About Jesus Steve Sweetman
And Abimelech (ch. 20:1 - 18)
In verses 1 and 2 we see
that Abraham and his people move southward, to what we'd call the southern
region of Canaan, closer to Egypt.
In verse 2 we see
Abimelech mentioned. Abimelech is not a personal name.
It is a generic term for a Philistine king, much like the word
Pharaoh is the Egyptian king. Caesar
would be another example. It
is more of a title than a name.
Earlier in Genesis we saw
Abraham and his family move from the
In verse 2 we see Abraham
doing the same thing now that he has moved south.
Obviously he did not learn his lesson from the first time.
When he entered this land he made it known to everyone that Sarah,
now quite old, but I guess still good looking, was not his wife but his
sister. This had the same
result as it had in Egypt. Abimelech the king took
Sarah to be his wife, or one of is wives.
It is interesting for me
to note that Abraham lied shortly after God had made yet another promise,
and the most specific to date, that Sarah would finally have a son.
It's my thinking that man, and maybe even satan got in the way and
attempted to hinder or stop God's will from being done.
God had to step in and fix the situation caused by Abraham's lie.
This might have been somewhat innocent on Abraham's part, but I'm
sure it wasn't on satan's part.
The problem would have
been, if Sarah would have had sex with Abimelech, and if she had have a
baby boy as promised, whose son would he be?
Would he be Abraham's son or Abimelech's son?
This would have totally messed up the idea that Abraham's
descendents had a real part to play in the will of God.
It would have brought much confusion into the whole matter.
Not knowing who Isaac belonged to would have totally destroyed the
idea of God's special chosen people from which Jesus would be born. You
can see such satanic events as this all through the Old and New
Testaments. Satan is
constantly trying to disrupt the will of God.
I see verse 3 as being
extremely interesting. The
text says that "God came to Abimelech in a dream".
God can speak to those to whom He chooses to speak to.
They don't have to be Christian or Jews.
The nature of what God says is a warning.
He said, "you are as good as dead because of the woman you
have taken, she is a married woman".
God is upset with
Abimelech but He knew Abimelech's actions were done in ignorance so God is
giving Abimelech the chance to right the wrong he did in ignorance. If the
wrong is not corrected, then Abimelech dies.
God is just. He will
always make room for repentance, even if the sin is done in ignorance or
In verse 4 we see that
even though Abimelech took Sarah to be his wife, he had not yet had sex
with her, and in his words, he had not come close to her.
So he asked the Lord, "will you destroy an innocent
nation?" First of all
Abimelech calls God Lord, that's Lord with a capital "L", not
lord with a small "l". Abimelech
knows to whom he is talking to. He
is the God of all there is. He
is the Creator God.
Abimelech points out in
verse 5 that he is innocent because he took Sarah to be his wife in
ignorance of the fact that she was Abraham's wife.
His actions were based on Abraham's lie.
Abraham told him that Sarah was his sister, not his wife.
How could God wipe out him, and his nation because of this?
This did not seem to be a righteous act on the part of God in the
mind of Abimelech.
This sounds like when
Abraham questioned God two chapters earlier.
Abraham asked God if He'd really wipe out the righteous with the
wicked, which we know God wouldn't do.
Now Abimelech basically says that same thing.
Will you wipe out a nation because of a sin of ignorance.
So for this very reason, God gives Abimelech the chance to fix the
situation he is in. This is
called repentance, that is, give Sarah back to Abraham.
One thing we learn here
is that Abraham, the man who God declared righteous, caused another man to
sin. We do the same today.
Many Christians cause others, both Christian and non-Christian
alike to sin. This should not
The amazing thing here is
that God still views Abraham as righteous.
That never changes no matter how many times Abraham sins.
This is very important to understand, because this proves more than
ever that our salvation is by trusting God, not by any good or bad thing
we do. And, this trust not
only gets us saved, but keeps us saved.
Keeping our salvation depends solely on trust.
Nothing else. Some
suggests this proves the doctrine of "once saved always saved",
but it doesn't. Abraham may
have sinned, as we do, but he never gave up his trust.
When we give up our trust in God, at that point we lose our
salvation, and not earlier. Abraham
may have failed to trust from time to time, but failing to trust is not
giving up your trust for good.
In verse 6 we see that
God acknowledges the fact that Abimelech sinned in ignorance, as with a
"clear conscience" as He puts it.
I think this tells us something about the justice of God.
We know that God is just and thus He must punish sin, but here we
see that sin acted from a clear conscience does not seem to be punishable,
but acting justly, God gives place for repentance.
This might help answer,
and I say might, because this is a large subject, the question that is
often asked, "will god punish those who have never heard the gospel
of Jesus?" The bottom
line answer to this question is, "God is just, and whatever He does,
you can count on it being just".
We also learn in verse 6
that it was God himself that kept Abimelech from sinning.
Somehow behind the scenes God prevented Abimelech from having sex
with Sarah. This is important.
First of all, we see that the consummation of a marriage is
important to God. Abimelech
took Sarah to be his wife, but as we see, God prevented them from having
sex. To me that suggests the
importance of that first act of sex in a marriage as the act of final
union of husband and wife.
