The Covenant Between Abraham And Abimelech
Updated: May 25, 2020
By bro Alan Poon
Last year, Singapore held the first historic summit on June 11 between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. International media scrambled to find suitable footage of Singapore, the little red dot in the world map, as they announced the venue of the highly anticipated summit. It drew a lot of worldwide attention. Likewise, the atmosphere was probably similar in Beersheba where the Philistine king of Gerar, Abimelech, had a covenant with the famous patriarch in the bible, Abraham. They were also the first human pair who had made a “covenant” with each other recorded in the bible. The first covenant between two men was neither about protection against the military threats that came from swords nor spears. In essence, the covenant was between two men who wanted to be righteous (Gen 20:4) so as not to incur God’s wrath. The Philistine king of Gerar, Abimelech was probably the first Gentile who recognised the Almighty God whom the Israelites worshipped.
In Gen 20:1-7, Abraham sojourned in a foreign land in Gerar, out of fear for his life (Gen 20:11), had kept the real truth from the people of Gerar that Sarah was his wife. Abimelech sent for Sarah and took her. God intervened by appearing in Abimelech’s dream, proclaiming him a dead man for taking a living man’s wife. In Gen 20:9, Abimelech called unto Abraham, demanding an explanation for bringing upon him and his kingdom a great sin. Abimelech gave Abrahram sheep, oxen, servants, land to stay and pieces of silver to make peace with him(Gen 20:14-16). In return, Abraham prayed for Abimelech so that he would be healed and live after he restored Sarah to Abraham (Gen 20:7, Gen 20:17). More importantly, what we learn from Abimelech is the integrity of his heart (Gen 20:5). So what does this integrity means? For Abimelech’s case, it meant that he would never take another man’s wife even if there were no consequences from man or from God. Do we make peace only when the consequences have caught up with us? Or do we make peace only because we know that we have to bear some consequences? God knows the integrity of our heart (Gen 20:6) and we need to constantly be righteous with God.
The “peace offering” Abimelech offered to Abraham unintentionally and indirectly led to unwanted circumstances. We see that not long after, Abimelech’s servants contested with Abraham’s people over the country’s resources, robbing wells dug by Abraham (Gen 21:25). Recall also that in Gen 20:14-16, a great deal of riches was given to Abraham, a foreign dweller in Abimelech’s land. This most probably had created eyesore among the people. Fortunately, action was taken promptly to right the wrong. A covenant was made between Abimelech and Abraham at Beersheba. Abraham claimed back the ownership of the well. To commemorate the occasion, Abraham planted a grove and praised the Lord, the everlasting God (Gen 21:32-33). Are we also quick to right the wrongs that we have in our lives? If we have learned of a truth from God’s word that contradicts what we do in life, will we also be quick to make amends?
In conclusion, Jesus Christ has established a new covenant with us, with his blood which was shed for many (Mk 14:22-25). In verse 25, the kingdom of God refers to the Church that he established. In Matt 16:18, Jesus Christ would build his Church and “the gates of hades shall not prevail against it.” When we become Christians, we enter into a covenant with God, with Christ making peace between us and God (Eph 2:14-16). Let us hence do everything we can to keep this covenant so that we can look forward eternal life with God in heaven.