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In our series ‘The Wells of Salvation’, we continued looking at the well at Beersheba and its role in the life of Abraham (Gen 21:22-34). This might seem an unusual story – the treaty two men made so long ago can surely have little relevance to us today, we think – but the way Abraham and Abimelek react and deal with their dispute about a well has much to teach us today.
Abraham’s conduct towards Abimelek was not always honest (he lied to him about Sarah, Gen 20:1-18). Abimelek’s servants did not treat Abraham fairly, seizing back control of this well when Abimelek had given Abraham permission to be in the land. When the matter is brought to Abimelek’s attention, the matter is resolved amicably and Abraham makes a treaty with him to protect his rights to the well. This reminds us that God is interested in how we live our daily lives and wants us to live at peace with others, loving them above and beyond the call of duty. (Rom 12:18, Matt 5:9, Matt 5:28-32). We are urged to take the initiative in reconciliation (Matt 5:23-24) and to be people whose lives call forth praise to God (‘in the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.‘ Matt 5:16)
Covenant & Commitment
Abimelek asked, ‘What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs you have set apart by themselves?’ (Gen 21:29) Abraham’s reply was, ‘Accept these seven lambs from my hand as a witness that I dug this well.’ (Gen 21:30) This covenant publicly acknowledged Abraham’s right to the well and therefore his continued business activity in the region. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree here as well (Gen 21:33), a further sign that he was committed to the area.
God has called us to be committed to Him, to our families, to our church and to our communities. This is not just for this lifetime; Abraham recognised God as the ‘eternal God’ and we need to understand that our faithfulness and commitment to the covenant we have made with God can have eternal consequences.
We are Goldthorpe Pentecostal Community Church, with God in the community and with God for the community. Like Abraham, I believe we need to plant our trees here, to invest our time, our money, our futures in this place because we serve a God who is eternal, a God who is faithful, a God who tells us not to ‘become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.’ (Gal 6:9) There are times and seasons for everything, as the book of Ecclesiastes makes clear, but let’s be people who understand the importance of covenant and commitment and who work together in this church to reach out to our community. We’re in this for the long haul, as they say!
Keeping Our Word
A covenant shows us the importance of oaths or promises. Paul reminded the Corinthians of the promises God makes to us: ‘For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.’ (2 Cor 1:20) We all know how disappointment and disillusionment creep in when promises are broken (see Prov 13:12). God is utterly faithful to us and to His promises (see Heb 6:13-20) and therefore we are required to show His faithfulness to others in how we live. Jesus urged us to be people whose word can be trusted (Matt 5:37). As we learn to live out our faith and keep our promises, we can demonstrate to others what God is really like.