Blessings in Disobedience
What a shock when I realized, just because I was being blessed financially and with physical possessions, I could at the same time be disobeying God! I had always believed God’s blessing followed obedience to His Instruction (often translated as Law). However, I now realize receiving His blessings is not necessarily evidence of complete obedience.
This seeming conundrum was brought home to me by a teaching from alephbeta.org on the life of Isaac taken from Genesis 25:19 and following. This teaching hinges on the Hebrew word guwr (גור) in Chapter 26 verse 3. I checked 12 different bible translations. Roughly half of them translate the word as either dwell, stay or live. The other half of the translations translate it as sojourn or tarry—in the context of a temporary stay. Strong’s Concordance and Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon agree with the latter translation of this seemingly insignificant word. I won’t try to explain the translation differences, except to note Isaac’s disregard of this word would complicate his life and be the grist for a life lesson making application even in my spiritual life today.
So, let’s talk story. There was a famine in the land. Isaac thought of going to Egypt. The Lord said, “No, “sojourn” in Gerar and I’ll prosper you.” Isaac went to Gerar, but seems to have forgotten to just sojourn.
He gathered great flocks, servants, and had big harvests. The apparent blessings of the Lord were perceived with envy and as a threat to Gerar. Finally, the King of Gerar told him to leave. Isaac left, but only went a little ways. He was still in the Valley of Gerar. The heat gets turned up a little. The Gerar shepherds start denying Isaac’s flocks water. They were claiming the wells which Isaac’s father had dug years earlier were actually theirs.
After repeated conflict over the wells, Isaac finally moved far enough away. Perhaps he finally saw the comforts of Gerar had blinded him to the will of God. As evidence, the new well digging paid off with great, uncontested wells. As a bonus confirmation, the King of Gerar came to make peace with this blessed man of God. As for Isaac, he was back living in tents, as did his father. He undertook again his mandate from God to “occupy” the land that was promised by God to be the inheritance of Isaac and his father, Abraham. Perhaps “sojourn” would be a word to be passed from father to sons
In my experience, I call this “sojourn” aspect of God’s guidance “the Cloud of His presence.” Although all the trappings of blessing may be evident, am I where God wants me to be? I wonder, if in Isaac’s “prosperity” he ever questioned God as to what He meant by sojourn? Surrounded by his stuff did he get the feeling he had stayed too long in Gerar? Did the potential loss of his stuff have to be threatened before he “heard?”
Lord, give me eyes to see, ears to hear, don’t let your blessing dim my perception. May I ever be aware of the moving of the Cloud of Your Presence.