Staying Put and Moving On

Genesis 23-26

Among the many interesting aspects of these chapters is an incident that jumps out at me. This year I’m looking at my Scripture readings in the light of changes, adjustments, course corrections that have to be made, and what the Scriptures say about them.

Abraham had died. Isaac was living in Gerar under the watchful eye of Abimelech. God blessed Isaac to the point that there simply wasn't room for him and all that he had gained to lived peaceable among the Philistines. There were issues of envy which resulted in some nasty events: “So all the wells that his father’s servant had dug in the time of his father Abraham, the Philistines stopped up, filling them with earth” —Genesis 26:15.

Abimelech asked Isaac to move a little farther away to prevent any more conflict. Isaac did what he was asked and moved, reopening the wells that the Philistines had stopped up when his father was alive—presumably the result of a different generation of envious neighbours at Abraham’s success (26:18).

But there still wasn't enough space for Isaac. In his new location, every time Isaac opened a new well for his flocks and herds, someone came along to claim it for themselves (26:19-21).

So Isaac moved again. This time no one came to dispute his right to the water. His statement is interesting: “He named it [the well] Rehoboth, saying, ‘Now the Lord has given us room and we will flourish in the land’” (26:22).

There are times in our lives when we have no more room to grow and changes need to be made in order for us to flourish and to accomplish what God has for us to do. Change is never easy. Moving on is often complicated.

If it were today a case could have been made for Isaac to “suck it up” and stay among the Philistines, downsizing his operation so that he could minister to the pagans. But the wasn’t what God wanted of him.

When the move was done, God appeared to Isaac to reassure him that he had acted correctly: “I am the God of your father Abraham, Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bless you and will increase the number of your descendants for the sake of my servant Abraham” —Genesis 26:24.

And Isaac worshiped (26:25).

Earlier God had told Isaac to stay in Gerar and not to go down to Egypt during a rough patch in the land of the Philistines (Genesis 26:1-6). We can assume from the context that he was sensitive to the voice of God leading him later to move on and claim new territory.

Therein lies the secret: constant contact with the One who knows when it’s best to stay, and when it’s best to move.


  1. Listening to Him is the only way to be sure you know when to stay, when to go, when to upgrade, and when to downsize. Thanks for the reminder, my dear.


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