Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Witness (Genesis 21:22-34)

The significance of Genesis 21:22-34 is easily missed.  I had wondered why the account of Abimelech's covenant with Abraham is inserted right here, between the accounts of  Ishmael being sent away and the portion which follows, which is about a severe testing of both Abraham's loyalty to God and trust in His promises.  I knew that there had to be some reason for its placement here, so I began to research what other commentators had written about this section.

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.
So, read the article/sermon.  You won't regret taking the time to do so!  Your comments and insights are always welcome, too.

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