Genesis: The Beginning
Abraham & Abimelech 1-20-16, Cont.
READ: Genesis 20
Yesterday, we saw how Abraham interceded for Lot and his family with the LORD; they were spared during the destruction of Sodom. Today, we are going to read about Abraham’s encounter, with King Abimelech, while he is traveling between southern Palestine and the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt.
Keep in mind, Sarah is now 90+ years old, but she must be absolutely radiant in the favor of God. Abraham and Sarah are settled in a foreign land, Gerar. If all things are biblically chronological, Abraham seems to have suffered a memory blip, because he repeats a half-truth that causes God to detour this path on which he is heading in order to bring Light or revelation to this promised “father of multitudes,” AGAIN. No matter how much we love the LORD, we all stumble and fail in life. Abraham is imperfect and God uses him anyway. That brings me peace.
What is that half-truth spoken by Abraham? Abraham introduces Sarah as his “sister” to King Abimelech (name translates “my father is king”). Would you call it deception? Although Sarah and Abraham apparently shared the same father, but different mothers, this is a s-t-r-e-t-c-h to the truth, because they do not live relationally as brother and sister. (Yes, due to this fear Abraham is portrayed in Chapter 12 as speaking the same lie to Pharaoh 25 years earlier). It could be a pattern.
Someone say, “This is a set up by God!” God is helping Abraham and Sarah to see the Light when it comes to trusting God to love and care for them.” They are looking for God to do something amazing in their lives, so God shines His Light in the darkness in order to reveal their character development; because integrity and character is what supports the deliverance of the promise not the other way around.
Abimelech is enchanted by Sarah and calls for her to come be a part of his harem; but, before he can touch her God brings Light to the dark or hidden circumstances. This time, God protects Abraham and Sarah, in spite of the half-truth they prefer to share, by revealing the Truth to Abimelech during his dreams. Please notice Abraham might have been afraid to tell Abimelech the Truth, but God is not. God is going to corner and confront Abraham about this pattern and teach Abimelech that this lack of knowledge does not excuse the wrong treatment of Yahweh’s people—they are called to be a holy people serving their own King.
Abimelech does what anyone would do who feels his motives are misunderstood or misjudged; he begs for mercy and tries to bring clarity by explaining things to God. God repeats that he knows the hearts of everyone involved and He reassures Abimelech He has the whole picture in view. That tells me Abimelech is not quite as innocent as he would like to think about his intentions for Sarah. God basically says (Mary paraphrase), “Abimelech before you pump yourself up as being so nobel, I myself stopped you from sinning against me, my rule, and my children…bottom line you are a dead man unless you return her to Abraham right now!” Wow, there is the window of opportunity for Abimelech to repent before God to escape judgment; smart man because Abimelech reaches for grace.
Abimelech is told by God that Abraham is a prophet (he tells the truth about God, but not necessarily about himself at this point). So, glad God is patient with us. Anyway, when Abimelech returns Sarah to Abraham he will pray and intercede for the king and God will drop the charges that would lead to his death.
I enjoyed reading the confrontational conversation between Abimelech and Abraham; human’s love the blame game, don’t they?. Abimelech says, “What have you done to us? Whatever possessed you to do such a thing?” Abraham tells the king he did not trust him because he perceived the king had no fear (respect/accountability) of the LORD. What do you think it means that Abraham thought Abimelech had not fear of the LORD? I am thinking Abraham surmised the king thought he could do anything he wanted to Sarah and Abraham because he had no one else higher in authority above him. If you have a fear of the LORD, are you less tempted to sin?
Abimelech takes sheep, goats, cattle, and servants as a peace offering for Abraham. Abimelech offers the couple their choice of living location in the king’s land and gives 1,000 pieces of silver as a way to clear Sarah’s reputation. In turn, Abraham prays for everyone to be forgiven and healed (the king and those in his kingdom had been made infertile by God during this time).
Have you recently found yourself facing potential problems by being tempted to handle things yourself instead of trusting God? What did you learn?