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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

December 2, 2015

Genesis 19:30-38, 20:1-10

  1. Verses 19:30-38. From last week's lesson (19:8) we know that Lot had offered his two virgin daughters to be raped by the evil men of Sodom. Now these same daughters take advantage of a drunk father. The text says that Lot had sex with his own daughters, and they both conceived two sons. A son, called Moab; he is the father of the Moabites to this day. The second son called Ben-ammi; he is the father of the sons of Ammon to this day. These two nations were born of this incestuous relationship. While God dealt kindly with these nations because of their relationship to Abraham (Deut 2:19), they were a continual source of grief and conflict to Abraham and his descendants. Zephaniah 2:9 informs us that eventually, these nations would suffer the same judgment as Sodom and Gomorrah. This account is one of the most graphic and repulsive in the Scriptures. Why does Moses include it in Genesis? For two reasons: First, to reveal the consequences of sin. Moab and Ammon provide the worst carnal seduction in the history of Israel (i.e., Baal-Peor, Num 25) and the cruelest religious perversion (i.e., Molech, Lev 18:21). Second, to demonstrate that teaching our children to trust in God is of extreme importance. Evidently, trusting in God didn't even occur to them. His daughters simply mirrored the spiritual struggles of their father. Lot was able to take his daughters out of Sodom, but he was not able to take Sodom out of his daughters. The tribes of Moab and Ammon cause numerous problems for the people of God, even to becoming the enemies of God's people (as such they at one time were barred from entry into the assembly of the Lord for ten generations, cf. Deut 23:3). The Moabites and the Ammonites also became idol worshippers and even led the Israelites astray into idolatry (cf. 1 Kings 11:33). Yet, strangely, God at times protects the interests of the Moabites and the Ammonites (cf. Deut 2:9, 19, 37), perhaps because of His regard for Lot, the ancestor of those two nations—and in time, God uses what was evil for good as only He can (50:20). Eventually, out of the lineage of the godless Moabite race came a woman named Ruth, and subsequently Jesus Christ (Ruth 4:18-22; Matt 1:5). Desperation and fear can make us do sinful things. In spite of this the bible says in 2 Pet 2:7-8 that Lot was "righteous" three times in two verses. The life of Lot shows us that it is possible to have a saved soul and a wasted life. How many of us are like Lot? We’re Christians, yes. But we also want to have our part of the world. We must have our slice of the action. We feel that we can't possibly give it up completely.

  2. Chapter 20. Why did Abraham leave Mamre (cf. 18:1)? While no reason for Abraham's move is given, it would seem that God pouring out burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah had some effect on Abraham's ability to raise his great herds of cattle (cf. 21:22-34). Despite the logic of Abraham's move, there is no indication that God led this decision. Apparently, once again, he took matters into his own hands and moved ahead of God. Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death." In his journeying, Abraham “sojourned in Gerar." Gerar is the capital city of the Philistines. It is hostile, enemy territory. The stage is set for trouble.

  3. 20:2. Why did Abraham repeat the same mistake again (cf. 12:11-13)? He was concerned about his own personal safety. He feared that because of Sarah's beauty he would be killed, and she would be taken as a wife by violence. Quite simply, Abraham feared man more than he feared God. Read Matthew 10:28. We can all find ourselves in situations where we are motivated by fear. Yet, God longs for us to exercise faith in Him. Of course, the fear of man is merely a symptom of unbelief. Abraham struggled to trust God. If he had trusted God, he would have recognized that God was capable of protecting both he and Sarah. Abraham had a track record with God. Twenty-five years earlier, God saved him from the hand of Pharaoh (12:17-20). In this situation, Abraham did not act out of ignorance, but rather out of unbelief. Now he risks the birth of the child by letting Sarah be taken into the harem of another pagan king (cf. 12:15). Behind the staging of human history is Satan himself, attempting through Abraham's unbelief and fear to foil God's plan for a promised deliverer—Jesus Christ! Interestingly, the information Abraham gave was totally factual. Sarah was his half-sister. But it wasn't the whole truth. Abram's intent was clearly to deceive (cf. Lev 19:11). He was trusting in his deception to protect him instead of trusting in the Lord (Prov 3:5-6). The problems with lying is it makes it easier to do the next time. Abraham has already pulled the same stunt with Pharaoh of Egypt twenty-five years earlier (12:13). Abraham is compromising his character and integrity. This will make it tougher to trust his word in the future. Second, it affects and influences others around us. The sad reality is we can pass on our character flaws to our children. Abraham lied about his wife on two occasions in order to protect his own life. These events happened before his son Isaac was born. Yet, later in Genesis, Abraham's son, Isaac, pulls this exact same stunt with his wife Rebekah and Abimelech’s grandson (26:1-3, 7). Furthermore, he undoubtedly damaged his relationship with Sarah. What message does Abraham send to Sarah as he willingly lets her go to the home of another man knowing full well what the man's intentions are? Sin brings negative consequences. Third, it brings a reproach to the name of God. Abraham's lie and subsequent exposure is an embarrassment to the name of God. Abraham compromised his ability to testify and minister in Gerar. He was supposed to bring blessing to the world...but here he is bringing judgment on them.

