Abraham makes a covenant of kindness [draft sermon outline]
Published January 8th, 2020
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A Treaty with Abimelech 22 At that time c Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army said to Abraham, d “God is with you in all that you do. 23 Now therefore swear to me here by God that you will not deal falsely with me or with my descendants or with my posterity, but e as I have dealt kindly with you, so you will deal with me and with the land where you have sojourned.” 24 And Abraham said, “I will swear.” 25 When Abraham reproved Abimelech about a well of water that Abimelech’s servants f had seized, 26 Abimelech said, “I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, and I have not heard of it until today.” 27 So Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech, and the two men g made a covenant. 28 Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock apart. 29 And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What is the meaning of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” 30 He said, “These seven ewe lambs you will take from my hand, that this 1 may be a witness for me that I dug this well.” 31 Therefore h that place was called Beersheba, 1 because there both of them swore an oath. 32 So they made a covenant at Beersheba. Then Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his army rose up and returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and i called there on the name of the Lord , j the Everlasting God. 34 And Abraham sojourned many days in the land of the Philistines.
22 וַֽיְהִי֙ בָּעֵ֣ת הַהִ֔וא וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲבִימֶ֗לֶךְ וּפִיכֹל֙ שַׂר ־ צְבָא֔וֹ אֶל ־ אַבְרָהָ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר אֱלֹהִ֣ים עִמְּךָ֔ בְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר ־ אַתָּ֖ה עֹשֶֽׂה ׃ 23 וְעַתָּ֗ה הִשָּׁ֨בְעָה לִּ֤י בֵֽאלֹהִים֙ הֵ֔נָּה אִם ־ תִּשְׁקֹ֣ר לִ֔י וּלְנִינִ֖י וּלְנֶכְדִּ֑י כַּחֶ֜סֶד אֲשֶׁר ־ עָשִׂ֤יתִי עִמְּךָ֙ תַּעֲשֶׂ֣ה עִמָּדִ֔י וְעִם ־ הָאָ֖רֶץ אֲשֶׁר ־ גַּ֥רְתָּה בָּֽהּ ׃ 24 וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אַבְרָהָ֔ם אָנֹכִ֖י אִשָּׁבֵֽעַ ׃ 25 וְהוֹכִ֥חַ אַבְרָהָ֖ם אֶת ־ אֲבִימֶ֑לֶךְ עַל ־ אֹדוֹת֙ בְּאֵ֣ר הַמַּ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר גָּזְל֖וּ עַבְדֵ֥י אֲבִימֶֽלֶךְ ׃ 26 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲבִימֶ֔לֶךְ לֹ֣א יָדַ֔עְתִּי מִ֥י עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת ־ הַדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֑ה וְגַם ־ אַתָּ֞ה לֹא ־ הִגַּ֣דְתָּ לִּ֗י וְגַ֧ם אָנֹכִ֛י לֹ֥א שָׁמַ֖עְתִּי בִּלְתִּ֥י הַיּֽוֹם ׃ 27 וַיִּקַּ֤ח אַבְרָהָם֙ צֹ֣אן וּבָקָ֔ר וַיִּתֵּ֖ן לַאֲבִימֶ֑לֶךְ וַיִּכְרְת֥וּ שְׁנֵיהֶ֖ם בְּרִֽית ׃ 28 וַיַּצֵּ֣ב אַבְרָהָ֗ם אֶת ־ שֶׁ֛בַע כִּבְשֹׂ֥ת הַצֹּ֖אן לְבַדְּהֶֽן ׃ 29 וַיֹּ֥אמֶר אֲבִימֶ֖לֶךְ אֶל ־ אַבְרָהָ֑ם מָ֣ה הֵ֗נָּה שֶׁ֤בַע כְּבָשֹׂת֙ הָאֵ֔לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֥ר הִצַּ֖בְתָּ לְבַדָּֽנָה ׃ 30 וַיֹּ֕אמֶר כִּ֚י אֶת ־ שֶׁ֣בַע כְּבָשֹׂ֔ת תִּקַּ֖ח מִיָּדִ֑י בַּעֲבוּר֙ תִּֽהְיֶה ־ לִּ֣י לְעֵדָ֔ה כִּ֥י חָפַ֖רְתִּי אֶת ־ הַבְּאֵ֥ר הַזֹּֽאת ׃ 31 עַל ־ כֵּ֗ן קָרָ֛א לַמָּק֥וֹם הַה֖וּא בְּאֵ֣ר שָׁ֑בַע כִּ֛י שָׁ֥ם נִשְׁבְּע֖וּ שְׁנֵיהֶֽם ׃ 32 וַיִּכְרְת֥וּ בְרִ֖ית בִּבְאֵ֣ר שָׁ֑בַע וַיָּ֣קָם אֲבִימֶ֗לֶךְ וּפִיכֹל֙ שַׂר ־ צְבָא֔וֹ וַיָּשֻׁ֖בוּ אֶל ־ אֶ֥רֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּֽים ׃ 33 וַיִּטַּ֥ע אֶ֖שֶׁל בִּבְאֵ֣ר שָׁ֑בַע וַיִּ֨קְרָא ־ שָׁ֔ם בְּשֵׁ֥ם יְהוָ֖ה אֵ֥ל עוֹלָֽם ׃ 34 וַיָּ֧גָר אַבְרָהָ֛ם בְּאֶ֥רֶץ פְּלִשְׁתִּ֖ים יָמִ֥ים רַבִּֽים ׃ פ
