Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.
- Abimelek: title like “Pharaoh”/likely not his ACTUAL name
- This happened before when Abraham went to Egypt. (Gen 12) He told the Pharaoh it was his sister because he was afraid of what they would do because of her beauty. It made sense, but we assumed it was a decision he made as he was going to Egypt. We are see some rationale in that because IN THE FACE OF ANGUISH IT’S HARD TO MAKE THE RIGHT DECISION.
- Here we are with the same decision being made but this time we are going to see a fuller picture of this decision. Seeing behind the proverbial curtain.
3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”
- It seems by the language that God did not come to Abimelek in a dark the very next day. In just a few verses we see that this nation was stricken with barrenness during this time. It takes a bit of time to realize someone is barren. That means this wasn’t a decision that effected these people for a day after Abraham made that mistake… it had some deep effects. This is important to realize because God DOES get involved but NOT right away.
- “God is into the long game,” I often say. At times God is willing to be patient and allow the results of our sins to be evident. He keeps us safe during this time (as we will see He did with Abimelek). Many times through Scripture we see the necessity for this shown, as otherwise man would just rationalize that the sin wasn’t that bad. In fact, this is a tiny picture of the larger picture. God is being patient with humanity and allowing their sin to come to full fruition before decimating the world. He will return and finalize judgement/end the sin but He is merciful and patient in allowing us to see the full extent of many our choices so that we can see their insufficiency/vileness.
4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”
- How many people in here think Abimelek is not a follower of God? Yet Scripture does not actually tell us one way or the other. The word “Lord” here is Adonai. It is found 456 times as “Lord,” 1 time as “lord,” and twice as “lords.’’ When I looked into the 456 times which was the form we saw here, every one that I looked at was someone who believed in God talking to Him. All of this to point out that we come to Scripture with some assumptions. As Christians we often read through these accounts the same way we approach life… If they aren’t a part of our story. If they aren’t a part of OUR CHURCH we should assume they aren’t saved, or are at least not as accurate as us. I want to make clear that we open this book with a litany of presuppositions, a library worth of assumptions and preconceived notions. If we could apply such a blanketed opinion of Abimelek without any proof either way why do you not think you could do the same to all the other passages? n fact, we see more proof that Abimelek is a follower of God. Not that we know he is, but the little bits of proof we see point to believing in God. His faithfulness that mirrors Abrahams. God spoke, and Abimelek listened.
- Now Abraham was called to be specially involved in God’s story- he was to be a part of the deliverers line. THAT is why we are honed in on Abraham in the beginning here. Not because he is the ONLY believer, but because the purpose of this book is to show God’s Character, Man’s Character, and God’s plan to marry the two, fixing man’s problem.
8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” 10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”
- Abimelek knows Abraham is a prophet. The logical conclusion is: You’re a prophet… you speak for the Lord… You knew the right thing… yet you put me in the way of judgement. Why would you do this to me? It is even deeper of a cut if we remember that this wasn’t a two day event… we aren’t told how long Abimelek was in this sin before he knew what was happening, but we are NOT told it was a day. What was Abraham’s response?
11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’
- Abraham demonstrates perfectly last week’s character that we looked at: He heard God speak and now he is sprinting at his own pace, in his own way, in the general direction he was told without any further input from God. He received the initial push from God and then assumes he can do the rest on his own. He would take care of the safety of his family on his own.
- So God told Abimelek that Abraham was a prophet, someone who spoke for God, signifying that he… spoke with God… and Abraham’s response was… I didn’t talk to God about this.
- That’s where the majority of our issues arise, look at that verse… I said to myself ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ Everything Abraham decided in his own mind without God was a lie. Abimelek DID fear God. His officials DID fear God. Abraham started making his own decisions and all of his observations were wrong.
- Man sprints out ahead and when we arrive where we are going we observe, evaluate, and respond all within ourselves. All within our flesh, logical discretion..and for some reason we assume it was a flaw in God’s plan. This is the problem with going off your own evaluation and understanding
We combine our doubt with our inclination to avoid asking God for more direction and come to our next flaw: Backup plans. If we keep reading we see Abraham’s backup plan.
12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, (Is that all God said? Just like Eve, Abram twists the story a bit)I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”
From the beginning… it wasn’t just Egypt when Abraham was faced with anguish. Abraham had setup this plan from the very beginning of his journey!! This faithful man left his home, changed his name, and he even circumcised himself and all the male dependants in his household… for me that’s the biggest act of faith… The whole time, from the very beginning of all of this Abraham setup a backup plan:
“Hey, I might have to save us with my logic. God may not keep us safe the whole time. God didn’t mention these issues of safety so here’s our plan.”
All in the vein of safety Abraham uses his own logic to direct his steps. Abram looked at his surroundings and logically deduced that there was a need for deception to facilitate comfort. Or in the very least half truths… which are deception. Instead of diving into the Arms of God and asking for guidance in the face of danger, Abram’s plan went from a back-up plan to a primary player in his safety protocol. We do this often with sharing the Gospel. We look around and determine within ourselves what these people want/need. Then in the vein of safety we avoid sharing the truth.
Even though… God is faithful… Let’s look at Hebrews 11
6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. 8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 11 By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore.
- Though Abraham was abundantly incorrect, consistently disobedient, his faith was what blessed him. Not his ability to be obedient, not his consistency, not his spiritual disciplines, not his attendance to church on Sunday, his faith brought him the royal connection that promised EL SHADDAI WOULD PROVIDE! Each new character of man that is displayed SHOULD negate the plan… Yet El Roi the God who sees, sees and knows that man has done this from the very onset: THE BACKUP PLAN, the disobedience. He is El Hane Eman, the faithful God, and will continue to fulfill all He has said regardless of man’s backup plan. IT DOESN’T MATTER WHO YOU ARE IT MATTERS WHO HE IS. Because He took away your identity. You were a slave, a sinner, a captive by the enemy which was all determined by your actions. He took all of those things and stamped His signet ring on it and said, “NO, they are no longer identified by what they have done, but by what Christ did.” Your eternal placement is no longer based upon you, it is based upon Christ through faith. God agreed to look past your iniquities and look at Jesus. You paid for your debt, you paid it through faith!!
14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.” 16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.” 17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, 18 for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.
Even though Abraham was worthless God used him to do incredible things. Don’t let the enemy shift your focus from Jesus to just us. God uses you because of who Jesus is not because of who you are. If you are looking at yourself for your worthiness or ability you will come up short. Praise the Lord we find both our worthiness and ability in God, because of Christ, through the Spirit.