  4. In 20:3, God begins a dialogue with Abimelech in a dream. Now a dream like this will get your attention! Abimelech learns the truth about Sarah from God Himself! God makes it clear in no uncertain terms that there will be big consequences for any actions toward Sarah (see Heb 10:31). God places a high value on marriage. He places a very high premium on marital fidelity (Lev 20:22; Deut 22:22, Hebrews 13:4, Prov 6:27-29).

  5. In 20:4-5, Moses, offers a brief parenthetical comment: “Now Abimelech had not come near her." Moses wants his readers to understand that Abimelech appears to be more righteous than Abraham. How convicting! Don't you just hate it when sinners are more righteous than saints? I feel for Abimelech. Two believers deceived him. Some have suggested that Sarah was not responsible for this sin since she was being submissive to Abraham. However, submission has its limits—we must always obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). In the biblical chain-of-command, God's revealed will is supreme, and it overrules all other levels of authority if they are in direct conflict with God's Word. So Sarah is guilty of disobeying God. When we obey our spouse or employer in violation of God's Word, we are guilty of disobedience.

  6. Verse 20:6, God seems to understand Abimelech's plight so He gives him a chance to get out of his sticky situation. The Lord says literally, “I, even I, kept you from sinning against Me." Moses records this for emphasis. The Lord Himself spoke to Abimelech before he touched Sarah. In this, God demonstrates His sovereign ability to protect Sarah and Abraham. When God's promise of a son is eventually fulfilled, it will be clear that it was God that did the work both morally and physically. Truly, all of God's purposes are achieved by the grace of God.

  7. Verse 20:7-8. Don't you love how God gives options? Option #1: Give Sarah back and live (see Ezek 33:14-16). Option #2: Keep Sarah and die—you and everyone in your family! This is the character and nature of God. He extends grace and mercy but if we refuse to obediently respond, He offers another option. It's as if God graciously says, "Okay, you can have it your way." Before moving on, notice God's amazing grace: He instructed the deceiver to pray for the deceived! This must have left Abimelech shaking his head. How could Abraham be a liar and at the same time a man of God to whom Abimelech must go to receive healing and salvation? Answer: God uses sinful people to accomplish His purposes. Wouldn't the poor testimony of Abraham drive Abimelech away from God? Apparently, God has such confidence in Himself and His grace that He can still use broken vessels like Abraham and you and me. God does not withdraw His grace because of our failure. The question of the hour is: Will Abimelech take God's threat seriously? You better believe it! After God obliterated Sodom and Gomorrah, Abimelech knew not to mess with God. Moses writes, “So Abimelech arose early in the morning and called all his servants and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were greatly frightened" (20:8). Like the sailors and the king of Nineveh in the book of Jonah (1:16; 3:6-9), the Philistines responded quickly and decisively to God’s warning. Like Jonah, however, Abraham in this narrative was a reluctant prophet.

  8. In 20:9-10, Abimelech asks Abraham three questions. The most important question is the final one. "Why?" This must have been a humiliating experience for Abraham--this man of faith, this great patriarch of the saints, this friend of God, to be confronted over his ungodly deception. Abraham had not only done what was wrong in the eyes of God, but even in the eyes of pagans. Often non-Christians are more moral than Christians. God does speak through unbelievers. And He usually does so as a means of humbling us.

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