Summary: The Patriarchs Those Sins that Plague us Genesis 21 David Taylor June 19, 2016
Those Sins that Plague us
June 19, 2016
Two themes run through Genesis. The first is the mission of rescuing the nations from their sinfulness and the promise of a deliverer, the Messiah. This comes into focus when God chooses Abraham to be the one through whom God will bless the nations. The life of Abraham displays great faith yet like the rest of us, he also displays great failure. We all have sins that plague us. We see today Abraham entangled in sin that has plagued him for twenty-five years.
Abraham travels south to Gerar. The land was divided by tribes or clans living in cities with kings ruling over the city. If a king saw a woman that caught his eye he could take her into his harem. Abraham fears this may happen (11) so he says that Sarah is his sister so he would not be killed if the king wanted Sarah. Well, king Abimelech finds her attractive and takes her.
This sin plagued him for twenty-five years – every time they entered some new land they lied about their relationship so Abraham would not be killed (13). We are given two instances. The first time came right after God called Abraham, promising him a son and to make him into a great nation. This time comes right after God promises that the promised son will come within the year. Implicit in these promises is the promise to protect Abraham. He had to remain alive for Sarah to have a son by him! Yet when the pressure was on, fear rose in his heart and he talked himself into unbelief. “God is not going to protect me, they will kill me and take Sarah.” “I have to find a way to protect myself.” Even after twenty-five years of God’s faithfulness, he still wavered under pressure. We all have sins like this that plague us. He did not see God as big and powerful and sovereign over his life. He did not believe that he was really immortal until God was finished with him in this life. When the pressure came God seemed small and weak and unable because fear gripped his heart and choked out faith.
Fear can be a very positive emotion. It convinces us to step away from the edge of a tall building or to slow down around a sharp corner. But spiritually fear can also talk us out of believing God and trusting his promises. We fear having enough money so we do not give to the cause of Christ or don’t help others who are in need. We fear we will not get a job so we lie on the application or in the interview. We fear others won’t accept us for who we are so we lie or act differently around them. Or we fear that others will look down upon us if they really knew how messed up we are so we do not tell anyone our struggles with sin. Maybe it is not fear that plagues you, maybe it is pornography or some other sexual sin, anger, gossip, worry, being critical, lack of discipline, overeating, or jealousy. What plagues you today?
Immediately after taking Sarah, the text says, but God came to Abimelech in a dream saying, “you are a dead man because the woman you took is another man’s wife (3).” Abimelech appeals to God’s justice, “would you kill an innocent people? He told me she was his sister; I did not know she was his wife (4-5).” It appears Abimelech feared God more than Abraham thought and never would have taken a married woman. God knew this, God says, “I know you did this with an upright heart, it was I who kept you from sinning. Therefore, I did not let you touch her (6).” Abimelech freely chose not to touch Sarah and yet God says he kept Abimelech from sinning and prevented him from touching her. Scripture says that the heart of the king is in the hand of God who directs it as he wills. God’s sovereignty is so incomprehensible that humanity does not even know or perceive it. And God does it in such a way that humanity is still free and morally responsible
Then God tells Abimelech to “return Sarah so that Abraham will pray for him and he will live. If he doesn’t he and his household will die (7).” Abimelech takes God quite seriously. He wakes up early and informs his whole household of the situation (8). Then he calls Abraham and confronts him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What did you see, that you did this thing (9-10)?” Abraham replies, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ Besides, she really is my half-sister. And when God caused me to wander from my father's house, I said to her, ‘This is the kindness you must do me: at every place to which we come, say of me, “He is my brother (11-13).”’” Abraham thought that God could only protect him if those who threatened him were willing participants. He made a wrong assessment of the situation and reacted incorrectly. Abraham became fearful and talked himself into sinning. This is called self-talk, talking yourself into doing something because of how you interpret circumstances. It is listening to lies about yourself, God, or reality and so talk yourself into unbelief and sin. What you need to do when you start hearing those lies is to preach to yourself to trust God. So when Abraham started feeling fearful for his life, he could have responded with “God has promised to bless me, promised me a son by Sarah next year, and he has promised to make me into a great nation, in fact a multitude of nations. Therefore, my life is in his hands, he will protect me. This is the challenge for each one of us, to preach to ourselves when battling temptation. Yet God tends to shrink over time so we need to constantly read and meditate over this book so that our vision of God keeps growing and expanding so we see God as glorious and great and big and mighty and strong and merciful and gracious. The bible is like a telescope that helps us to see the bigness and greatness of God. So that when the storm clouds come in, we know the sun is on the other side of the clouds. In spite of their sin God intervenes on their behalf. The promises of God are not undermined. God’s mission will be accomplished and God’s Messiah will come through the seed of Abraham. Genesis and the rest of the bible is God’s story and he is the one who secures and ensures his mission advances and his kingdom established. God is the mighty God who saves and delivers his people.