Summary: Prayer is a wonderful thing. But prayer is not just to be used to get us out of trouble; it is to be used to keep us from getting in trouble.
Abraham in Gerar.
Genesis 20. 01/19/05
We find in our text another great failure on the part of Abraham. Actually, this is the third major failure of Abraham recorded in scripture after he came into the land of Canaan. The first of these failures was his lie in Egypt that Sarah was his sister. The second failure, the worst of the three, was having a child by Hagar. His third failure, which is the subject of our study tonight, is a repeat of the first; he lied about Sarah being his sister.
To examine this failure of Abraham we want to consider first of all THE RESORTING TO THE DECEIT. Look at verses 1 and 2. “And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the South country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerah. And Abraham said Sarah his wife, she is not sister; and Abimelech king of Gerah sent, and took Sarah.”
He thought someone in Gerah would put him to death in order to obtain Sarah for a wife. The practice of deceit was a weakness in Abraham’s character. But don’t we all have character weaknesses? We all don’t have the same weakness but whatever our weakness we need to be on guard in that area of our character.
Now Abraham had been sometime in Hebron. It seems suddenly he wanted to pick up and go south toward Egypt and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur and journeyed in Gerah. This move doesn’t seem to reflect a lot of wisdom on Abraham’s part. Abraham already thought the natives in Gerah were pagan and of low moral’s. He said they might kill me so they can have Sarah. If he thought it to be that bad why did he move?
One thing I have found out is that temptation will come no matter where we are but being in the wrong place temptation has more power to overcome us than when we are in the right place. Abraham is walking into the same situation he faced in Egypt.
The thing I am amazed at that Sarah is 89 years of age. I am sure she is beautiful if you ask Abraham but she is still 89 years of age. What kind of outward attraction would cause the King, who had much younger women in his harem, want to send for Sarah? But she had something going for her because she was invited to join the king’s harem.
We see not only the resorting to deceit but also THE REPRIMANDING OF EVIL. Sooner or later, man will be reprimanded for his sin. Thankfully, it came sooner for Abimelech and Abraham, which stopped their sins from causing disastrous damage. God reprimanded Abimelech, and Abimelech reprimanded Abraham. For we read in verse 3, “but god came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou has taken; for she is a man’s wife.” This is what you call a life and death situation.
Abimelech learned from the Word of God, spoken word, what is right and wrong. It is the Word that is our rule, our guide, and our authority for what is right and wrong morally and spiritually.
God’s message here, like the gospel message, told Abimelech the way of life. Abimelech because of his sin of taking Sarah was under the sentence of death, but the Word of God showed him the way of life. So it is in the matter of salvation. We are all on under the curse of death, but the Word of God shows us in Christ we can have life.
While guilty of having Sarah and under the curse, Abimelech did not have bad motives in mind. Look at verses 4 and 5. “But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, Lord wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, she is my sister, and she even she herself said, he is my brother? In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands have I done this.”
To the shame of Abraham, it was Abimelech who came out the better man in this incident. Abimelech had investigated to make sure she was fair game. God would have known the motives and all that was behind Abimelech’s taking Sarah. So, look if you will at the verse 6, “and God said to him in a dream, yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me; therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.” God looks on the heart when he judges man. God ordered Abimelech to return Sarah to Abraham.
There is a thought that comes from verse 7 that will hit home to a lot of us. Look at what we read, “now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet.” God told Abimelech that Abraham was his prophet. Abraham had been in the country for a little time possibly, but no one you he was a prophet the way he lived and talked.