October 23, 2022
“Isaac reopened the water wells that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham and that the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died. He gave them the same names...”
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“Isaac reopened the water wells that had been dug in the days of his father Abraham and that the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died. He gave them the same names his father had given them. Moreover, Isaac’s slaves dug in the valley and found a well of living (spring) water there. But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, ‘The well is ours!’ So he named the well Quarrel because they quarreled with him. Then they dug another well and quarreled over that one also, so he named it Hostility. He moved on from there and dug another and they did not quarrel over it. He named it Open Spaces and said, ‘For now the Lord had made room for us and we will be fruitful in the land.’” Genesis 26:18-22
The Middle East is not unlike Southern California. Landing in Tel Aviv is somewhat like landing in San Diego, except the “Jesus” who walks around Southern California is probably of the Mexican variety, whereas the “Jesus” who walked around Israel was actually Jesus! I digress… My point is that both Israel and SoCal understand deserts.
Anyone living in the desert knows that water is the most critical resource. Where there is water, there is life. No water, no life. Water in the Bible, therefore, becomes a metaphor for spiritual life. It symbolizes God’s presence, His Ruach (Spirit), His blessing. Today’s passage is about more than water feuds. It is symbolic of the “spiritual” family strife between the sons of Isaac and those of Ishmael.
In the New Testament, water imagery is also used. In particular, note how Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman at “the well.” Samaritans were “half-breeds”: ½ Jewish and ½ Gentile. They were the “ugly reminders” of Israel’s past national sin, where the children of Israel intermarried with Canaanites and adopted pagan ways. Jesus came first for the Jew, then the Gentile. (Romans 1:16) And He used water imagery to communicate that He accepted the Samaritans as if they were fully Jewish. In doing this, Jesus evoked memories of age-old feuds, which went beyond simple water fights.
“He had to travel through Samaria, so he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the property that Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, worn out from His journey, sat down at the well. It was about six in the evening. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. ‘Give me something to drink,’ Jesus said to her, for His disciples had gone into town to buy food. ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?’ she asked Him. Jesus answered, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and Who is saying to you, “Give Me a drink” you would ask Him, and He would give you living water.’” John 4:4-10
Jesus draws another parallel that we would be wise to note in today’s Church culture: Religion, apart from a personal relationship w/Jesus simply cannot hold water.
“For My people have committed a double evil: They have rejected Me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.” Jeremiah 2:13 (See also: Proverbs 11:25)
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