Abimelech was Abraham’s neighbor. The neighbors are watching. They observe how we raise our children and pay our bills? They know about our marriage and observe us taking care of our homes and things? Do they like us living close to them? They should. If they do not like us close there is a problem with our witness.
ABRAHAM, THE FRIEND OF GOD
by Delbert Young
Abimelech Is Watching
Abimelech Is Watching
Scriptures: Genesis 21:22, Genesis 21:23-24, Genesis 21:25-32, Genesis 21:33-34, Genesis 12:7-8, Genesis 13:4, 18, Genesis 21:33, Galatians 5:22-23, Genesis 22:1, Genesis 22:2, Genesis 22:3, Genesis 22:4-7, Luke 9:23, Genesis 22:8-10, Genesis 22:11-12, Matthew 4:4, Genesis 22:13-14
Genesis 21:22 And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest:
1. God is with thee in ALL that thou doest
It is interesting that Abimelech allowed Abraham to remain in Abimelech’s land after the scam that Abraham and Sarah attempted to pull on Abimelech. In fact it was Abimelech’s idea that Abraham remained (Gen 21:15). There was something about Abraham that Abimelech desired to keep around.
The lost do not desire to make the commitments to God that we have made. They are not willing to give up a Sunday, a Wednesday night, or days during a revival to go to church. They are not willing to give tithes. Yet, they like us around. The reason is that when life gets rough they need us. The first they call on is us. They want our insight and mostly our prayers. They have watched our lives. They know we are not perfect, but that we are faithful. They know something is present in our lives. This is the real testimony.
This land Abraham was in was actually referred to as the “Philistines’ land” in verse 34. It speaks of our dwelling around the lost and the lost enjoying us there. The lost enjoyed the presence of Jesus. It was the religious they disliked. What witness do we make to our lost neighbors? Too often the witness of those who call themselves righteous is not a good witness. Jesus said to go into Jerusalem, Judaea, and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Act 18). It begins with our neighbors, then our community. Abimelech was Abraham’s neighbor. The witness begins where we raise our families and pay our bills.
It is intriguing that Abraham did not go knock on Abimelech’s door and give him a tract. Abimelech saw something in Abraham. Do your neighbors see that “God is with thee in all that thou doest? Do they see a kingdom witness? Do we pay our bills on time? Do we discipline our children? Do we raise our children in the training and instructions of the Lord? Do we work regular? Do we keep a job for any length of time? Is our marriage a kingdom marriage? Do we allow our bodies to depreciate? Would Abimelech want you to live on his land?
Genesis 21:23 Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.
Genesis 21:24 And Abraham said, I will swear.
2. Covenant with a heathen
Abimelech desired a generational covenant with Abraham. Abimelech wanted something not only with Abraham and Abimelech. Abimelech wanted something that would last for generations–his “son’s son.” To this Abraham agrees and does swear.
The actual request of Abimelech is colorful. Abimelech says tell me you will “not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son.” The Hebrew word for “falsely” is shaqar (Strong’s #8266) and means “to cheat, i.e. be untrue (usually in words).” I find this somewhat amazing. Abimelech had been tricked badly and wanted to make sure it did not happen to his children. This shows the dimension that they saw God with Abraham. The thought is that even if Abraham deceive Abimelech then God would bless that. We say God would not bless Abraham’s deceit. My comment is God blessed Abraham’s deceit to Pharaoh and also Abraham’s deceit to Abimelech. The scriptures prove this. How can this be? God is a righteous God. I don’t know the exact answer. I do know that Abraham was blessed in his mess.
Allow me to ask a question. When we make a mess, do we not expect the Lord God to bless us? Yes we do. We pray and ask Him to deliver us and bless us. Does it usually happen? Yes it does. When we are the friend of God we can expect to be blessed in our mess.
Genesis 21:25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away.
Genesis 21:26 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing; neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.
Genesis 21:27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.
Genesis 21:28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
Genesis 21:29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?
Genesis 21:30 And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.
Genesis 21:31 Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.
Genesis 21:32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.
3. the mechanics of the covenant with Abimelech
Abraham agrees to covenant with Abimelech, but under one condition. The well that Abraham had dug would remain Abraham’s. There are blessings on both sides of any covenant. Abimelech would see to it that the well remained with and to Abraham. Abraham agreed to “not deal falsely with” Abimelech his son or his son’s son.
We are cautioned about linking with a heathen (2Co 6:14). That is under the surmise that we are more honest than the heathen. Isn’t it sad when the opposite is true? In the case of Abimelech and Abraham we must wonder if this was the case. Abimelech was the heathen, but it was Abraham questioned about honesty. We learn two important principles. First, the heathen can be moral and honest. Second, because a believer lied does not mean they are not a believer. Believers should never lie, but most have lied.
Genesis 21:33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.
