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Understanding Genesis 26: Love Your Neighbor

Updated on September 1, 2015
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Read the entire chapter 26 of Genesis on your own. You can read a variety of versions, from contemporary English to literal translations. You can download bible apps, websites (blueletterbible.org or biblegateway.com) or buy one from your local bookstore. I will use King James Version because some of the nuances are missing from other translations. When you read the chapter, don’t just read it—study it with questions and try to make sense of it.

Laws Written in Our Hearts

Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. Genesis 26:5

What are these commandments and laws? Most people know them, as the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20, but it’s obvious that God had spoken instructions to Abraham, and that Abraham obeyed Him. "And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandmentsis, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these." Matthew 12:29-31

Looking at the Ten Commandments: the 1st four commandments are to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” The 5th to 10th commandments are: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Abraham, Seth, Noah and other patriarchs, without the need of the literal Ten Commandments, kept these laws of love. It was given to Moses and the Israelites because they had been so far from God during their time in Egypt, God had to teach them His laws. "But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people." Jeremiah 31:33

We all have these laws written in our hearts, it’s up to us whether to obey Him or choose to be selfish.

Sins of the Father

And the men of the place asked him of his wife; and he said, She is my sister: for he feared to say, She is my wife; lest,said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon. Genesis 26:7

It’s unfortunate, but the mistakes of the father are repeated in the children. Abraham played favorites, Abraham lied, Abraham lost faith, and Isaac also makes the same mistakes. He also favors one son; he loses faith, fears for his life, and sets a bad example for his sons.

God had come to him and repeated His promise made to Abraham, but Isaac fearing for his life, chooses to deceive the people of Gerar. But seeing that God was blessing Isaac, the king of the Philistines, warns his people not to touch Isaac. It’s ironic that an idolatrous man would recognize Holy intervention, yet Isaac failed to see God’s protection.

A Peaceful Man

And he removed from thence, and digged another well; and for that they strove not: and he called the name of it Rehoboth; and he said, For now the LORD hath made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land. Genesis 26:22

Twice, Isaac is driven away from his settlement. Isaac had a large household, and many servants. In fact, Abimelech asks Isaac to go away, because Isaac is mightier than the Philistines. But rather than fight, Isaac leaves peacefully. We also should strive to live peaceably with our neighbors and co-workers. We should be “a blessing unto the nations.” "A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger." Proverbs 15:1 "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." Romans 12:8

Building an Altar

And the LORD appeared unto him the same night, and said, I am the God of Abraham thy father: fear not, for I am with thee, and will bless thee, and multiply thy seed for my servant Abraham's sake. And he builded an altar there, and called upon the name of the LORD, and pitched his tent there: and there Isaac's servants digged a well. Genesis 26:24,25

After the lie that Isaac tells, after the harassment and racism Isaac experiences, God comes to him and reassures him of God’s faithfulness. God speaks to Isaac exactly what he needs to hear, when he needs to hear it. God knows our hearts and loves us, despite our faults.

And Isaac remembers God’s love towards him and builds an altar. When you build an altar and make a sacrifice, it is not a simple task; it is a reverent, solemn worship. Isaac was going to church to commune with God. He gathered his servants and sons, and they built an altar, carrying heavy stones and sweating to finish building their church.

They herded the best animals to sacrifice to their God. Isaac’s family and servants gathered round and witnessed the worship of Isaac’s God. This was so different from the pagan’s worship of killing their children and fornicating in the temples of pagan gods. God comes to Isaac to show his love toward his faithful children, and Isaac shows his household what it means to be a Godly man.

Blessed of the Lord

And they said, We saw certainly that the LORD was with thee: and we said, Let there be now an oath betwixt us,even betwixt us and thee, and let us make a covenant with thee; That thou wilt do us no hurt, as we have not touched thee, and as we have done unto thee nothing but good, and have sent thee away in peace: thou art now the blessed of the LORD. Genesis 26:28, 29

Do you live a life that is obviously blessed? Can others see that “the Lord is with thee?” It’s hard to be joyful when you’re worried about your health, your family, or your job. But there comes a peace and joy when you put your trust in God. Isaac was obviously blessed by God, even if their understanding of “blessed” was misguided; his blessing was so obvious that even pagans saw it. For them, wealth meant to be blessed by a god, and if you were sick and poor, you were cursed. This was something even Jesus’ disciples believed. "And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?" John 9:2

But God is not the cause of our difficulties, in fact, He helps us deal with them and carry us through to the light. "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Matthew 5:16 "Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost." Romans 15:13

Our days are filled with little things that stress us, so keep them little. Don’t let it overwhelm you that you don’t see God’s love. Trust in His goodness and love for you.

Unequally Yoked

And Esau was forty years old when he took to wife Judith the daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Bashemath the daughter of Elon the Hittite: Which were a grief of mind unto Isaac and to Rebekah. Genesis 26:34,35

Esau and Jacob are now adults, and Esau is a strong, willful man. He takes two wives, and both are not from his family or people. Isaac and Rebekah are despairing, not only because he took heathen wives, but this was also a rejection of their God. Just like Esau despised the birthright, he despised God and His edicts of monogamy, faith and love. Esau’s choices for himself, reveals God’s prophecy to his mother, becoming reality.

Marriage is a blessing or a curse, depending on whom you marry. God wanted us to experience the joy and love that the Trinity has, so He created the marriage and family unit. Our family should be a reflection of our relationship with God. But even this, Satan had to ruin. Divorce, oppression, abuse and other sins have ruined this sacred bond of family, and most of us rarely experience the warmth of family love. The parents must set the example for how the family is to love. When parents fight, hate and abuse the other, the children grow up with the wrong idea of family and God.

"Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14 Paul cautions that we are to be equally yoked in faith and righteousness. In chapter 27, Isaac and Rebekah’s true state of marriage comes to light. Unfortunately, this family of God is dysfunctional. Esau, by rejecting God, was equal to his heathen wives.

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