Not-So-Genocidal God: The Story of Isaac and his Wells

(So this series is going to shift gears a little.  We’re going to talk more about where concepts of peace and nonviolence can exist in the Old Testament now.  It’ll be cool.  Promise).

We don’t like our stuff being stolen from us, whether without our knowledge or right before our eyes. In fact, most of us who work hard for our possessions would be likely to punch the lights out of anyone who attempted to steal from us in the first place.  We care about our stuff THAT much that we would deliberately injure someone who tried to take them.  However, if we look in Genesis, Isaac, son of Abraham, didn’t feel that way about something that belonged to him…

OK, since I don’t want to post a HUGE scripture portion in this, let me give you a cliff notes version of what happened: Isaac settled in the land of Abimelek, a land called Gerar, and was there for a number of years, planting crops and digging wells.  Abimelek, seeing Isaac’s prosperity, tells him to get out, because he’s becoming too powerful for him. This means forfeiture of the fertile lands Isaac has been working so hard on, but Isaac makes no effort to argue or fight, he just moves to another place.  In the new place, he discovers a well of fresh water, but the herders of the area lay claim to it, so Isaac leaves it alone.  He goes out, digs ANOTHER well, and they claim that one too.  Isaac just keeps moving, and digs a third well.

Then King Abimelek shows up.  I can just picture Isaac going “Oh great…” But Abimelek doesn’t want his well: he wants a treaty.  He tells Isaac, :We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the LORD.” (Gen. 26:28-29).  They have a big feast, his workers find another fresh well, and all works out just fine. (Don’t believe me? Read the full story).

Imagine that; instead of fighting back, like he could have done (he had the manpower), nor did he settle things legally; Isaac just gives them up and keeps moving, and it all leads to peace.  Some might call this “conflict avoidance” today, but it brought what is definitely a nonaggression pact between the two men. Isaac had faith that God would care for him no matter who took over his wells, and he even got to have a great feast with someone who was envious of his power and bless him through it.

Perhaps God wants to do the same thing through us to the people in our lives who rob us, whether of actual possessions or of even our dignity.  Perhaps, if we just move on, and keep trusting in God, something will give, and our enemy will become our friend.

What about you?  Is someone robbing you?  Would you rather beat the tar out of them, or just move on?  What can you do to move on from the situation and keep trusting in God?



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