Posted in isaac, living water, old testament, wells

Wells of living water: Old Testament pictures are New Testament promises

By Elizabeth Prata

The passage today is from Genesis 26:17-22. I found that as far as my interpretation of it goes, there seems to be a historical/practical meaning, a spiritual meaning, and a metaphorical meaning. God’s word is great. Here is the passage.

So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, [contention] because they contended with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah. [enmity]. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, [room] saying, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

Ancient well diggers dug a shaft to obtain water from a water-bearing layer beneath the ground. They lined the shaft with wood, stone, or baked brick to prevent it from caving in. To keep contaminants from the well and to protect people from falling in, well diggers often built a low stone wall like the one shown here and covered the well opening with a large flat stone. ‎Gen 16:14, Gen 21:19, 25, 30, Exod 2:15, Isa 12:3, Luke 14:5, John 4:1–45. (Source, Myers, R (2012) Logos Bible Images, Lexham Press, images are public domain.)

Practically, as a herdsman Isaac would have depended greatly on water to keep his flock alive. Water was a precious commodity in a dry and thirsty land. Earlier in Genesis 26 it had been reported that Isaac had become a very wealthy man.

And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.)

Isaac’s father Abraham had obtained the land legally and rightly, and he had dug the wells. Yet the Philistines stopped them up. And the Philistines’ envy and hatred carried through to Isaac’s day, when they contended with Isaac over the water and there was strife. It must have been a great hardship for Isaac with all his herds, servants, and flocks to go without enough water during the periods the Philistines contended against him. Calvin said of the stopped-up wells,

Moreover, the fact that the wells had been obstructed ever since the departure of Abraham, shows how little respect the inhabitants had for their guest; for although their own country would have been benefited by these wells, they chose rather to deprive themselves of this advantage than to have Abraham for a neighbor; for, in order that such a convenience might not attract him to the place, they, by stopping up the wells, did, in a certain sense, intercept his way. It was a custom among the ancients, if they wished to involve any one in ruin, and to cut him off from the society of men, to interdict him from water, and from fire: thus the Philistine, for the purpose of removing Abraham from their vicinity, deprive him of the element of water.

Aside from the physical need of the practical matter of water, the second item to note is Isaac’s placid response. Stopping up a well is akin to a declaration of war because no water equals financial ruin and perhaps death. The Philistines had already noted Isaac’s large retinue and knew he could have defeated the them yet Isaac did not fight. He simply relied on the Lord’s providential care by abandoning his freshly dug well – several times – and moved on. Talk about turning the other cheek! (Luke 6:29).

Calvin again, this time of the spiritual relationship Isaac had with YHWH-

First, Moses, according to his manner, briefly runs through the summary of the affair: namely, that Isaac intended to apply again to his own purpose the wells which his father had previously found, and to acquire, in the way of recovery, the lost possession of them. He then prosecutes the subject more diffusely, stating that, when he attempted the work, he was unjustly defrauded of his labor; and whereas, in digging the third well, he gives thanks to God, and calls it Room, because, by the favor of God, a more copious supply is now afforded him, he furnishes an example of invincible patience. Therefore, however severely he may have been harassed, yet when, after he had been freed from these troubles, he so placidly returns thanks to God, and celebrates his goodness, he shows that in the midst of trials he has retained a composed and tranquil mind.

Thirdly, the metaphorical aspect. Whenever there is water in the Bible, I pay attention. It is a blessing to me to think of the Lord Jesus as the Living water. With the stopping up of the wells and the final well finally flowing freely in an area of enough “room”, I searched to see if my hunch had been right. Matthew Henry alluded to the flowing water, metaphorical aspect of Isaac’s wells issue.

In digging his wells he met with much opposition, v. 20, 21. Those that open the fountains of truth must expect contradiction. The first two wells which they dug were called Esek and Sitnah, contention and hatred. What is the nature of worldly things; they are make-bates and occasions of strife. What is often the lot even of the most quiet and peaceable men in this world; those that avoid striving yet cannot avoid being striven with, Ps. 120:7. In this sense, Jeremiah was a man of contention (Jer. 15:10), and Christ himself, though he is the prince of peace. What a mercy it is to have plenty of water, to have it without striving for it. The more common this mercy is the more reason we have to be thankful for it.

