Finding (living) Water

Genesis 26:32-33 records that on the same day that Isaac had made a peace treaty with Abimelech, the king of Gerar, his servants came to him and told him regarding the well they had dug, that they had found water and Isaac called that well Shebah (and hence the name of the city where he had moved to is Beersheba). Shebah means an oath in Hebrew.

What is important to note is that it is to Beersheba that Abraham first brings Isaac after the sacrifice on Mount Moriah (Genesis 22:19) and dwelt there. It is in Beersheba that Abraham makes an oath of peace with Abimelech, the then king of Gerar (Genesis 21:22-34). Why is Beersheba important? Because it was a step in the direction of the promised land that God had promised Abraham.

The contention over the wells of Abraham, namely Esek and Sitnah, by the herdsmen of Gerar made Isaac retreat to a place of no contention as he names the well that he dug there Rehoboth (Genesis 26:20-22). To Abraham and Isaac, the wells were a sign of God’s provisions while to the philistines and the men of Gerar, it was a sign of property which made them fill/stop the wells that Abraham had dug (Genesis 26:17) and fight over the one that Isaac had dug (Genesis 26:19). The contention that ensues, can be seen, in hindsight, as God nudging Isaac to move toward the promised land.

However, what is noteworthy is that Isaac does not stay where the well Rehoboth was (even though there was no contention there), but instead moves to Beersheba (possibly because he trusted in God as did his father, looking forward toward a city whose builder and maker was God himself (Hebrews 11:10)), and on that same night, the Lord appears and assures Isaac of his covenant with his father, Abraham. Isaac responds by building an altar first, and worshipping the Lord God before pitching his tent there and digging a well there. (Genesis 26:25). After the peace treaty amongst whom he deemed were his enemies (who hated him), his servants report of finding water (Genesis 26:32).

Points to ponder:
While the digging of the well indicates that one intends to live in that land and use the water to sustain his family and flocks, we see here that Isaac did not dig the well, first to find water, before pitching his tent and building an altar to worship God. In fact, that order was reversed.  He gave God the priority over his and his family and flock’s physical needs. He built the altar first, worshipped God and then pitched his tent and dug the well, and God enables him to find water in that well.

This resonates with the very model Jesus laid out for us – that we ought to seek the spiritual things first (God’s kingdom) and all the things that are needed to sustain us shall be added unto us (Matthew 6:33). In other words, in order to find water that sustains us physically, we ought to seek first the living Water that saves us spiritually, i.e., seek the living water that only Jesus can provide – the water that bring not just sustenance of life, but salvation to life aka eternal life (John 4:10-15). Have you found (living) Water? i.e., have you believed in Jesus’ Lordship and saving grace?

Genesis 26:32-33 (KJV)
32 And it came to pass the same day, that Isaac’s servants came, and told him concerning the well which they had digged, and said unto him, We have found water.
33 And he called it Shebah: therefore the name of the city is Beersheba unto this day.

The real treaty is …

After Abraham agreed to the treaty between him and Abimelech, the Bible records that Abraham planted a grove (tamarisk trees) at Beersheba, and there he worshiped (called on) the Lord, the everlasting God. (Genesis 21:33). A treaty with an earthly king had been agreed upon, but Abraham knew that there was to be more that needed to be done. And what was that? He planted a grove (of Tamarisk trees) and called on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God. Planting a tree is something that is permanent with roots that secure the tree to the ground. In other words, Abraham worshipped God at the end of the treaty he made with man (the king of Gerar).

Points to ponder:
When agreements with men are ratified, take a moment to thank God and worship him, calling out his name. We should be like fruitful trees planted by rivers of water (Psalm 1:3), yielding the fruit of the spirit in and through our lives (Galatians 5:22-23), rooted in Christ abounding in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:7), worshipping God.  The real treaty is the treaty of worshipping the Lord and that of what we make with man.

Genesis 21:33-34 (KJV)
33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the everlasting God.
34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.

Colossians 2:7 (KJV)
Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.

Lessons of life from the Treaty at Beersheba

Genesis 21:22-32 gives the account of the treaty made between Abraham and Abimelech, the king of Gerar. Abimelech makes Abraham swear by God that Abraham will not deal falsely with him. Abraham obliges but raises a concern that a well of his was taken away by Abimelech’s servants violently which needed to be addressed. Abimelech informs Abraham that he was not aware of how Abraham was wronged, until that day. Abraham took sheep and oxen and gave them to Abimelech and they both made a covenant. Then Abraham took seven ewe lambs from the flock and set them free. Abimelech who did not understand this gesture questions Abraham of the meaning, which Abraham explains that it was sign to indicate rightful ownership of the well as that of Abraham’s. That place was called Beersheba meaning the “well of the oath” or “well of seven” and this is where Abraham and Abimelech made their covenant.

From this account we can glean a few life lessons –
1. Start any treaty or contract with a requirement to not be dealt falsely. This request by Abimelech (Genesis 21:23) was necessary as Abraham had once dealt falsely with king Abimelech, misrepresenting his wife, Sarah as his sister to Abimelech.
2. Address any issues of concern, mainly about ownership, before establishing a covenant (treaty). Abraham brought up the matter of what he owned, a well that he had dug, which was violently taken away from him, by Abimelech’s servants (Genesis 21:25).
3. Establish a timeline as necessary when discussing issues of concern. Abimelech mentioned that he was ignorant of the wrong done to Abraham until that day/moment when Abraham told him. (Genesis 21:26)
4. Lead by offering from what you have, as gesture of setting things right. Abraham offered sheep and oxen to Abimelech and both of them made a covenant (Genesis 21:27)
5. Ratify the covenant by an outward expression, not merely internal thoughts. Abraham ratified the covenant he made with Abimelech, by taking seven ewe lambs and setting them free, as a sign of his rightful ownership of the well (Genesis 21:28-30).

Points to ponder:
1. When God wants us to establish a peace treaty with him, he expects us to not deal falsely with him.
2. We belong to God. He is the rightful owner of our life.
3. Remember the time and more importantly the maker and creator, God.
4. Offer your life up to God for he offered up his for us (on the Cross).
5. God ratified his covenant with us by an external demonstration of his love for us, by sending forth his only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Are you willing to express your covenant of love for God by your life (action) and not just by your thoughts (or words) for you are rightfully owned by God.

Genesis 21:22-32 (KJV)
22 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:
23 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.
24 And Abraham said, I will swear.
25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away.
26 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.
27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.
28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.
29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?
30 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.
31 Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.
32 Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.

Is God with you? The evidence

Genesis 21:22-34 gives the account of a treaty being made between Abraham and Abimelech, the king of Gerar (along with Phichol, the chief captain of his army). This treaty begins with Abimelech and Phichol identifying and recognizing the hand of God on Abraham, for they said, “God is with thee (Abraham) in all that thou doest.”
God’s presence with Abraham was evident even to the gentiles who recognized the sovereignty of God and who wanted to make a treaty with Abraham, God’s servant.

Points to ponder:
Is the presence of God in our lives evident to those around us, even to the who not believe in Jesus Christ, the one true God? If someone was to look at your life today, would they be able to say, “God is with you in all that you do”?

Genesis 21:22 (KJV)
22 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: