Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Before Abraham was Abraham he was Abram; Abram means “exalted father,” whereas Abraham means “father of a multitude.”  From a name that stretched upward/vertical, and might have been a great name in monumental import –exalting his own name, his own family, his own country –came a greater name that was only realized by laying down sideways/horizontal or prostrate.  “The greatest thing in Abraham’s life is God, not ‘Abraham-ism.’  The whole trend of his life is to make us admire God, not Abraham (Chambers, p. 912).”  Thus, the humble –which are destined to inherit the earth –have a father in Abraham.  Humility that comes before honor, prostration before erection, brokenness before wholeness, and death before life are states of heart that can only be made by someone looking beyond the obvious and material world; Abraham is rightly dubbed the father of faith because he progressively enlarged each of these states of heart and perpetually searched for a better country.  The seed God gave him for his obedient faith (Isaac) has blessed all the families of the earth and has immortalized him far more than he would have ever been immortalized if he were to have remained within his own country seeking his own glory as Abram.  “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going” (Hebrews 11:8).  The far-reaching impact that God intended through the obedience of Abraham was beyond his understanding and imagination; the increased light he received as he continued to obey each command in sequence eventually made him see Christ’s day.  A proper faith is never wholly blind, irrational or ridiculous –it only appears that way to the unbelieving heart; it is, however, always stretching the limit of man’s reason and imagination, but is, itself, grounded upon the sureness of God alone.
Abram, when he was first called, was required to leave “Ur of the Chaldeans;” to leave country, immediate family, and extended family to go to a place not yet revealed to him (Genesis 12:1-3).  God also promised him that his name would be great, that he would be blessed and that he would become a great nation.  So, having just left the very elements required to accomplish a promise like this –his family, ethnicity and country –Abram does so, not knowing whither he goes!  Now “Ur” means “shine or flame” and “Chaldeans” were “magicians;” thus God essentially called Abram to leave the flame or shine of the deceptive magic used by magicians.  In other words, come out of the smoke-and-mirror-reality of the natural familial ties; come out of the natural light that family, ethnicity and country give to a place from where God will enlarge your vision, influence, and reality.  Come out of the natural to the supernatural; come out of the earthly to the heavenly.  In contrast to where God is taking us, our family, ethnicity and country reality is delusional.  That is why Jesus once said, “If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26).  An ultimate hate is not what He is after, but an enlargement of love for God that simply encompasses all other loves; the start of this way of faith is to leave off all familiar ties and to tie ourselves to God alone –only then –will we gain our lives, families and countries in due course as we walk out this new life of faith.
Deception is nothing more than a truncated view of reality; faith is required to know reality because the breadth and depth and height of reality are larger than the scope of our eyes.  When “…Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness (Galatians 3:6, part),” he took God’s word, person and perspective over his own limited word, person and perspective.  He was simply wise enough to realize that God knew more than he did and made a decision to trust him over against himself.  How foolish we are when we cling to our own imaginations, thoughts and inclinations when reality is clearly larger than that –more than we could ever see or comprehend.
Now, before the record of the word of the Lord which came to Abram in Genesis 12:1-3, we read how Haran died in the presence of his father Terah (Genesis 11:28). Haran means “very dry” and Terah means “delay, or slowly born.”  Since Stephen’s report of these events laid out in Acts 7:2-4 make it plain that Abraham had received this word back in Ur, it seems his father Terah had, indeed, delayed or slowly birthed Abraham’s obedience to it.  Abraham’s family was impeding and circumventing his obedience to the instructions he had received from God; having left only his country, he attempted to drag his family along with him –with disastrous results.  First, Abraham’s brother, Terah’s son Haran dies before his father –considered to have been quite unusual and indicative of a curse, not a blessing; then Terah dies in a place called “Haran.”  I speculate that the place is so named after the son that had just died there; then some time elapses, and Terah dies in the same place where his son had just been immortalized.  Either way, the symbolism is rich: “Only the rebellious dwell in a parched land” (Psalm 68:6, part).  To delay when God says to move is to be rebellious; to die before one’s father is to not accomplish one’s destiny; for the place of death to be a dry and barren place is to have not been fruitful and to have not been multiplied.  Yet Abram, Terah’s seed, eventually obeys and accomplishes a plan that far transcends any plan his father could have imagined.  Likewise, our Father sent Christ to accomplish a plan, and “…like a root out of parched ground…” so He came forth without distinction (Isaiah 53:2, part).”  And Christ being likened as a root out of a parched ground was symbolic of life springing out of death; blessing/grace triumphing over curse/judgment.  But, “Who has believed our message (Isaiah 53:1, part)?”  In other words, who has believed that all this unimaginable salvation could arise from this one seedling breaking forth –obscure and alone under a deadly sun in a desolate waste land? 
