Scripture Focus: Genesis 26.26-31
26 Meanwhile, Abimelek had come to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath his personal adviser and Phicol the commander of his forces. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”
28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the Lord.”
30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning the men swore an oath to each other. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they went away peacefully.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
Reflection: Blessings of the Dispossessed
By John Tillman
Despite Abraham’s treaty with Abimelek, (Genesis 21.21-34) Isaac has difficulties with Abimelek’s government and people.
Isaac is unfairly treated; he is forced by violence to move on; he is even relocated by government order. The closest (but still imperfect) modern parallel is the treatment of indigenous populations.
Native Americans, and other indigenous communities, uniquely know what Isaac’s experience was like. All across the world, indigenous people faced powerful governments that continually violated treaties and moved native peoples off of the land they had been living on.
Rich Mullins wrote about this in, The Howling, a song of lament and faith.
“Cause I can see a people dispossessed
Broken and brave in the face of so much fear
Driven from their homes by the greed of a nation
Whose treaties were as good as litter
Along the trail of their tears”
— Rich Mullins, The Howling
Non-Western Christians all across the world today also know this type of persecution and suffering. In many places, Christian communities face violence or relocation, either from militia groups or under the authority of their governments.
Even in his suffering, Isaac blessed the land that he would one day inherit by digging wells that would water the land long after Isaac moved on. Eventually, Abimelek came to Isaac because he recognized God’s blessing on him and Isaac was able to confront Abimelek regarding his mistreatment and gain redress.
Actions of faithfulness and engaging with the difficult work of peacemaking will bring blessings to those around us. Avoiding violence and speaking for the truth will demonstrate that God is with us even if we must suffer for it.
We have been promised by Jesus that we will have trouble in this world. The level and severity of that “trouble” will vary. We may be targeted. We may be slandered. We may be “moved on” from places we feel we belong. Perhaps we will see partial justice in earthly kingdoms. Indeed, we are commanded to work to this end. But we also know that justice will only be completed in the coming Kingdom.
We are, in a sense, passive sojourners, like Isaac. We make our way the best we can in a land not yet submitted to God’s kingdom that we know is coming.
May we sojourn humbly in faith. May we enact justice and peace. May kings come to us, recognizing a source of God’s blessings.
Music: Rich Mullins, The Howling (Live performance)
Divine Hours Prayer: The Morning Psalm
Let the peoples praise you, O God, let all the peoples praise you.
Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide all the nations upon earth. — Psalm 67.3-4
– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle
Read more about Choosing Gentleness Over Violence
What we say and how we say it matters because…Sticks and stones start as words and words start in our sinful hearts.
Read more about Abimelek, Caesar, and Jesus
Abraham, by God’s command, prayed for Abimelek, blessed him, and lived under Abimelek’s rule, making a treaty with him.