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by Dr. John Thomas
He had travelled south as far as Gerar of the Philistines on his way thither.
But the Lord appeared unto him there, and said: "Go not down into Egypt: dwell in the land which I shall tell thee of.
Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee: for unto thee and unto thy Seed will I give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; and I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries: and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed: because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge and commandments, my statutes, and my laws".
In these words, the gospel was preached unto Isaac as it had been to Abraham before him.
He also believed the Lord; for on the faith of these promises he proceeded no farther on his way to Egypt, but "dwelt in Gerar".
There was no uncertainty in Isaac's mind.
He did not look beyond the grave as to "an undiscovered country whence no traveller returns".
The future was no mystery to him.
"Heaven" was to him a state of blessedness upon earth -- a well-defined, and definable constitution of things.
"I will bless thee," said God: and mark the grounds upon which this blessing was predicated: "for," continued the Lord, I will give all these countries to thee; I will give all these countries to thy seed; "who is Christ," says the apostle; I will make thy seed a great multitude; I will give this multitude of people all these countries; and, I will bless all nations in thy seed; the Christ.
As Abraham had died without receiving these promises made to him also; and as Isaac knew they were to inherit together; the promise of "all these countries" to him was equivalent to an assurance that he should rise from the dead; when he would see his father and the Christ in possession of the land; and his descendants increased to a great multitude, and then become a mighty nation exclusively occupying it; and all the nations happy and contented under the dominion of Christ.
This was the gospel he believed; and the heaven, and blessedness for which he hoped.
After this Isaac sowed in the land, and received that year a hundred-fold; and "he waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great; and the Philistines envied him".
And their king said, "Go from us: for thou art much mightier than we".
So he left Gerar, and went to Beer-sheba.
After this, he received a visit from the king of Gerar accompanied by one of his friends, and the general of his army.
But Isaac did not seem pleased at their coming; for he asked them, "Wherefore come ye to me, seeing ye hate me, and have sent me away from you?
" Their answer shows that they were aware of the relation Isaac sustained to God and to His promises: for they replied, "We saw certainly that the Lord was with thee; we wish therefore to make a covenant with thee that thou wilt do us no hurt"; and they ended by stating their conviction, saying, "Thou art now blessed of the Lord"; that is, Abraham being dead with whom we made a covenant before, the blessing of God promised to him now rests upon thee, from whom we seek amity and peace.
When Isaac was sixty, and Abraham a hundred and sixty, Esau and Jacob were born.
Before their birth, the Lord said to Rebekah, "Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger".
Upon this election, the apostle makes the following remarks, saying, "When Rebekah had conceived by our father Isaac -- for the childreen being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth, it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.
As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated".
This election had relation to the purpose of God revealed in the promises to Abraham and Isaac.