When God first appears to us there can be no argument; it is only as we lose sight of this initial vision that we are in danger of perishing.  When He follows up with words rather than open vision it is now obligatory upon us to allow these words to unfold and bring light –and they only unfold as we obey them.  Only if we obey the word of God will our vision be increased; and actually, vision is diminished in direct proportion to disobedience of command.  It was after Abram obeyed and moved out from Haran into the middle of the land of Canaan –to ground zero of obedience to the word God –that God consequently appeared to him again.  Enlightenment is always in direct proportion to obedience, whereas deception is always in direct proportion to disobedience.  So, there at ground zero, God appears to Abram: at Shechem, and more specifically, at the oak of Morah.  Shechem means “back, upper back, or shoulder.”  Morah means “teacher, illustrious, the early rain, lord.”  Since we know that the government shall rest upon Christ’s shoulders, coupled with the knowledge that this location is at the center of the Promised Land, an interesting fact is suggested here: when lifting anything heavy, to center it across the shoulders and utilize the entire body to lift, is the simplest and most efficient way to do so.  Thus, through Abram, Christ stakes out His claim at the very heart of the Promised Land.  God always teaches from the inside out and affects from the inside out; here is the beginning of forming Christ within.  The further idea of it being located at an oak also implies our cooperation –an oak representing our natural strength –and Abram, it seems, had begun (early rain) to allow himself to be (taught) governed by the Lord on this day.  The Lord appears to Abram here and he builds an altar to commemorate it.  The heart of the matter has been secured and it is only a matter of time and spiritual application before all the land will be His.  Likewise, we Christians have become “…obedient from the heart to that form of teaching…” viz., that we have obeyed the call (His word) to center ourselves in Him and begin the journey of faith that originates with the salvation experience (Romans 6:17, partial).”     
Next, he comes to “…the oaks of Mamre which are in Hebron…” (Genesis 13:18, partial).  Mamre means “from seeing” and for Abram to have settled here suggests he is satisfied by what he has seen.  In other words, he has seen, believed and is at rest for having done so; as a result he is beginning to be in complete agreement with God as his understanding opens.  Interestingly enough, Hebron means “confederation” or “conjunction,” which is exactly what has occurred between God and himself.  It is also where David –in the future –would begin to reign once he became king and had left behind cave dwelling (darkness)!   Those that see consequently believe and those that believe consequently enter His rest; they are forever assured that God will do what He has said He will do.  This does not, however, mean that Abram is completely     matured along this line –there are lessons yet to be learned and a faith to be clarified further –far enough to eventually see Christ’s day; indeed, Christ said to the Jews of His day: “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad” (John 8:56).  Just as David began to reign from Hebron, but did not reach his zenith there, so Abram before him only gained Canaan by way of Hebron, but became possessor of heaven and earth once he moved past Hebron into wars, sojournings, covenants and a name change.  “The road to maturity of faith (Gen. 22:1-19; James 2:21-22) was always two steps forward and one back, a constant, testing demand in which the pressures of life –food (Gen. 12:10), family (Gen. 13:7), longings (Gen. 15:3; 16:1) and fears (Gen. 20:11) –all had their parts to play as those ‘trials of many kinds’ (James 1:2) which, if they are met with faith and perseverance, make us ‘mature and complete’ (James 1:3)(Gardner, p. 12).” 
