“Abraham, what were you thinking?”
II. Vs. 1-7 A half truth is a whole lie
III. Vs. 8-18 A lack of the fear of God
Having just left the ruined life of Lot it is good to be back looking again at the man of faith but we see he repeats the same mistake he did 24 years earlier in Egypt of not trusting God’s promises to fulfill His promises. This shows us is that as far as our flesh is concerned it will in this body never arrive at a state of perfection. God uses situations and circumstances so that we will again turn and trust only upon His Word. Nothing disproves evolution more than our own personal failure because if we were truly evolving we would fail less.
II. Vs. 1-7 A half-truth is a whole lie
Vs. 1 Abraham leaves Hebron the place of vision and blessing to go south towards an area the Cannaities lived that would later be inhabited by the Philistines. It may have been prompted by the judgment of Sodom or just because he was looking for better trading possibilities. The exact the words that give us the location where Abraham and Sarah went we find some interesting points:
- The word “South” is really Negev which means “dry”
- The word Kadesh means holiness
- And the word Shur means wall
- The word Gerar means, “rolling country”, as the terrain was foot hills.
Abraham had been dwelling in a place where the study presence of the Lord was and left it for a dry place that was between holiness and a wall leaving him living in a “roller coaster” experience.
Vs. 2 Here we see the same lie as 12:13 only now Sarah is 90 and 24 years have passed. At first I must say that this would seem to be quite faltering for Abraham to say about his wife Sarah, a “cover girl” at the age of 90. The estimations as to why she was so attractive at her age goes along the lines that since she had already quit ovulating and now had begun again perhaps she regressed in her appearance looking much younger than her age. I have no doubt that Sarah was an attractive gal I think the explanation would most likely be in part that Abraham was a powerful leader and a marriage to his “sister” would an allegiance making them allies.
A lie is never justifiable even to save a life, which in this case was his own. Love is always ready to lay down our life for the sake of others; here Sarah was the one that was asked to lay down her life. The fact that Abraham falls at the same place he did 24 years earlier points out that there is a common link to our failures. The temptations may be different and the sin may not be the same but we always fall at the same point, “Our lack of trusting God and His Word!” Abraham trusted himself and Sarah but not God and His Word. Jude closes his letter by saying, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy”. It is only the Lord who can keep us from falling on our faces!
Vs. 3 God again shows Himself as a God who is gracious towards Abraham. Had not God intervened all would wonder to this day who the father of the child of promise was Abraham or Abimelech. God reveals himself to Abimelech “Elohim” the all-powerful Creator, all of which He does so in a dream. The Lord tells Abimelech that he is a “dead man” even though he did not knowingly sin by taking another man’s wife. As far as God is concerned “it does not matter whether or not you meant too sin”, we are still accountable.
Vs. 4-5 To Abimelech’s credit he had not “came near her” so his defense is that he had not yet done anything wrong. Abimelech associates his nation with himself and intercedes with the Lord to not hold slay the nation for his inadvertent error. What a contrast this is compared to Abraham who’s blunder was to save his own skin. Again Abimelech’s defense is based upon the fact that Abraham had lied and Sarah had supported the lie by agreeing with her husband. It is a sad thing when the people of the world behave more like believers and followers of God then do the people of faith. Abraham’s lie could have led to death and eternal separation for the unbelieving Abimelech all because he failed to again trust God. There is no such thing as a sin that does not affect others!
Vs. 6 God recognizes the innocence of Abimelech but at the same time reveals to him that it was He who had kept Abimelech from sinning and not Abimelech. Perhaps it was some sickness in verse 18 that had prevented him from consummating his marriage? Abimelech’s sin would have been against, not Abraham or Sarah but rather against the Lord. David would write in Psalm 51:4 “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight”.
Vs. 7 In order to live Abimelech has to do two things:
- “Restore the man’s wife”: It was not enough to be sorry or even admit his mistake Abimelech had to make restitution for his sin. Whenever possible we need to show or repentance by restoring what we have taken.
- “He will pray for you and you shall live”: Prayer, confession and intercession are all a part of being restored. Of course as Christians we do this before Jesus.
