Previous, see Genesis chapter 20: Abraham, living in a land not his own, fears for his life. “Lest they kill me for you,” Abraham said to his wife Sarah, “say you are my sister.”
Abimelech does take Sarah for himself but commits nothing immoral with her, since God has given him a warning in a dream. So even though Abimelech is not a believer, God protects him from sinning (and of course protects Sarah as well).
Giving Abraham many gifts, and returning Sarah to Abraham, Abimelech sends them away, saying, “Let this compensate you for any wrong I may have done to you,” (Genesis 20:16.) Note, though, that Abraham also did wrong. (Should he have lied and deceived to save his own skin?) Abraham prays to God on behalf of Abimelech; God restores Abimelech and his household.
Now (Genesis 21:22-34), Abimelech visits Abraham again. “It’s obvious God is with you,” he says to Abraham, “Helping you in everything you do. Will you promise me that you will never deceive me, or my descendants? Be loyal to me and this country where you are living as a stranger.”
After settling a complaint Abraham held against Abimelech about a well that Abraham had dug (Genesis 21:24), the two agree together. They settle their differences, agreeing at the well-named Beersheba, “well of the oath".
Abraham had lived for a long time a foreigner in the country of the Philistines. Yet to come: Abraham is about to face his ultimate test…
Fast forwarding now to the New Testament era, when God walked the earth in the person of Jesus, the Son. He, too, was a stranger in the world, even that which He created. (See John 1:10-11.) Even his own people rejected Him. (See Isaiah 53:3.) All who do accept Him, however, by God’s marvelous grace and love are born again into His family. (See John 1:12, 13; John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9.) God calls them to share with the world the wondrous story. (See Matthew 4:18-19; Acts 1:8; Isaiah 6:8-9.)
Peter is one of those disciples, called – with his brother Andrew – out of his livelihood to become “fishers of men,” (Matthew 4:19-20.) Though denying three times that he ever knew Jesus, he repents; Jesus restores him – three times – and predicts how he will die. (See John 21:15-19.)
And so, in the Bible book that bears his name, Peter admonishes and warns, “[We, too,] as ‘temporary residents and foreigners’ [in this world should] keep away from worldly desires … [And] be careful to live properly among [our] unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse [us] of doing wrong, they will see [our] honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world…” (1 Peter 2:11-12.)
And as Jesus has called the twelve, so He calls us as strangers in this world, “Follow me.” Answering the call, we can be assured that
He will lead us all the way;
He will teach us what to say.
(See Exodus 4:11-12.)
Fast-forwarding now to the 18/19th Century we meet Henry Martyn – “pioneer missionary to Muslims.” Previous: Born in Cornwall, England, in 1781. Graduated with top honors from Cambridge. Turned from God in his youth. But the death of his father, plus the influence of family, friends, and the writings of David Brainerd transformed him spiritually; and gave him a vision for Christ’s Kingdom work on earth.
Continuing: In his desire to glorify God, Martyn set out to practice self-denial. Also celibacy, seeing how the single life offered greater opportunities for “heavenly mindedness.” (See Colossians 3:1-4.) Later, however, he found himself distracted by affection for Lydia Grenfell, his cousin’s sister-in-law, six years older than him. But, convinced he can serve God most effectively unmarried (See 1 Corinthians 7:32.), he bids farewell to Lydia (though he will keep in touch by letters), and sails for India.
A deep confidence in Scripture, translating the New Testament is Martyn’s passion. But he is not unhindered by hostility (the evil one continually working to disrupt Christ’s Kingdom work on earth). Of such Martyn writes, “I wish a spirit of enquiry may be excited, but I lay not much stress upon clear arguments. The work of God is seldom wrought this way.”
Finally, frail in health he seeks rest and recuperation. At this time, he hopes to renew his relationship with Lydia. But before that can happen, he dies in Asia Minor, "a stranger in a strange land", in 1812. Upon his first arrival in India, Martyn had written, “Now let me burn out for God.”