There was a famine in the land… – Genesis 26:1-22
(Please read this passage of Scripture, which gives us the context for this message.)
When we talk about famine as it appears in the Scripture, it has to do with the removal of people’s potential for fruitfulness, the drying up of their provision, and every order of discomfort and problem that can bring immense pressures to bear.
There are all kinds of “famine” – people experience a drying up of funds, a drying up of energy or of faith. It often turns into a weariness that you’ve fought a battle for so long, and it’s not that you doubt God, but you just don’t know how much longer you can stand “it”.
All of us take a certain amount of comfort when we find that other people are facing the same things we face. This story of Isaac gives us a strong picture of ourselves. It calls us to a passion and a persistence—a will to not let the Adversary suffocate you with circumstances that begin with famine.
Stay where the promise is
Just as famine was an external event to Isaac, there are things that happen around us over which we have no real control, and that tempt us to take action. That’s where you and I have to decide what the right action will be.
As this chapter opens, although Isaac is the miracle child of the promise given to his father Abraham, he is nonetheless facing famine, just as Abraham did in spite of receiving the promise (Genesis 13). In the fourth verse, the Lord reiterates with Isaac His covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-4). When Abraham faced a famine, he didn’t consult the Lord; he just decided he had to “do something,” so he packed up and moved to Egypt. He didn’t renounce God’s promise; he just forgot it under the pressure of circumstance.
The Lord warns Isaac that he’s facing the same things as his father and tells him, Don’t do what Daddy did. Isaac listens and does the right thing by not going to Egypt. God wants us to stay where the promise is. It may look dry or unpromising, it may be surrounded by pressures, problems or poverty, but He wants us to neither move from where He’s place; nor take things into our own hands.
Don’t retread old paths
The old paths of “Daddy” Adam are those of sin nature, or points of bondage that have been your immediate family influence. Isaac stays in Gezar, but still there begins a repeat to the old pattern. Just as Abraham, out of fear for his own personal safety, said of his wife Sarah, “She’s my sister,” so Isaac does the same with Rebekah. In both cases, God intervenes and His grace protects them.
Even though we make right choices, flare-ups can come from either our immediate past, or from things ingrained in our nature, and there’s a need for confrontation and correction.
Accept God’s correction at the point of compromise
The irony of God’s grace and intervention in confronting both Abraham and Isaac before either of their wives were defiled is that in both stories, the person who comes to rectify the situation is the pagan king.
It’s one thing to not go back to Egypt, but there is a temptation to compromise when things go dry. Beware of the tendency to try to manage things with your own wisdom. You may stay in the land but still repeat the patterns of the past. Examples:
A man says he’s not planning to leave his wife or commit adultery, but he says the intimacy of his marriage has gone dry, and so he turns to pornography.
A couple declare they’re not going to stop giving to the Lord, but in the face of dryness, they decide that for this month, they’ll keep their tithe and use it to pay bills.
Figuring out ways you can go to the edge is not how to handle a famine. Blessing comes to Isaac in verses 11-12 by reason of two things:
A refusal to take the pathway to the past
An acceptance of the correction when confronted at the point of potential compromise.
Count on confrontation
No sooner is the famine reversed and Isaac starts to prosper, then the Philistines begin to envy him. Throughout the Old Testament, the Philistines are the perennial adversary of the people who represent the purpose of God—they never go away.
This is a picture of the relentless pressure the Adversary will always keep on people to whom God has given promise.
Even though Isaac has walked in the right path, dealt with the lessons of compromise, and now moves into prosperity, he must aggressively attack against resistance for the advance of the Lord’s purpose in him. Our purpose is not just to avoid doing wrong; we’re called to possess the land and the future the Lord has for us. Don’t ever get the idea that you will find a place of such fruitfulness that warfare will cease to be necessary.
The Philistines stop up the wells which are nurturing Isaac’s prosperity, attempting to make the situation revert back to famine. But Isaac’s position is to re-dig the wells, which were originally dug by his father Abraham. Isaac tries to open up what the Adversary has stifled—a historic flow that will bring about the fruitfulness he’s supposed to have—from wells that are literally his heritage. At every point he’s met by resistance, but he perseveres until finally there comes a place where the struggle recedes for that season. It’s not the end; there will be another day with the Philistines, but this present season of skirmishes reaches a conclusion.
Re-dig the wells of your Father
To get to the fountain, start at the Throne. There is a well, a river that guarantees the flow of life in every regard to our lives. It begins with opening the fountain of timelessness where we come into the presence of God—to where the Bible says there is a fountain that flows from underneath the throne of the most high God. We are called to re-dig the wells, to press on through when there comes pressure from the adversary to stop us. Begin with prayer; the river flows in front of the Throne.
Re-dig the wells of your Father. Jesus says, “He who believes in Me…out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38). The Adversary will try to fill the well with so much “stuff”. The call of the Holy Spirit is to always come back to the same water supply that has timelessly served the people of God: your life opened to the flow of the Holy Spirit.
When things dry up, get on your knees, open up the well of praise—of Spirit-flow.
When you face a famine, the call of the Lord is first, Don’t do what Daddy did. Don’t yield to compromise. When it starts, accept the correction of the Lord. He’ll begin to prosper you, and as the Adversary sees your prosperity, count on confrontation and set yourself in an aggressive stance. Don’t let the enemy bury your blessing under the mud of his opposition. Get on your knees, dig the well, and let the river flow.
Copyright 2015 by Jack W. Hayford, Jack Hayford Ministries. All rights reserved.
Become equipped to make it through to your place of victory no matter what kind of famine or storm you face. This month, receive Pastor Jack’s special CD series, Stand Strong, which contains the full-length message, “Principles of Plenty Amid Pressures or Poverty” and four others, as our ‘thank you’ for your gift of $30 to support the ministry. Find out more.