Genesis 26:15-17 The church’s rise must result in greater justice, mercy and righteousness for all peoples

Genesis 26:15-17  The church’s rise must result in greater justice, mercy and righteousness for all peoples

15 Now all the wells which his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father, the Philistines stopped up by filling them with earth. 16 Then Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us.” 17 And Isaac departed from there and camped in the valley of Gerar, and settled there.


The rise of Isaac’s household causes envy among the natives, in addition there is also the fear of being dispossessed from their land. Isaac was consequently driven out from Gerar towards the valley. Today’s devotion shows that the church does not have to suffer the same treatment from the world as Isaac did. Many will embrace the church if its motives are pure and undefiled and it must not be self-serving. The church’s rise must result in greater justice, mercy and righteousness for people of all races and religions.


Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us.

The growing wealth gap between Isaac and the indigenous Philistines begins to unsettle the population at large causing social unrest. Indeed, there are stark differences in cultural appearances, lifestyles and the way the two groups worship God. These differences exacerbated the conflicts and Abimelech, realising that he can no longer contain the sentiments of the locals, urges Isaac to leave. They head for the valley of Gerar, supposedly a less populated part of Gerar.


The church’s rise must result in greater justice, mercy and righteousness for all peoples

In the days of the patriarchs, it seems that one’s blessedness is measured by the size of his household and material possessions. However, financial prowess is not a true measure of blessedness as one could have gotten their wealth through wicked means. And the devil readily offers wealth to all who are willing to worship him.

Riches, in a fuller sense is not external, but internal to the soul. The gospel redefines riches according to the virtues of one’s soul. Christ teaches about a self-serving man who died in the process of amassing great wealth, “…and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who stores up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Luke 12:21. The rich towards God refers to the man who does not store up treasure for himself. And God will vindicate and reward him on the day of Christ’s return.

Abimelech expels Isaac because, “you are too powerful for us.” But, in what way did Abimelech perceive Isaac as a threat to his people? From the text, we gather that the main contention concerns land and the possession of wells. Isaac’s wealth and flock was growing at a rate that it threatened to dispossess the Philistines from their own land.

The Old Testament concept of God’s kingdom requires possession of land and to populate it with the descendants of the patriarchs. The psalmist concurs,

His descendants will be mighty on earth;
The generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in his house,
And his righteousness endures forever. Psalm 112:2-3

This paradigm is more fully executed in the days of Joshua when he conquered Canaan within 7 years and populated it with the 12 tribes of Jacob (Israel).

However, the gospel brings the interpretation of the kingdom into a fuller and sharper focus. In the context of the kingdom’s expansion, no longer do followers of Christ acquire properties and populate them with their own children. In the days of Joshua, the indigenous people of Canaan were dispossessed from their land making way for the Israelites. And that is specifically what Abimelech and the Philistines were fearful of. The kingdom of God according to the gospel, does not dispossess, instead it brings greater blessing and security to those who hear it. The expansion of God’s kingdom is not driven by self-serving agendas, of power acquisition and nepotism but by the universal love of God. Unfortunately, many religions are weary of the Christian faith because of a few churches who segregated themselves from the community claiming sole possession to what is true and authentic religion. They endeavour to make their minister or ministry successful rather than the gospel of Christ. Consequently, they cause a rift among the people which hinders the spread of the gospel. True and authentic religion according the apostle James is:

To visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world. James 1:27

When believers live by the fuller understanding of God’s kingdom, people will not be threatened by our fruitfulness and prosperity (as the Philistines did in Isaac’s days) because they see our willingness to share our possessions with them. The rise of the New Testament church must result in greater justice, mercy and righteousness for all peoples regardless of their race or religion.


Is your goal at the workplace to amass wealth and power thinking that as your rightful possessions? Many believers, to the detriment of the Christian image are selfishly ambitious and audacious in their bid to get ahead. Do our churches portray an image of self-righteousness and dwell on controversies causing unnecessary strife among the churches and other religions? Let us be humble for no one is perfect except God who judges all. Let the church invest their resources wisely. Not to please ourselves but to help the lost, and those who are marginalised.

Dear Lord, help me understand the true Spirit of Christianity as demonstrated in the life of Christ. I pray that the church will be united towards the vision of the kingdom and to grow towards Christ-likeness. Cause the church to display the humility of Christ, who being God, does not claim to know all things, giving glory to the Father. Use the church to bring about justice, mercy and humility to our nation. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

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