Negotiate with Tact
Lord, You alone are my hope, my safety, and my strength. Speak to me now from Your Word, I pray.
Read Genesis 21:22-34
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future” (Jer. 29:11). What confidence that gives us.
Some months ago I visited a fair-trade cooperative in the desert in Northern Cape, South Africa, where some women farmers were growing redbush tea near a spring. Their dream was to qualify for a government program that would lend them ten breeding ewes. After five years they would have to repay ten young ewes and what was left would be theirs.
When we last met Abimelech he said “My land is before you; live wherever you like” (Gen. 20:15) but Abraham’s entourage is large and resources are scarce in the desert. Rumors of tension must have reached him, and Abimelech sees the value of having a formal agreement. He recognizes how God is blessing Abraham, but he is also fearful of the shifting balance of power between them. Churches that are growing in size and influence often evoke this mixture of respect and anxiety in local community leaders. In this case, goodwill prevails and a treaty is made that includes Abraham making an appropriate contribution (27).
This seems a good moment to raise an issue about water. Abraham’s men have dug a well (30), but the locals consider the land is theirs. With their leader in a sympathetic mood, Abraham picks out seven valuable breeding lambs that will potentially go on paying interest well into the future. He has clearly bought his well (30) and he celebrates by planting a large shady tree that will outlive him (33). The name Beersheba is a pun: it could mean “well of seven” or “well of oath.” It is a double reminder of the transaction. After years of trusting God’s promise of a nation and a land, Abraham now has one son and one oasis, each a foretaste of what was promised. No wonder Abraham dedicates his tree to the Eternal God (33).
Is there anything you are waiting for from the Lord? Pray about it and resolve to continuing waiting in faith.
Father God, I want above all else to walk in step with Your Spirit. Forgive me that I often run ahead of You or lag behind.
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