Abraham makes a covenant of kindness Introduction Oaths, covenants, architecture 1. Abraham makes a covenant with Abimelech (v22-32) Abimelech again; he is no fool, sees the blessing of God and wants to protect himself, or buy into it. cf 'those who honour you I will bless'. A covenant of kindness; we have again the word 'hesed'. The well belongs to Abraham. Wells were not just assets, but essential means of life. But we realise that these are in fact not two equal parties. But Abraham the mighty and righteous, being gracious (being a blessing) to Abimelech, who is actually guilty without knowing it. Abraham vindicates himself with the seven lambs. Abraham himself provides the blood of the covenant - v27 Think of Abimelech's descendents; a covenant of favour with Abraham and co, which they did nothing to earn or deserve (they did not even provide the sacrifice) but which they daily benefit from. Excursus on the new covenant. God the Father willingly 'gives' the eternal Son, who willingly 'gives' himself and his own blood. The Spirit willingly takes the life of the Son and applies it, binds and connects it, to unworthy sinners. Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. We don't make or earn a covenant with God, we don't earn covenant blessings from him; the covenant has been made and the covenant blessings already secured by the righteous life and death of Jesus our Lord. God's glory. His extravagant, unrelenting, faithfulness! Never growing tired, old, impatient or bored. Nothing can stop him from saving and blessing. FCF. Looking for other things to make peace with God or justify ourselves rather than the covenant which exists through Jesus, God's man. Abimelech and Phicol recognise, here is God's man so let us ensure peace and favour with him. But he gives it freely from his own generosity! By nature. Feel we need to earn favour. Blind to faults which already stand in the way, like Abimelech and the well. We have a kind of presumption, like Abimelech turning up on Abraham's door even though he is the guilty party. By choice. We choose things which we think give us measurable buying power. Irreligious. Define ourselves by what we have or don't have, pride or shame. Achievement, money, beauty, control etc. Religious. Rules and obedience. The appeal of legalism and cults and knowledge. But people were saved before there were books. If I am born in sin and guilt, then how on earth will obedience or knowledge remove this. Person of Jesus. He is the Great Man to whom those near and far must come to make peace. He himself is the giver and ruler and peacemaker. He is Abraham's true Seed and Son. Work of Jesus. He provides the blood for the covenant, but with his very own flesh. By his blood eternal peace with the everlasting God is guaranteed. Nothing is given to him for him to repay, but he gives himself generously. Now we have his very oath at the cross. Calvary is a greater Beersheba. Union with Jesus. I am on friendly terms with Almighty God if I am in Jesus. More than that, nothing can separate me from his love. More than that, I am part of his treasured possession. Specific repentance. Of trying to barter or prove. Specific faith. Trust that you are on 'friendly' terms forever, hidden in Jesus. 2. Abraham worships the LORD who has blessed him so faithfully (v33-34) Perhaps in this section Abraham comes to realise the astonishing blessing of God upon him as he reflects back: He is a great man now, holding the upper hand in political and economic interactions Through him family groups are being blessed Those disrespecting him are cursed Those honouring him are blessed He has a son So he plants a mighty tree like an Ebenezer of worship. Everlasting God. Wrap up: This tees up chapter 22 , the big climactic test of Abraham's faith