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  • Writer's pictureMichael Gott


Absolutely essential in an arid land like the land of promise of the Bible—that there were free flowing wells.  It was life or death, not only for towns and villages but for herds and flocks of animals.  Wells were more valuable than gold.  Everything revolved around wells.  In fact, where there were wells, the result was prosperity—but without them there was no possibility of life.  So then, here’s the Biblical setting for all I want to say:

“So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them. Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there.” Genesis 26:17-19, NIV

So, Abraham, in his day sent out workers to dig many wells, and there was more than enough cool water springing for great herds and emerging villages and towns.  It was all in perfect balance.  But after Abraham’s death, sadly, in the generation that followed him there was spiritual backsliding, and without God’s protection the land was overrun and victimized by their perennial foe, the Philistines.  These enemies swept across the south, and because of a lack of vigilance the wells, which were so vital, quickly were filled in.  Villages and herds, without water, soon disappeared—it was a disaster!

No wells—no life, no hope.  People were soon pulling back from the land that God promised them.  Village after village was abandoned and hills once covered with herds of sheep could no longer support the flocks.  The Philistines were the masters of disaster and they did it again.  No water, no herds or flocks; and no flocks, no milk for babies and no food for people—you see the progression.  Soon no towns and what was once green pasture land returns to a barren wilderness.

A vast, extended area had to be deserted without wells of water—buildings derelict, and huge areas of land now empty and barren.  These evil Philistines filled the wells that once were the source of life; they used anything to fill the wells:  stones, sand, gravel, and soon the wells were a thing of the past.  The generation after Abraham had allowed it to happen—they inherited something special, but now it appeared to be gone forever!

But, then one day Isaac, who had been blessed by God, came to realize the situation.  “… the Philistines became jealous of him. So they filled up his wells with earth—all those dug by the servants of his father Abraham.” (verses 14-15, Living Bible)  When Isaac relocated to the Gerar Valley, he realized the situation, so he set about and redug the wells and even re-gave them the same names which Abraham originally gave them.  We still do this; for example, in Texas there are towns like Mineral Wells; and in Arkansas, Siloam Springs and Hot Springs; and California, Palm Springs.  All these are towns given names because of water; it’s really not so unusual, it’s still done today.

Furthermore, when they redug the wells, they found even a source of more water, in fact, the Scripture says that they “found a gushing underground spring” (verse 19) not known before.  And then they dug another new well and they gave it a name; in English it means “The Well of Room Enough for Us at Last!” (verse 22)

Well, the point is made and we focus on this; how many “wells” in our life need to be redug?  With the stones removed and the dirt dug out so that the life-giving spiritual waters can flow?  That’s the issue before us.  So, can we build everything around three simple headings?  I think we can.  These headings are:  The Immediate Realization, then, The Industrious Dedication, and finally, The Important Presentation.

First, suddenly it became clear to Isaac what had to be done—the wells had to be redug, and if we apply that personally, we must ask, what have you let slip in your life?  Maybe the convictions you once had about certain things like your personal devotional life and your own Bible reading and your prayer life have been filled in with the stones of a busy, busy life that never slows down.

Letting standards slip is easy—let me give you one random example shared with me.  A Christian couple long ago decided on TV they would never watch “R” rated movies at home, for their own sake and the children.  But slowly they let down their guard and it started to happen—with crude profanity, violence, and non-Christian attitudes.  One day their son used an ugly four-letter word toward his brother.  The parents had never once used that word in their home.  They reprimanded him, and asked, “Where did you hear that?”  He reported, on the TV last week!

How many of us need to redig some wells which once provided living water?  A. W. Tozer said, “Unsaintly saints are the tragedy of Christianity,” and often it starts with a dusty Bible, but it disastrously ends with a doubtful lifestyle.

I have often thought the unhappiest person on the earth is not a person without Christ but a person evidently in a backslidden condition!  And when the slide begins, you never know how far it goes down.  Wells get filled in so quickly!  At first it’s barely perceptible—but compare it to an automobile tire.  Collapse in a Christian is seldom a blow-out, it starts with a slow leak.  Mark this and never forget it; a public downfall of a Christian starts with a private compromise long before!

So how do we defeat it?  One word:  vigilance.  If you find any pleasure more than Christian fellowship and worship—watch out!  If you enjoy any book more than the Bible—it’s started.  If you love any building more than God’s house—be careful!  If you enjoy any table more than the Lord’s table or find any person more interesting than Jesus Christ—the process has started!  And if any place on earth is more attractive than heaven—be alarmed!  Isaac realized, we have a problem that must be addressed now.  No waiting—action now!  And that must be done by each of us, and it needs to be done now!

