The Promise to Isaac, Part 1
“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” (Gen. 26:3).- Genesis 26:1–5
Before we look at today’s passage, it will be helpful to consider the promises of the Gospel. Most Christians unconsciously view the hope of salvation we have in Christ Jesus to be an entirely spiritual reality. Of course, there are spiritual promises contained in the Gospel (Eph. 1:3), but redemption has a physical component as well.
Life, land, and progeny encapsulate the physical nature of salvation. Eternal life, Scripture tells us, will be realized in a resurrected, glorified, physical body (Dan. 12:2; Rom. 6:5). The meek will inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5); therefore, our final dwelling place is in the new heaven and earth, renewed when the heavenly Jerusalem descends on Judgment Day (Isa. 65:17–25; Rev. 21). An innumerable multitude of believers, including those of faith whom we parented spiritually (and in some cases, physically), will live on the new earth, fulfilling the promise of progeny (Matt. 13:31–32; Rev. 7:9–12).
The Lord first pledges this inheritance to Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3), and then passes it on to his son Isaac. He must “dwell in the land of which I [God] shall tell you” (26:2), revealing Isaac as the “new” Abraham because his father was given a similar command. Notably, Genesis 26 also gives us the first inkling that Canaan is only the first piece of land the covenant community will possess. “All these lands” will come to Isaac’s descendants (v. 3), hinting that more, indeed the whole earth, will rest finally in the hands of the Israel of God — all those with faith in Him through Christ Jesus (Rom. 11).
These Gospel promises given to Abraham and Isaac are not ultimately opposed to His law. The Lord will certainly ensure their fulfillment because He swore an oath to give Canaan to Abraham’s sons (15; 26:3). Nevertheless, like Abraham, we participate in these promises only by faith working through love (Gen. 26:4–5; Gal. 5:6; James 2:14–26). Children of believers cannot assume their parents’ faith gets them into the kingdom. They must repent and believe. God can raise up children for Abraham from the stones of the earth, and so covenant children cannot presume the Lord’s patient kindness will forever endure their refusal to trust Him (Rom 2:4; 11:22).
As we have said repeatedly, our obedience does not earn us a place in the kingdom, it only shows that we possess the faith that lays hold of salvation (James 2:14–26). Redemption’s greatest blessing is the Lord’s presence (Gen. 26:3), which is tied to life, land, and progeny, because without His dwelling among us, the physical benefits of salvation are nothing. If you are a believer, the Spirit dwells within you even now and is working to enable you to honor God’s law.
Passages for Further Study