Summary: Life is more than just what we get (even more than just getting heaven). There is a place in our lives to do for others -- even others whom we will never meet in future generations.
1. Base Camp
When people are climbing Mount Everest, there are at least 4 camps that people stop at on the way up. They have to stop because of the physical limitations of their bodies. They need time to rest. They need time to acclimatize to the atmosphere. They need time to be prepared to move up another leg of the mountain. People were not designed to go from an altitude of 0 to 29,000 feet overnight. In the same way, God knows our limitations. He is not looking for us to reach the summit overnight, though He is looking for us to journey with Him all the way to the summit.
2. Abraham had a time of rest in his journey through the desert – Genesis 21.22-34
3. Context of Honest dealings between Abraham and Abimilech
I. Passing Through the Land (v. 34)
A. Abraham was in Philistia Temporarily
1. “Many Days” – Unspecified; not “all” days
2. A short time
B. Abraham’s Time in Philistia was Potentially Tragic
2. The Covenant with Abimelech – vv. 25-32, especially v. 27
a. Abraham’s first blood-path covenant – Genesis 15.1-21
b. The basis for him to keep going – God would make the covenant sure
David Livingstone was a talented doctor, missionary, and adventurous explorer. He was also a very sickly man. When he went into Africa as a missionary in the 19th century he took a goat with him so that he would have access to the goat’s milk for health reasons.
His desire was to reach the natives with the gospel of Jesus Christ. To do that, he would have to overcome incredible barriers: differences in race, culture, and language. Few of the people trusted him. The task looked impossible.
Then, one day a tribesman gave him some advice that provided the breakthrough he needed. He said, “You need to cut a covenant.” The man went on to explain that when two parties, even warring parties cut a covenant, they immediately become involved in a cooperative relationship. Everything that one party possesses belongs to the other. A covenant was serious and was binding until death.
Livingstone got excited about the possibility of progress in his mission work. However, as he was preparing to cut the covenant with the tribe he realized that he would have to give up his goat. It would belong to the tribe and without access to the goat’s milk, he would die.
It was a difficult decision but he decided to follow through with it, even if it meant slow death for him. He believed that it might be the best opportunity for Africans of that generation to hear the gospel and become Christians.
This was, however a wise decision. In the days that followed, Livingstone began to understand how powerful the covenant partnership could be. Not only did he live, he had access to everything in the tribe, including his goat. Both parties shared everything. He even found out that his covenant with one tribe gave him access to other tribes as well. He was no longer an outsider, he was part of a huge family of tribes all linked together by covenants.
C. We Are Temporarily in Our Land
1. Unspecified amount of time –
a. “Vapor/Mist” – James 4.14
b. “Few and Troubled” – Job 14.4
2. Dangerous – 18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. John 15.18-19
3. Rely on a blood covenant with God through Yeshua (Jesus) – 20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. Luke 22.20
4. It is easier to deal with difficulty if we prepare in advance
a. Job called on God in trouble – 20 Then Job arose, and rent his robe, and shaved his head, and fell upon the ground, and worshiped. 21 And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return; the LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” 22 In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. Job 1.20-22
b. Because he had spent time in preparation – There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God, and turned away from evil.// And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.// 8 And the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Job 1.1, 5, 8