I wonder how many of us carry a photo of a loved one in our wallet. I have a tiny photo of my three grandchildren in mine. Is that to help me know what they look like, in case I’m picking them up from school? Of course not! It’s there so that every time I open my wallet, I remember why there’s so little in it….just joking! Every time I open my wallet and see my three grandchildren, it gives me a lovely warm feeling as I remember how blessed I am to have them. I don’t really need reminding, but it’s good anyway.
Abraham had insisted that Abimelech should have seven ewe lambs to help him remember that the well belonged to Abraham, and also that they had made a treaty. Now it was Abraham’s turn to have a reminder. Not of the treaty with Abimelech, but of the covenant God had made with him all those years ago.
Now he had his promised son, Isaac, Abraham must have known that God had kept up his end of the deal. It was time to knuckle down and fully acknowledge and trust God as his God, for himself and his whole family. So he planted a tamarisk tree. Apparently it’s a tree that lives a long time, survives well in times of drought, and provides a sort of natural air-conditioning, because of how it uses salt to collect and release moisture. Thinking about it, those are the sorts of people we need around us – those who are in for the long haul, who cope in difficult times, and provide a refreshing atmosphere to those around them. Anyway, it seems that Abraham used the tree as a visual reminder of the wonderful God who had reached down to him, chosen him, made an amazing promise to him, and had begun to fulfil it. All Abraham needed to do was worship this Eternal God. This he did; and the stage is set for the toughest test of faith, probably in the whole of the bible.
If it’s helpful for me to keep a photo of my grandchildren close by me, maybe it would also be helpful to have my own ‘tamarisk tree’ – something that will constantly remind me of the God who has set his heart on me, and has given and promised me so much. And all he asks is that I worship him.