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Worship Services

Famine & Folly

February 16, 2020
Genesis 26:1-11
preached by
Pastor Jon Needham

Sermon text

Genesis 26:1–11

God's Promise to Isaac

Now there was a famine in the land, besides the former famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Gerar to Abimelech king of the Philistines. And the LORD appeared to him and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; dwell in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

Isaac and Abimelech

So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked him about his wife, he said, “She is my sister,” for he feared to say, “My wife,” thinking, “lest the men of the place should kill me because of Rebekah,” because she was attractive in appearance. When he had been there a long time, Abimelech king of the Philistines looked out of a window and saw Isaac laughing with Rebekah his wife. So Abimelech called Isaac and said, “Behold, she is your wife. How then could you say, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac said to him, “Because I thought, ‘Lest I die because of her.’” Abimelech said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the people might easily have lain with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.” So Abimelech warned all the people, saying, “Whoever touches this man or his wife shall surely be put to death."

Understanding the text

At times, reading Genesis can be like driving around a cul-de-sac again and again. As we work through each chapter, we begin to notice familiar territory, reoccurring themes, and stories. In this text, Isaac, like his father Abraham, deceives Abimelech, King of the Philistines, in order to spare his wife. All of this was brought on by his attempt to avoid a famine, much like Abraham in Genesis 12.

While the characters in the story have changed, the story itself remains painfully familiar. Will Abraham trust God’s provision? Will Isaac follow Abraham’s example? Will yet another woman be put in harm’s way? And why do famines play such a central role in the movement of the story? None of these details are coincidental. Each serves to highlight the power and faithfulness of God in the midst of human sin and folly.

Additional scripture

  1. Genesis 12:10
  2. Exodus 34:6-7
  3. James 5:11

Applying the text

  1. How many similarities are there between Abraham in Genesis 12 and Isaac in this text? What is the point of these similarities?
  2. What do Isaac’s choices reveal about his faith?
  3. What is the connection between faith and obedience? Take time to consider how your own sin and harmful choices are connected to a lack of faith in God’s promises.

Call to Worship

Psalm 37:1–6

Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.

Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.

Prayer of Confession

Gracious Father, you are love. In love receive our prayer. Our sins are more numerous than the grains of sand on the seashore, but where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more. Look upon the cross of your own dear Son and see how precious is his atoning blood. Listen to his never failing intercession, as he pleads for us before your throne and then whisper to our hearts: "Your sins are forgiven. Go in peace and sin no more." We come before you stained as we are with sin. We come to receive your pardon and forgiveness. Wash us clean. Purify our hearts. May there be no hindrance to our prayers or to your graciously answering according to your perfect will, in Jesus' name, Amen.

February Memory Verse

John 1:12-13

¹² But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, ¹³ who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

Resources for Parents

Every Sunday, the children's ministry team creates lessons that cover the scripture and concepts from a recent sermon. The teachers ask simple questions to help the kids learn to understand and apply what God says in the Bible.

We want to equip parents to talk to their kids about what they're learning. The following is the content that the children's classes taught this week. We encourage parents to use this resource at home to help you and your kids grow as you learn from God's word together.

Children's Lesson from Sunday, February 9

1 Peter 3:8-17

The Main Point:
The love of Jesus takes away fear.

Vocabulary Word for PreK and Elementary 1 Classes:
- believing that something or someone is more powerful than God.

Q: How does the Bible tell us to treat other people?
A: To love them, be kind, patient, put others before yourself, let others teach you.

Q: Does everyone love God?
A: No.

Q: How should we treat people even when they are unkind to us?
A: We should still love them.

Q: How can we get rid of all our fear?
A: By trusting Jesus.

New City Catechism Question #37

How does the Holy Spirit help us?

The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin, and he enables us to pray and to understand God's word.

(Note: All of our classes work through one question per month from the New City Catechism. You can download the New City Catechism app with all the questions and children's songs for free.)

Jon Needham is the lead pastor and founding pastor of Coram Deo Church. He and his wife live in Bremerton with their three kids. He loves spending time with his family and riding motorcycles.


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