Interestingly enough, however, is how alike we are with father Abraham.  Though Abram called upon the Lord, built another altar, went down to Egypt, had a run-in with Pharaoh, and eventually started having strife between his and Lot’s herdsmen, it was not until he separated from his nephew Lot that God again communicated to him.  This walk of faith demands action commensurate with the essential and primary command, and making this final break with Lot causes God to reiterate –and even expand –His initial word to Abram; God elaborates more fully now that Abram’s primary obedience has been accomplished.  The great nation he is to make of Abram, his great name and the extent of the blessing he is to secure is now being made manifest –consequently, his faith is being increased and matured.  After having wandered a bit off course, he is now smack dab in the middle of where God wants him –he is instructed to arise and walk about the entire land – to go see the fullness of what He is giving.  How expansive and unimaginable is our lot in Christ?  Indeed, it is as the psalmist says: our heritage is beautiful and the lines have fallen to us in pleasant places.  But who can number dust (measure our earthly heritage) or know the extent of what we have been given (even before we have attempted to count the stars and to measure our heavenly heritage)?
So often, we get saved, but wander about till we consummate our obedience by breaking all past ties with the influences that lead to distraction and sin.  When God allowed such increase that the land could no longer support both Abram and Lot, Abram deferred to his nephew and allowed him to choose the direction to separate towards.  And indeed, Christians ought always to be deferential, allowing others to choose the best, trusting that God alone is our best and never diminishing portion.  Lot, however, makes a choice based upon his natural eye; thus, after some period of time, he is in trouble and needs God to bail him out.  Of course, Abram is God’s friend, and as friends are wont to do, he goes to save Lot on God’s behalf.  Also, God is continually extricating Abram from more and more false alliances and false sentiments.  When Abram first learns about Lot having been captured he is living beside the “…oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner, and these were allies with Abram” (Genesis 14:13, partial).  When Abram gets the news about Lot it is interesting to note that he upped and pursued Lot’s captors with only those “born in his house” (Genesis 14:14, part).  Yet, these allies also went with him.  A clear distinction is made between those born in his household and his allies, however, and implicit in the definitions of the names of these allies yields some interesting facts.  Mamre means “from seeing” or “from the vision;” Amorite means “mountaineers” from “to say, to speak, to bring to light” and epitomizes one who will “boast self;” Eschol means “a cluster of grapes” or “flowers,” and was the valley visited by the spies of the Promised Land in Moses’ day –the cluster of grapes was so heavy it took two men carrying it upon their shoulders to move it; Aner means “exile” or “what is driven out” or “cast out.”  Once again, an oak represents natural strength; it is from this natural position of strength that seeing and vision originates for Mamre; articulation of exactly what Mamre’s nature has perceived is represented by the lofty Amorite and Eschol flourishes continually in this fashion; Aner is the evidence against them –mankind, having been driven from Eden is no longer right in anything they perceive as coming from themselves.  Abram, at the behest of the need to assist Lot, has been providentially driven further from his natural alliances.  All natural wisdom and fruitfulness is being uprooted in Abram; it ought to be the experience of every Christian as well.
After saving Lot and many inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abram encounters Melchizedek king of Salem; and –Oh! –What an encounter it is.  Perhaps the significance is somewhat veiled to Abram –but not entirely –based on his actions: “…he gave him a tenth of all” (Genesis 14:20, partial).  Indeed, “…Without father, without mother, without genealogy…he (Melchizedek) abides a priest perpetually” (Hebrews 7:3, parts).  Equating Jesus with Melchizedek is done here in the book of Hebrews and “…Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22, partial).  A perpetual anything requires the power of an endless life, and Melchizedek, “a priest of God Most High,” by bringing out bread and wine, symbolized and prefigured the bread and wine of   Christ (Genesis 14:18, partial).  The meat of the matter is this theophany of Christ; and Abram is now beginning to walk a greater walk.  After having tithed to Melchizedek, he refuses to be rewarded by the king of Sodom; he has sworn to God that he would not receive anything from this king.  How often do we miss God’s Hand by looking at the hands of men?  Allies can receive their share in this lifetime –and in means that are not altogether sinful –but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord and receive directly from Him.
