It seems like God’s blessing of His people more often than not leads to contention rather than pursuit. Isaac goes and lives in the land of the Philistines due to a famine in the land of Canaan. He and all his household. While he is there God blesses him. His crops grow a hundredfold. God continues to bless him in many other ways as well.
You would think that with God blessing Isaac as he does, Abimelech the king of the Philistines would pursue Isaac and the God of Isaac. You would think that they would want to be connected to the God and man of God who blesses in such ways. Instead they fear him. Instead, they send him away.
This leads to contention between Abimelech and Isaac’s herdsmen. Trouble that could lead to war between the two, what Abimelech feared. But, Isaac was not interested in stirring up trouble. He was a peacekeeper who turned away from the conflict. As a result Abimelech did pursue Isaac, but not for the right reasons. He pursued a peace covenant with Isaac, not to know more the God that blessed his people so. As a result, he got his peace treaty / covenant, but it will come at the cost of the nation later on.
It’s also interesting to note that Isaac pursued as well. He went in pursuit of more wives. He got what he was pursuing, but at the cost of peace for himself and his household.
What is it about promises? We make them. We take them. We keep them. We break them. How much do they really mean? What are they really worth?
For instance, God made a promise towards Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son. He fulfilled it, and at the time that He said that He would as well. Sarah finally received the fulfillment of God’s promise with the birth of Isaac. Hagar also had received, and receives again a promise that Ishmael would become a great nation. In this chapter God provides for her and Ishmael, taking a step towards the fulfillment of His promise towards them.
At the same time, other promises are, and are not made. Abimelech, seeing that God blesses everything that Abraham does comes to Abraham seeking a promise. He reminds Abraham of his kindness to him in regards to the incident with Sarah. Abimelech had been righteous in his actions and dealings, so God had prevented him from sinning by sleeping with Sarah and he acted righteously towards Abraham. So, knowing that God blesses all that Abraham does, he comes to Abraham seeking a promise that Abraham and his descendants will never deal falsely with Abimelech and his descendants. Together, Abraham and Abimelech make a covenant with each other that neither would deal falsely with the other. So the promise is made. At the end of the chapter, we see just who Abimelech is. He is a Philistine king.
We know, especially from Judges and Kings, that this promise is not kept. The Philistines are the primary antagonists to the Israelites in Judges and Kings. They attempt to make the Israelite people their slaves. They even steal the Arc of the Covenant. Their promise has no lasting value.
What’s more, is the promise that they didn’t make. They made a promise with Abraham, whom God was blessing, but they never pursued a promise with the God of Abraham. They were more focused on the things of the world that they ignored the very source of Abraham’s blessings. They never pursued the true God. That was a promise lost.
In looking at the promises and fulfillments; I suppose that the value of a promise is very much dependent upon who is making what promise, to whom, and why? What promises have we made, and to whom? Are we fulfilling our promises?