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Abimelech and Abraham (Genesis 21:27)

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Way back in Genesis 12, Abraham received a few promises from God. 

First, that Abraham’s descendants would inherit the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1).

Second, his family would be a great nation (Genesis 12:2).

Third, through him, all nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3).

How God fulfilled those promises is a story for the rest of the Bible, but one unlikely character pops up very early on and recognizes the greatness of Abraham.

His old friend, Abimelech.

Who is Abimelech?

You remember Abimelech, don’t you? He was the one that Abraham lied to in Genesis 20 about his wife actually being his sister (technically the second time that Abraham has made such a claim).

Abimelech esteems himself well in Genesis 20. Although he tries to marry Sarah, he does so out of the innocence of his heart. God agrees with his innocence and doesn’t punish him (Genesis 20:5-6).

At first light, Abimelech wakes up and sends Abraham packing with a huge amount of goods in tow. He gives him cattle, sheep, silver, and servants. Abraham leaves a much wealthier man than he was when he first arrived.

He also, in a token of full respect, gives him choice of any land he wants in the area. Abraham prays for his family’s healing — which God grants — and is then on his way.

Abimelech Recognizes Abraham’s Greatness

Apparently, Abimelech notices that Abraham’s greatness has improved over time. He also most likely expects it to continue, because in Genesis 21:22, Abimelech acknowledges that “God is with [Abraham] in every thing he does.”

This acknowledgement comes with a request, however. Even though Abimelech and Abraham won’t live forever, Abimelech wants their descendants to still be friendly in the future. Abraham, in return, swears that there will be no injustice done from his genealogy to Abimelech’s.

Why did Abimelech ask this? Most likely because he saw that Abraham’s line was increasing over time, which could’ve threatened Abimelech’s family in the future. A friendship now could prevent hostilities later.

It’s also likely that Abimelech recognized the birth of Isaac for what it was: A blessing from God. And if God can do that, what else could He do? Who is Abimelech to stand against Jehovah?

In this way, Abimelech is a type of New Testament Christians, in that he recognizes something as being from God and chooses to follow the evidence. Nicodemus made the same statement when he said, “Rabbi, we know that you have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Are we willing to acknowledge the truth of God in our own lives?