Thursday, March 11, 2010

Covenant for Peace


James Strahan shares, “Men are not to be judged by the presence or absence of faults, but by the direction of their lives.” Abraham has made some mistakes in his life, but has learned from them. After being at odds with his neighbor, Abimilech, king of Philistia, Abraham enters into an agreement…he makes an oath with Abimilech that they should be able to live in an honest and trustworthy relationship with respect to one another (Genesis 21:22ff).

The fact that some of Abimilech’s servants have seized Abraham’s well comes to light, which wold violate their oath. Abraham brings the facts concerning the situation to his neighbor, but Abimilech knows nothing about it. Only the Lord understands whether or not Abimilech is telling the truth, but Abraham makes certain that it is a dead issue. This time the two leaders go beyond giving a mere oath to actually making a covenant which involves the slaying of an animal. This is where the expression “to cut a covenant” has its origin. Abraham and Abimilech do so, and by walking between the sacrificial animal, they are saying, in effect, that they should become as the slain animal if one of them should break their covenant. This signifies just how serious a matter covenant is, and how serious that this matter is for them. Another result of this situation is that a new name for God is introduced here – El Olam, “The Everlasting God”. Abraham has already known God as El Elyon, “God Most High” and El Shaddai, “God Almighty.” What an encouragement to know “the Everlasting God” as the result of this situation. The things of this earth -- wells, trees, treaties – pass away, but not God. He remains forever!

In a recent interview, actor Mark Harmon was asked, “what is the most mysterious thing about life?’ He said, “Peace” -- an interesting answer. Just as war comes from the heart, so does peace. We must not give our hearts and lives over to being in conflict with people…and certainly not our neighbors or our friends. A preacher friend of mine said one time – “if you want to know what kind of a person I am, go ask my neighbor…he will tell you the truth.” As much as it depends upon us, we all have a responsibility to make peace and to live in peace with one another. If Abraham, the great man of faith, could beat the odds with another despite sin and mistakes, far be it from us to think that we cannot also do the same. We all end up in this position from time to time in life…yet, the true measure of a man or a woman, spiritually, is whether we can forgive and make peace. How are we able to do this? Just as Abraham and Ahimilech covenanted before God, so God has covenanted with us through His Son, Jesus Christ. God gave up His Son so that He would come and give His life for us that we could have the opportunity for eternal life. This is why we frequently call the New Testament, the new covenant. God’s covenant with us guarantees us peace with Him...if we accept it.


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