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Reaping A Hundredfold

Then Isaac sowed in that land, and reaped in the same year a hundredfold;
and the LORD blessed him.
The man began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous;
for he had possessions of flocks and possessions of herds and a great number of servants.
So the Philistines envied him.
Genesis 26:12-14

Before we look at the method of reaping a hundredfold, let's take a closer look at the man. God is more interested in the person than what he can produce.

Isaac was the only son of Abraham by his wife Sarah. God promised to make Abraham's descendants a great nation. But this child of promise (Galatians 4:22-23) took a long time from the promise to the delivery. The waiting period was almost 25 years from Genesis 12 to Genesis 21.

Isaac was born when Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah was 90 (Genesis 17:17; 21:5). Both of them had already passed the age of childbearing. Therefore, both of them laughed when they heard they would have a son in their old age (Genesis 17:17-19; 18:9-15). This explained why God named their son Isaac, which means "to laugh" (Genesis 17:19). True enough, Isaac brought great joy to his parents and his community. There was laughter in the house.

On the eighth day after his birth, Isaac was circumcised as God had commanded Abraham (Genesis 21:4). The Book of Acts told us about this significant event. Isaac was the first baby to receive circumcision on the eighth day (Acts 7:8). As he grew, his remarkable presence as Abraham's rightful heir brought him into direct conflict with Ishmael, Abraham's son by Sarah's handmaid Hagar. As Abraham and his family were celebrating in a great feast on the day that Isaac was weaned, Ishmael was scoffing. This strained the family relationship that eventually caused Sarah to send away Hagar and Ishmael. God comforted Abraham by telling him that Ishmael would also become the father of a great nation (Genesis 21:8-21).

Isaac's birthright was an important portion of his life. He was the first of the elect to receive God's blessing by birthright (Romans 9:7). To inherit the covenant that God had made with his father, Abraham, was of far greater value than to inherit property or material goods. Isaac's life gave evidence of God's favor. His circumcision was a sign of the covenant with God. God's favor toward him was also evident by sending away first Ishmael (Genesis 21:14), and later the sons of Abraham's concubines (Genesis 25:6). Therefore, Isaac inherited all that Abraham had, including the blessing of God.

But to take on this Abrahamic covenant was not a simple task. Isaac had to be placed on the altar before he could carry on the covenant. When Isaac was a young man, God tested Abraham's faith by commanding him to sacrifice Isaac as an offering. When Abraham placed Isaac upon the altar, an angel appeared, stopping Abraham from sacrificing Isaac. God provided a ram in place of Isaac. This event showed clearly that Isaac was God's choice to carry on the covenant (Genesis 22).

Isaac married Rebekah when he was 40 years old. She became Isaac's wife when God directed one of Abraham's servants to her. Isaac loved Rebekah. Rebekah was a comfort to him after his mother's death (Genesis 24:67).

Like Sarah her mother-in-law and Rachel her future daughter-in-law, Rebekah was also barren. Isaac pleaded with the LORD, and the LORD granted his plea (Genesis 25:20-21). In all three generations, from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob, the children of promise were born as a result of divine answers to prayers. Their wives were barren but became fruitful with just a touch of the Master's hand.

After having married for 20 years, when Isaac was 60, God gave him his twin sons, Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:24-26). As Abraham died at a good old age of 175 (Genesis 25:7-8), he would have lived to see his grandsons grew to the age of 15.

Isaac was 75 years old when Abraham died. He then became the patriarch of the community. Interestingly enough, Abraham also became a patriarch at the same age of 75, when he left Haran, and went to the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:4-5). But that was a hundred years earlier.

The godly character of Isaac was an example for us to follow:

He was a man who submitted to his father even if it would cost him everything, including his life. Isaac did not resist when he was placed on the altar to be sacrificed.

He was a man who put his trust in God to provide his every need.

Genesis 22:6-9
So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.

But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, "My father!" And he said, "Here I am, my son." Then he said, "Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?"

And Abraham said, "My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering." So the two of them went together. Then they came to the place of which God had told him.

And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; and he bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, upon the wood.

He was a man who spent time with God.

Genesis 24:63
And Isaac went out to meditate in the field in the evening; and he lifted his eyes and looked, and there, the camels were coming.

He was a man who loved his wife.

Genesis 24:67
Then Isaac brought her into his mother Sarah's tent; and he took Rebekah and she became his wife, and he loved her. So Isaac was comforted after his mother's death.

He was a man of peace.

Genesis 26:20-22
But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac's herdsmen, saying, "The water is ours." So he called the name of the well Esek, because they quarreled with him. Then they dug another well, and they quarreled over that one also. So he called its name Sitnah. And he moved from there and dug another well, and they did not quarrel over it. So he called its name Rehoboth, because he said, "For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land."

