1 Genesis 20 (2011) Yu may remember a statement I made at the beginning f ur study cncerning the stry f Abraham I said that Abraham didn t begin his walk with the Lrd as Abraham, the father f faith N, he began as Abram, the idl wrshipper in Ur But ver time Gd made him int Abraham Likewise, I ffered the cnclusin that we dn t begin as Abrahams either We were all called int faith just as we were, pagans like Abram, prne t sin and failing t trust in Gd But Gd began a wrk in us t mve us frward int a life f faith and bedience S that we might ultimately becme Abrahams Over the last fur lessns, we saw Abraham displaying sme strengths He has shwn great hspitality t the Lrd He made intercessin t the Lrd n behalf f his nephew And as we left him in chapter 19, he was watching the cities f Sdm and Gmrrah burn, prbably unaware that Lt had been saved But Abraham still has sme ld habits left ver frm his days as Abram He still struggles t trust in the Lrd and ften reverts t ld patterns f sin And nw Mses shws us that Abraham is still wrking thrugh struggles and still has grwing t d Gen. 20:1 Nw Abraham jurneyed frm there tward the land f the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sjurned in Gerar. Gen. 20:2 Abraham said f Sarah his wife, She is my sister. S Abimelech king f Gerar sent and tk Sarah Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
2 Genesis 20 2 Haven t we seen this befre? Abraham making Sarah claim t be his sister Abraham had been staying near the Oaks f Hebrn, abut 18 miles suth, suthwest f Jerusalem Nw he decides it s time t mve again and he ges suthwest t the Negev He settles in Gerar, the valley regin between Kadesh Barnea n the east and Shur n the west This is apprximately near the brk f Egypt n the suthern brder f Israel with Egypt Remember the last time Abraham placed himself n the brder f Egypt? When the famine struck, it became that much easier fr him t step ver the brder and run t Egypt, smething Gd did nt ask It seems anytime Abraham mves physically near t Egypt, it becmes an pprtunity fr him t revert t living like the wrld Just as with the last time Abraham mved near Egypt, Abraham begins t feel threatened and resrts t an ld trick t prtect himself Abraham tells everyne that his wife is actually his sister Yu might think that after the last time he wuld have learned his lessn His wife was abducted s she culd marry Pharah I can t imagine the I tld yu s lks he was getting frm Sarah this time arund Yet she remains a stunning example f bedience even as she knws her husband is acting stupidly again She clearly trusts in Gd t prtect her despite her husband s errrs And she knws that her best curse f actin is always bedience t the Lrd s directin fr her, even if it means enduring these situatins multiple times 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
3 Genesis 20 3 Predictably, the king f Gerar tales an interest in Sarah, just as the Pharah had in the previus incident The king is called Abimelech, which is nt a name but a title All kings f Gerar use this same title, just as all kings f Egypt were Pharah and all emperrs f Rme were called Caesar Abraham s scheme has resulted in the same terrible utcme fr Sarah The pssibility that Sarah might becme anther man s wife and cnceive a child by that ther man wuld be devastating fr Gd s plan He has prmised that Abraham s child f prmise wuld cme specifically frm Sarah This child is part f the line that will prduce the natin f Israel and ultimately the Messiah But the stakes are even higher this time Last time this happened we knew that Sarah was appinted t give birth t the child f prmise, the seed child But the date f that arrival was still in questin This time we knw that the child will be brn in the next year It s a critical time in Abraham and Sarah s stry If Sarah is allwed t becme a wife f Abimelech, hw will anyne knw fr certain the father f the child? This incident culd derail Gd s entire plan fr the seed line But Gd will nt permit the sin f Abraham t interrupt His plan Gen. 20:3 But Gd came t Abimelech in a dream f the night, and said t him, Behld, yu are a dead man because f the wman whm yu have taken, fr she is married. Gen. 20:4 Nw Abimelech had nt cme near her; and he said, Lrd, will Yu slay a natin, even thugh blameless? Gen. 20:5 Did he nt himself say t me, She is my sister? And she herself said, He is my brther. In the integrity f my heart and the inncence f my hands I have dne this Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
