THE REALITIES OF A PILGRIM’S LIFE
Intro: The Patriarch Isaac was a man who lived in the shadows. If you think
about it, he lived his live first under the shadow of his great father Abraham,
then he lived his live in the shadow of his great son Jacob. Abraham is the
star of some 14 chapters of the book of Genesis and Jacob is the central
figure of another 12 or so. But Isaac, is only featured in a handful of
chapters. It is only here, in this 26th chapter of Genesis that we are allowed
a glimpse into the life and work of this man.
Among the things we note about him is that he was a man of faith, v. 2-5. In fact, he is listed in Hebrews 11:20 among the great heroes of the
faithful. We can also see here that he, like the rest of us, was far from
perfect, v. 6-11, because he was guilty of committing some of the same sins
that his father Abraham had committed. Another thing we notice about this
man is the fact that he was a pilgrim. That is, he moved from place to place,
like his father, not actually owning any of the land upon which he lived.
It is in his role as a pilgrim that Isaac pictures the child of God. If I may
I remind you this morning, the Bible teaches us very clearly that we are
“strangers and pilgrims” in this world, 1 Pet. 2:11. The word “strangers”
means “a stranger, a foreigner, one who lives in a place without the
right of citizenship”. And, the word “pilgrim” means, “sojourning in a
strange place; a metaphor for one who sojourns on earth”. In fact, the
Bible tells us that every saved person is a citizen of heaven, Phil. 3:20, 1
Today, I want to examine the life of Isaac the pilgrim. Because in his
pilgrimage through the world, encounters many of the same problems and
he experiences many of the same blessings that cross paths with us as we
journey toward glory. Let’s take a few minutes today to examine the life of
this man, and as we do, I just want to point out The Realities Of A
Pilgrim’s Life. There is help and hope in this passage today for everyone
who is walking the pilgrim’s path!
I. V. 12-14a IT IS A LIFE OF GREAT PROVISIONS
A. The Size Of The Provisions - We are told that Isaac enjoyed a
10,000% return on his investment! What makes this all the more
astounding is the fact that this occurred during a time of famine, v.
1. While everyone around him was going broke and starving to
death, Isaac prospered. His crops flourished while the crops of
others dried up. His flocks and herds grew while the flocks and
herds of others starved and died of thirst. It seemed like Isaac had
the golden touch.
B. The Source Of The Provisions - Some may have called it good
luck, others may have looked upon Isaac and wondered how he did
it, but the fact of the mater is this: God was just blessing him! Isaac
wasn’t a better farmer than the other farmers. He didn’t know more
about botany, horticulture or zoology than the other men around him.
But, he did have an advantage, he knew God and that translated into
blessings in his life when others were experiencing defeat! You see,
when the famine arose, there was evidently a temptation within
Isaac’s heart to flee to Egypt like Abraham had before him, v. 2.
However, in obedience to the Lord’s command, he stayed where he
was, in the midst of that famine, and God honored his obedience!
(Note: I would just like to point something out to every believer in this
room today: the very fact that you know God in a personal way places
you in a position to enjoy His wonderful provisions in your life! You may
look at your situation today and say, “Preacher, it sure doesn’t look
like I’m receiving a 10,000% return on my investment! I’m saved,
following the Lord and trying to be obedient, but I’m just about flat
broke and everything is falling apart in my life!” Friends, just
because God isn’t paving your path with diamonds and giving you a new
Rolls Royce every year doesn’t mean that He isn’t blessing you!
Look at it this way: you may have it as bad, or even worse, than
those around you who aren’t saved, but you have something they do not
have! You have a personal relationship with the Lord God of Heaven!
What does that give you? Well, the list is almost endless, but a few of
the benefits are:
1. Eternal salvation - never lost!
2. The presence of God in your life - never alone!
3. The power of God working in your life - never in a hopeless situation!
4. The promises of God active in your life - never without hope!
5. The Word of God to guide your life - never without direction!
The list could go on, but you think about it; if you are saved and your
neighbor is not, who’s children have a better hope of heaven? What
kind of a value do you on place on that? Would you rather have money
or the Master? Well, if you have the Master, He will take care of all the
real needs in your life anyway!
