Fear is a powerful motivator. It can drive us to do dastardly things. Some of us shut down, attack, or distract ourselves. Others face fear by trying to wrestle a problem in their own strength. In Genesis 26, Isaac and his family faced fear in the form of famine. You may notice that this entire chapter bears a resemblance to the Abraham narrative. Just as Abraham had done, Isaac moved his family south to survive. But the Lord stopped them: “Do not go down to Egypt,” God told Isaac. “Live in the land where I tell you to live” (v. 2). Then the Lord reaffirmed His covenant: “I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky” (v. 4).
So it may surprise you that immediately following God’s covenant reminder, however, comes a record of Isaac’s deception (v. 7). He lied about Rebekah’s identity, saying she was his sister rather than his wife (again, just like his father!). Isaac was afraid the men of Gerar might kill him and take Rebekah for themselves. Isaac succeeded for some time it seems—until finally, King Abimelek himself saw Isaac and Rebekah in an intimate embrace (v. 8). Abimelek had not yet sent for Rebekah as Pharaoh had sent for Sarah. In that regard, Isaac and Rebekah were spared. God’s grace to them was already evident. Nevertheless, the king confronted Isaac, and Isaac reiterated his fear.
Abimelek’s reaction was to provide Isaac with additional protection. He did not send Isaac away, as Pharaoh did Abraham. Instead, he made a decree that anyone who harmed Isaac or Rebekah would be put to death (v. 11). Despite Isaac’s fear, the covenant of God was again being made manifest.
>> How do you respond to fear? Today, release your fear to Him and rest in His promises and provision. Even though our emotions may waiver, you have a God who does not change “like shifting shadows” (James 1:17).
Father, we are frail and finite beings, and fear is never far from us. May we take each fearful moment as an opportunity to lean on you and to listen for your voice.