Source: Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 60).

The two verses which come to my mind are:

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3).

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ (John 7:38)
 
Matthew Henry one more time:

Upon God’s providence, even in the greatest straits and difficulties. God can open fountains for our supply where we least expect them, waters in the wilderness (Isa. 43:20), because he makes a way in the wilderness, v. 19. Those who, in this wilderness, keep to God’s way, may trust him to provide for them. While we follow the pillar of cloud and fire, surely goodness and mercy shall follow us, like the water out of the rock. 2. Upon Christ’s grace: That rock was Christ, 1 Co. 10:4. The graces and comforts of the Spirit are compared to rivers of living water, Jn. 7:38, 39; 4:14. These flow from Christ, who is the rock smitten by the law of Moses, for he was made under the law. Nothing will supply the needs, and satisfy the desires, of a soul, but water out of this rock, this fountain opened. The pleasures of sense are puddle-water; spiritual delights are rock-water, so pure, so clear, so refreshing—rivers of pleasure.

May the Lord bless you abundantly as you drink freely from the well of salvation and refresh your justified soul in the river of living water.

 

Posted in isaac, Lamb, old testament, prophecy, sacrifice

Sacrifice of Isaac prefigures Christ: the grace of Old Testament symbols and acts

Genesis 22 has the story of the great test of faith of Abraham. God called to Abraham one day, and Abraham answered “Here I am!” God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, his only son, who Abraham loves. Abraham was to do this on Mt Moriah, a place God initially told Abraham would be a place I will tell you. Not even initially knowing where, Abraham hastened to obey, and the two hiked to the fateful spot.

Theologians have examined this scene and compared it to Christ’s sacrifice so I am certainly not plowing new ground. I have no deeper insights. But in this day and age, with fears and tribulations, and griefs and apostasy, it is always refreshing to keep our eyes on Christ. It is always edifying to see how in the word, the LORD God has it all under control and His plan is unfolding from that day to this in magnificent fashion, and will continue to do so.

Italian Renaissance painter Caravaggio’s depiction of the sacrifice of Isaac.

Comparison of Old Testament texts with New Testament texts. Isaac pre-figures Christ.

click to enlarge

Preparing for Christ’s death

The cross is the epitome of redemptive truth, foreshadowed in the acceptable sacrifice of Abel, foreshadowed in the ark of safety that saved Noah, foreshadowed in the sacrifice provided on Mount Moriah–a ram in the place of Isaac, prefigured in the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, where Moses said, “The Lord is my strength, and my song, and He has become my salvation.” We see the cross foreshadowed in the smitten rock in the wilderness that brought forth water to quench the thirsty people. We see the cross foreshadowed in the Levitical ceremonies, sacrifices and offerings. We see it foreshadowed in the serpent lifted up in the desert for healing. We see it even in Boaz, the kinsman redeemer. We see the cross detailed in Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. We see the pierced and wounded Savior in Zechariah, chapter 12–all the way through Scripture. J. MacArthur

Scripture is amazing and wonderful. Read your Bible today.

Posted in isaac, living water, old testament, wells

Wells of living water: Old Testament pictures are New Testament promises

The passage today is from Genesis 26:17-22. I found that as far as my interpretation of it goes, there seems to be a historical/practical meaning, a spiritual meaning, and a metaphorical meaning. God’s word is great. Here is the passage.

So Isaac departed from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. And Isaac dug again the wells of water that had been dug in the days of Abraham his father, which the Philistines had stopped after the death of Abraham. And he gave them the names that his father had given them. But when Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and found there a well of spring water, the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen, saying, “The water is ours.” So he called the name of the well Esek, [contention] because they contended with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that also, so he called its name Sitnah. [enmity]. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, [room] saying, “For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land.”

