There is an old saying that says, "history repeats itself." The experiences and observations of many people have certainly confirmed this to be true to a certain degree. However, when one compares that saying with the scriptures, one will find that the appearance of history repeating is simply the observation of God working in patterns. One must consider that history doesn't resemble repetition because of random chance and coincidence. History repeats itself because God works in patterns in order that His work would be recognizable to other generations.
In Genesis 26:1-6 the Bible reveals God's work in a pattern form. In Genesis chapter 12, the Bible explained that there was a severe famine in the land of Canaan where Abraham had just moved. Abraham responded in fear and moved down to Egypt where resources were more available. Abraham lied to the leadership in Egypt about his wife being his sister so that when God warned the king who had taken Abraham's wife as his own wife, the king asked Abraham to leave in fear of offending God. Thus, the scriptures reveal that God wanted Abraham to remain in the land of Canaan in spite of the circumstances in order that He could show Abraham His power to provide.
When one reads the contents of Genesis 26:1-6, one will find the same types of events happening to Isaac, Abraham's son. Isaac was well into his 60's by this point, and the scriptures begin by stating that there was another great famine in the land. In fact, the Bible makes the comparison of the famine in Isaac's day to the famine in Abraham's day. The scriptures even show that Isaac responded in a similar way as his father. In fear, Isaac began to make preparations to travel south towards Egypt in order to protect his family from the famine. Upon arriving in Gerar amongst the Philistine people, the Bible explains that God called out to Isaac to warn him. The Lord instructed Isaac to stay out of Egypt. The Lord desired Isaac to remain in the land for the same reasons He wanted Abraham to stay in the land when the famine hit during his days. The Lord wanted to demonstrate His power to provide in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Genesis 26:1-6 reveals God repeating Himself in more ways than one. Not only did God's instruction to stay in Canaan during the famine resemble the instruction God gave to Abraham over 80 years before, but God also repeated the promises He made to Abraham to Isaac to confirm His covenant. Genesis 26:1-6 reveals God confirming the identity of Isaac as the heir to the promises He made to Abraham in Genesis chapter 12. God told Isaac that he would receive the land of Canaan as a land inheritance. God told Isaac that he would be the father of many children and that his ancestors would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. God told Isaac that his descendant would be able to bless all of the people in the world. God told Isaac to listen and obey as his father did, and trust as his father did, that God would honor those promises.
The testimony of Genesis 26:1-6 appears similar in nature to other events in the life of Abraham. While some would argue that it was just history repeating itself, God revealed that He caused history to repeat in order to show that He doesn't change. Though circumstances come in cycles, God's ability to provide does not waver. Though trials tend to repeat in seasons, God's faithfulness does not waver. Though generations come and go in the midst of difficult times, God remains the same throughout eternity. Just as God desired faith, obedience and righteousness with Abraham, Genesis 26:1-6 explains that God desired those things still. Just as God wanted Abraham to embrace the difficulty of famine, trusting in God to provide in the midst of famine, Genesis 26:1-6 shows that God desired those things with Isaac as well, and that His ability to provide had not depleted in any sense. Just as God had promised to make Abraham a great nation, with a great land inheritance, and bless the world through him, God confirmed those eternal promises to Isaac to show that time does not affect God's faithfulness. Thus, God allows the events of history to repeat to show that He is unchanging. As He was the faithful Provider in times past, He continues to be so today, and so desires for His people to embrace difficulty of various sorts in order that He might demonstrate His unchanging nature.