< What I Learned Teaching Sunday School: Genesis 20 Abraham Lies Again

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Genesis 20 Abraham Lies Again

Genesis 20 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.
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.”

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.”

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?”

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.’ 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, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”

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.

When Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed Abraham had been living less then 20 miles away. Back in Genesis 19:27-28 we saw that “27 Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace.”

And he decided to leave the area. So he traveled south to Negev. This land was the land of the Philistines and was ruled by a petty chieftain, King Abimelech. According to archaeological excavations Gerar was a fortress city surrounded by a wall built of great rough boulders. Only the tribal chief, or king, lived inside the wall. Abraham would have pitched his tents in some encampment nearby where his servants dug wells for his flocks and herds.

So Abimelech was the master of the area. No one gave him orders. He did what he pleased and his slaves fulfilled his every wish. Hearing about Sarah’s beauty, he sent for her to add to his harem within the city walls.

And just like in Genesis 12 twenty-four years earlier when they were in Egypt, Abraham lied about Sarah’s relationship to him. You would think he’d have learned from the last time! Especially now that Sarah was promised a baby within a year that would be Abraham’s seed! Where did all this faith in God Abraham had been showing go?

A lesson we can learn from this is we not only need to confess our sins, but turn from them and be on guard against sinning again because we all have weak spots. In fact, burn the bridges between yourself and a particular sin. If you know something tempts you don’t let yourself get anywhere near it!

We may lie to avoid confrontation, become bitter in trials, gossip to make ourselves feel better or take the easy way out. Especially when we are worried or insecure. But anxious fear, depression and insecurity are never from God.

Satan can insert thoughts and misunderstandings in our minds about others. And Abraham said he thought Abimelech wasn’t God-fearing. How many times in history have terrible things happened because someone thought someone else was either going to do something or they were a certain type of person?

Abraham should have prayed about his fear and trusted God to take care of it. It was an insult to God’s past protection and faithfulness not to!

But God was merciful to Abraham again, although He rebuked him through Abimelech’s words. Apparently Abimelech did know God and God appeared to him in a dream. God protected Sarah and her promised seed and he warned Abimelech. He also told Abraham to pray for the man he wronged.

Abimelech showed his belief in God by his prompt obedience. And instead of kicking them out of the land like Pharaoh had, he gave them silver and sheep and cattle and slaves, inviting them to live anywhere they wanted on his land. And we’ll see in the next chapter that later he makes a life long covenant of friendship with Abraham.

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