Ancient well diggers dug a shaft to obtain water from a water-bearing layer beneath the ground. They lined the shaft with wood, stone, or baked brick to prevent it from caving in. To keep contaminants from the well and to protect people from falling in, well diggers often built a low stone wall like the one shown here and covered the well opening with a large flat stone. ‎Gen 16:14, Gen 21:19, 25, 30, Exod 2:15, Isa 12:3, Luke 14:5, John 4:1–45. (Source, Myers, R (2012) Logos Bible Images, Lexham Press, images are public domain.)

Practically, as a herdsman Isaac would have depended greatly on water to keep his flock alive. Water was a precious commodity in a dry and thirsty land. Earlier in Genesis 26 it had been reported that Isaac had become a very wealthy man.

And Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. The LORD blessed him, and the man became rich, and gained more and more until he became very wealthy. He had possessions of flocks and herds and many servants, so that the Philistines envied him. (Now the Philistines had stopped and filled with earth all the wells that his father’s servants had dug in the days of Abraham his father.)

Isaac’s father Abraham had obtained the land legally and rightly, and he had dug the wells. Yet the Philistines stopped them up. And the Philistines’ envy and hatred carried through to Isaac’s day, when they contended with Isaac over the water and there was strife. It must have been a great hardship for Isaac with all his herds, servants, and flocks to go without enough water during the periods the Philistines contended against him. Calvin said of the stopped-up wells,

Moreover, the fact that the wells had been obstructed ever since the departure of Abraham, shows how little respect the inhabitants had for their guest; for although their own country would have been benefited by these wells, they chose rather to deprive themselves of this advantage than to have Abraham for a neighbor; for, in order that such a convenience might not attract him to the place, they, by stopping up the wells, did, in a certain sense, intercept his way. It was a custom among the ancients, if they wished to involve any one in ruin, and to cut him off from the society of men, to interdict him from water, and from fire: thus the Philistine, for the purpose of removing Abraham from their vicinity, deprive him of the element of water.

Aside from the physical need of the practical matter of water, the second item to note is Isaac’s placid response. Stopping up a well is akin to a declaration of war because no water equals financial ruin and perhaps death. The Philistines had already noted Isaac’s large retinue and knew he could have defeated the them yet Isaac did not fight. He simply relied on the Lord’s providential care by abandoning his freshly dug well – several times – and moved on. Talk about turning the other cheek! (Luke 6:29).

Calvin again, this time of the spiritual relationship Isaac had with YHWH-

First, Moses, according to his manner, briefly runs through the summary of the affair: namely, that Isaac intended to apply again to his own purpose the wells which his father had previously found, and to acquire, in the way of recovery, the lost possession of them. He then prosecutes the subject more diffusely, stating that, when he attempted the work, he was unjustly defrauded of his labor; and whereas, in digging the third well, he gives thanks to God, and calls it Room, because, by the favor of God, a more copious supply is now afforded him, he furnishes an example of invincible patience. Therefore, however severely he may have been harassed, yet when, after he had been freed from these troubles, he so placidly returns thanks to God, and celebrates his goodness, he shows that in the midst of trials he has retained a composed and tranquil mind.

Thirdly, the metaphorical aspect. Whenever there is water in the Bible, I pay attention. It is a blessing to me to think of the Lord Jesus as the Living water. With the stopping up of the wells and the final well finally flowing freely in an area of enough “room”, I searched to see if my hunch had been right. Matthew Henry alluded to the flowing water, metaphorical aspect of Isaac’s wells issue.

In digging his wells he met with much opposition, v. 20, 21. Those that open the fountains of truth must expect contradiction. The first two wells which they dug were called Esek and Sitnah, contention and hatred. What is the nature of worldly things; they are make-bates and occasions of strife. What is often the lot even of the most quiet and peaceable men in this world; those that avoid striving yet cannot avoid being striven with, Ps. 120:7. In this sense, Jeremiah was a man of contention (Jer. 15:10), and Christ himself, though he is the prince of peace. What a mercy it is to have plenty of water, to have it without striving for it. The more common this mercy is the more reason we have to be thankful for it.

Source: Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 60).

The two verses which come to my mind are:

With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3).

