was of the sunny and hopeful type. The value of this disposition in the successful conduct of life is simply incalculable. It is more than capital, for capital will perish. It is more than friends, for friends die. It is more than success, for it outlives success. When everything is gone, the man who has hope has all he needs. Thus Isaac went from well to well. He was envied at Gerar, and he moved to Esek. Esek was captured by the enemy. He hopefully journeyed to Sitnah, and dug again. But Sitnah was claimed. Should he give up now? No; all these choked wells were leading him to the broader valleys of Rehoboth, where was "room" — room for his still multiplying flocks and growing wealth.
III. The third secret of Isaac's prosperity was HIS EXTREME PEACEABLENESS. The spirit of the beatitudes dwelt in this man more than in any other man of his times.
IV. But there remains a fourth and final element to be noticed in the prosperity of Isaac. I have said that he had a good father behind him, a brave heart within him, a good will to men about him; but he put the crown upon his success by owning and seeking THE FAVOUR OF GOD ABOVE HIM.
(J. B. Clark.)
1. Such was the position of the sacred historian. He who relates this story, after describing the prosperity of this man, adds, "And the Lord blessed him" (ver. 12).
2. It was evident to Isaac himself. His prosperity, the rest he enjoyed from his enemies, and room to enlarge in, he ascribed all to God (ver. 22).
3. It was evident to his enemies. They were constrained to acknowledge that God was with him.
II. HIS PROSPERITY MADE HIM A MARK FOR ENVY. We are told that "the Philistines envied him." His prosperity was not without alloy. Every blessing of this world is accompanied by some disadvantage or evil. We have to pay a price for every earthly good.
III. HIS PROSPERITY SERVED TO DEVELOP THE VIRTUES OF HIS CHARACTER. Bacon has said that " Prosperity doth best discover vice, but adversity doth best discover virtue." And human experience shows that such are the usual effects of "these conditions. But in the case of Isaac there were virtues that shined out in his prosperity.
1. The virtue of patience. The Philistines carried their envy into action. They stopped up the wells which he had inherited from his father (ver. 15). But he met all this envy by patience. When persecuted in one place he fled to another. He removed from well to well (vers. 18-22).(1) His patience was victorious. It won upon his enemies. The Philistines were at length wearied out. They came round, and asked for a treaty (vers. 28-30).(2) His patience won the Divine approval. The Lord appeared to him and renewed the old promises. He was assured of perpetual protection and guidance.
2. The virtue of forgiveness. He had suffered a grievous wrong, but he forgave it on the entreaty of Abimelech. This was not the easy virtue of a man who has no strong feelings and who is soon won over. It was principle, and not a weak feeling, that made him forgive.
3. The virtue of reverence. He set up an altar for the worship of God, and pitched his tent there as if he would dwell in the Lord's house (ver. 25). He bears a public testimony to the obligation of religion. Many a man forgets God with increasing prosperity, but it was not so with Isaac. With him it served to deepen the feeling of reverence and to strengthen every duty of piety.
(T. H. Leale.)
1. He was active and enterprising (vers. 12, 13).
2. His industry and enterprise under the blessing of God resulted in immense wealth.
II. ISAAC IN SOCIETY.
1. As tried by society (vers. 14, 16, 19-21).
2. His bearing under these trials.(1) He bore envy and strife and hatred with perfect patience.(2) He separated himself from those around him rather than contend with them.(3) He recognized God's hand in all (ver. 22).(4) This example of Isaac, both in business and in society, is worthy of all commendation and imitation.
III. ISAAC IN HIS RELIGIOUS LIFE.
1. He was honoured with personal communications from God (ver. 24).(1) This proves that his conduct was approved by God.(2) This approval signified God's encouragement to him in view of future trials.
2. Isaac evinced his appreciation of these Divine promises and privileges by a renewed consecration of himself to God (ver. 25).Lessons:
1. Prosperity is as real a test of faith as adversity.
2. The test of prosperity is more severe than that of adversity.
3. Peace has ever been the choice of true believers.
4. Such a choice has ever met with the Divine approval.
5. Let Isaac's example be ours — in business, industrious and enterprizing; in society, peace-loving and yielding; in religion, ever prepared for communion with God, and ever yielding ourselves in consecration to God.
(D. C. Hughes, M. A.)
II. ISAAC'S PROTECTOR.
1. God directed Isaac.
2. God exhorted Isaac.
3. God encouraged Isaac.
III. ISAAC'S PROSPERITY.
1. "The man waxed great." He grew very prosperous, and his prosperity was continuous.
2. "The Lord blessed him." God's blessing makes rich, whether it be in temporal or in spiritual things.
3. The Lord made room for him (ver. 22).
4. The Lord made his enemies to be at peace with him.
(W. S. Smith, B. D.)
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