Genesis 21:34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.
Genesis 21:33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. (NIV)
4. a grove
Once again we see this habit of Abraham. The Lord would visit Abraham and then Abraham would visit the Lord. The Lord would appear to Abraham. Abraham would go calling on the Lord. This is key understanding Abraham was indeed the friend of God (2Ch 20:7; Isa 41:8; Jam 2:23). As we have seen the altar is not a place to go cry and moan or present a list of wants to the Lord. The altar is the place we visit the Lord. This is what Abraham did again and again.
Genesis 12:7 And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him.
Genesis 12:8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the LORD, and called upon the name of the LORD.
Genesis 13:4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
Genesis 13:18 Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the LORD.
Genesis 21:33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.
The grove speaks of the place of the altar. We all need or have a place we especially enjoy spending time with the Lord. Perhaps it is a literal grove. Maybe a spot in the woods. Maybe kneeling at the bed before sleeping. Perhaps at the kitchen table early in the morning with a cup of coffee. No matter where our grove is we need a place to spend time visiting with the Lord. We need a place where we can simply talk to the Lord. This is the way our friendship is developed with the Lord.
a. time is required
Obviously Abraham dwelled a lengthy time in Beersheba (the place of the oath). He planted a grove. Some translations say Abraham planted a tamarisk tree. Either would take years to grow and become productive. It requires years to grow and develop a friendship relationship. This is true in the natural and also true with the Lord.
b. fruit is required
Abraham worshiped in the midst of the grove. The grove produced fruit. Our lives are to produce fruit — fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23). It is in the midst of that grove and fruit of the spirit we truly call upon the name of the Lord and worship. In the midst of love and joy and peace we can worship Him. In the midst of longsuffering and gentleness and goodness and faith we worship Him. When we exit from this grove we exit from true worship.
Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Galatians 5:23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
c. within our productivity we worship the Lord
It was in the midst of what Abraham planted and cared for that he sought the Lord. Isn’t that interesting? It is within or under the shade of our productivity that we seek the Lord. When we are in our niche we can worship. Have you ever noticed that people who do not do anything in the kingdom cannot worship? When we are doing what we are supposed to be doing we automatically call upon the Lord. We are comfortable within our productivity. We are in the shade. We are thankful and blessed within our productivity. It is in our productivity we are the most resourceful. It is at the grove, in the fruit of the Spirit, that we become strong in the Lord.
Where is our grove? Where do we seek and visit the Lord? We need a grove. As we are about to see, it is from the grove we obtain strength for a soon coming test. A test is about to come upon Abraham. The grove has provided the necessary strength. If we do not have a grove we will most likely fail the test.
Genesis 22:1 And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.
Abraham dwelled in the land of the Philistines at Beersheba. Within that land there was the grove that Abraham had planted. There Abraham called upon the name of the Lord. There Abraham worshiped God Almighty the everlasting God. Strangely enough it was there and then “that God did tempt Abraham“. “Tempt” is the Hebrew word “nacah” (Strong’s #5254) meaning “to test”.
to test;1. after these things
It was not at a time of weakness that Abraham was tested. It was at a time of strength. Abraham had been in the grove visiting with the Lord. The Lord does test us. We need a grove. The grove is where we prepare for the test. Abraham had become well capable of hearing the voice of the Lord say his name. The Lord said, “Abraham.” That is why he did not kill Isaac. He was able to hear the next time he was called.
Abraham had also become well able to answer the Lord with “Behold, here I am”.
We need to be able to hear the Lord speak to us. We also need to be able to quickly say, “Behold, here I am.” The ability to hear and to quickly respond to the Lord is what saved Isaac. Isaac is the promise. If unable to hear the Lord each time He speaks we will kill the promise.Genesis 22:2 And he said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.
2. Tough times are not test
Abraham had been through many “tough times”. Abraham loved the Lord more than Ur and land and family. It may have been tough to leave Ur and kindred, but tough is not the test. Abraham loved the Lord more than possessions. It may have been tough to leave possessions, but possessions were not the test. Being sent out of Egypt by Pharaoh was tough, but not the test. Separating from Lot was tough, but not the test. It had been tough to send away Hagar, but Hagar was not the test. It had been tough to send away Ishmael, but Ishmael was not the test. We tend to think that tough times are test from God. No, at best it is only struggle we have with our flesh to leave comforts and bad acquaintances for the presence and promises of the Lord.
3. the test
We observe tests differently. When I was in school there were different types of people. Some prepared diligently for the test and always did well. Those who did well on a test were elevated to a higher level in the eyes of the teacher and the eyes of the class. They passed to the next level with very little difficulty. The teacher saw them as teachable and as those who would listen to instructions. They were the ones rewarded with rewards. The class saw them as the example.
