I’ve been reading through the Bible as a part of a one year study. As you’d expect, I’ve started in Genesis. This book contains some of the most iconic stories of the Bible. I’ve heard all of these stories hundreds of times, but I haven’t read through them with as much attention to detail as I am this time around. When reading through Isaac’s story, a part of Genesis 26 stood out to me.
In Genesis 26 we’re told of Isaac’s need to seek refuge with the Philistines and then sometime after, is expelled from their land. Right after that, we’re told that Isaac’s servants are digging throughout the Valley of Gerar to find water to provide sustenance for his people. It says, “Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek because they disputed with him. Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, “Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land.” (New International Version, Genesis 26:19-22)
Reviewing the Text
At first glance, this could seem like a passage that doesn’t contain much significance. What does Isaac digging wells in the middle of the desert have to do with me? I mean, I’ll be honest, I’m certain I’ve read past this several times without giving it any extra thought. It just doesn’t seem incredibly striking. But I believe that further examination proves otherwise.
In this passage the word “Esek” can be translated to “dispute”, the word “Sitnah” as “Opposition”, and the word Rehoboth means “room”. As well, while not a translation, it’d be safe to say that “water” in this context, could also mean “life”. Essentially, what we’re seeing here is that Isaac is trying to find a place for his people so they can fulfill their purpose. Aren’t we all looking for this sort of thing in our lives?
How many times have you found that godly man/woman and it’s fallen apart? You thought this was going to be the one! This was going to be the person I could “flourish” with. How many interviews have you gone through where it felt like “this is where I’m supposed to be” only to get rejected? Maybe you’ve invested in your health only to be given terrible news about it. I mean use whatever analogy you want, but we’ve all felt that we’re doing the right works, we’ve found a good thing, and then it’s taken away.
If you haven’t heard it yet, take a quick break, and listen to this song:
To me, this passage is showcasing that to find our place and purpose, we’re going to have to put in work, persevere through trials, and continually seek the Lord’s blessing. That to “make room” for God to do what he wants to do, we’ll have to “dig a few wells”. I think too often we think that just because we are doing the right things and found something that gives purpose or life, that it means it’s where God wants you to be. It’s hard to believe that even if you’ve found a place that gives life, that it could be the wrong place for you to flourish.
That’s not to say that God can’t move in any given situation. No, rather, it’s to say that the well your digging today may not be the place God intends for you to stay. Consider that God may be having you build a well, just so that someone else can benefit from it. It may hurt, but perhaps that “purpose” you found, wasn’t meant for you! Perhaps God has a place much better for you but he needed you to learn how to dig a bit first.
The story goes on and in verse 24 it says, “That night the Lord appeared to him [Isaac] and said, “I am the God of your father Abraham. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham.” (Genesis 26:24) I write to say this, there’s a purpose to your life. Keep searching for where you can “make room”. Just as God was with Isaac and his people, he will be with you! God has a place for you, he has a purpose for your life. He just wants you to seek room where he can move.