Genesis 26:12–33: The Blessings for Isaac
When we hear God’s promises to bless his people, our minds tend to think of those blessings in one-dimensional terms. If we encounter comfort, peace, and prosperity, then we understand those experiences as blessings. On the other hand, if we encounter pain, trials, and hardship, then we view those as curses. In the life of the believer, we find God working in our lives through the good and the evil that we face. This does not mean that God does not make a distinction between good and evil. Furthermore, this does not mean that God is stingy in the blessings that he distributes to his people. On the contrary, God knows that he would do us eternal harm if we sent unhindered prosperity according to the kingdoms of this world, since our love for the pleasures of this world would choke out any true love for God and for his kingdom.
Instead, God blesses us by working out all things in this life together for the greatest possible good that we could receive (Rom. 8:28). This does not mean that everything we encounter will be good, considered in isolation. Rather, it means that, in the final analysis, we will recognize that God brings true, ultimate, eternal good in the way he weaves good and the bad experiences together. This principle provides us wisdom from God’s eternal vantage point to temper how we perceive each individual event in our lives. From this, we recognize that the good moments in life are not in themselves the best, eternal good that God is pursuing for us. This understanding keeps us from setting our hopes in the things of this world. Furthermore, we recognize in our suffering that God is still at work for our good, an encouragement that keeps us from despair. Through it all, we ultimately recognize that God is pursuing our good by pursuing a good that is bigger than us: the kingdom of Jesus Christ. Genesis 26:12–33 teaches us that God blesses his people by promoting his kingdom.
1. Where is God prospering you? Brainstorm as many places as possible where you see the hand of God accomplishing far more than you can explain, humanly speaking. Where are you experiencing pain? Is any of your prosperity related to your pain? How is God keeping you from seeking joy from your prosperity? How is God keeping you from despair in your pain?
2. What is God working to teach you from his word right now? Which truths is he impressing on your mind? To which emotions is he ministering? Which behaviors is he addressing? Are you learning something genuinely new, or is God applying his same word to a new circumstance? What might we learn from God’s steadfast patience in teaching us his word?
3. Why does God call us to worship him? What happens when we do not respond to his word in worship? What happens when we do respond to his word in worship? How does God use worship for his glory and our good? Why does God also call us to work? What does God teach us about work? What aspect of your work is God clarifying right now by his word?
4. What kingdom work has God entrusted to you? Where has God called you to bring God’s blessing in the gospel of Jesus to the nations? What pain, bitterness, and fear have you experienced as you have sought to love those who hate you for the sake of King Jesus (cf. John 15:18–16:4)? How have you seen God meet your needs in the midst of suffering for the kingdom?