Faithlife Sermons

Peace at Beer-Sheba

OT101.2-Genesis II  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Make the most in times of refreshing as a peacemaker leaving a legacy of faith for following generations.

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Introduction

Gen. 21:
Genesis 21:22–34 KJV 1900
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: 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. And Abraham said, I will swear. And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away. 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. And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant. And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? 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. Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba; because there they sware both of them. Thus they made a covenant at Beer-sheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.
Get Attention:
Illustration -
WHEN a river is approaching its plunge down some mighty chasm, its waters flow with placid stillness; every ripple is smoothed out of the peaceful surface, and the great volume of water is hushed and quieted. There could hardly be a greater contrast than that which exists between the restfulness of the river before it is torn by the ragged rocks in its downward rush, and its excitement and foam at the foot of the falls. In the one case you can discern, through the translucent waters, the stones and rocks that line its bed; in the other you are blinded by the spray and deafened by the noise.
Is not this an emblem of our lives?—Our Father often inserts in them a parenthesis of rest and peace, to prepare us for some coming trial. It is not invariably so. We need not always temper our enjoyment of some precious gift with a foreboding dread of its afterwards. But this, at least, is largely true: that if every season of clear-shining is not followed by a time of cloud, yet seasons of sorrow and trial are almost always preceded by hours or days or years of sunny experience, which lie in the retrospect of life, as a bright and comforting memory, where the soul was able to gather the strength it was to expend, and to prepare itself for its supreme effort. [F. B. Meyer, Abraham: Or, The Obedience of Faith, Old Testament Heroes (New York; Chicago: Fleming H. Revell Company, n.d.), 160–161.]
Orient Theme:
Moses is describing the peace between Abraham & Abimelech who observed the hand of God on Abraham & sought peace in perpetuity among their issuing generations. When the world observes us as peacemakers calling us God's children, it brings lasting impact for generations to come regarding the influence of God's Word. People of the world desire the peaceable fruits of God's righteousness, even if they don't know God personally as of yet. Learn to maintain peace where able, without compromising convictions of principle.
State Purpose:
Let God prepare you in times of peace for trials of faith that may be lingering on the horizon.
Main Thought:
Make the most in times of refreshing as a peacemaker leaving a legacy of faith for following generations.
Sub-Introduction:
Connecting Context:
Connect the events of earlier (the birth of Isaac and expulsion of Ishmael)
Background/Intro Material:
Describe Beer-Sheba

I. The Request for Peace ().

A. Abimelech's Approach ().

1. The Power of God's Presence ().

Genesis 21:22 KJV 1900
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:
State Point -
Abimelech had noticed God's presence and blessing fulfilling His promises to Abraham, and desired to be a part of that.
Validate Point -
He took his general, and called a peace summit between him and Abraham.

2. For the Protection of Posterity ().

Genesis 21:23 KJV 1900
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.
State Point -
Abimelech says, Don't lie to me, my kids, or my grand-kids. I was kind to you before. All I'm asking is that your folks be kind in the same way to my folks. Let's do this for those who are coming behind us later.

B. Abraham's Acquiescence ().

Genesis 21:24 KJV 1900
And Abraham said, I will swear.
State Point -
Abraham says, I'll make you a promise.
What a testimony: “God is with you in all that you do” (, NKJV). Abraham did not permit one lapse of faith to cripple him; he got right with God and made a new beginning. James Strahan said, “Men are not to be judged by the presence or absence of faults, but by the direction of their lives” (Hebrew Ideals, p. 142). God is willing to bless when we are in the place of blessing ().
While living at Hebron, Abraham had allied himself with some of the local leaders (); so there was no problem with entering into an agreement with Abimelech. It did not compromise Abraham’s testimony. God’s people cooperate with different people at different times for different purposes, and the discerning believer knows when any alliance is not in the will of God. [Warren W. Wiersbe, Be Obedient, “Be” Commentary Series (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991), 92.]
Application:
There seems to be no reason to think that in this covenant made upon the basis of the recognition of God, there was anything contrary to the purpose of God. The friendship existing between these two men as the result of that covenant, based upon that recognition, affords an illustration of the influence which might have been growingly exerted by the people of faith, had they been true to God. [Morgan, AnBib9]
Transition: We've seen the request for peace, now let's look at:

II. The Requirements for Peace ().

A. Possible Admonishment ().

1. Past Grievances Presented ().

Genesis 21:25 KJV 1900
And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away.
State Point -
Abraham brings up a past issue his workers had with Abimelech's government. Why did he wait so long? Statute of Limitations...
[Apply Point] -
Clearly there were all the makings of a typical feud between the two men but they were both too wise to allow that to happen. The situation needed to be healed, not heated. [Genesis (Preacher's Commentary)]

2. Pleading Ignorance ().

Genesis 21:26 KJV 1900
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.