He was a man of prayer and faith.

Genesis 26:25
So he built an altar there and called on the name of the LORD, and he pitched his tent there; and there Isaac's servants dug a well.

Hebrews 11:20
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

The story of Isaac reaping a hundredfold in a single year began with a famine. Due to a famine in the land, Isaac and his family moved to Gerar (Genesis 26:1). As in the days of his father Abraham, and later in the days of his son Jacob, Isaac also faced a time of famine. In both cases of Abraham and Jacob, they went down to Egypt to find food and shelter. But in the case of Isaac, God appeared to him and said:

"Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land of which I shall tell you. Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws." (Genesis 26:2-5)

Egypt had great storehouses to stock up huge supplies of grain. The Pharaoh had enough grain to sell to the people in times of famine. Those, who had no money, could also eat by becoming his slaves. In telling Isaac not to go down to Egypt, God was testing him whether he trusted in Him or in Pharaoh.

Isaac trusted in the LORD. He obeyed Him by remaining in Gerar. Abimelech, the king of the Philistines, was reigning in Gerar. Interestingly, Abraham had also gone to seek relief from a king in Gerar many years earlier. The king was also named Abimelech (Genesis 20:1-2). But that occurred before the birth of Isaac. It was a long time ago. Therefore, the "Abimelech" of Gerar in Abraham's time and the "Abimelech" of Gerar in Isaac's time might be two different persons. Maybe one was the father, and the other the son. Some scholars said that Abimelech was a title rather than a name. It was a common title of the Philistine kings, like Pharaoh was the common title of the Egyptian kings.

When Abraham went to Gerar, he called Sarah his sister in order to protect his own life. And history repeated itself. His son, Isaac, also used the same tactic. The reason he gave was the same as his father. Isaac was fearful that he might be killed because of his beautiful wife (Genesis 26:7). In fact, Isaac's claim might be technically correct. Rebekah was his first cousin before she became his wife. In the language of his days, the meaning of "sister" could also refer to cousins. But it was not upfront or transparent.

After Isaac had been there in Gerar for a long time, Abimelech looked out a window and saw Isaac hugging and kissing Rebekah. The truth was out, and the lie was exposed! Abimelech called him in and said, "Rebekah must be your wife! Why did you say she is your sister?" (Genesis 26:8-9).

Abimelech reproved Isaac, just as his predecessor had reproved Abraham: "Don't you know what you've done? If someone had slept with her, you would have made our whole nation guilty!" Then Abimelech warned his people that anyone who touched Isaac or Rebekah would be put to death (Genesis 26:10-11). This was the degree of favor that God had bestowed upon Isaac's life.

While in Gerar, Isaac sowed in that land. It was the time of famine. Food was scarce and precious. All of the grains could have become food to fill the hungry stomachs. But Isaac chose the premium quality grains, and sowed them as seeds into the dry and barren soil. Isaac was sowing seeds in the place of famine! Those seeds could have dried up and died because of the poor soil conditions, the bad weather and no rain. That could be a disaster if God did not send the heavenly rain. The LORD blessed him. He gave Isaac rain! In the same year, Isaac reaped a hundredfold of what he had sowed!

This was the first time that the Bible introduced the concept of sowing and reaping. The patriarchs were nomadic people, and herding was their occupation. But herein we could see that they could also be very good farmers.

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said:

But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. (Matthew 13:8)

Isaac was achieving a hundredfold return! That's receiving 10000% profits! But how could this be? In the Parable of the Sower, the ground had to be very good in order to reap an hundredfold. But the ground in the land of famine was not good. The soil was dry and infertile. I believe the answer could be found in Matthew 19:29-30:

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name's sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

When we sacrifice to the LORD by giving up our very best, even those things that are very dear to us, we will definitely gain bountifully! These precious seeds could have also become food for Isaac, his wife and two sons, and the members of his community. But Isaac sowed them into the soil! That was sacrifice - faith in action! He just did his part, trusting God to do His part! By sowing this sacrifice, Isaac was co-laboring with the LORD! And God gave him the increase - a great and abundant harvest!

In the Gospel of Matthew, there was an account of a woman who came to Jesus, having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil. She poured it unreservedly on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, "Why this waste? For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor."

But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, "Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her." (Matthew 26:6-13).

The life of our LORD Jesus was also sowed for our salvation. He died so that we could live! Jesus said:

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life." (John 12:24-25)

And the life of Jesus did not go to waste. He arose! His life had brought forth new life, and is still bringing forth new lives, and will be bringing forth many more new lives! Billions and billions of new lives in Christ!

Isaac knew this principle of sacrifice. In his younger days, he almost died as his father was commanded to offer him up as a sacrifice to God. He knew what it meant to be totally yielded to God! And the LORD blessed Isaac. Isaac began to prosper, and continued prospering until he became very prosperous. He waxed great, and went forward, and grew until he became very great. He had possession of flocks and herds, and great store of servants (Genesis 26:13-14).