And then The Industrious Dedication.  Let’s start now, rock by rock, spade by spade as we dig deeper into the well of our heart, that is, confession by confession.  A price must be paid!  It is a real necessity.  You can call it personal revival and it simply means a new beginning.  A new spirit of obedience, a deep repentance, and a getting down into the dirt and cleaning out the rubbish buried there.

One of the sure signs that it is happening in our lives is that we start again taking the principles of Scripture at face value.  And very often Jesus reveals Himself with power, love, and holiness, demanding we not only call Him Lord but allow Him to be Lord!

Isaac and his men went to those clogged wells and, day after day, hour after hour, worked as they dug deeper and deeper.  It was slow, agonizing work, but it had to be done.  And for us, it’s painful and it’s not pleasant to see the filth and the dross and the garbage, the “hard stones”—buried in our life.  It’s called repentance.  We must let the depth of our backsliding determine the measure of our repentance!

Now, stand back for a moment!  The greatest of all faults is to be conscious of none.  Asking for sensitivity is the only solution, followed by repentance.  Now, all I am saying may seem old-fashioned, but, believe me, it’s not out of date.  God’s Spirit digs deep!  May each of us allow a deep work for the refreshing waters to be allowed to flow.

And then, The Important Preservation.  We have to keep them clean and realize the possibility of having to face the enemy.  For Isaac and his men, the Philistines were always just over the hill waiting to return.

Now let’s learn from Scripture.  When Nehemiah started to rebuild the wall in Jerusalem, there were enemies present.  So what was it that they had to do?  Let me point to Scripture:  “… from then on, only half worked while the other half stood guard behind them. And the masons and laborers worked with weapons within easy reach beside them or with swords belted to their sides. The trumpeter stayed with me to sound the alarm.” (Nehemiah 4:16-18, Living Bible)

What does that tell us personally?  In Scripture, over and over the Philistines were defeated and beaten back just like those in Nehemiah’s day—but they kept coming back again and again.  What we find in the New Testament is this, “… that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about … and the sword of the Spirit …” (Ephesians 6:13-14, 17)  We all must stay alert redigging the well in our life for we know the enemy of our soul is hiding, waiting for a return to do his devilish deeds again.  As a worker, have a shovel and a sword ready for whatever is required.

In Texas history, when the Christians came to the wild west settlements, preachers walked into the pulpit with a Bible and a pistol!  Sometimes both were laid on the pulpit.  In Fort Worth, then called Cow Town, just north of the city were the stockyards where thousands of cattle were brought to be slaughtered and some shipped by rail to the north.  Close at hand was an area called “hell’s half acre.”  It had saloons and brothels and the worse kind of people.  When a church was started there—believe me, the pastor needed to know how to preach the Word or, if necessary, use a pistol if and when needed!

J. I. Packer said that being a Christian makes our hearts a battlefield.  We have peace and warfare at the same time!  It will never be different this side of heaven.  There is no blessing without battle, there is no opportunity without opposition, there is no winning without warfare, there is no triumph without travail, and there is no conquering victory without constant vigilance!  Paul declared, “for there is a wide open door for me to preach and teach here. So much is happening, but there are many enemies.” (I Corinthians 16:9, TLB)  And always there will be enemies.

Think again of Nehemiah, who, when he realized there were those that opposed the building of the walls of Jerusalem, declared, “set a watch against them day and night” (Nehemiah 4:9).  He practiced constant vigilance and it was wisdom in action.  He had a trowel with which to build and a sword, if necessary, for battle!  So, in one hand a sword and in the other a trowel.  We need both to build the kingdom.

Isaac knew it was not just redigging the wells.  He too realized the desire of his enemies the Philistines, and they had to stay aware of their evil intent.  We must be prepared for a counterattack always as we redig the well.  “I have never won an inch of the way to heaven,” said Spurgeon, “without fighting for it.”  We keep constantly clearing out our spiritual wells.

This process is always, as we dig it, and then redig the wells, a battleground, not a playground!  The challenge is relentless and to be anticipated.  There will always be tormenters, God’s people will always be despised.  The “Philistines” who fill in the well never stop trying to do it again.  Keep the well clean and flowing!  And then, for God’s glory, let it be “discovered a well of fresh water there.”


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