“After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision, saying, ‘Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; your reward shall be great’” (Genesis 15: 1). Now fear being the opposite of faith, and the Lord’s admonition to Abram to not allow it, is becoming progressively more important to the end result of God’s plan through Abram.  The initial and general call of Abram at the beginning of chapter 12 in Genesis involved separation from family, ethnicity and country; a general blessing and cursing mandate and an affectation of all the families of the earth.  Then, in Genesis 13: 14-17, God reiterates and accentuates the earthly or natural aspect of His blessings to be bestowed upon Abram.  Then, Melchizedek decrees that God is possessor of both heaven and earth; this presages the heavenly side of Abram’s blessing.  Abram’s progeny is compared to the dust of the earth; Abraham’s progeny is compared to the stars in heaven.  Only after his name is changed to Abraham is his progeny –entirely wrapped up in his promised son Isaac –made comparable to the stars of heaven.  Actually, God first mentions stars to Abram after He rejects the idea of Eliezer of Damascus being the rightful heir.  No servant will inherit what is rightfully the son’s; but, first the natural, then the spiritual.  For Abram, counting stars requires a heavenly perspective and always points to God’s blessing through Isaac.  The fullness of God’s blessing and plan had begun in the dust of the earth and reached its zenith in the stars of heaven.  Even the dust of the earth is now sand upon the seashore where more and more dust is created at the water’s edge.  A transfiguring of name and impact is solidified; even the idea that “…his seed shall possess the gate of their enemies (Genesis 22:17, partial) suggests an inheritance of everywhere upon the face of the earth and in every corner of the heavens except within the very limited confines of his enemies’ hearts.
Before the name change and the birth of Isaac, however, a covenant was made between God and Abram (Genesis 15).  And just before that, Abram complained that he had no child; that according to custom, his heir would have to be a servant born in his house named Eliezer of Damascus.  God, of course, soundly rebuked that idea.  Eliezer means “god of help or aid” and Damascus is the oldest continuously occupied city in the world.  Its significance is poignant; it represents the fullness of man’s eye, the consummation of all that he can naturally perceive.  God’s creation magnified and made in the fullness of man’s image; inevitably imbued with pantheistic overtones.  To damask something is to cover it over with something superficial and without life; it is etchings on steel but not the steel itself.  Everything that our natural eyes view is delusional if our conclusion is based solely on that observation.  The spiritual realm cannot be ascertained without revelation; it is outside the material world and cannot be perceived without an interruption from the outside.  Unless God shows us, we are, and remain, blind.  In gematria, a numerical formulation assigned to letters based on the mathematical principles surrounding geometry, we find that Damascus equates to the interesting number 444.  Four (4) is the number of creation: the four directions of east, west, south and north; the four elements of earth, air, fire and water; the four kingdoms of mineral, vegetable, animal and spiritual.  The intensified meaning of 4 is best expressed in this triplicate form of 444.  Note God’s renunciation of Abram’s idea of Eliezer being the heir of His purposes and something of the meaning of a man from Damascus becomes clearer.  God needs no aid, no help in accomplishing His divine will. 
In fact, He will upend those who feign to help Him.  “Now Saul, still breathing threats and murder…as he journeyed…approaching Damascus… (Acts 9:1 and 3, parts)” ran right into an upending!  Believing his own eyes and all the training he had undergone led him to oppose Jesus Christ and His disciples, and God had to stop him before he sealed his fate forever in    Damascus.  Before this, the kingdom of Judah had a good king named Asa that became diseased in both his feet to the day he died yet the overall report of Asa was one of righteousness.  However, when he made an improper alliance with Syria –where Damascus is the capital city –he essentially punished himself by figuratively making streets for himself in Damascus.  Previous evil kings of Israel had made literal streets for themselves in Damascus –opening up trade and commerce with the enemy.  Asa’s name means “Physician” or “who will heal” and it is reported that he did not consult God about the disease in his feet, but rather looked to physicians.  Thus, God cursed the very symbol of his walk before Him; now even the very streets he had desired to walk upon were closed to him.  God does not need our trafficking to accomplish His work.  In fact, to lay down in terror and darkness is the best posture to hold before a terrible and mighty God that knows our feeble thoughts from afar anyways. Every word and action that originates from our bosom is rife with presumption; it remains for us to simply hear and obey if we are to make any progress in this way and walk of faith. 
