In the process, I ran across an excellent article here. Please take the time to read the whole article, for it is an interesting one. Not only that, but it is one of those articles which is well worth returning to regularly, to check ourselves as to our own testimony before an unbelieving world.
Some points I especially enjoyed from this article (which actually, I believe, is a sermon) are:
- A discussion of the "redemptive-historical" school of biblical interpretation. Don't get frightened! It basically is talking about how the Bible is not merely a book telling us what we should do, although "instruction in righteousness" (II Timothy 3:16) is part of the purpose of Scripture. Rather, it is first a record of what God has done in history as He keeps His covenant and carries out His plan of redemption.
- A call for living a righteous life which nonbelievers, regardless of whether they choose to accept the salvation which God offers, cannot deny. I especially appreciated the idea that all people, because they have been made in God's image, are attracted to the godly aspects of a believer's character/lifestyle.
- The realization that Abraham planted trees at certain significant points in his lifetime. The tree-planting speaks of a sense of permanence and signals a significant event which had happened. Check out Genesis 12:18 and 13:4, as well as the example in our passage (Genesis 21:22-34).
- A discussion of why Abimelech (king of Gerar, owner of land) would even bother coming to Abraham the nomad and want to be in a covenant situation with him, especially since he had already seen that Abraham was not perfect.