Sermon: “Living as Sojourners” (Genesis 21:22–34)
Abraham has seen God work in powerful ways over the course of his life. God has spoken to him, made special promises to him, appeared to him, empowered him to overthrow great warriors, established a covenant with him, given him the covenant sign of circumcision, revealed to him his secret decrees, permitted him to intercede on behalf of Sodom, and given him a son in his old age. Through these events, we have seen the ups and the downs in Abraham’s life, as he sometimes walks by faith and other times does not. With every remarkable step, God has led him into a deeper relationship with himself.
What, though, has God accomplished during the ordinary times? We have previously noted that the extraordinary events do not all take place one after another. Sometimes many years pass before God reveals anything new to Abraham. As in the life of Jesus, the Scriptures simply do not tell us what happened during certain long periods of time. The text certainly suggests that Abraham (and Jesus) faithfully discharged their vocations (that is, their callings) during that time, whether as a husband, a father, and a rancher (Abraham), or as a son, a brother, and a carpenter (Jesus). Nevertheless, we typically do not get to see their ordinary faithfulness recorded for us in the text of Scripture until we arrive at Genesis 21:22–34. In this passage, we see one of the most mundane, ordinary interactions that we have encountered from the life of Abraham so far. Nevertheless, from this event we see that God is at work in a routine treaty negotiation just as much as he is at work in establishing covenants or overthrowing wicked cities. Even in the most ordinary circumstances of our lives, God sanctifies us through our vocations.