Genesis 26:1–11: The Covenant of Isaac
Like Abraham, Isaac did nothing to earn the favor of God. God chose to establish his covenant with Isaac before Isaac was even born (Gen. 17:21), counting Isaac—rather than Ishmael or the sons of Keturah—as the son through whom Abraham’s offspring will be named (Gen. 21:12). Isaac is the son of promise (Rom. 9:6–8) through whom God will fulfill his promises to Abraham. Ultimately, it will be through Isaac that God will bless all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:3; 26:4). Even so, the first part of Genesis 26 narrates a major threat to the fulfillment of the promises: Isaac’s desire to go to Egypt to escape the famine in Canaan (Gen. 26:1–2). What does Isaac stand to lose if he leaves Canaan? What does Isaac stand to gain if he stays in Canaan? What will be the implications of any of Isaac’s failures to trust and obey Yahweh, his covenant God? Genesis 26:1–11 teaches us something important about our own covenantal relationship with God: in order to be saved, God requires us to abide in Christ.
1. Where are you most tempted to trust in the provisions of Egypt rather than the promises of God? What fears loom most threateningly over you? What desires entice you most powerfully? How does Satan tempt you to believe that God is withholding, while Egypt is satisfying? Do the promises of the gospel provide better hope than the objects of your temptation?
2. What does Isaac stand to lose if he walks away from the Promised Land? What do we stand to lose if we walk away from Christ? If we are justified by faith alone, why must we remain in Christ in order to be saved? How do God’s warnings and threatenings help keep us in Christ? How do God’s promises help to root and to establish us in Christ?
3. Why do you think Isaac falls into the same sin that Abraham committed twice, by lying that his wife is his sister? What generational sins do you need to watch out for in your life? Even if not generational, what sins of weakness and fear do you need to guard against? What strength do the covenant promises of God offer in the midst of your weaknesses?
4. Do God’s people need to fear condemnation from our individual sins? Why is the sin of apostasy of such a different nature than the sins we commit while abiding in Christ? If we are abiding in Christ, how will we respond when we sin? If we apostatize, how will we respond when we sin? How, then, should we protect ourselves from apostasy by the grace of God?