Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Genesis 21:22-34

This morning’s passage pictures an ordinary, seemingly random encounter, showing extraordinary things about both God and Abraham.

At that time Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces said to Abraham, “God is with you in everything you do. Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you now reside as a foreigner the same kindness I have shown to you.” (Gen 21:22-23)

I find this story amazing! As you may recall from chapter 20, the previous encounter that these two men had included Abraham deceiving Abimelech about Sarah being his sister. The encounter in today’s passage takes place at least three years later (Sarah has given birth to Isaac, who has been weaned at this time), and shows us Abraham getting an opportunity for a “do-over!” Abimelech has apparently been watching this God-follower (probably with skepticism), and has seen that there is something unique about Abraham and his God. “God is with you in everything you do,” he acknowledges. Remember that, before leaving Abimelech the last time, Abraham prayed for Abimelech, “and God healed Abimelech, his wife and his slave girls, so they could have children again...” (Gen. 20:17) So Abimelech has been paying attention. How gracious of God to give Abraham another opportunity here to do the right thing with Abimelech - and not just to vindicate Abraham, but to glorify His own name for the benefit of Abimelech.

So Abimelech asks Abraham to show him “the same kindness I have shown you.” Beth Moore points out that the word used for kindness here is significant. Hesed is the Hebrew word which indicates a special “expression of love, favor, or kindness based on a covenant relationship.” It includes the quality of loyalty - the kind God demonstrates in His character, as mentioned in 2 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says, “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” Abimelech is asking Abraham to be true to his God’s character!

Abraham jumps at this chance at a “do-over” with Abimelech and swears his intention to be true to his word with him. Then, to be completely open with Abimelech, he brings up a situation that needs attention - there’s a problem with a well. Abimelech’s men have taken one of his wells. Now, a well is life to a community in the desert, so this was no small matter. We see the two men come to agreement quickly, and Abraham seals the deal with seven ewes as a testimony that the well does, indeed, belong to Abraham.

I don’t know about you, but I find such hope in this little passage! How I need some “do-overs” with some difficult people in my life - an opportunity to show that God does, indeed, live in me - to prove my testimony of a changed life! Abraham commemorates this occasion by planting a tamarask tree and calling on “the Eternal God.” Beth Moore wonders if this tree-planting isn’t a way for Abraham to plant something that will be “a memorial that would remain long after he was gone.” Does he want to have a memorial to his changed life that honors his Eternal God? I like that thought. Don’t you want others to be able to say to you, “God is with you in everything you do?” If Abimelech could see that in a man who purposely deceived him, then there is hope for us! May God continue to work in us so that others can see His character!

Have a great morning!

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