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B'resheet/Genesis 26:24 You shall not fear, for I am with you, and I will bless you
These words are spoken to Yitz'chak during a rather turbulent period in his life. Earlier in the parasha, we have read thatHaShem had blessed with with a hundredfold yield on his crops (v.12) and Yitz'chak became so rich that the Philistines envied him (v.14). Then followed a period of dispute when Yitz'chak and the Philistines argue over the ownership of several wells as - in effect - the Philistines force Yitz'chak to move out of their area. Finally, just before the resolution that is about to come (v.26) Yitz'chak goes up to Be'er Sheva and the L-rd appears to him at night with these words. "I am the G-d of your father Avraham," G-d says, to remind Yitz'chak of the past, of HaShem's covenant and relationship with Avraham, and to stress both continuity and constancy. "Fear not, for I am with you," G-d continues, moving from the past to the present: I am here, now, so you do not need to fear. This is emphasised by the verb form : not imperative, do not fear, but prefix form indicating present or future incomplete action - you shall shall not, you will not. Then G-d moves to the future: "I will bless you and I will increase your seed" - despite the currently prevailing difficulties, I will bless you, I will be keeping My promise anyway.
The theme of G-d being with His people in the midst of trials and suffering, rather than taking them out of trouble - which does happen sometimes but not, apparently, often - is picked up by David. He writes: "Even though I walk through the dark valley of death, You are with me, I fear no harm. Your rod and Your staff give me courage. You prepare a banquet for me while my enemies watch" (Psalm 23:4-5a, GWT). Even in the darkest times, G-d is with us and blesses us. The prophets echo the same: "When you go through the sea, I am with you. When you go through rivers, they will not sweep you away. When you walk through fire, you will not be burned, and the flames will not harm you" (Isaiah 43:2, GWT). No mention here of an easy life or a trouble-free existence for Israel - rather the contrary: a life full of constant physical and spiritual challenge. See how the challenges are a part of life and a result of moving forward; not "If the sea washes over you, I will be with you" but "When you go through the sea, I am with you". As we follow the L-rd, we will go through times of challenge and opposition, but He is already there with us.
Rav Sha'ul reported exactly the same thing: "The first time I had to present my defence, no-one stood by me; but the L-rd stood by me and gave me power to proclaim the full message for all the Goyim to hear, and I was rescued from the lion's mouth. The L-rd will rescue me from every evil attack and bring me safely into His heavenly kingdom" (2 Timothy 4:17-18, CJB). Yeshua too, told the disciples that He would be with them always (Matthew 28:20), that He would not leave them as orphans (John 14:18), and: "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another comforting Counsellor like Me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever" (John 14:16, CJB).
Further Study: John 16:32-33; 2 Corinthians 12:7-10
Application: Do you find yourself almost swamped by the pressures and challenges of life? Although seemingly without end or purpose, G-d is there with you, in the midst of those trials and He is - even now, though you may have difficulty seeing it - blessing you and others through you. And there is yet more blessing to come!
© Jonathan Allen, 2006
Comment - 24Nov06 08:37 Beth: This has been especially good for me this week, as both our daughters have had severe testing ... one was burgled and one was mugged! [yes, on the same week, and thankfully neither of them were physically harmed] ... it has been tough, but proved fruitful to KEEP PRAISING ... Thankyou, Jonathan for your thoughts and the teaching ...
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