Summary: There’s a story in the Old Testament about two men and a misunderstanding over a well of water. Rest at ease, they handled their situation much more appropriately than our modern day examples handled theirs. They decided that they would build a long-term
Introduction: There are many stories about people who get into fights and conflicts about crazy things and the terrible results. In Orlando, a 48-year-old man was shot to death by his wife after a fight over the satellite TV controls. In California, a man was stabbed to death by his girlfriend because he brought home a McDonalds ham, egg, and cheese bagel instead of the two Egg Mcmuffins that she’d asked for. (Husbands, let that be a lesson to all of you -- get it right!) In Dallas, a 37-year-old man was beaten to death by his roommate after a fight over the thermostat setting in their house. In Maryland, a 15-year-old boy was charged in the shooting death of a man who was playing reggae music on his car stereo. Apparently, the boy really hates reggae music. Just last night, I saw on Headline News where a man pleaded guilty to killing a 19 year old man over a Play Station game in Nevada.
Transition: There’s a story in the Old Testament about two men and a misunderstanding over a well of water. Rest at ease, they handled their situation much more appropriately than our modern day examples handled theirs. They decided that they would build a long-term relationship and overcome their differences.
Title: Building Relationships that Endure
Text: Genesis 21:22-34
Background: Abraham and Abimelech had a prior relationship that was anything but positive and so they each went their separate ways. What prompted this? [Read Genesis 20:1-7].
Genesis 20:1 Abraham journeyed from there to the Negev region and settled between Kadesh and Shur. While he lived as a temporary resident in Gerar, 20:2 Abraham said about his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” [Think about this. You’re new in town. You have a large household with flocks and herds. And you’re also known for your ability to fight. Someone is bound to notice you. Abe’s fear was that all of this entourage would attract the attention of some very powerful people. When they would come to investigate, Sarah was so unique and beautiful, that he was afraid that these people might take his life for her. So Sarah get’s to play the “baby sister” role.] So Abimelech king of Gerar [a powerful ruler] sent for Sarah and took her. [Evidently, she was going to become part of the harem.] 20:3 But God appeared to Abimelech in a dream at night and said to him, “You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, for she is someone else’s wife.” 20:4 Now Abimelech had not gone near her. He said, “Lord, would you really slaughter an innocent nation? 20:5 Did Abraham not say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ I have done this with a clear conscience and with innocent hands!” 20:6 Then in the dream God replied to him, “Yes, I know that you have done this with a clear conscience. That is why I have kept you from sinning against me and why I did not allow you to touch her. 20:7 But now give back the man’s wife. Indeed he is a prophet and he will pray for you; thus you will live. But if you don’t give her back, know that you will surely die along with all that belong to you.” [That kind of thing tends to have an impact.] 20:8 Early in the morning Abimelech summoned all his servants. When he told them about all these things, they were terrified. 20:9 Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? What sin did I commit against you that would cause you to bring such great guilt on me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should not be done!” 20:10 Then Abimelech asked Abraham, “What prompted you to do this thing?” 20:11 Abraham replied, “Because I thought, ‘Surely no one fears God in this place. They will kill me because of my wife.’ [While I’m certainly not defending Abraham’s deception, he understood that godless people take other people’s wives. This prompted his deception. But surprising enough, Abimelech was Godfearing.] 20:12 What’s more, she is indeed my sister, my father’s daughter, but not my mother’s daughter. She became my wife. [It’s a blended family. I get the feeling that maybe Abraham is from Kentucky where the family tree tends not to branch! You have to remember, Abraham predates the Law, the Bible, which banned such unions (Lev. 18; Deut. 27:22; 2 Sam. 13:13). On one level, he’s right; on another level he condemns himself.] 20:13 When God made me wander from my father’s house, I told her, ‘This is what you can do to show your loyalty to me: Every place we go, say about me, “He is my brother.”’” 20:14 Then Abimelech gave sheep, cattle, and male and female servants to Abraham. He also gave his wife Sarah back to him. 20:15 Then Abimelech said, “Look, my land is before you; live wherever you please.” 20:16 To Sarah he said, “Look, I have given a thousand pieces of silver to your ‘brother’. This is compensation for you so that you will stand vindicated before all who are with you. 20:17 Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech, as well as his wife and female slaves so that they were able to have children. For the Lord had caused infertility to strike every woman in the household of Abimelech, because he took Sarah, Abraham’s wife. [I’ll bet Abimelech thought “I’m never going to do that again.”]