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ (John 7:38)
Matthew Henry one more time:

Upon God’s providence, even in the greatest straits and difficulties. God can open fountains for our supply where we least expect them, waters in the wilderness (Isa. 43:20), because he makes a way in the wilderness, v. 19. Those who, in this wilderness, keep to God’s way, may trust him to provide for them. While we follow the pillar of cloud and fire, surely goodness and mercy shall follow us, like the water out of the rock. 2. Upon Christ’s grace: That rock was Christ, 1 Co. 10:4. The graces and comforts of the Spirit are compared to rivers of living water, Jn. 7:38, 39; 4:14. These flow from Christ, who is the rock smitten by the law of Moses, for he was made under the law. Nothing will supply the needs, and satisfy the desires, of a soul, but water out of this rock, this fountain opened. The pleasures of sense are puddle-water; spiritual delights are rock-water, so pure, so clear, so refreshing—rivers of pleasure.

May the Lord bless you abundantly as you drink freely from the well of salvation and refresh your justified soul in the river of living water.

Posted in abraham, isaac, jephthah, jephthah's daughter, jesus

Two dirty words of the new Millennium

I suppose the Millennium isn’t new anymore, now being in its second decade. However in this day and age we see the words obey and submit as increasingly maligned.

We usually see the kerfuffles on social media and played out in small, sometimes heated, discussions among people in real life of the words obey and submit when applied to wives. Here are a few of the verses which command wives to do both.

Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. (1 Peter 3:1-2).

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. (Colossians 3:18)

Today I will focus on children. Not just husbands or wives, but children are supposed to obey and submit, too. The Fifth Commandment speaks to this, and it is the first commandment with a promise, interestingly.

Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. (Exodus 20:12)

Lest one balk that these are just “Old Testament” commands and argue that they’re passe, old fashioned, or outdated, look at what Jesus said several times in the New Testament:

For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ (Matthew 15:4)

honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 19:19)

AND see what Paul by the Spirit:

“Honor your father and mother”–which is the first commandment with a promise— (Ephesians 6:2)

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. (Colossians 3:20)

In that last verse, Paul was speaking about the family structure, with husband/father as head, submitting to Jesus, mothers/wives are to submit to husbands, and children are to submit to and obey parents. As long as the persons within the family structure follow these commands, everything will flow smoothly, spiritual blessing will come, and the Lord’s promises will be delivered. This is because the Godly family is the foundation block of society and one of the ways to illustrate God’s standards and His strength to a dark world.

Biblical Filial Obedience: Jephthah’s daughter and Abraham’s son

Genesis 22:1-19 records the story of Isaac’s obedience to his father, Abraham. (It records the incident for many other reasons, too, but we’ll look at Isaac in this scenario). God told Abraham to journey to the top of Mt. Moriah and to sacrifice Isaac, his only son, whom Abraham loved, at the altar there. Isaac was no babe. He was no mere tot, nor a child. Though the bible does nor record exactly how old Isaac was, he was anywhere from between the age of 13 to 37. He was his own man, or nearly so. Isaac was obedient to his father all his days- not just when he “had to” as a kid.

Sacrifice of Isaac, by Caravaggio

First, Isaac journeyed with his father. When Abraham announced the lengthy journey, Isaac didn’t argue, roll his eyes, stamp his foot, or demand that he be allowed to go to the prom instead. He went.

In addition, he willingly was a beast of burden for his father. When Abraham laid the bundle of wood on Isaac’s back for the offering, Isaac carried it. He didn’t whine, he didn’t groan, and he didn’t complain.

Third, and of course this is the most meaningful one, is that Isaac allowed his father to tie him and lay him on the altar. Isaac isn’t recorded as balking even when Abraham raised the knife to “slaughter” his son.

Of course I do not mean that children are to be passive tools of abuse. I don’t accept that they are to be dealt with violently. The scene in Genesis was an extraordinary scene, mirroring the one and only scene of the Father of Lights glorifying His Son whom He loved as He allowed Him to be slaughtered by sinful men for our sins as the sacrifice. Abraham and Isaac had a unique and vivid relationship with the LORD. However, the point is that Isaac trusted His father Abraham. When Isaac asked where the sacrifice was, and Abraham said the LORD would provide it, Isaac knew His LORD and he knew his father knew his LORD. At the root of obedience is trust in God.

