Back to Bethel: Paths to Greatness (Z.T. Fomum)

Back to Bethel:  Paths to Greatness (Z.T. Fomum)
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How did Isaac attain such an exalted position? How can a person attain an exalted position? There are two phases. There are the process and the crisis.


“Then Abimelech went to him from Gerar with Ahuzzath his adviser and Phicol the commander of his army. Isaac said to them, ‘Why have you come to me, seeing that you hate me and have sent me away from you?’ They said, ‘We see plainly that the Lord is with you; so we say, let there be an oath between you and us, and let us make a covenant with you, that you will do us no harm, just as we have not touched you and have done to you nothing but good and have sent you away in peace. You are now the blessed of the Lord.’ So he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. In the morning they rose early and took oath with one another, and Isaac set them on their way, and they departed from him in peace” (Genesis 26:26-31).

The place in which we have now arrived in our journey with Isaac is a very lofty one. Isaac had become so great that he was sought after by kings, advisers and generals. Normally, the lesser goes to the greater to ask for favours. There was a time when Isaac sought the favours of king Abimelech, but things had changed. Isaac was now the greater and king Abimelech the lesser and the seeker of favours.

How did Isaac attain such an exalted position? How can a person attain an exalted position? There are two phases. There are the process and the crisis.

The process implies that a person sets out to do that which is ordinary and good in an extraordinary way. It means that the person makes himself unusually faithful in small matters. It could be the matter of 

  • praying 15 minutes four times a day; 

  • fasting one week every month; 

  • investing 25% of the income into soul-winning month by month, 

  • reading three chapters of the Bible every day, 

  • telling the truth in all situations, 

  • and so on. 

The cumulative results of such acts make a man outstanding with time. Let us take a twenty-year period, for example. The person who has prayed fifteen minutes four times every day may not appear to be doing much praying. However, in twenty-four years, he would have spent 365 days in prayer! We know that few people ever attain that height in prayer. Take the person who fasts one week each month. In twenty years, he would have fasted for five years. We again know that few people know anything of that kind of fasting. The person who invests 25% of his income every month into evangelism, if he converts his income into evangelistic tracts, at the rate of 5 francs per tract and his income is 100.000 francs CFA per month would in 20 years have produced 1,200.000 tracts which could reach 1,200.000 people with the gospel. If 1% of those who receive the tracts get saved, then he would have been instrumental in the salvation of 12.000 people. We again know that few people accomplish that much in their lifetime. As for the person who reads the Bible faithfully every day at the rate of three chapters a day (about 20 minutes a day put into it) he would have read the Bible 20 times in 20 years! We again know that very few believers read the Bible that much in a lifetime!

So anyone can become great by doing ordinary things in an extraordinary way. The progress is slow but it is steady.

Isaac chose the way of rest. He decided in each situation to choose the way of peace. He did not protest.He did not resist. He did not complain. He let others take what was his. He was prepared to suffer loss. He chose that pathway unceasingly and in each circumstance and, thereby, grew to become a man who was the embodiment of peace and rest, and very important men came to him to seek peace.

The second process is the crisis process. In the crisis process, in one event great things happen. Take the example of David. Before his battle with Goliath, David was virtually unknown in Israel. After the battle that was very brief, he became a household name. He became famous overnight. However, the preparation for that one battle had taken place in many years of faithfully protecting the sheep and sparing no lion or bear that came to steal any one of them. All we stress for the moment is that much was accomplished in one brief day! 

In the life of Isaac, a crisis came when the Lord appeared to him for a second time and gave him Himself. After that Isaac possessed God. After that Isaac became most different. Some things changed dramatically in Isaac. King Abimelech began to fear him and wanted to make peace with him. He became the blessed of the Lord. He became generous and instead of remaining at the receiving end took the initiative and made a feast for King Abimelech and his team, and they ate and drank.

It is as if Abimelech was veiled until Isaac met God the second time. Then he saw plainly and said, “We see plainly that the Lord is with you.” Before, he might have seen dimly. Now all was plain because God had appeared to Isaac and exalted him.

Isaac was exalted by the Lord. He knew it but he did not boast about it. When Abimelech confessed it, he did not deny it to exhibit a false humility. He did not boast about it, which would be exhibiting pride. Those who are at rest know no falsehood. They also know no pride. They are just themselves as the Lord has made them.

Isaac took the oath that there would be peace. He wanted what was on his heart to be manifest. The oath was a public testimony of what his whole life was. He put an outward stamp on what was hitherto an inward way of life. Before, people needed to study his acts and attitudes in order to know that he was a man at rest. Now, rest was written outwardly on him and, glory be to God, the inward and the outward were one.


We have already seen that Isaac was very rich in material wealth. He was also very rich in rest. I am, however, touched by the wealth of his total character by the way he treated Abimelech and his team:

  • He made them a feast!

  • They ate and drank!

  • He lodged them for the night with dignity!

  • In the morning they arose early!

  • They took an oath with one another!

  • Isaac set them on their way!

  • They departed from him in peace!

  • The last word of his relationship with them was peace.

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” Isaac was indeed rich. His wealth in character far surpassed his wealth in material possessions. He was so rich that people were at home in his presence. He was so rich that his servants were at home with him and he was at home with them. He was so rich that he was at home with kings, advisers and commanders. He was very rich and caring. He set them on their way. They parted from him in peace.

May the Lord work out such greatness, such riches, such wealth in each one of us so that when people touch us and leave us, they will go away with the aroma, the fragrance of Christ. Glory be to the Lord!

We thank the Lord that Isaac attained such an exalted level of spirituality. We pray that He, the Holy Spirit who worked it in him, should also work it out in us and then we shall be truly blessed, and we shall be a true source of blessing. We shall become the blessed of the Lord. We shall cause people to depart from us in peace.


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