Then Abimelech said, “Look over my land and choose any place where you would like to live.”. . . About this time, Abimelech came with Phicol, his army commander, to visit Abraham. “God is obviously with you, helping you in everything you do,” Abimelech said. “Swear to me in God’s name that you will never deceive me, my children, or any of my descendants. I have been loyal to you, so now swear that you will be loyal to me and to this country where you are living as a foreigner.” Abraham replied, “Yes, I swear to it!”—Genesis 20:15; 21:22-24, NLT
In his precarious state as a wandering foreigner, Abraham had a sinful tendency to lie about his marital status. Just as he had lied to the king of Egypt (Genesis 12:10-20), he tried to deceive Abimelec, alleging that Sarah was not his wife (Genesis 20). Abraham developed a reputaion for falsehood, in spite of the favor of God that remained on him.
As a consequence of God’s favor, King Abimelek and his Secretary of Defense gave Abraham a visa to live in their territorio. Nevertheless, to gain all of the rights to property that the natives had, Abraham had to “pledge allegiance to the flag,” promising to break his lying habit and adopt a position of loyalty to his new country and its government. After swearing his oath, he could procure rights to the vitally important water wells he had dug in that land.
Millions of undocumented immigrants in today’s world find themselves in situations similar to that of Abraham. They have made false declarations and suffer damaged reputations among the native citizens of the new home. In addition, they do not enjoy the rights and security that legality confers, and the fruits of their labor remain at risk.
As we see in the life of Abraham, the favor of God can change everything. We never have any guarantees when we stand before a human tribunal. Sometimes the favor of God can result in the visa that we long to have, but not even Abraham could always avoid deportation. God’s favor, however, guaranteed that no matter where he went, God would go with him and prosper him.
God is not far away and is not hard to find. Seek God before you need toñ do it early and often. May God soon give you, as in the case of Abraham, the opportunity to swear your loyalty to a new country and receive the full benefits of permanence, property, and protection that you have sought.
Copyright©2013 by Joseph L. Castleberry.
Dr. Joseph Castleberry is President of Northwest University in Kirkland Washington. He is the author of Your Deepest Dream: Discovering God’s Vision for Your Life and The Kingdom Net: Learning to Network Like Jesus. Follow him on Twitter at @DrCastleberry and at http://www.facebook.com/Joseph.Castleberry.