“And Abimelek took a flock, cattle, servants, and maidservants and gave them to Abraham. And he returned Sarah, his wife, to him. And Abimelek said, ‘My land is before your face; you shall dwell where it seems good to your eye.”
Here we find a very interesting event. Not only do we have a repeat of the basic event that Abraham experienced when he left the king of Egypt (with the abundance of gifts), but this time Abraham is welcomed to stay in the land rather than run out of the territory. It seems that Abimelek understands, despite the event that has transpired, that God is with Abraham and he recognizes Abraham’s presence in the land as something that is beneficial to the region and land. Indeed, in Abimelek’s action, we find the promise that God gave to Abraham that the nations shall be blessed in him (Genesis 12:2-3).
What I find is most interesting, though, is the nature of the invitation that Abimelek has made. God has already given the land to Abraham, yet Abimelek is essentially inviting Abraham to take a portion of what God has already given to him as an inheritance. How this pattern has continued through history. God has given Christians this world for care and dominion, yet so often unbelieving authorities have felt magnanimous in giving us privileges and rights within their specific territories. Indeed, we have been called to be under the authority of the rulers of our lands, but if these rulers are not acknowledging God’s ultimate authority, they are trying to usurp for themselves that which was never given to them in the first place.
Abimelek refers to Canaan as “my land.” Abraham has an equal right to claim exactly the same thing of the region, yet Abraham waits on God’s timing to inherit the land. We too are being led by Jesus to a promised land, yet we will not dwell within it until the creation of the new heavens and the new earth. For now, though, we press forward speaking to all who will hear and telling them of the truth of the real owner and master of the land. Indeed, about 400 years after the death of Abraham, Israel would enter this land as a nation and would bring judgment upon the enemies of God with a sword. When our Lord returns, those who are the enemies of God will once again face judgment, but this time not with the sword, but with the fires of Hell. In Joshua’s day, there were some Canaanites left in the land; when Jesus returns, judgment will be absolute and complete. In that day, there will be no magnanimous discussing of terms—absolute judgment will reign. Let us tell those around us as to who they must serve if they will be spared the wrath of God poured out upon their heads!