As for the gals, we have Jephthah’s daughter. Judges 11 has the story. Jephthah was a mighty warrior. When it looked like the Ammonites were going to attack, the men besought Jephthah to be their general and lead them into victory in the LORD’S name. He accepted the call of duty, and the Spirit of the LORD was upon Jephthah. (Judges 11:29). But just because the Spirit was upon him does not mean that Jephthah was making all the right decisions, as his tragic vow in the very next verse demonstrates.

The Return of Jephtha, by Giovanni Antonio Pellegrini

Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, “If You will indeed give the sons of Ammon into my hand, 31then it shall be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the sons of Ammon, it shall be the LORD’S, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.” (Judges 11:30-31)

The LORD did give the Ammonites into the Israelites’ hand, and satisfied, Jephthah went home. He loved his daughter, his only daughter, as the bible records. He had no sons. Despite being an old and mighty warrior he was tender toward her. That is why he was horrified to see that the first person exiting his house upon his return was…his daughter. The LORD was punishing Jephthah for bargaining with Him, not having enough trust in Him to deliver the victory, and for making a vow to sacrifice a person – which is forbidden.

Jephthah accepted her father’s vow and only asked for two months to go into the mountains to bewail her misfortune in never being able to bear children, the high point of life for a Hebrew maiden. It also means that her father’s line would be ended, thus nullifying the possibility that their genealogy would be included in the Messianic line.

The Daughter did indeed return at the appointed time and indeed the burnt offering was carried out. (Judges 11:39).

The daughter’s obedience actually indicated a deeper worship and knowledge of the LORD than her father’s.

Her answer was most heroic. There were no resentful or rebellious tones in it. She shed no tears, nor shook with despair after her father with a crushed heart spoke of his vow. There was the quiet acceptance of the tragic fact that she was to be the burnt offering her father had promised. Only known by the simple title of “Jephthah’s daughter,” this most commendable maiden may not have had the gifts and talents of some other women of the Bible, but she will ever remain as the incarnation of willing sacrifice. “My father, if thou hast made this promise to the Lord, do to me according to the promise.” If there is a quality for which a woman is supreme, it is sacrifice, and in this virtue the obedient daughter of Jephthah gave what was nobler than gifts—she offered herself. (Source Bible Gateway)

The two examples here, Isaac and Jephthah’s daughter, show that they were either prepared to or actually did submit themselves unto death for the glory and honor of the name of the LORD. There is no greater filial obedience humanly possible, except for Jesus’ sacrifice in willingly following His Father’s plan to die for our sins.

In today’s times, we are not called by our parents to sacrifice ourselves unto death, but we are called to be living sacrifices by our spiritual Father, Jesus Christ. These two examples of filial obedience are worth mulling. We see the pale shadow of obedience of today’s youth and adults, and we know that in the future that obedience will be non-existent. (2 Timothy 3:2, 1 Timothy 1:9).

Jephthah accepted her fate, asking only for time to mourn and prepare. Today’s daughters pitch a fit when dads ask them not to text at the table. Isaac humbly carried the firewood up the mountain for his dad, asking only where the sacrifice was. Today’s sons roll their eyes and diss their dad when asked to take out the trash.

We are all called to Godly obedience. Ephesians 6:1 says

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.

Bible Exposition Commentary by Warren Wiersbe says,

When a person becomes a Christian, he is not released from normal obligations of life. If anything, his faith in Christ ought to make him a better child in the home. To the Colossians Paul enforced his admonition with “for this is well pleasing unto the Lord” (Col. 3:20). Here is harmony in the home: the wife submits to the husband “as unto Christ”; the husband loves his wife “even as Christ also loved the church”; and the children obey “in the Lord.”

Children, youth, young adults, older children of aged parents, submit and obey. They are not dirty words but are blessed words which in brings blessing when lived out. When you’re asked to do something against which you rebel, whether it be anything from taking out the trash, to being denied access to the family car at the moment you want it, all the way to refraining from porn or protecting your virginity, think of the honor Jephthah’s daughter brought to the Lord’s name and how Isaac’s submission is still talked of today. Love, honor, and obey your father. After all, Jesus did.

And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:8)