Loyalty points

21 loyalty points.jpg

King Abimelech and his army commander, Phicol, came to see Abraham. “God always watches over you,” he said. “So promise me, Abraham, in the presence of God, that you’ll never betray me or my family line. I’ve been loyal, and I’m asking for loyalty in return.”

“I promise,” Abraham answered, “but I should make you aware of a water well that your servants took from my people.”

Abimelech answered, “Why didn’t you tell me? This is the first I’m hearing of it.”

Abraham brought Abimelech sheep and oxen, and they promised they’d be loyal to one another. Then Abraham took seven female lambs and set them apart from the rest of the fold.

“What are these for?” Abimelech asked.

“These seven lambs are given in exchange for your word that I dug this well.” They named that place Beersheba, “Well of the Oath.” After they sealed their promise, Abimelech and his commander went back to the land of the Philistines.

Abraham remained there awhile and planted a salt cedar near the well. There he called on the name of the Everlasting God, and afterward, he lived as a foreigner in the land of the Philistines for days.

Inspiration: Genesis 21

Eternal contract

13 eternal contract

When Abram was nearly a hundred years old, God appeared and said, “I’m God Almighty. Walk before me and be perfect. I’ll make my promise between us, and I’ll make you abundant.”

Abram fell on his face.

God continued, “Here’s the promise: I’m making you the father of many nations. Your name is hereby changed to Abraham, “Father of Nations.” Even kings will come from you. This promise is established forever through your generations. I’ll give you and your offspring this foreign land, that is, all of Canaan forever, and I will be their God.”

Abraham remained prostrate on the ground with his forehead down in the dirt.

“As for you and your side of the promise,” God said, “you and every male among you, through every generation, will cut off their foreskin. This is the way of the promise. When each baby boy is eight days old, including slaves born in your house or any other male purchased with money, they will be circumcised. Why? For the promise to be irrevocable, it must cut into the flesh. Anyone who has not had his foreskin cut off will himself be cut off from your people, because he will have broken the promise.”

Abraham remained still and silent before God.

“As for Sarai,” God continued, “she is now Sarah, and she will give you a son. I will bless her, and from her womb will come nations and kings.”

Abraham couldn’t contain a sudden fit of laughter. He muttered under his breath, “We’re too old to have children, and my wife is barren.” He lifted his head. “Bring Ishmael into the blessing.”

God answered, “Sarah will bear you a son next year, and you’ll call him Isaac. Through him my eternal promise will be secured, not with Ishmael. As for Ismael, I will bless him for your sake and give him a large family. He will be a great nation, the father of twelve kings.”

When God ascended, Abraham took his son, Ishmael, and all the male slaves born or purchased in his house, and he cut off their foreskins. Then he had someone cut his own foreskin.

Ishmael was thirteen years old when his foreskin was cut off.

Inspiration: Genesis 17

God’s promise

11 gods promise

After Abram’s conquest and victory over the king of Elam, he stirred sleeplessly in the night, fearing retaliation.

“Don’t be frightened, Abram.” God appeared in a vision and spoke as if in the flesh. “I’m your protection, and your reward will be significant.”

Abram remembered the promise God had made when he called Abram out of Ur, so he answered, “But what will you give me? I’m childless, and my heir is my adopted son and servant Eliezer of Damascus.”

God’s voice was clear. “Eliezer won’t be your heir. Your own flesh and blood will pave the way of my promise.”

God led Abram outside of his tent and said, “Count the stars if you can. Your sons and daughters will be as many.”

Abram believed God’s promise, so God declared him righteous.

“I’m God. I took you from Ur to give you everything as far as the eye can see.”

Abram faltered. “How can I be sure it’ll be mine?”

God answered, “We’ll make a pact. Bring me a heifer, a female goat, and a ram, all of them three years old. Also bring a turtledove and a pigeon.”

Abram did as he was instructed, bisected them, and stacked each half onto the other. The birds he left whole. Abram guarded the sign of God’s promise against birds of prey, driving them from the pyre until he grew weary.

At sunset, Abram fell asleep and descended into a terrifying nightmare. The vultures circling overhead turned into captors of his future offspring, and he saw them carried off to a strange land for four hundred years. God said, “Your descendants will be slaves, poorly treated and beaten down, but I will punish the nation responsible. In the end, they will be adorned with great riches.” Then he said, “Abram, you’ll die at a ripe old age and will be buried in peace.”

Abram’s night terrors subsided, and he began to breathe easier. God appeared once more and said, “Your offspring will come back here and take the land in the fourth generation. That’s when the Amorites will have come to ruin because of their evil practices.”

The sky was black when a vision of a smoking firepot and a lighted torch passed between the carcass halves. He said, “I give this land to your blood relations, from the Nile to the Euphrates.”

The embers smoldered and the presence of God lingered into the next morning.

Inspiration: Genesis 15