Isaac enjoyed the great blessings that he did because he was
obedient to the command of God, v. 2-4. The same thing holds true for
you and me. If we will put God where He belongs: first; then, He will see
to the rest of our lives, Matt. 6:33. No one said this life would be easy,
in fact the Bible teaches the opposite, but, those who walk with God
know that He is in control! (Ill. The unseen hand of providence! What
looks like the worst disaster you ever faced can be used of God to bring
into your life some of the greatest blessings you have ever enjoyed,
Rom. 8:28; 2 Cor. 4:17.)
II. V. 14b-22 IT IS A LIFE OF GREAT PROBLEMS
(Ill. Even Isaac’s life wasn’t filled with all blessings and glories. He
fought some real battles and so will you! Let’s look at a couple of the
battles Isaac was required to fight.)
A. V. 14b-16 He Faced Problems With The World - The Bible tells us
that the Philistines were jealous of Isaac. Why? Because they could
see the hand of God on his life! He was prospering while they were
struggling! Because they were jealous, they tried to make his life
hard by plugging up the wells that had been dug by his father
Abraham. Their king even kicked Isaac out of the country! (Note:
Just as it was with Isaac, the Lord’s pilgrims should never expect to
be accepted and understood by the world. The fact of the matter is
this: the Lord tells us clearly that those who live for Him will be
persecuted as they pass through this world, 2 Tim. 3:12. Of course,
some of the same tactics the Philistines used against Isaac are still
being employed against the people of God! They become jealous
when they can’t explain or understand our peace and joy under
trials. They do their best to rob us of the blessings we have as
children of God when they see us walking by faith through this world.
They will seek to stop up the wells from which we are drawing
through discouragement, intimidation and personal attacks. Yet, the
Lord said it would be this way and He tells us to rejoice when this
kind of situation arises in our lives, Matt. 5:10-12; 1 Pet. 4:12-16.
So, when the world turns on you, don’t be surprised or don’t get
upset. Instead, rejoice in the Lord. It will make them worse, but God
will be honored and He will see you through!)
B. V. 17-22 He Faced Problems With His Wells - We already know
that the Philistines plugged up the wells of Abraham, but they even
fought with Isaac over the new well he was digging in the wilderness.
Why all this fascination with wells? There are several reasons. The
primary one being the fact that men and animals must have water to
survive. In that country, being semi-desert, water was as valuable
as oil is today! In those days, all waste lands were called “God’s
lands”. If any man could live in a desert place, provide for his family
and flocks and open a well, then that land was considered to be his
land! In other words, a well was a statement of ownership! To fill in
a well was an act of war! These Philistines hated Isaac so much that
they declared war on him by trying to seize his lands and drive him
away from that which was his! Notice the fights he had to
1. V. 18 He Had To Clean Out The Old Wells - Many years before,
his father Abraham had passed through the land and he had dug
some wells of water. He dug those wells to meet needs in his
day and to pass them down to his son Isaac so that needs could
be met in his days as well. The Philistines had come along and
had plugged these wells to prevent Isaac from suing them.
Notice that the Philistines didn’t want them for themselves, they
just didn’t want Isaac to have them. He had to take the time to
reopen those wells! (Note: These old wells speak to us of the
spiritual resources that were uncovered and proclaimed by our
spiritual fathers in days gone by. If we are not careful, the world
will destroy everything that we have been given! Many of the
wells from which our fathers drank have already been stopped!
Think of it, there used to be a day when God’s people drank
deeply from the well of praise and worship! The world has
stopped that well by telling us that we should not be fanatics
about Jesus. Our fathers opened for us the wells of Scripture,
of salvation, of sanctification, of service, of the great fundamental
doctrines of the faith! And the world has come along a tried to
stop them up. Liberalism has tried to change our beliefs! There
is a need right now for God’s people to re-dig the wells that the
world has tried to stop up! We must contend for the old ways, if
we do not, the old ways will die when we do!)
2. V. 19-22 He Had To Contend For The New Wells - As he
moved along in his pilgrimage, Isaac was always in the business
of digging new wells. Every time he opened a well, his enemies
tried to take it away from him. The water from the old wells were
cool and refreshing, but more water was needed now.
Therefore, new wells were dug! Three of those wells are
mentioned here by name: 1. Esek - This word means
“Contention”. 2. Sitnah - This word means “strife or hatred”.
