When Isaac and Abimelech Choose Peace (Genesis 26:27)

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For most of Genesis, the people of God had been friends with their neighbors (for the most part).

By Genesis 26, however, that changes. The hostility surrounding Abraham and now Isaac’s increasing wealth has reached a fever pitch. It’s no longer about mutual cooperation — it’s full-on competition.

Isaac understands this when Abimelech approaches him in Genesis 26:27: “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?” I’m sure Isaac was just as confused as any of us would be if the person that intentionally drove us out of their life suddenly showed up at our front door. 

But Abimelech reveals his true wisdom here in making peace with his enemy before things get really nasty. He acknowledges that Isaac has been blessed by God — of that, he has no doubt. Because of that, he asks Isaac to make a covenant that swears that no violence will come between them.

It’s an interesting proposition. We have no mention in Scripture of Isaac necessarily wanting to harm Abimelech or his people, so the only reason we have of Abimelech saying this is if he is wary of Isaac’s future.

To put it another way, Abimelech had more confidence that God would continue to be with Isaac than Isaac did himself. Isn’t that ironic?

Just a few verses earlier, Isaac had taken comfort in knowing that God had “made room for us,” only to be followed up by a reassuring dream from God. Before that, he lied about his relationship with Rebekah (claiming she was his sister) because he feared for his life.

Maybe those were just weak spots in Isaac’s life. We all have them. It’s normal.

But it is remarkable that Abimelech is so confident in the potential greatness of Isaac’s family that he decides to make a deal with his “enemy” just to ensure their mutual survival. 

Can you imagine nations today doing that? It’s akin to Vladimir Putin showing up to the White House and saying, “Look, I know you guys are strong. Let’s make a deal that we don’t kill each other so we can both live in peace, ok?” 

It would take a remarkable amount of humility for him to do that (and the same could be said if the U.S. made a similar visit to Moscow). It would require a realistic assessment of each other’s capabilities, coupled with a desire for peace above all else.

Make it personal. Can you imagine going to someone that you would consider a “rival” and making a deal with them? Something along the lines of, “We don’t get along, but we have to for the sake of _____ [fill in the blank]____.”

It would require humility of us, too. It would also require courage.

It took guts for Abimelech to approach Isaac like this, but he could also see the writing on the wall. God was with Isaac, and if Abimelech had any hope for the survival of his people, the last thing he wanted to do was make Isaac his enemy.

May we all have the same kind of reasoning and desire for peace that Abimelech possessed when he made the truce with Isaac.