4 Genesis 20 4 This passage pens with ne f my favrite lines in the Bible Gd calls Abimelech a dead man because he has taken Sarah as his wife Calling him a dead man is a phrase taken right ut f ur mdern vernacular Gd means this phrase is tw ways First, Gd is using t mean smething like I prmise I am ging t kill yu...yu are as gd as dead Secndly, He means that Abimelech is dead already in anther sense Gd has taken away the ability t prduce children frm all in Abimelech s husehld His bdy is dead in the same way that Sarah cnsidered her bdy t be dead and unable t bear children S irnically as Gd was preparing t bring life back t Sarah s bdy, He brings reprductive death t Abimelech s bdy And Gd tells Abimelech clearly in a dream that the cause f this punishment is his taking f Sarah as a wife The ptential fr Abimelech t cmprmise Gd s plan fr Abraham and Sarah was t great, s Gd prevents the cnsummatin And then He ges a step further and tells Abimelech he must act t crrect the prblem Abimelech respnds by defending his actins and challenges the Lrd t act fairly He says he acted in gd faith Abraham tld me she was his sister, nt his wife S shuld he be held guilty fr ding this thing? He asks if his inncent mistake shuld be reasn fr Gd t destry a natin 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
5 Genesis 20 5 If the king s family died r culdn t prduce ffspring, it wuld result in a challenge t the thrne, and a ptentially destructive pwer struggle Ntice the similarities in Abimelech s appeal t Abraham s prayer in chapter 18? Gd is annuncing His intent t judge sin and Abimelech seeks mercy fr an inncent And like befre, Gd says Abraham must pray befre Abimelech will receive Gd s mercy In the same way Gd invited Abraham t pray fr Lt And there are als similarities t the previus situatin in Egypt Gd struck Pharah s husehld with a plague until Sarah was released Again, Gd strikes Abimelech s husehld S it seems Gd is at wrk here in at least tw ways First, He wants t prtect Sarah and the child f prmise Secndly, he wants t teach Abraham yet anther lessn And hw des Gd grw us in understanding and maturity in ur walk with Him? By revealing Himself t us thrugh His wrd and then inviting us t jin Him in His wrk And when we make mistakes like Abraham has made here, Gd is gd t shw us the cnsequences f ur mistakes And then in mercy, Gd will gives us the pprtunity t reach ut t Him in prayer and get back n track in fllwing Him Gd then respnds in a rather remarkable way 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
6 Genesis 20 6 Gen. 20:6 Then Gd said t him in the dream, Yes, I knw that in the integrity f yur heart yu have dne this, and I als kept yu frm sinning against Me; therefre I did nt let yu tuch her. Gen. 20:7 Nw therefre, restre the man s wife, fr he is a prphet, and he will pray fr yu and yu will live. But if yu d nt restre her, knw that yu shall surely die, yu and all wh are yurs. Gd s acknwledges that Abimelech is inncent f wrngding Furthermre, Gd says He has been at wrk already preventing Abimelech frm tuching Sarah Gd making clear hw imprtant it was that the seed child be prtected frm paternity disputes But then Gd presents a slutin t Abimelech First, he directs that Abimelech restre Abraham s wife Secndly, Gd prmises that after he restres Sarah t Abraham, then Abraham will pray fr Abimelech and he will live But if Abimelech refuses t fllw Gd s instructins, then Gd will carry ut the judgment He has prnunced The mre we think abut this slutin, the mre interesting it gets First, why did Gd give Abimelech this dream? Why didn t Gd just act like he did in Egypt and strike the natin with a plague? He seems t g ut f His way t give Abimelech a warning and a chance t avid the punishment I think the answer is that Abimelech was an upright man, and unlike Egypt and Pharah he wuldn t have killed Abraham ver Sarah He simply saw an pprtunity t take a beautiful wman as a wife Had Abraham tld the truth abut Sarah, it seems Abimelech wuld have let them alne S the Lrd is again shwing that He deals fairly 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
7 Genesis 20 7 Secndly, Gd says He didn t let Abimelech sin against Sarah Yet Gd still brings this judgment Why didn t He just tell Abimelech t let Sarah g and be dne with it? Instead, he tells Abimelech that Abraham must first pray fr t heal Abimelech Gd has chsen t reslve the situatin in this particular way because He desires t slve Abraham s mistake while teaching Abraham a lessn First, Gd wants t prtect and restre Sarah, the future mther f Isaac Secndly, Gd wants t ensure that Abimelech has an incentive t respect Abraham despite Abraham s sin Abimelech and his natin f Gerar are a significant presence in the land And if they became enemies f Abraham and his future generatins, it wuld have been a serius threat S the Lrd instils the fear f