After God finished saying to Abram that Eliezer of Damascus would not be his heir, He took him outside and asked him to count the stars. Once it became obvious that he could not even begin –let alone finish –such an overwhelming task, God incredibly declared to him that “So shall your descendants be” (Genesis 15:5, partial). Abram then did the unfathomable; he “…believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15: 6, partial).  It is at this juncture that God begins to explain to Abram, in detail, his destiny; after he believed, God explained!  Why is it that we reverse the process?  We want an explanation from start to finish before we execute even the preliminary steps required.  If seeing is believing, seeing better is believing better.   If a vision of His Hand moves us, a vision of His face will move us further.  Indeed, a deep sleep, terror and a great darkness fell on Abram just before God began to make a covenant with him and reveal his and his children’s destinies.  The smoking oven and a flaming torch that proceeded to pass between the pieces of a sacrifice Abram had prepared in obedience to God’s command –and even defended from birds of prey –was symbolic of the purging and enlightening aspects of the Holy Ghost and fire within the bosom of man.  Watchman Nee (pages 49-50) said it like this:
What passed through the pieces was not only a smoking furnace but also a burning lamp.  Before there is the smoking furnace, there must first be the cross, and before there is the burning lamp, there must also be the cross.  Hence, in order to have real light, one must first pass through death.  A person who has not passed through death may be very clever and knowledgeable; others may think that his words are very intelligent.  But such a person does not possess any piercing light.  The burning lamp, the genuine light, comes from the cross.  It comes from the act of passing through the pieces, that is, from passing through death.  No one can fulfill the ministry of God’s work based on his human wisdom or knowledge.  In order to fulfill such a ministry, one must have the experience of the cross before the Lord.  It is easy to preach the doctrine of the cross, but these verses show us that only those who know and experience the cross can stand for God.
Abram’s only action was in keeping the birds of prey away while he waited upon God to move between his pieces of flesh; when He did come, he ceased all activity and laid prostrate before the Lord in utter darkness and quietness.  Likewise, we ought to draw instruction here; we, like Abram, are to live humbling ourselves before the Lord, resisting the devil, and awaiting His empowerment.  “Terror and great darkness” (Genesis 15:12, partial) is the backdrop upon which God begins to paint a picture before Abram’s eyes; God reveals to him the fate of his progeny –that in the end it will be good for them –but they were to endure four hundred years of slavery and oppression first (400 being the number of trials and tribulation for a nation just as 40 is for an individual).  God further reveals to Abram how he will “be buried at a good old age” (Genesis 15:15, partial).  Then God tells Abram something quite interesting; that “in the fourth generation they (the children of Israel, Abram’s progeny) shall return here (the land of Promise, Canaan), for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete” (Genesis 15:16, partial, insertions mine).  Amorite, by definition, as previously mentioned was “boast self;” God promises to punish down to the third and fourth generation all those that hate Him.  To vaunt self is, indeed, the very act of hating God; the slavery and oppression that the Israelites were about to endure was designed to purge them of this tendency to vaunt self.  Their destiny was supposed to be contradistinctive to the Amorite’s destiny.  Israel was supposed to be a nation of priests –and priests are ministers to others –not themselves.  Priests are not to boast about their selves, but are to venerate only those they serve.  By failing in their priestly duties they also filled up the full measure of their sin; they taxed God’s divine patience, His incredible longsuffering, and forever sealed their fate by ultimately spurning the last vestiges of His grace.  God spoke in advance (prophesied) the destiny of the Amorite (and by inference –all those that never learn to humble themselves; their habit of pride eventually crystallizes their arrogant posture and they become forever solidified in sin and ultimately irredeemable); looking backwards, we see that many Israelites needlessly shared the same fate as these Amorites.  A vaunted self is a disfigured self, a misguided and misapplied expression; we are only to die to ourselves because we can only really be realized in Christ.  God has already condemned mankind in their native mold; expressions originating from the first Adam are thus condemned.  Christ in us is our only hope for glory (a proper expression of our inner self).  Those that remain unsaved –that do not become born again –are dead men walking; they are without God and without hope.  May you find Christ now! 
Having believed God thus far had brought Abram to higher and higher realms of credibility with himself and God.  He was not, however, fully matured yet; there remained an Ishmael to give birth to.  After ten (10) years in the land of Canaan, Abram, at his wife’s insistence, takes Hagar the Egyptian maid as his wife, and she bears him the infamous and antagonistic Ishmael.  Ten is the number of law and responsibility –a measure of duty without spirit or love –and clanging cymbals is the sound that such action evokes.  Though Ishmael was from Abram’s lions, it was not also from Sarai’s; since God considered them one flesh, and Sarai was the wife of his youth, God was under no obligation to bless Ishmael.  But God is both gracious and sagacious; he works His purposes within, and despite, mankind’s failures.  God contravenes Sarai’s egregious treatment of her pregnant maid Hagar by overriding her; she displaces Hagar with hate and jealousy but God restores her with lovingkindness and blessing.  God still required that she submit to Sarai’s authority, but not until He had met her, blessed her, and demonstrated His love to her.  God saw her affliction and gave her the grace to return to a home where she did not feel welcome; likewise, an encounter with God empowers us to endure people, places, and circumstances that we previously could not bear.  Because He is a God who sees, and He is a righteous God, there is no intractable situation or injustice unable to be changed.  We can be assured that all wrongs will be righted; we may very well have to endure hardship, however, before we realize right placement.  We may even not see it this side of heaven; but see it ultimately, we will.
