Above and Beyond

 

To forgive someone is a beautiful thing.We understand the love God has for us when we ourselves forgive someone who has wronged us.Itís a gesture which frees us.Some people though donít understand how forgiveness works (for a clearer picture of forgiveness, please read The Yoke of Unforgiveness located in Volume 1).Some people have a tough time receiving the fact youíve forgiven them.Havenít you ever experienced this?You forgive someone and then, later on, when you meet up with the person, they look at you confused like theyíre asking themselves the question ďhas this person really forgiven me?ĒI think we have all experienced this to one degree or another.It is my purpose in this interpretation to examine how we can fully help people understand and receive the fact that we have indeed forgiven them.There is one example I would like to take a look at in the scriptures.†††

 

In the book of Genesis Abraham was a stranger in the land of Gerar and was afraid for his life.The was because his wife Sarah was beautiful and Abraham was sure that one day he would be killed for her sake.

 

Genesis 20:13

 

And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.

Abraham was a stranger in a foreign land.This left him subject unto other magistrateís authority.He knew that because his wife was beautiful that some jealous king or powerful landowner might take advantage of his vulnerable situation.For this reason he asked his wife to tell anyone who asked that he was her brother.

 

Abimelech, the King of Gerar, noticed Sarahís beauty and asked the two of them regarding their situation.Sarah and Abraham told Abimelech that they were brother and sister (Genesis 20:5); as a result, Abimelech took Sarah into his house.God saw what happened and warned Abimelech in a dream to return Sarah to Abraham because she was indeed his wife.Abimelech feared God and did this.After this exchange Abimelech understood that the Lord was indeed with Abraham and feared the situation.The witness had been created.In fact, this witness was so established in Abimelechís heart that he later came to Abraham and asked Abraham to make a peace covenant with him because he feared Abrahamís God and knew that God was with him in all that he did.

 

Genesis 21:22-24

 

And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.And Abraham said, I will swear.

 

Abimelech was no dummy.He could read between the lines.He saw that Abraham prospered in all that he did and he wanted to make a peace covenant with him so that he could prosper also.This shows that Abimelech, to some extent, also feared Abraham because the God he feared was backing Abraham.Notice what happened right after Abimelech showed interest in wanting to make a peace covenant with Abraham.

 

Genesis 21:25


And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away.

 

This was a rebuke.This is interesting because this rebuke comes right after Abraham has sworn to keep the peace with Abimelech.This must have been an awkward moment for Abimelech.Here Abimelech was trying to make a strong peace bond with Abraham and then all the sudden Abraham rebukes him, notice Abimelechís response.

 

Genesis 21:26

 

 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing; neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.

 

Abimelech was blameless; he didnít know anything about it.Abimelechís servants wronged Abraham without ever telling Abimelech.But since they were Abimelechís servants, he was directly responsible.Now Abimelech, who is already afraid of Abraham, stands in jeopardy of losing the peace covenant he is seeking.I am sure Abimelech was a bit concerned at this point.But take a look at the next verse.

 

Genesis 21:27

 

And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.

 

Abraham first begins by continuing the peace process of the covenant they will share together.He does this by offering Abimelech sheep and oxen to signify that the convent will be sure.Abraham initiating this process was most likely a relief for Abimelech who at this point didnít know how Abraham was going to react.This gesture by Abraham brought peace to the situation.Abraham then goes a bit furtherÖ

 

Genesis 21:28-30

 

And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.

 

Abraham is giving Abimelech seven ewe lambs.This is an interesting gesture.A lot of people would think Abraham did this to cover his hide due to his accusation.I believe this to an extent.Abraham did accuse Abimelech of wrongdoing, and for this reason might have given him the seven ewe lambs as a symbol that he indeed dug this well and that he was now going to retake possession of it.But I also believe this act has greater prophetic significance toward the Church.Abimelech feared Abraham.Abraham knew this.Abraham felt obligated to rebuke Abimelech because his well was stolen, but he also felt obligated to bring further peace to the situation.Ask yourself a question?What kind of peace covenant could there have been if Abimelech had left Abraham wondering in the back of his mind ďMan, I wonder if the man of God has really forgiven me for stealing his well???Maybe he will require something later???Wow, what should I do???ĒThis is not peace.These probing questions would create torment and would actually become a curse.Abraham fully understood this situation.Because of this, he separately chooses out seven ewe lambs.Even Abimelech himself didnít understand the significance of the seven ewe lambs.Abraham told Abimelech they were for a witness.They were a witness unto Abraham that he had indeed dug the well, but prophetically the ewe lambs were also a projecting witness unto Abimelech that he had indeed been forgiven.

 

Letís take a look at Paul the Apostle.Paul the Apostle was a witness unto the truth of the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 9:15, 22:15) but then he became The Lordís witness unto the people that they were indeed forgiven.The seven ewe lambs were Abrahamís witness unto the truth that he had indeed dug the well but then they became Abrahamís witness unto Abimelech that he had indeed been forgiven.Itís the same thing.Paul became Jesus Christís witness for the people and the seven ewe lambs became Abrahamís witness for Abimelech.I want to clarify that I am not using this example for any other reason but to demonstrate that the seven ewe lambs were not simply for Abrahamís sake.This is like saying that Paul the Apostle was Jesusí witness simply for Jesusí sake.By faith I believe that the ewe lambs symbolized justification and forgiveness; justification because Abraham had indeed dug the well, and forgiveness because the ewe lambs were offered freely as a peace offering in order to promote peace and forgiveness.It is easy to assume that Abraham used these seven ewe lambs simply to clear himself because of the accusation, but I wanted to prophetically demonstrate toward the Church that there is a deeper interpretation and meaning here.

 

Below is the rest of the exchange between Abraham and Abimelech regarding the peace covenant.††††††††††††††

 

Genesis 21:31-32†††††††

 

Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them.Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.

 

Because Abraham went above and beyond his duty to forgive I believe Abimelech walked away edified that day.I am sure as Abimelech walked away and saw those seven ewe lambs by his side that his mind was put to rest and he had no doubt that Abraham had indeed forgiven him.Perhaps, even months later, when his mind began to doubt, he might simply look out his bedroom window and see those seven ewe lambs grazing and this sight would put to rest any fear or doubts if the man of God had truly forgiven him.He would know by the witness of the lambs that he was indeed forgiven, and he would praise God for the man who went above and beyond the call of duty to forgive.

 

How about you???What do you think???Is there anything above and beyond you can do for the people around you to show them they are indeed forgiven.Yes, itís possibly true that you have told them that you forgive them, but whereís the witness?Abimelech lived far away so Abraham sent him away with his witness trotting next to him, but is this the case with you?What can you do (witness) for the person in your life to offer them permanent peace that you have indeed forgiven them?Can you buy them a simple card?Can you drive them to the store?Can you ask them if they need help with anything?Will you suffer for them so they can clearly see that you have not only forgiven them, but have shown yourself to be lower than them in the situation, not higher.The first impulse from someone who has been forgiven is that now they feel they owe you something.Show them they donít.Do something to show them that spirit isnít in you.Give gifts, give of yourself.Put yourself under them by circumstances or situations.Put their minds at rest by clearly showing them you hold no grudge or authority over them because of the past.Show them this by your actions.Donít have any spiritual pride over these people; show them you have forgiven them fully by humbling yourself under them, even if this means you have to go out of your way to do so.Go above and beyond the call of duty to forgive.

 

Matthew 5:9

 

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

 

 

For a reference to the complete text of this interpretation please refer to the book of Genesis chapters 20, 21.