Even though Abraham had blown it he was still God’s spokesman who was called to speak the truth of God. So we see that just because a person is used by God does not make them immune to failure nor does it mean that they always practice the truth they proclaim. A lot of times people use the failure of the instrument to discredit the truth they were proclaiming. Hey, just because a string breaks on a guitar doesn’t make the note that it was suppose to play wrong! The failure is in the instrument not the note!
III. Vs. 8-18 A lack of the fear of God
Vs. 8 Several things stand out here:
- “Abimelech rose early in the morning”: Abimelech’s prompt obedience in response to repentance and restoration.
- “Called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing”: Second his humility in telling his servants of his error.
- “The men were very much afraid”: Lastly, the seriousness in which they understood their own failure. When compared to the son’s in-law of Lot whose warnings seemed to be a joke these men very afraid by Abimelech’s failure.
Vs. 9 Abimelech lays the blame at Abraham’s door, “What were you thinking?” “What have we ever done to deserve being treated like this?” “You could have killed us!” would be how we would have responded today. Abraham’s failure to tell the truth led to a public rebuke from a worldly King. Abimelech was right on the money as Abraham had made this same error 24 years earlier.
Vs. 10 No doubt there was a pause by Abimelech as he waited for Abraham to respond and one wonders if Abraham was like a child with his head down kicking at the dirt. Having no reply Abimelech asks again “What did you see that caused you to do this?” It is clear that Abimelech is looking for some reason for Abraham’s behavior in which it almost cost him his life both in this life and the one to come. Of course it is good to say that we are seeing Abimelech at his best and Abraham at his worst, so we should not judge a man by one situation in their life. However we need to say that the failure of a believer is the worst of all failures except for not trusting in Christ at all. All we can do when we fail like this is be broken and humbly admit or mistake without any excuses.
Vs. 11-13 Instead of doing this Abraham offers up five lame reasons for his lie:
- Vs. 11 “Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place”: Let me get this strait, “You could trust the Lord with everything except your security?” All this does is bring up the question, “If you didn’t think God could protect you then why did you go to a place where you knew they didn’t know God?” The real problem does not lie in the fact that there was no fear of God in the place it was that there was no fear of God in Abraham!
- Vs. 11b “And they will kill me on account of my wife”: This excuse points out that Abraham had a greater fear in man then he did in God, which can be seen in his selfishness and cowardliness.
- Vs. 12 “But indeed she is truly my sister. She is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife”: Oh Abraham when in doubt “shut up”! A half-truth said with intent to deceive is a whole lie!
- Vs. 13a “And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house”: The word “wonder” is used some 50 times and each case it refers to a person going astray from the Lord. Abraham’s excuse is that 30 years ago the Lord called him to leave his father’s country. “It’s God’s fault man if he had not called me away to bless me & give me all I have this would have never have happened!” When in doubt blame God!
- Vs. 13b “I said to her, ‘This is your kindness that you should do for me: in every place, wherever we go, say of me, “He is my brother”: “You see Sarah & I have this little tradition that we’ve been doing for 30 years and I had to honor it for her sake you know?”
Hey lame are these excuses for not trusting the Lord? But we use some pretty dumb ones as well don’t we? Lets roll the tape back and see what Abraham should have said:
“I’m so sorry, Abimelech for dishonoring My God as well as you! My self-centeredness led to cowardliness and I denied the very God whom I believe by fearing you more than fearing Him. You see Abimelech my God is not like your gods He really is able to take care of me, as He is the living and true God who created the heaven and earth. Abimelech my God even told me that He was alone able to protect me and reward me but I did not act as if I believed Him. I know of no man that has had more of God’s love and blessings then I have yet I have sinned against His very grace and in so doing sinned against you, please forgive me!”
Vs. 14-16 Instead of that prayer Abraham offers lame excuses and Abimelech heaps coals upon an already humbled head by blessing them with material blessings and clearing their reputations. Look at the sarcasm of Abimelech as tells Sarah of the material blessing given to her “brother”.
Vs. 17-18 God’s grace is clearly upon Abraham as God restores him to be used as an instrument of blessing upon Abimelech as he should have been all along. What a great God we serve who uses us in spite of us.