the Lrd in Abimelech and tells him that Abraham is a prphet Furthermre, Abraham is the key t Abimelech s survival Nw Abimelech has all the incentive in the wrld t treat Abraham well, despite Abraham s treachery Finally, Gd wants Abraham t see the cnsequences f his lying and his failing t trust in the Lrd Abimelech will have t meet with Abraham and explain the situatin s that he might receive prayer In the prcess, Abraham will receive a rebuke fr his lying And he will cme t recgnize what Gd is prepared t d t preserve His seed line and discipline His children Just as Gd invited Abraham t jin Him in His wrk t judge Sdm, s Gd will again include Abraham in His wrk t free Sarah Bth times Abraham is called t jin by acting as an intercessr n behalf f the righteus 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
8 Genesis 20 8 But in this case, Abraham must als see recgnize he was the ffender Gen. 20:8 S Abimelech arse early in the mrning and called all his servants and tld all these things in their hearing; and the men were greatly frightened. Gen. 20:9 Then Abimelech called Abraham and said t him, What have yu dne t us? And hw have I sinned against yu, that yu have brught n me and n my kingdm a great sin? Yu have dne t me things that ught nt t be dne. Gen. 20:10 And Abimelech said t Abraham, What have yu encuntered, that yu have dne this thing? Abimelech rises frm the bed in the mrning, Immediately, he retells his dream t his servants, and they became frightened Obviusly, as he retld the stry, he did s in a way that cmmunicated the seriusness f what he had heard Clearly, Abimelech tk this dream seriusly Next, Abimelech calls Abraham t make an appearance in his curt Nw remember, Abimelech understands that Abraham is the key t Abimelech s survival What d we suppse Abimelech will say t Abraham? We might expect Abimelech will shw great restraint and speak nicely t Abraham, after all Abraham must pray fr Abimelech t save him Instead, Abimelech reads Abraham the rit act, s t speak He asks why have yu dne this t me? What did I d t yu t deserve this great sin? He ges n saying what yu did shuld never have been dne t anyne, s what reasn did yu have fr treating me this way? These statements are abslutely true, but they are strngly wrded and very cnfrntatinal - they brder n an insult Isn t Abimelech cncerned that he will upset Abraham and cause Abraham nt t pray fr Abimelech? 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
9 Genesis 20 9 I greatly admire Abimelech s curage and righteus anger in the way he cnfrnts Abraham In ur wrld tday, we are taught t hide ur true feelings abut thers t be plite r s we might manipulate them int liking us and meeting ur desires We dn t value transparency near as much as civility But Abimelech speaks frankly and transparently with Abraham He shws n cncern fr what Abraham might think r hw he might respnd Abimelech has righteusness n his side, and s he fearlessly rebukes Abraham t his face We shuld remember the example f Abimelech in ur wn dealings with thers, especially ur brthers and sisters in the Bdy f Christ Paul taught us that transparency and accuntability are t be valued in the Church bdy 1Tim. 5:19 D nt receive an accusatin against an elder except n the basis f tw r three witnesses. 1Tim. 5:20 Thse wh cntinue in sin, rebuke in the presence f all, s that the rest als will be fearful f sinning. 1Tim. 5:21 I slemnly charge yu in the presence f Gd and f Christ Jesus and f His chsen angels, t maintain these principles withut bias, ding nthing in a spirit f partiality. Paul slemnly charged church leaders - befre Gd and Christ Jesus - t hld t these principles In Abraham s case, Gd rchestrated this encunter precisely because he wanted Abraham t receive this rebuke in a public way Because the nly way we rise abve ur sin s we can pursue a life that pleases the Lrd is if we are made t face ur failings And in ur relatinships within the bdy, the Lrd wishes t bring the cnvictin that leads t better things When we hide ur true thughts and glss ver each ther s imperfectins, we might feel better...but we wn t be better 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
