Last week I talked about God asking Abram (later named Abraham) to leave behind his country, community/family and his father’s household. He went, without any explanation. When he finally arrived, he eventually received a promise. His descendants would inherit the land he had come to and he would be a father. After 24 years he did become a father, but he did not live to see his descendants actually possess the land.
It encourages me that he is listed in the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews 11. How did he wait for the promise? It seems like a long wait with little to keep him going. How did he wait? How can we wait?
I find three more things that must have been a constant reminder for him. A tamarisk tree, a knife and a cave in a field. I imagine these encouraging him as he passed by them. What might they suggest as encouragers for us?
A tamarisk tree
God had called Abraham to country belonging to the Philistines and promised his descendants would later inherit the land. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in that land and continued to live there. In Philistine territory, a people who would be enemies of Israel.
32 After the treaty had been made at Beersheba, Abimelech and Phicol the commander of his forces returned to the land of the Philistines. 33 Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba, and there he called upon the name of the LORD, the Eternal God. 34 And Abraham stayed in the land of the Philistines for a long time. Genesis 21:32-34 (NIV)
What is the significance of the tamarisk tree? A tamarisk tree is a slow-growing tree. He did not plant it for shade, food or medicinal purposes for himself. He planted it for his descendants. Like staking his claim by confidence in what God said.
Imagine Abraham walking past that tamarisk tree and smiling to himself as he remembered, “This is my land. Philistines will not possess it much longer.”
What tamarisk tree can we plant, so to speak?
God’s own words to us. His words last even longer than a tamarisk tree.
8 The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 40:8 (NIV)
Abraham likely walked past that tree and saw it growing. We can write out the specific promises God gives us and read them aloud daily; our confidence in those promises will grow as surely as the tree grew.
God tested Abraham’s willingness to obey Him by asking him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac in Genesis 22. As he was about to plunge the knife into Isaac, the angel stopped him.
10 Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. 11 But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. 12 “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” 13 Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. Genesis 22:10-13 (NIV)
Imagine Abraham later using that knife for his daily work. What reminders would it trigger for him? What “knife” do we have as a reminder?
This story is a picture of God sacrificing His only Son on the cross to pay the price to rescue us from bondage to sin, sickness, poverty, and the devil’s oppression. When we take communion, we are often encouraged to first ask God to forgive us for any sin. While that is appropriate, it is an incomplete experience. God intended that we celebrate communion as a reminder of what was accomplished for us, just as the Passover celebration reminded Israel of their deliverance from Egypt. Communion is my knife, reminding me of all that God provided and provides for me.
A cave in a field
When Sarah died, Abraham negotiated with the owners of a cave in the field of Machpelah.
19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Genesis 23:19 (NIV)
Why this particular cave? I have no idea, but I find it interesting that the name Machpelah means “double.”
What did Abraham know that might encourage us? In Genesis chapters 12 through 22, there are 48 promises to Abraham! In Genesis 22:17 the phrase “in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply you” indicates doubling in Hebrew culture.
17 In blessing I will bless you and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants like the stars of the heavens and like the sand on the seashore. And your Seed (Heir) will possess the gate of His enemies, Genesis 22:17 (AMP)
What can we use to remind us of “double” blessings?
Perhaps you’re thinking, “Is this for real?” It certainly is!
Moses laid out the blessings and curses for the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 28. The blessings of the first 14 verses overtake those who heed the voice of God. Overtake! Blessings of influence and honor, blessings on our children, blessings on us where we live, blessings on what we do or produce, blessings on finances, and victory to name a few. I can’t outrun something that is overtaking me.
2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you if you heed the voice of the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 28:2 (AMP)
I love the verse in Isaiah that promises God gives double honor where we have lived under shame and dishonor. Double honor and double prosperity plus joy.
7 Instead of shame and dishonor, you will enjoy a double share of honor. You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours. Isaiah 61:7 (NLT2)
As you think of these three reminders Abraham had and ponder my applications of them, what applications do you see? Please add to our list of reminders in the comments so we encourage one another.
Carol Boggess, author and speaker at A Healing Journey
Carol Boggess © 2021
Rivers – A Journey of Restoration From Broken to Breakthrough and God Sees Broken Hearts
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