So Isaac left that place and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there.
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.
Isaac digged again the wells of water.
I. When you began life you found people trying to put you down by saying that the well was theirs, and that you were crowding yourself upon their ground. If they did not try to put you down, you tried to put them down. The well is there in life — strife, contention, debate — you must find it in your life somewhere.
II. If you drive people off the ground they may strive with you no more. They will hate you; your name will be the signal for abuse. First you are opposed, then you are hated; so you call it Sitnah, Hatred — the second well.
III. Then you come to the third stage, if you are not killed. You are hated, but you keep digging away, and at last room is made for you — Rehoboth. You are recognized, looked for, and missed if you do not come.
IV. If you have got to Rehoboth is there anything to hinder you from going on? The next step is easy: confidence — rest. Be not discouraged: move on honestly, laboriously, religiously. Go on: that is your duty in two words. Life is full of difficulty. It is through tribulation that you get into any kingdom worth anything. In Christ we are called to strife.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Homilist.I. THE EXISTING GENERATIONS SUCCEED TO THE LABOURS OF THOSE WHO ARE GONE. Divine benevolence is to be seen in this arrangement.
1. It serves to weld all generations in a common interest.
2. It serves as a guarantee of progress in the quality of human productions.
II. THE EXISTING GENERATIONS ENTER ON THE ENJOYMENTS OF THOSE THAT ARE GONE.
1. The well of sensuous enjoyment.
2. The well of intellectual enjoyment.
3. The well of social enjoyment.
4. The well of religious enjoyment.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
2. Malice and treachery of wicked men would put out the name and possessions of saints after decease.
3. Providence sometimes orders a restitution of outward comforts to the Church, which have been spoiled by wicked men (ver. 18).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)1. Wicked servants prosecute the quarrel of wicked masters against the Church.
2. Persecuting enemies, if in their power, would not spare a little water to the saints.
3. The wicked double their strife to destroy the life of the saints.
4. Saints give way to the malice of adversaries, but leave a brand of their hateful carriages (ver. 21) in what they yield to them. Sitnah.
5. All the envy and malice of the wicked will stand up as a monument against them, when God shall call them to account (ver. 21).
(G. Hughes, B. D.)1. God sojourners voluntarily translate themselves from such places where enemies under Providence do afflict them.
2. Wherever saints come as sojourners, they must labour under Providence to get necessary supports.
3. Where some wells of comfort are denied by enemies, saints may seek to find out others.
4. Wells of strife and hatred among men may be turned into wells of enlargement and ease by God to His people.
5. God's mercies are fit to be named, published, and recorded among His saints.
(G. Hughes, B. D.)
1. Bring your shovel and pickaxe, and crowbar, and the first well we will open is the glorious well of the Atonement. It is nearly filled up with the chips and debris of old philosophies that were worn out in the time of Confucius and Zeno, but which smart men in our day unwrap from their mummy-bandages, and try to make us believe are original with themselves. I plunge the shovel to the very bottom of the well, and I find the clear water starting. Glorious well of the Atonement. Perhaps there are people here who do not know what "atonement" means, it is so long since you have heard the definition. The word itself, if you give it a peculiar pronunciation, will show the meaning — at-one-ment. Man is a sinner and deserves to die. Jesus comes in and bears His punishments and weeps His griefs. I was lost once, but now I am found. Cowper, overborne with his sin, threw himself into a chair by the window, picked up a New Testament, and his eye lighted upon this: "Whom God hath set forth as a propitiation through faith in His blood"; and instantly he was free. Unless Christ pays our debts, we go to eternal jail. Unless our Joseph opens the King's corn-crib, we die of famine. One sacrifice for all. A heathen got worried about his sins, and came to a priest and asked how he might be cured. The priest said: "If you will drive spikes into your shoes and walk five hundred miles, you will get over it." So he drove spikes in his shoes and began the pilgrimage, trembling, tottering, agonizing on the way, until he came about twenty miles, and sat down under a tree, exhausted. Near by, a missionary was preaching Christ, the Saviour of all men. When the heathen heard it, he pulled off his sandals, threw them as far as he could, and cried: "That's what I want: give me Jesus! give me Jesus!" O ye who have been convicted and worn of sin, trudging on all your days to reap eternal woe, will you not, this morning, at the announcement of a full and glorious Atonement, throw your torturing transgressions to the winds? "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth us from all sin"; that was the very passage that came to the tent of Hedley Vicars, the brave English soldier, and changed him into a hero for the Lord.
2. Now, bring your shovels and your pickaxes, and we will try to open another well. I call it the well of Christian comfort. You have noticed that there are a good many new ways of comforting. Your father dies. Your neighbour comes in and he says: "It is only a natural law that your father should die. The machinery is merely worn out"; and before he leaves you, he makes some other excellent remarks about the coagulation of blood, and the difference between respiratory and nitrogenized food. Your child dies, and your philosophic neighbour comes, and for your soothing tells you that it was impossible the child should live with such a state of mucous membrane! Out with your chemistry and physiology when I have trouble, and give me a plain new Testament! I would rather have an illiterate man from the back-woods, who knows Christ, talk with me when I am in trouble than the profoundest Worldling who does not know Him. The Gospel, without telling you anything about mucous membrane, or gastric juice, or hydrochloric acid, comes and says: "All things together work for good to those who love God," and that if your child is gone, it is only because Jesus has folded it in His arms, and that the judgment-day will explain things that are now inexplicable. Oh! let us dig out this Gospel well of comfort.
3. Now, bring your shovels and pickaxes, and we will dig out another well — a well opened by our father Abraham, but which the Philistines have filled up. It is the well of Gospel invitation. Do you know why more men do not come to Christ? It is because men are not invited that they do not come. You get a general invitation from your friend. "Come around some time to my house and dine with me." You do not go. But he says: "Come around to-day at four o'clock and bring your family, and we'll dine together." And you say: "I don't know that I have any engagement: I will come." "I expect you at four o'clock." And you go. The world feels it is a general invitation to come around some time ,rid sit at the Gospel feast, and men do not come because they are not specially invited. It is because you do not take hold of them and say: "My brother, come to Christ; come now, come now!"
(W. Hardman, LL. D.)
(A. G. Mercer, D. D.)
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