It has the idea of “laying in wait to ensnare someone”. The
name Satan comes from the same root word. 3. Rehoboth -
This word means “a wide open place”. It was at Rehoboth that
the Philistines finally left Isaac alone! Everywhere the man went,
he faced a fight! The Philistines tried to take that for which he
had labored. (Note: The same is true in the world today. Look
at the world, and you will see that they tried to take everything
that belongs to the people of faith. They have highjacked
Christmas and Easter. They even steal our language by talking
about God, being born again, or all sorts of spiritual things. But,
we must contend for the faith, Jude 3. If we do not, then there
will be not faith to pass down to the next generation, 2 Tim. 2:2.
Ill. “Commit thou” means “to set before, or to set a table”.)
(Note: For Isaac, the pilgrimage here was one fight after another! I can
guarantee you that your journey through this world will not come without
a fight as well. But, take moment to look around this room at the
children. Then think outside the walls of this building about those who
do not know the Lord Jesus. Remember, you are fighting for them!
Every time we reopen a well the world has closed; every time we dig a
new well for the needs of today; every time we defend the wells we
have, we are serving the Lord, the lost and the little ones! It is a ministry
that must be performed at all costs! If it isn’t soon, there will be nothing
left to defend and nothing at all to pass down! We may have to fight for
what our fathers believed and we may have to fight for what we believe,
but the Lord watches over the whole matter and like he did for Isaac, He
will make a place for us!)
III. V. 23-25 IT IS A LIFE OF GREAT PRIVILEGES
(Ill. Isaac enjoyed the Lord’s provisions in his life and he also
experienced some problems as well. But, these last few verses in our
text let us in on the fact that pilgrim life is also marked by its privileges.)
A. V. 24 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s Words - The Lord
appeared to Isaac and renewed His promises once again! (Note:
There is no greater privilege than that of experiencing the Lord’s
presence and hearing His voice. We have been given His Word to
speak to our hearts, Psa. 119:105, but we have also been given His
Spirit and He speaks to us as well, John 16:13. (Note: It was the
voice of God that got the attention of Elijah - 1 Kings 19:12. When
He speaks, His sheep know Him, John 10:3-4.)
B. V. 25 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s Worship - Isaac prepared
an altar and went before his God in worship! (Note: This is a
privilege enjoyed by those who know the Lord! What an honor it is
to be able to enter into His presence to worship Him and to love Him,
John 4:23-24, Heb. 4:16! When we stop to think of what we were
before He found us...)
C. V. 25 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s World - Isaac was able to
pitch his tent in the place God had marked off for him and he dwelt
there. He was enjoying the blessings of God even while journeying
through a hostile land. (Note: It is becoming increasingly clear that
God’s true church is not wanted in this world. This is not our home
and the natives of this world do not like us being here. But, the Lord
has a way of bringing His best into our lives as we travel along.
While our hearts beat for Heaven, and our feet walk through this
foreign land, our Father attends our way with His blessings and He
makes the pilgrimage glorious!)
D. V. 25 The Privilege Of Enjoying God’s Water - Isaac and his
servants dug a final well and enjoyed the water that flowed from it.
After all the work unstopping Abraham’s well and after all the fighting
over the new wells, Isaac is given a well of water that is all his.
(Note: God has a way of giving us exactly what we need just when
we need it. As you pass through this world, look for you a well! The
Lord said that when He save you, He placed a well within you, John
4:14. It is a spiritual well that will never run dry. Still, we need to
find ourselves drinking from a spiritual well that never runs dry. Take
the time, as you pass through this world, to avail yourself of the
spiritual refreshment the Lord had placed within easy reach. I’m
talking about the Word of God and prayer! Those two things will
refresh the soul quicker than anything else, period! Are you drinking
from the well?)
Conc: So, pilgrims, keep marching! Keep heading toward that city that
captured the hearts of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Heb. 11:10. One day we
will take the last faltering step down here and we will set foot on the shores
of home. Until then, keep looking to Him for your provisions. Keep trusting
Him through all the problems. And, keep thanking Him for all the privileges
you enjoy as His child. There may be days when the journey is rough, but
there never be a day when it isn’t worthwhile!
“We are pilgrims, not settlers; this earth is our inn, not our home.“-
J. H. Vincent. So, let’s not settle down. Rather, let’s settle in for whether
our journey be long or short, it will be glorious!
Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.