There were also those who sort of prepared for the test. They were average people and made average grades. They never really excelled on the test. Sometimes they would pass test and sometimes they would not.
There were also those who never prepared for the test. They knew the test was coming, but did not prepare. There was no motivation. These nearly always failed the test.
Believers are the same. Jesus said there were different types of believers. There are those who only hear the word. There are also those who hear and do. When the floods of life come only one stands–pass the test. Jesus likened people to different types of soil. There is pathway soil, stony soil, thorny soil, and good soil. One soil is prepared. Abraham is prepared.
The test involved 4 points. (1) The test is “now.” The Lord said, “take now thy son“. The test concerns what Abraham produced–“thy son“. (2) The test involves what Abraham produced that cannot be replaced. The Lord said, “thin only son Isaac.” Ishmael was a son, but he was gone. There was at that time only one son. (3) The test involved what Abraham loved with great love. The Lord said, “whom thou lovest.” (4) The test involved actually giving what Abraham produced which cannot be replaced and which he supremely loved to the Lord — dead and burned. It is both killed and burned. When only killed it remains in sight and we can still view it and touch it and it looks and feels the same for a while. However, when we burn it, it no longer is recognizable to sight or touch as that which we produced and loved. We hear people say, “I gave it to the Lord.” Did they kill it, and burn it? If they did not then they did not actually give it to the Lord.
Genesis 22:3 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.
4. Abraham rose up early in the morning
Abraham probably had the word from the Lord the evening or night prior. He responds to the instructions of the Lord as soon as possible.
He responded early–“early in the morning“. Abraham did not wait to see if the test would change. He did what he knew the Lord would have him do and he did it early. Too often people do not respond at all or even respond negatively in a test. This was not the way of the friend of God.
Abraham began making arrangements. He saddled his ass. He took the wood. He did these things with his own hands. In a test it is this way. He also took two young men. In times of test we need people with us. We need young men type people that have vigor and are capable of warfare (1Jo. 2:14). These are strong and believe they are immortal and invincible. That is the attitude we need in a test. An attitude of, “I cannot be defeated!”
5. went unto the place which God had told him
The place was mount Moriah. This mount would be the future location for the temple Solomon built for Jewish temple worship. Thousands upon thousands of lambs would be sacrificed here.
Abraham went to the “place of which God had told him.” There were no excuses from Abraham. Often in test people tend to modify the word of God in their test. We attempt to change the commands and fail the test. Abraham did that “which God had told him.” I hear people too often tell what the Lord had told them to do and then when the time came to do it they modified the instructions.
It does not appear that Abraham said anything to Sarah about this journey. If so there is no report of it. Sarah would have definitely attempted to stop Abraham. In tests we must be extremely cautious who we speak to and share about the test. They can cause us to fail the test. It appears that Abraham told no one. He did not tell Isaac. He did not tell the young men. And there is no report that he told Sarah. There was no place given for others to cause Abraham to fail the test.
Genesis 22:4 Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off.
6. the third day
A test of God does not last a moment or an hour or a day. It will proceed for days. Matthew Henry says, “The place: In the land of Moriah, three days’ journey off; so that he might have time to consider it, and, if he did it, must do it deliberately, that it might be a service the more reasonable and the more honorable.”
We are given time to pass the test or to fail the test. Those three days Abraham considered every option. He opted to go all the way to Moriah.
Genesis 22:5 And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.
Genesis 22:6 And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
Abraham left his young men behind. They would not be allowed to hinder the test. When we come to the place of the test we must leave behind all that could hinder our progress.
Abraham places the wood on the back of Isaac. We see a type of Christ Jesus as the cross was laid upon Christ’s back walking up Golgotha.
Genesis 22:7 And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
7. behold the fire and the wood
We come to this touching question from the lips of Isaac who says, “My father…..” How did Abraham feel? Abraham was taking Isaac to offer as a burnt offering. This must have greatly tormented Abraham. Abraham responded to the question with “Here am I, my son.” There was no doubt of the father and son relationship. Even in the writings of the words read millennials later the love within the verse is overwhelming “My father… My son…”
Isaac goes on with his question. “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Isaac was well trained in the ways of offerings to the Lord. Offerings required ingredients. The offering needed wood, and fire, and a life (blood).
We often come to worship with no ingredients. We come without the fire. We come without the wood. We come with no lamb. We must bring the Spirit fire (Acts 2:3) that will consume our thoughts and ways. We must bring the wood. The wood would be the cross of the individual (Luke 9:23). The cross is the purpose God has given us.
Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
The Lamb is the Lord Jesus. Do we bring Him within our hearts to lift to God? Sometimes we can find Him at the place of worship as did Abraham and Isaac. The Lord provided the ram. The Lord should be where we worship. There should be an environment for the presence of the Lord to inhabit. Still we need to have our hearts prepared. We should have the presence of the Lamb in our hearts ready to lift to the Lord God.
