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)
Although it is not clear, the text reads as if Isaac reaped this bounty at the same time others were experiencing famine. We know that he was given divine favor because the Bible says, “and the LORD blessed him.” It’s likely that he was aware of the fact that he was the recipient of God’s favor, but if his hundredfold harvest was in the year of famine, then others would have viewed it as divine favor as well. Isaac prospered in every way to the point that “the Philistines envied him.”
Typically people will take pride in the success of their countrymen but those same people will envy and despise the success of those they view as aliens or those who are “favored.” As far as the Philistines were concerned, Isaac was both. When God favors His people in the sight of the nations, it doesn’t always provoke the nations to have warm fuzzies for the righteous. In the Bible we see, again and again, God’s favor upon His people provokes them to anger and jealousy.
Yet, at the same time, we can see how God’s favor upon His chosen will generate a certain respect among the nations. Years after Isaac’s death, the ruler of Egypt came to greatly respect his grandson, Joseph, because he knew that the Spirit of God was with him and that God’s favor was upon him. So beyond blessing His people with prosperity and favor for their sake, God speaks to the unrighteous through the blessing He bestows upon the righteous. He demonstrates to the ungodly that He alone is able to prosper mankind in the midst of lack and famine.
In the last days, the Righteous will be hated by many for the mere fact that they are followers of the Most High. The world will blame God’s people for most of the world’s ills and we will be the objects of their jealousy and rage. Yet, at the same time, God will sanctify His great name through us so that all the world will have to acknowledge that He is God. Yeshua alludes to this when He said:
“Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie—indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.” (Revelation 3:9)
Our mission is to live a life that allows God to work in us and through us to reach all those we encounter. We are His witnesses and, oftentimes, He speaks through us simply by blessing our willingness to obey Him. May we all truly be that light He has called us to be.
Blessings and Shalom,