B. Participative Agreement ().

Genesis 21:27 KJV 1900
And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.

C. Perpetual Attestation ().

1. Sacrifice & Separation ().

Genesis 21:28–29 KJV 1900
And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?

2. Swearing in Solemn Promise ().

Genesis 21:30–31 KJV 1900
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. Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba; because there they sware both of them.
The word šāḇa‘ (“to swear or take an oath”) occurs three times in the passage (vv. [swear], [swore]); the numerical adjective šeba‘ (seven) occurs three times as well (vv. ); the name be’ēr šāḇa‘ (“well of seven” or “well of the oath”) also occurs three times (vv. ). [Allen P. Ross, “Genesis,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 63.]
Application:
This entire transaction involved three elements: sacrifices (), witnesses (), and promises (). You find these same elements in God’s covenant with us through our Lord Jesus Christ, as outlined in . First, there is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross (); then, the witness of the Spirit within the believer (); and finally, the promise of God’s Word (). Abraham’s covenant with Abimelech only guaranteed possession of a well that provides water to sustain life. God’s covenant with His people guarantees that we have the living water that gives everlasting life to all who will trust the Savior! [Wiersbe, 93.]
Transition: The request was made and well-received; The requirements were fulfilled satisfactorily by both parties; now let's consider:

II. The Results of Peace ().

A. Abimelech's Appeasement ().

Genesis 21:32 KJV 1900
Thus they made a covenant at Beer-sheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.
[Apply Point] -
If you read what the Bible says about vowing you will see how culpably negligent we are in the way we promise. If we do not fulfil a promise, we damage our moral and spiritual life. It is infinitely better to refuse to promise anything, even in the most superficial relationships, than to promise and not perform. Spiritual leakages are accounted for in this way. Always do what you ought to do, but be careful of promising anything, because a promise puts the blood of God on your character.
If you make a promise you must see that it is fulfilled, no matter what it costs you. The glib way we promise is indicative of the slipshod ways we have got into, and of our laziness and indifference. The word of a natural man is his bond; the word of a saint binds God. It is a question of relationship to God all through. [Oswald Chambers, Not Knowing Where (Grand Rapids: Discovery House, 1996).]

B. Abraham's Adoration of the LORD ().

1. A Place of Peaceful Sacredness ().

Genesis 21:33 KJV 1900
And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.
[Apply Point] -
The chapter ends with a fresh glimpse of Abraham quietly getting on with the life of faith. He is seen working (). “And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba.” He was making preparation for usefulness and fruit in days to come. Abimelech wanted no fellowship with that; he did not care what Abraham did, so long as he left him alone. Then Abraham is seen worshiping (). “And [Abraham] called there on the name of the Lord.” Abimelech had no interest in that. What did he care for “the everlasting God”? Finally we see Abraham waiting (). “And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.” It was really his land, yet it is called “the Philistines’ land.” Abraham was content to patiently wait until God was pleased, in His own time and way, to give it to him. One day all would be his. Abimelech had no interest in that kind of thing. [John Phillips, Exploring Genesis: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Ge 21:22–34.]

2. A Place of Proclaimed Salvation ().

[Apply Point] -
You could follow Abraham’s journey by looking for the wells he dug and the altars he built (; , ). He was not ashamed to build his altar in the presence of his neighbors and offer his worship to the Lord. A new name for God is introduced here: El Olam, “the Everlasting God.” Abraham already knew El Elyon (“God Most High”—, ) and El Shaddai (“God Almighty, the All-Sufficient One”—); but now he had a new name to use in his worship. It is important as we go through life that we learn more and more about God so we can worship Him better.
What an encouragement to know “the Everlasting God”! Wells would disappear, trees would be cut down, ewe lambs would grow up and die, altars would crumble, and treaties would perish; but the Everlasting God would remain. This Everlasting God had made an everlasting covenant with Abraham and his descendants (, , ), and He had given them the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession (; ). As Abraham faced the coming years, he knew that God would not change and that “underneath [were] the everlasting arms” (). [Wiersbe, 94.]

3. A Place of Prolonged Sojourn ().

Genesis 21:34 KJV 1900
And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.

Conclusion

Matthew Henry says, “Abraham, having got into a good neighborhood, knew when he was well off, and continued a great while there.” [John G. Butler, Abraham: The Father of the Jews, vol. Number Nine, Bible Biography Series (Clinton, IA: LBC Publications, 1993), 258.]
Make the most in times of refreshing as a peacemaker leaving a legacy of faith for following generations.
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