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Wednesday in the Word

Second Baptist Church

December 9, 2015

Genesis 20:9-18

  1. Recap from last week. We remember that Abraham in a moment of uncertainty decided to wander off into another country. We don't know why he did that, but we do know that his movement was not prompted by God. In doing this, Abraham placed himself in a peculiar position with his wife. Due to his fear of other men, he asked his wife to pretend to be a close sister. Of course the king saw Sarah’s beauty and took her for his harem. Abraham again found himself in the same situation he was in Egypt a few years back. You would think that he would have learned from the previous mistake that God would take care of him, but he doesn't. God comes to Abimelek in a vision and warns him to not touch Sarah. Abimelek fears God.

  2. Verses 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 Abimelek shaking his head. Will Abimelek take God's threat seriously? You better believe it! After God obliterated Sodom and Gomorrah, Abimelek knew not to mess with God. Moses writes, "So Abimelek 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.

  3. In 20:9-10, Abimelek 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.

  4. In 20:11-16, the dialogue shifts from God and Abimelek to Abraham and Abimelek. You would think that Abraham would be in a state of full-scale repentance. But there is no indication that he acknowledged or repented of his sin. In three verses Abraham justifies his deception with three rationalizations. First, he says, "Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife" (20:11). Abraham "thought." He didn't talk with God. He didn’t seek counsel. Rather, he excuses his sinful deception by saying there was no fear of God in Gerar. But the real problem was that the fear of God wasn't in Abraham! What bitter irony! We must be careful not to judge people on appearances. Often, the ungodly are not as ungodly as one might think and the godly are not as godly as one might think. Abraham jumped the gun and made a judgment error. He then tries to imply that it was an honest mistake—”no big deal." The truth is that we are responsible for our own decisions. Abraham may have made his decision based on a faulty premise but he was responsible for the faulty premise!

  5. Verse 12. Abraham gives an explanation for his deception. Yet, this explanation is not even helpful and it is totally confusing. What Abraham is saying is, "Look, technically l didn't lie.” He tries to defend himself by technicalities but not by truthfulness. But a half-truth, said with intent to deceive, is always a whole lie. How often do you allow people to draw the wrong conclusions or impressions by withholding evidence? Faith is facing up to reality and dealing openly with others, even when the truth may appear to put you in jeopardy or may make you vulnerable.

  6. Verse 13. Abraham even blames God for his vulnerable condition. He says, "And it came about, when God caused me to wander from my father's house." The implication is that if God had not told him to leave his father's house, he would have never ended up in Abimelek's kingdom. If he had never arrived in Abimelek’s kingdom, he would have never lied." Therefore, it's not my fault, it's really God’s fault." Whether we are conscious of it or not, we often blame God for the sins we commit. Lord, if only You...To make matters worse, in 20:13b we learn that Abraham coerced Sarah into his deception. He said to Sarah,” This is the kindness which you will show to me: everywhere we go, say of me, ‘He is my brother."' Ladies, Abe used one of the oldest lines in the book—literally! "If you really love me..." We do this today. If you love me, you'll sleep with me! If you love me.

  7. Verses 14-16. Abimelek gave sheep, oxen, and servants to Abraham. In showing generosity to Abraham, Abimelek was heaping burning coals on Abraham's head (Rom 12:20). Abraham should have been giving gifts to Abimelek, because he was in the wrong. Instead, it was Abimelek who was generous (cf. 12:16). By God’s grace, Abraham did not receive punishment but plunder. Wherever he went, whatever he did, Abraham stood under God's protection and blessing.

  8. Verses 17-18. What a humbling experience it must have been for Abraham to intercede on behalf of Abimelek. A deep sense of unworthiness must have come over him. It was surely not his righteousness, which was the basis for divine healing. Any time that we are used of God, it is solely because of the grace of God. As we close, please notice one last thing. God reopens the wombs of the women of Gerar. Abraham had to pray that the women of Gerar would be able to have children, but his own wife had not delivered his child yet. Abimelek's women would have babies before Sarah. Abraham had to pray for someone else's blessing before he received his. Abraham needed to learn that God can be trusted to take care of him. He needed to learn that lesson well, because there would be an exam, a test of his faith, coming up (see 22:1-19). God would take him back to the same hurdle over and over again, so that he would be prepared to jump over it with flying colors.

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