Finally, after ninety nine years upon the earth, and after many experiences with God, the Lord appeared to Abram and said “Walk before Me, and be blameless;” Abram’s response was to fall on his face without provocation (Genesis 17: 1, partial).  Basically, the Lord again reiterates His covenant, yet changes both Abram’s and Sarai’s names to Abraham and Sarah respectively, and introduced circumcision as an everlasting covenant in flesh between God, Abraham, and every male in his household throughout all generations.  After this covenant of flesh he becomes Abraham: father of a multitude; Sarai, which means “my princess,” is now Sarah, which means the more universal term “princess.”  From a single father of a family line comes the universal father of all those who place their faith in God; likewise, a princess to one man and family is now the mother of kings and eventually the King of Kings.  “Now Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin…in the very same day, as God had said to him” (Genesis 17: 24 and 23 partial). How patient and tender is our God that He should wait for us and reach down to us where we are?  What mighty works He can do when we are rendered helpless, frail and powerless to circumvent His plans; and Abraham is beginning to fully understand this now.  At 99 he immediately prostrates himself when God shows up, and immediately obeys the command of circumcising himself and his entire male household.  When God said “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless” Abraham knew immediately that he could walk in this blameless way only because God was, indeed, Almighty (Genesis 17:1, partial).  Abraham’s relative strength had diminished enough to pose no more threat of spastic exertion; he had gained enough wisdom to know that even human strength by design is fruitless.  He could no more walk at all –let alone blameless –excepting God’s instruction and strength.  Abraham was as good as dead –not because he had no more strength (he was yet to live another 76 years) –but he had reached the end of trusting in himself or his mortality. 
He was no longer his own, and consequently, he was free to be one with another; God, therefore, befriended Abraham.  And since the nature of friendship is sharing, God shared with Abraham His concern over the sin and “exceedingly grave…outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah” (Genesis 18:20, parts).  God even allowed Abraham an audience; he negotiated with God concerning the fate of two large cities and their residents.  Indeed, Abraham wondered if God would destroy the righteous with the wicked, and just how many righteous within that city would prevent God from sweeping away all its inhabitants.  He asked the Lord if fifty righteous souls living within the confines of the cities would stay His Hand of destruction; the Lord replied that for fifty He would refrain from destroying the cities.  Five more times, incrementally lowering the required amount for righteous souls –till he had reached merely ten –Abraham asked God if He would destroy the cities.  Each time, God declared that He would not destroy the cities if the proposed amount of righteous souls were present within the cities.  Since Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed, it is obvious that ten righteous souls were never found.  Yet Abraham was God’s friend; and a friend of mine is a friend of yours, right?  Thus Abraham’s nephew Lot is God’s friend, family and declared righteous: it is who you know, not what you know that matters. Of course, the testimony of Scripture concerning Lot is one truly, “…oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men…day after day…” being tormented within his soul (2 Peter 2: 7 and 8, parts).  So, what constitutes a righteous soul?  Was Lot righteous by decree, relationship or behavior?
