A Peace Treaty
22 About this time Abimelech and his army commander Phicol said to Abraham, “God blesses everything you do! 23Now I want you to promise in the name of God that you will always be loyal to me and my descendants, just as I have always been loyal to you in this land where you have lived as a foreigner.” 24And so, Abraham promised he would.
25One day, Abraham told Abimelech, “Some of your servants have taken over one of my wells.”
26“This is the first I've heard about it,” Abimelech replied. “Why haven't you said something before? I don't have any idea who did it.” 27Abraham gave Abimelech some sheep and cattle, then the two men made a peace treaty.
28Abraham separated seven female lambs from his flock of sheep, 29and Abimelech asked, “Why have you done this?”
30Abraham replied, “I want you to accept these seven lambs as proof that I dug this well.” 31So they called the place Beersheba, because they made a treaty there.
32When the treaty was completed, Abimelech and his army commander Phicol went back to the land of the Philistines. 33Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and worshiped the eternal Lord God. 34Then Abraham lived a long time as a foreigner in the land of the Philistines.
The Lord Tells Abraham
1 Some years later God decided to test Abraham, so he spoke to him.
Abraham answered, “Here I am, Lord.”
2 The Lord said, “Go get Isaac, your only son, the one you dearly love! Take him to the land of Moriah, and I will show you a mountain where you must sacrifice him to me on the fires of an altar.” 3So Abraham got up early the next morning and chopped wood for the fire. He put a saddle on his donkey and set out with Isaac and two servants for the place where God had told him to go.
4Three days later Abraham looked off in the distance and saw the place. 5He told his servants, “Stay here with the donkey, while my son and I go over there to worship. We will come back.”
6Abraham put the wood on Isaac's shoulder, but he carried the hot coals and the knife. As the two of them walked along, 7-8Isaac said, “Father, we have the coals and the wood, but where is the lamb for the sacrifice?”
“My son,” Abraham answered, “God will provide the lamb.”
The two of them walked on, and 9 when they reached the place that God had told him about, Abraham built an altar and placed the wood on it. Next, he tied up his son and put him on the wood. 10 He then took the knife and got ready to kill his son. 11But the Lord's angel shouted from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”
“Here I am!” he answered.
12“Don't hurt the boy or harm him in any way!” the angel said. “Now I know that you truly obey God, because you were willing to offer him your only son.”
13Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught by its horns in the bushes. So he took the ram and sacrificed it instead of his son.
14Abraham named that place “The Lord Will Provide.” And even now people say, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”
15The Lord's angel called out from heaven a second time:
16 You were willing to offer your only son to the Lord, and so he makes you this solemn promise, 17 “I will bless you and give you such a large family, that someday your descendants will be more numerous than the stars in the sky or the grains of sand along the seashore. They will defeat their enemies and take over the cities where their enemies live. 18 You have obeyed me, and so you and your descendants will be a blessing to all nations on earth.”
19Abraham and Isaac went back to the servants who had come with him, and they returned to Abraham's home in Beersheba.
The Children of Nahor
20-23Abraham's brother Nahor had married Milcah, and Abraham was later told that they had eight sons. Uz was their first-born; Buz was next, and then there was Kemuel the father of Aram; their other five sons were: Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel the father of Rebekah. 24Nahor also had another wife. Her name was Reumah, and she had four sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.
While working with the public in retail, ministry, and political arenas, I’ve noticed something that makes me cringe. Far too often, those who complain about something trivial, refuse to tip, (http://adammclane.com/2009/12/02/christians-are-bad-tippers/), or demonstrate uncharitable, disrespectful attitudes to others different from themselves are those who are vocal about their Christian faith.
In contrast, godly Abraham one day came to a pagan king. His was not a trivial complaint. Some of the king’s men had seized one of his wells. In a day, age, and place when wells meant life, that theft was no petty crime.
Abraham and King Abimelech’s relationship hadn’t had a promising start. Years earlier, Abraham’s deception regarding Sarah had threatened the Philistine kingdom. God intervened through a dream, and Abimelech’s wise response prevented his people’s devastation.“Man . . . what were you thinking?” he asked Abraham. “Here, take your wife. And what’s more take this money, too.” (My paraphrase of ch 20:16).
After Sarah’s restoration as his wife, Abraham and his nomadic clan remained in Philistine territory. King Abimelech observed Abraham’s wisdom and moral uprightness, and in time came to admire his bold and unusual relationship with God—not to mention God’s favour on all Abraham touched.
For a time, peace reigned between the pagan nation of Philistia and the fledgling faith-tribe of Abraham. The king’s fair and respectful treatment of these wayfarers within his borders seems to have been reciprocated.
While bringing his case to the king, no spirit of bitterness spewed from Abraham. Instead, he and King Abimelech made a fair deal: they cut a “parity” covenant to protect his clan’s right to the well. He could have stopped at that, but Abraham went one step further: he insisted on paying the Philistine king a fair price for the parcel of land that included the well.
Genuine relationship with God always seeps out as graciousness to those around us—even in our business relationships with those different than ourselves.
Covenant-maker, help me live my faith in winsome, Christ-like ways. And may the Spirit of the one who is our Peace compel me to share it.