10 Genesis Abraham s respnse fllws Gen. 20:11 Abraham said, Because I thught, surely there is n fear f Gd in this place, and they will kill me because f my wife. Gen. 20:12 Besides, she actually is my sister, the daughter f my father, but nt the daughter f my mther, and she became my wife; Gen. 20:13 and it came abut, when Gd caused me t wander frm my father s huse, that I said t her, This is the kindness which yu will shw t me: everywhere we g, say f me, He is my brther. Abraham explains his mistake using three classic excuses fr sin First, he claims ignrance He says he thught surely there wuld be n fear f Gd in this place Hw was he t knw that Abimelech and his peple wuld respect life and marriage and d the right thing? Mrever, Abraham claims he had n reasn t think they might knw the Living Gd Abraham s pint is that he was acting reasnably when he lied But is there ever a situatin in which we may lie withut sin? Wen ur life is in danger? When we are trying t prtect thers? That s what Abraham is claiming here...that his lie was justified under the circumstances t save his life But at the end f the day, a lie is always wrng because it is prf we dn t trust in Gd Abraham thught a lie wuld prtect him better than Gd culd but Gd s actins prve this assumptin was wrng Gd acted t preserve Sarah right frm the start He was mre than capable f handling Abimelech r anyne and s Abraham s lie was cmpletely unjustified 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
11 Genesis Secndly, Abraham quibbles ver whether it was really a lie at all He begins t explain that Sarah is really his sister, at least a half sister As if that smehw addresses the real issue at hand The issue here isn t whether Sarah is truly Abraham s sister r nt The issue is that Sarah was his wife And when Abraham maintained that Sarah was nly his sister, he was lying by missin He failed t disclse the bviusly imprtant detail that he and Sarah were married This kind f playing with wrds is simply a sign that repentance hasn t taken hld in his heart Abraham is t busy explaining away his guilt rather than embracing it and learning frm it Nw we see clearly why the Lrd wanted Abraham t experience this encunter If the Lrd rchestrates a similar mment in ur lives fr the gd f ur wn cnvictin, make sure yu dn t ruin it by running t pintless excuses Cnsider the rebuke carefully and accept it as frm the Lrd Finally, Abraham gives the third classic excuse fr his sin: he blames Gd and circumstances Abraham says it was Gd Wh caused him t leave the prtectin and security f his hme Implying that Gd has frced Abraham int a psitin where he must resrt t this tactic And s in respnse t Gd s (bviusly unfair) cmmand, Abraham has tld Sarah t g alng with this charade And ntice, Abraham says this was smething he expected Sarah t d everywhere they went 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
12 Genesis S Abraham has been engaged in this deceptin as the rutine, nt the exceptin We ve nly heard abut tw ccasins because they resulted in these extrardinary utcmes In reality, nthing in Gd s instructins f Abraham s situatin cmpelled him t make up this lie And especially after he watched Gd rescue bth he and Sarah in Egypt, Abraham shuld have realized he culd trust Gd t care fr him Even thugh Abraham ffers Abimelech these pathetic excuses, Abimelech respnds based n he fear f the Lrd Gen. 20:14 Abimelech then tk sheep and xen and male and female servants, and gave them t Abraham, and restred his wife Sarah t him. Gen. 20:15 Abimelech said, Behld, my land is befre yu; settle wherever yu please. Gen. 20:16 T Sarah he said, Behld, I have given yur brther a thusand pieces f silver; behld, it is yur vindicatin befre all wh are with yu, and befre all men yu are cleared. Gen. 20:17 Abraham prayed t Gd, and Gd healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, s that they bre children. Gen. 20:18 Fr the LORD had clsed fast all the wmbs f the husehld f Abimelech because f Sarah, Abraham s wife. After this incident, Abimelech must have had little respect fr Abraham, but he had plenty f respect fr Abraham s Gd He gives Abraham the keys t the kingdm, including the right t settle anywhere in the land and animals and servants Once again we see Gd s uncnditinal prmise t bless Abraham at wrk Thugh Abraham is faithless at time, Gd is always faithful Abimelech next restres Sarah t Abraham Abimelech refers t Abraham as her brther prbably t mck Abraham And then Abraham prays fr Abimelech 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.
13 Genesis Gd brught Abraham thrugh this mment in the desire t shw Abraham hw he still fails t trust Gd fully Abraham has believed Gd s prmises and has been declared righteus n that basis But in the everyday needs f his life, Abraham still runs t the wrld s methds fr prtectin And irnically, Gd uses the pagan king f a pagan natin t shw a prphet f the Living Gd where he still needed t grw spiritually Dn t be surprised when in lve the Lrd des the same fr us 2011 Verse By Verse Ministry f San Antni ( May be cpied and distributed prvided the dcument is reprduced in its entirety, including this cpyright statement, and n fee is cllected fr its distributin.