How pitiful is the portrayal of Lot?  Yet, how wonderful and marvelous is the saving strength of His right Hand?  Up from the depths of sin comes righteous Lot; destined to lose all his material wealth, his wife, his son-in-laws, and –after incestuous acts with his two remaining daughters –his dignity.  All hope is seemingly lost; he is now the progenitor of what appears to be an irredeemably polluted stream.  And, indeed, history will attest to the havoc his miscreant offspring created for the pure children of God.  Nevertheless, our God knows how to purify and redeem.  The offspring from his first daughter are the Moabites; the second, the Ammonites.  They represent carnal Christians: streams incestuously redirected inward and selfishly enjoyed only by their possessors.  God, however, is not ashamed to be called their God; yet, He judges them unto victory, making them smaller in the process.  Even the location of the incest, Zoar, means “smallness,” and seemed to presage the process of purification that was going to be needed to bring out vessels for His use.  Eventually, our gracious and sagacious God does the incredible work of bringing them back into the proper stream of life having unbent their once inverted and misaligned channels.  It is like the Preacher said, “Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices” (Ecclesiastes 7:29, emphasis mine).  The word “upright” here simply means “straight,” and it is the constant work of God to hammer out our bent and misaligned intent.  Ultimately, God always has His way; and Ruth, a Moabite and Rahab, an Ammonite are later included in our Lord’s genealogy.
How fraught is the way of faith with potholes of doubt and unbelief, indiscretion and general human frailty?  Even our giant in the faith, our beloved Abraham, is not immune to bouts of folly.  Moving about the land of Canaan, Abraham encounters Abimelech, king of Gerar.  Taking a page from his past, in fear that Abimelech will kill him for his beautiful wife, he claims Sarah is his sister. God graciously intervenes and visits Abimelech in a dream to circumvent his intent to lay with Sarah.  Though precipitated by Abraham’s foolishness alone, God defends Abraham in such a fashion as to cause the fate of Abimelech and his household to be in jeopardy excepting Abraham’s prayer for them.  According to Chambers, this is the first encounter of the house of Abraham with the Philistines which are destined to long plague the house of Israel.  Abimelech means “father king,” and Gerar means “sojourning” or “to turn aside;” Philistines are those who “roll in the dust,” and Palestine which means “the land of wanderers” is derived from the same root word.  Abraham and Abimelech are both fathers and wanderers, but one is rolled up in God while the other rolls about the earth; one has his head in the heavens while the other minds earthly things.  Indeed, Gerar further connotes “rumination,” but nothing comes of minding earthly things no matter how long one ruminates; salvation can never be mentally conjured up.  Rolling in the dust only keeps one dirty and unfit; prostration without repentance is useless.  Ultimately, as Chambers said regarding Abraham and Abimelech, “The believer in his weakness is exalted above the man of the world in his strength (p. 892).” 
So obvious was this favor upon Abraham that Abimelech desired to make a covenant with him.  After Ishmael, which means “he will hear God” is heard mocking the newly weaned child Isaac, he and his mother Hagar are sent packing –this time for good.  Just as Apostle Paul would later interpret Hagar/Ishmael to allegorically mean slavery and flesh and Sarah/Isaac to allegorically mean freedom and spirit in his letter to the Galatians, so we also see the same allegorical distinctions made between Abimelech and Abraham.  A formation of a covenant between these two symbolizes an everlasting peace that will only be realized when “…this mortal shall have put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15: 54, partial) and this natural body is replaced by a spiritual one.  “But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also” (Galatians 4:29).  In other words, until the consummation of our salvation is completed –the redemption of our bodies –a continual war wages in our members.  Now the covenant between Abraham and Abimelech happened at a location named Beersheba which means “well of the seven, or the oath.”  Abraham gave seven ewe lambs to Abimelech as a witness of the oath and of the fact that he had dug the well located there.  The whole word of God is founded on seven, and as sure as God’s word is, so is this oath founded on seven.  There can be much said about this number, but suffice to say here in this application, it seems to represent the earth crowned with heaven.  The divine mandate for a Sabbath rest is directed primarily to flesh and its persistent machinations, “…although His works were finished from the foundation of the world (Hebrews 4: 3, partial).”  As God no doubt oversaw Abraham while these negotiations were happening, Abimelech had Phicol, the commander of his army, to oversee him during the negotiations.  Phicol means “mouth of all” and represents the constant refrain of flesh; he oversees the best interests of flesh and speaks only for flesh.  Though the Philistines could clearly see the favor of God upon Abraham, it did not follow that they understood what they saw; with fear, jealousy and trepidation they entreated Abraham to note their kindness.  Yet what kindness had Abimelech shown?  His cordiality might very well have been induced by the dream that God gave him regarding Sarah.  To live and let live in the full expanse of the land might also have been based on his own indolence, lack of importunity or pressure from Abraham’s camp. Either way, Abimelech sees only enough to protect his own self-interest; his posterity is destined to be at constant odds with Abraham’s posterity.