You didn’t go all the way, so you weren’t all the way wrong, right?
Isaac didn’t go all the way wrong, but it wasn’t until he went all the way right that God blessed him.
There was a serious famine in the land, and Isaac must have felt that God did not see what was going on because he left Lahairoi which meant “God sees me.” There’s no accident that much of this story is compared to Abraham. The first famine Abraham experienced drove him into Egypt. He picked up Hagar and you know the mess that resulted from that decision. Isaac seems to be one who hardly waive red from his father’s path. There are many parallels between the two stories, but God speaks to Isaac and halts his full descent into Egypt. God didn’t want him to repeat all of Father Abraham’s mistakes. Instead Isaac stops in Philistia. He does make the same mistake as his father by calling his wife, Rebekah, his sister. He is scolded by the king. Isaac plants crops and is incredibly successful. The world recognizes that God is blessing Isaac even in the midst of a regional famine, yet Isaac does not break away from the world. It’s almost seems that he can’t fully trust that God is his supply.
The king send Isaac away because the people envy his success, but Isaac tries to hang around. He resigns some of the wells his father had dug in the suburbs of Philistia. God allows strife to push him further and further away. The first well he digs is fought over, so he names it Esek (dispute). The second well is fought over, so he names it Sitnah (opposition). The third well actually is uncontested, so he lives in the illusion he is fine and names it Rehobeth (room). There is one thing missing, though: the presence of God.
While we focus on supplying our needs, we often forget to rely on the supplier. Finally, Isaac returns back to the land promised his father and begins digging a well there. All at once, true peace and comfort rests upon him in this place. God appears to Isaac and reaffirms his oath with him. Then the king of the Philistines comes and confirms an oath with him. Then the wonderful announcement, “We have found water!” Isaac named the well Beersheba which means “Well of the oath.” Which oath do you think he had in mind? Maybe the oath God expressed to him finally registered in Isaac’s heart.
God was not just the God of Abraham. Isaac did not need to pursue the right places where his father had been. He needed to purse the right Person his father had known. Once Isaac relied on God all the way on his own, he found rest.