A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

December 27, 2019

A Tree, an Oath and The Everlasting God

     As I've explained before, I am once again beginning in Genesis and reading the Bible through to Revelation. Each time I take this journey, I glean more spiritual knowledge of my Creator and Savior. Words and verses jump out at me that I've never taken notice of before, and as I research the history and meanings behind these new treasures, I am always overwhelmed by the glory of God.
     So, this time I found a Biblical jewel in Genesis 21:33. It reads, Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and called there on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God. There is so much in this one verse that I'd like to share. First of all, let me set the scene ... Abraham is sojourning in the land of the Philistines, and there arises a quarrel over a well that King Abimelech's servants had seized from Abraham. When Abraham approaches the King about this slight, Abimelech tells Abraham, "God is with you in all that you do" and asks Abraham to swear that they will deal with each other from that day forward with honor and trustworthiness. The Bible records that Abraham gave the king sheep and oxen and set aside seven ewe lambs as a witness that it was he who had dug the disputed well. Then verses 31 and 32 say, Therefore that place was called Beersheba [well of the oath], because there both of them swore an oath. So they made a covenant at Beersheba. 
     Which leads us to verse 33 and the notice that Abraham plants a tamarisk tree. Something so notable is not by accident. He could have planted any number of trees or bushes. Why the tamarisk? Here's what my research showed:  It is an extremely slow-growing tree and has to be cared for in order to do well. To a Bedouin or a Jew, you don’t plant a tamarisk for yourself, you plant it for the generations to come. From this story of Abraham in Genesis, we get the idea that Abraham planted this tree to say, “for generations to come, my family is going to be here”. “This shade is for the generations to come, I’ll never get to use it.” Other significant facts about the tamarisk tree is that it sends its roots down deep and scatters huge numbers of seeds. So Abraham didn't plant the tamarisk tree for his own comfort or use, but rather he was planting the seed for generations to come -- as shelter and protection; not only for his generational line but for all who are of his spiritual seed.
     I want you to connect all the dots that are laid out before us in this verse. From the significance of the tamarisk tree, we see that the place where Abraham plants it also has some meaning. Beersheba, which means "well of the oath" was founded at the site where Abraham and Abimelech made their covenant.[mentioned in Genesis 21]. In biblical terms, a covenant is a mutual agreement confirmed by calling on the name of the Lord.
     But this isn't the only time that this important city appears in biblical history.  Jacob had his dream about a stairway to heaven after leaving Beersheba. (Genesis 28:10–15 and 46:1–7). Beersheba was the territory of the tribes of Simeon and Judah (Joshua 15:28 and 19:2). The sons of the prophet Samuel were judges in Beersheba (I Samuel 8:2). Saul, Israel's first king, built a fort there for his campaign against the Amalekites (I Samuel 14:48 and 15:2–9). The prophet Elijah took refuge in Beersheba when Jezebel ordered him killed (I Kings 19:3). The prophet Amos mentions the city in regard to idolatry (Amos 5:5 and 8:14). Following the Babylonian conquest and subsequent enslavement of many Israelites, the town was abandoned. After the Israelite slaves returned from captivity in Babylon, they resettled the town. According to the Hebrew Bible, Beersheba was the southernmost city of the territories settled by Israelites, hence the expression "from Dan to Beersheba" to describe the whole kingdom. The city has been destroyed and rebuilt many times over the centuries, and today is a thriving metropolis with a population of over 209,000.
     Now I want our dot-connecting to end at this final destination ... Abraham plants the tamarisk tree in Beersheba  and there calls on the name of the Lord, the Everlasting God.  First, we need to understand that in the Hebrew Bible "to call on the name" of someone indicates a dependency on, and an obedience to that person. You are, in essence, summoning aid from someone who is not only able, but willing, to respond. Here, in Genesis 21:33 Abraham is planting seeds [both physically and metaphorically] for generations to come as he declares an oath to the God whom He depends on; whom he obeys; and whom he trusts will respond. And he tells us that the name of that God is "the Everlasting God" ... El Olam.
     Now you are most likely familiar with the more common names of God: Adonai [Lord, Master]; Yahweh [Lord Jehovah]; El Elyon [the God Most High]; Jehovah Jireh [the God who provides]; Jehovah Rapha [the God who heals]; El Shaddai [the All-Sufficient One]. So, now I would like to introduce you to El Olam [the Everlasting God]. The Hebrew word olam, means "eternity, in the sense of not being limited to the present". But it also means "for ever and ever" or from the most distant past time to the most distant future time. At the heart of El Olam is His continuity, His definiteness, and His unchangeability.
     We get that sense of Him when we consider His pronouncements of an everlasting covenant -- one which is not separated into Old and New, but a covenant with His creation that is represented by that tamarisk tree -- seeds are planted that will benefit generations to come -- where by mutual agreement [through our faith and His promises] we Believers can count on His presence being secured to us every moment of every day. It is continual, definite [undeniable and certain], and unchangeable [permanent, enduring, abiding, lasting, indestructible, irreversible].  He is El Olam and we can trust in Him forever! 

Genesis 17:7   I will confirm My covenant with you and your descendants after you, from generation to generation. This is the everlasting covenant: I will always be your God and the God of your descendants after you.

Luke 1:55   Keeping his promises to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

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