My point is we need to prepare for the offerings we bring to the Lord. We can prepare by prayer, by having praise prior to the meeting, by reading the word, by encouraging ourselves in the Lord. Paul wrote,
Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Genesis 22:9 And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.
Genesis 22:10 And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.
8. THEY came to the place
We see so much in this account that is only a preview of the act of Father God and the Lamb Christ Jesus. “God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering” absolutely came to pass at the cross of Christ.
We can only suspect and allow our hearts to show us the events of detail for the next minutes as Abraham “came to the place which God had told him of.” The wood would have been unstrapped from the back of Isaac. Stones would be gathered and an altar built. The wood was laid upon the altar in proper order. It had to have been by this time that Abraham tells Isaac that Isaac is the offering. There seems to be no resistance from Isaac or attempt to escape the wood. Isaac’s hands were bound and Isaac was laid upon the wood. We can speculate that perhaps a kiss good-bye from Abraham, and perhaps Abraham gave Isaac a kiss for Sarah. Abraham’s hand is stretched forth holding the knife is slay position to cut the throat of Isaac. Abraham’s only son whom he loved, Sarah’s laughter, and the loins from which the Christ would pass on was now ready to bleed and die to please God.
What must be seen is the willingness of both Abraham and Isaac to do this for God. Abraham never flinched. We see in this the willingness of Father God as He never flinched to provide for us the salvation for the whole earth with the death of His son Jesus Christ. Neither did Isaac flinch. Willingly he offered his hands to be bound. Willingly he laid upon the wood to be offered just as Jesus would do.
Genesis 22:11 And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I.
Genesis 22:12 And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: fornow I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
9. Abraham, Abraham ….
Abraham could hear the voice of God! Mark Hanby preaches a message about the “Proceeding word of God.” He uses this passage to make his point. God had told Abraham to offer Isaac. Then God tells Abraham not to offer Isaac. Which is it? We must be able to hear the proceeding word of God especially in tests. We could unnecessarily kill the promise if we are unable to hear the proceeding word of God. Jesus Christ and the scriptures say it this way,
Matthew 4:4 But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (emphasis added)
There is a proceeding word of God for our lives. God will tell us to do this today and three days later tell us to do the opposite of what he told us to do. This is one reason we do not need to tell everyone what God says to us. We make God sound confused. There is a proceeding word of God for each of us.
10. now I know that thou fearest God
I have heard it said that God already knew that Abraham would do this offering of Isaac, but Abraham needed to know. That is not what the verse says. I understand that the Lord is and knows the beginning and the ending. I know the principles of predestination and foreknowledge (Rom 8:29). Yet the Lord seems to have hid from himself the knowledge of Abraham’s obedience. The passage does not say “Now you know Abraham that you fear God”. It says “….now I know that you fear God.”
We also see what a test is actually about and that is, “Do we fear God?” The only way to discover what we fear is by the test. The only way to prove that we fear God is by our obedience to Him. The Lord seems to hide our obedience from His foreknowledge. The way He knows if we will be obedient is by the test.
Genesis 22:13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.
Genesis 22:14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
11. a ram caught in a thicket
The Lord did provide a sacrifice. A ram died instead of Isaac. The ram was a type of Christ. Christ died for all so that we could experience God’s salvation.
When it comes to crunch time in our test, the Lord will provide. He expects us to go to the place. Then, at the last minute if necessary, He will provide the way of escape (1Co 10:13).
12. What can we learn from this lesson that we can apply to our lives?
A. The neighbors are watching. They observe how we raise our children and pay our bills? They know about our marriage and observe us taking care of our homes and things? Do they like us living close to them? They should. If they do not like us close there is a problem with our witness.
B. Even in a mess the heathen should see our lives blessed. Even in a mess that we created we should expect to be blessed of God.
C. We need a grove. The grove is the place we build our altar–the place we visit with the Lord. This is the place we develop our relationship with the Lord.
D. The grove requires time to grow and become productive. A friendship requires time to develop and become productive and meaningful. We must give the Lord our time.
E. We must be able to hear the Lord quickly and to respond quickly. If we cannot we will kill our Isaac.
F. During tests we must be extremely careful who we talk to about our test. They can cause us to fail the test.
G. The test will not last for a moment or an hour. It will last for days. We will have every opportunity to either fail or pass the test. To pass the test we must go all the way.
H. We should come prepared with the ingredients for offerings–wood (our personal cross), fire (Holy Ghost), Lamb (prepared hearts full of Christ).
I. There is a proceeding word of God. God will tell us to do something and then three days later tell us to do the opposite of what He first told us to do. We must be able to hear God the next time God speaks to us.
Other Related Sermons:
We Need A Dream sermon series notes
Abraham Acquaintance Or Friend? – sermon series notes