Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to Genesis 22, where we see the climax of Abraham's experience with God. This chapter is the continuation of chapter twenty-one. These two chapters, giving the record of the birth and offering of Isaac, cover a period of at least twenty years. Some scholars believe that when Isaac was offered he was at least twenty years old. Thus, he was a full-grown man by then.
Everything recorded in these two chapters is very meaningful. As we pointed out in the last message, in 21:33, "Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God" (Heb.). This planting of the tamarisk tree was not an insignificant thing. Although Abraham must have done many things while he was living in Beer-sheba, the Bible only records that he contended for the well, bought it back at a cost, planted a tamarisk tree, and called on the name of the Lord, the Eternal God. If these were insignificant things, the biblical record, which is very economical, would not have included them as part of the divine revelation. The fact that the divine revelation excludes many other things but includes the record of the planting of a tamarisk tree shows its importance.
The center of the revelation in Genesis 2 is the tree of life. Likewise, the center of the revelation in the second part of Genesis 21 is the tamarisk tree. If we have the spiritual realization with the divine light, we shall see that the tamarisk tree here is the tree of life experienced and expressed. When the tree of life is not experienced or expressed by us, it is simply the tree of life. But once we experience and express it, it becomes a tamarisk tree. A tamarisk tree has slender branches and very fine leaves showing the flow of the riches of life. Thus, the tamarisk tree planted by the well of an oath in Beer-sheba pictures the flow of the riches of life, the issue of the experience of the tree of life. Is the tree of life a tamarisk tree in your experience? Whenever we come to the meetings, the tree of life must become a tamarisk tree.
With Ishmael there was not a tree flowing with the riches of life; there was a bow. While the sign of Ishmael's life was a life-killing bow, the sign of Isaac's life was a life-flowing tree. As a Christian, a child of God and a descendant of Abraham, what is your signa bow or a tamarisk tree? Are you killing life, or is life with all its riches flowing in you?
If the tree of life in Genesis 2 is important, then the tamarisk tree in Genesis 21 must also be important. Very few Christians, if any, have seen the importance of the tamarisk tree at Beer-sheba. Although some have paid a little attention to the tree of life, they have not paid attention to the tamarisk tree. In the past we did see the tree of life, but we did not see the tamarisk tree. Thank the Lord that in these days He has given us the vision of the tamarisk tree. One day, the inward stirring told me that I had to know the significance of the tamarisk tree in chapter twenty-one. Although this chapter does not waste a word, ignoring the other things that Abraham must have done, it specifically says that he planted a tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba. According to our opinion, the planting of a tamarisk tree may be insignificant, perhaps being only an ancient type of landscaping. But the Bible connects the planting of the tamarisk tree with calling on a new title of the Lord, the Eternal God. Notice how the conjunction "and" is used to connect these two items in 21:33. Abraham planted a tamarisk tree and there called on the name of Jehovah, El Olam. According to our human thought, planting a tree is unrelated to calling on the name of the Lord, especially to such a new and recently revealed title. But in the Bible here it gives us the ground for the proper calling on the Lord. If we would call on the name of the Lord, we need a tamarisk tree. If we do not have this tamarisk tree experience, we can only call on the old title of God, Jehovah, not on His newly unveiled title, El Olam.
In chapter twenty-one, Abraham called on a new title of GodEl Olam, the mysterious, hidden, secret, yet so real, living, and ever-existing God. This title of God implies the term eternal life, for the eternal God means the eternal life. Abraham experienced the eternal life, but he did not have this term. The people in ancient times ate vitamins, but they had no scientific knowledge of them nor scientific terms to describe them. Because we were born after the writing of the New Testament, we have the term eternal life. But Abraham, who lived in ancient times, did not have such a divine term. Nevertheless, when he called on the name of Jehovah, El Olam, it is implied that he experienced God as the ever-existing and ever-living life, as the One who is real and living, yet so mysterious and secret.
We need to consider our own experience. Whenever we have had the flow of the riches of the divine life, that was the time when we called on the name of the Lord Jesus with a new realization. We called on the same Lord, but in our calling we had a fresh sense. Do you think that if you held the life-killing bow in your hand you would be able to call on the Lord's name? No, rather you would go to find an Egyptian wife.
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