Abraham had 318 male servants in his household (Genesis 14:14). By conservatively including the women and children, the entourage of Abraham might have numbered more than 1000. As Isaac was the heir to Abraham, he also inherited all the servants of Abraham besides all the flocks and herds. As the years went by, Isaac's household had grown to be considerably great (Genesis 26:14).

The Philistines became jealous of Isaac as he had a large number of sheep, goats and servants. As a result, they stopped up the wells that Abraham's servants had dug by filling them with earth. Finally, Abimelech said to Isaac, "I want you to leave our country. You have become too powerful to stay here."

As Isaac was a man of peace, he left peacefully, and settled in the Valley of Gerar. While he was there, he dug again those wells that the Philistines had stopped up. Isaac called each of the wells by the same names that Abraham had given to them (Genesis 26:18). Isaac respected his father, he did not give new names to ancient landmarks!

While his servants were digging in the valley, they found a well of running water. But the shepherds in the Gerar Valley quarreled with Isaac's shepherds, and claimed that the water belonged to them. So the well was named Esek (which literally means Quarrel), because they had quarreled with Isaac. Peacefully, Isaac withdrew and moved on.

Isaac's servants dug another well, and the shepherds also quarreled about it. So that well was named Sitnah (which literally means Enmity). And peacefully he moved from there and dug another well. This time around, there was no quarreling. So Isaac named the well Rehoboth (which means Spaciousness), because he said, "For now the LORD has made room for us, and we shall be fruitful in the land."

Isaac had a magnanimous heart! Like his father Abraham, he was willing to let others to have the first choice. When Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, Lot journeyed east. To prevent any more strife, Abraham journeyed west, and dwelt in the land of Canaan (Genesis 13:11-12).

The psalmist David had also experienced and enjoyed the spacious place that God had provided for him during his times of trouble:

They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the LORD was my support.
He brought me out into a spacious place;
He rescued me because He delighted in me.
Psalm 18:18-19

I will be glad and rejoice in Your love,
for You saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.
You have not handed me over to the enemy
but have set my feet in a spacious place.
Psalm 31:7-8

Isaac was not a quarrelsome man. He knew that God had something better for him. As a result, he did not hold on to things too tightly. If others wanted the wells of running water that he had dug, he simply gave them up. There must be something better, something more marvellous. In due time, even his enemies would become his friends. In Genesis 26:23-33, there was an account of how Abimelech, the king of the Philistines, eventually came to Isaac to make peace with him.

Isaac went up from the Valley of Gerar to Beersheba. And 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 for My servant Abraham's sake." (Genesis 26:24)

So Isaac built an altar there, and called on the name of the LORD. He pitched his tent there. And Isaac's servants dug a well there. Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath, one of his friends, and Phichol the commander of his army. And Isaac said to them, "Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have sent me away from you?"

But they said, "We have certainly seen that the LORD is with you. So we said, "Let there now be an oath between us, between you and us; and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, since we have not touched you, and since we have done nothing to you but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the LORD.""

So Isaac received them graciously and made them a feast, and they ate and drank. Then they arose early in the morning and swore an oath with one another. After which, Isaac sent them away, and they departed from him in peace. It came to pass the same day that Isaac's servants came and told him about the well which they had dug, and said to him, "We have found water." So he called it Shebah (which literally means Oath or Seven). Therefore the name of the city is Beersheba (which literally means Well of the Oath or Well of the Seven) to this day.

Isaac had enough men to demand his rights, and fight against the Philistines. But he knew that the battle belonged to the LORD. He also knew the principle in Job 1:21:

"Naked I came from my mother's womb,
And naked shall I return there.
The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD."

In all the unpleasant things that had happened to Isaac, he did not strive or quarrel. He had witnessed the hundredfold blessing of the LORD. Life can reproduce itself! It is not dependant on circumstances. Even in the time of death, barrenness and famine, God is able to bring forth a bountiful harvest! There is life in every seed and in every grain! From within life, life bursts forth into new life! And this life is the life flowing from God!

To reap a hundredfold, we must follow the example of Isaac, and also our LORD Jesus Christ. We must do so because a famine is coming:

"Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord GOD,
"That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the LORD." (Amos 8:11)

God had already given us the seed. What is this seed? In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus said:

Now the parable is this: The seed is the Word of God. Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the Word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the Word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away. And the ones that fell among thorns are those who, when they have heard, go out and are choked with cares, riches, and pleasures of life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the Word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience. (Luke 8:11-15)

Keeping His Word, and bearing fruit: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

Please read also: Of More Noble Character

Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary

Written on:
11 December 2004