The Altar

“So he built an altar there and called upon the name of the Lord.” Genesis 26:25

God’s favor was on Isaac, not because he deserved it, but because he needed it. A brief study of Isaac’s life reveals a man of weak character plagued by the fear of man.

Fear surges when I am intimidated by the immediate. Over the years, I have experienced Intimidation from a few schoolyard bullies and more than one crisis of faith. Prayer keeps me in touch with The One standing beside me when I am faced with fear. The Father still gives His children courage to overcome their fear. Through prayer, they can be overwhelmed by His Presence.

Isaac had an aversion to conflict. He tried to avoid a quarrel even when his water wells were filled with sand. In a desert land this was a life-threatening attack. Still, he chose to walk away from a fight rather than protect his rights. He was the son of Abraham, but his fear was a far cry from the warrior spirit of his father.

The blessing God poured out on Isaac was not a result of Isaac’s ability. His blessing came as a direct result of his availability to God. When a famine hit the land, Isaac was tempted to move to Egypt to find relief. God spoke these words, and Isaac obeyed them.

“Do not go down to Egypt; stay in the land of which I shall tell you. Sojourn in this land and I will be with you and bless you.” Genesis 25:3

Isaac obeyed and stayed. His obedience was met by a series of humiliating quarrels with the occupants of the land over water rights. He became so intimidated by the conflict that he fell into the same lapse of judgment his father had made, passing his wife off as his sister to avoid making the locals envious. Fear of man does not build strong character. It reveals weak character.

“Now Isaac sowed in that land and reaped in the same year a hundredfold. And the Lord blessed him and the man became rich, and continued to grow richer until he became very wealthy…so that the Philistines envied him…Then Abimelech said to Isaac, ‘Go away from us, for you are too powerful for us.’ And Isaac departed…” Genesis 26:12-17

Wealth didn’t solve all of Isaac’s problems. It just complicated them. God’s blessing brought more conflict with local herdsmen over his water wells. Eventually Isaac found peace.

“He moved away from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it; so he named it Rehoboth, for he said, ‘At last the Lord has made room for us and we will be fruitful in the land.’ “ Genesis 26:22

After this victory in the valley, Isaac sought higher ground. He “went up from there to Beersheba. The Lord appeared to him the same night and said, ‘I am the God of your father Abraham; do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants.’” Genesis 26:24

Isaac built The Altar at the place where he heard from God. When it was finished he called upon the name of The Lord. This pattern of prayer builds character by removing fear. The Lord spoke to Isaac, filling the empty cavity of his soul. Isaac feared man more than he feared God. God offered him His Presence.

The fear of man is no match for The Presence of God. God’s words to Isaac are the greatest gift The Father can give to His children. “Do not fear, for I am with you.” Prayer makes them come alive, taking them out of the past tense and placing them in the face of the intimidation of the immediate.

NOTE TO SELF: Believing prayer is the tool you must use to dig wells to refresh your soul during the faith draining battles of your life. Prayer will also lead you to The Altar after the victories. Pray when you are in the heat of a battle, and you will thirst more for companionship with God than you crave a victory. Praying after a victory will keep you from taking pride in overcoming an enemy. It will lead you to being overwhelmed by God’s favor, and the provision of His Presence. Prayer begins as an expression of your need. It shouldn’t end without an expression of your gratitude. Let your life be marked by both. TALK LESS! PRAY MORE!