You might also notice
that the sin wasn't against Sarah or against Abraham.
The text says that God prevented Abimelech from sinning against
"Him", as in God Himself. If
Abimelech would have had sex with Sarah, God would have viewed that sin in
a very personal way, as a sin against Himself. We see this as a basic
element of sin. We may sin
against others, but in the long run, whatever the sin is, it is in fact a
sin against God. We need to
see all sins we commit as sins against God.
Yet another way we might
want to view this sin of Abimelech's is that if he would have had sex with
Sarah, causing the son to be born of Sarah to be in doubt, that is, who
the father was, that would certainly be a sin against God.
That would have messed up God's plan for the chosen people for good
and brought much confusion to the situation and the lineage that Jesus
would be born from.
In verse 7 God tells
Abimelech to return Sarah to "the prophet".
The retuning of Sarah would be repentance on the part of Abimelech
that would free him from God's judgment.
Repentance, a subject that does not get lots of attention these
days is a prerequisite for escaping the wrath of God.
We need to speak of repentance much more than we do.
We also see here that God
called Abraham a prophet. This
is the first mention of such a designation given to Abraham.
You might ask in what way he was a prophet.
Well, God spoke many things to Abraham and Abraham in turned passed
what God spoke along to others. Hearing
from the Lord, and then passing what you've heard along to others is in
fact what prophecy is. That's
why we can call Abraham a prophet.
Prayer was involved in
Abimelech's repentance. He
would return Sarah to Abraham, and then Abraham would pray to God so God
would withhold judgment against Abimelech.
The prayer of the saints for one needing repentance is often part
of the repentance process.
The question arises,
"why is Abraham portrayed as a prophet, as a godly man when he was
the one who made Abimelech sin in the first place".
Once again, the answer boils down to one word, and that is the word
declared Abraham to be righteous because he simply believed that God would
do as He promised. That's it – nothing else.
Abraham was not declared righteous because he was righteous.
It's clear that he was not all that righteous at times, and this
occasion proves that.
If I were Abimelech, I'd
be obeying God at this point but scratching my head about Abraham being
the one that should pray for me. It
just wouldn't seem right.
The last part of verse 7
says that if Abimelech didn't return Sarah, he'd surely die.
Judgment would come on him. That
too is part of the gospel message we preach today.
We all sin out of ignorance, as Abimelech did.
Yet once presented with the fact that we are sinners, that we sin
against both God and man, we must repent.
If we don't repent we will suffer the wrath of God.
That' shows how important repentance is.
In verses 8 and 9 we see
that Abimelech calls Abraham in. Abimelech
is very upset because Abraham has placed him and his nation in a state of
guilt before God. Abimelech
has the right to be very upset with Abraham.
Abimelech asked Abraham what his reasoning was for doing such a
In verse 11 Abraham
begins to answer Abimelech. He
thought to himself that there was no fear of God in this place, and that
was probably true by what he saw in the people. Because
this nation had no fear of God, Abraham once again feared that they'd kill
him so the men of the nation could take Sarah.
Again, this is the second time Abraham has done this.
The man of faith seemed to be unable to trust God in this matter.
In my thinking, one thing
that Abraham failed to notice is that he really didn't have any fear of
God either. The fear of God
produces real trust in God, and at this point, Abraham failed to trust
God. Abraham lacked the same
fear of God that he claimed Abimelech's nation lacked.
After all we've learned
about Sarah, we learn something important in verse 12.
Abraham, as part of his defense is suggesting that what he told
Abimelech although was a lie, was only partially untrue.
Still, something that is not fully the truth, is a lie.
Abraham says that Sarah is his half sister, and his wife.
They both had the same father, but different mothers.
This was his defense.
Verse 13 clearly states
that this lie was the plan of Abraham from the very beginning.
Before he left
In verses 14 and 15 we
see the graciousness of Abimelech. He
actually returned Sarah with all sorts of cattle.
Abraham, as in
Back in Genesis 12, part
of the Abrahamic Covenant as stated by the words of God said that He would
bless those who bless Abraham and curse those who curse Abraham.
Abimelech may not have understood this, but after being confronted
by God with the curse of death, he knew what he had to do.
Abimelech blessed Abraham with all these things and avoided the
We need to note here that
Abimelech blessed Abraham even though Abraham was clearly in the wrong,
but that doesn't change the situation.
God chose Abraham, and for this reason alone the blessings and the
cursings of the covenant were in effect.
The same applies to Israel
today. God has chosen Israel, and for this
reason a along the covenant concerning blessings and
cursing is in tact.
The reason why we need to
is simply because God chose them to be a special nation.
That's it. No other
reason is necessary.
Another point to consider
here is the reason why Abimelech blessed Abraham.
It wasn't because he feared Abraham.
Abimelech and his army was most likely stronger than Abraham and
his people. Abimelech feared
God. Abimelech feared what God
would do to him if he did not bless Abraham.
The same should apply to us today.
We don't bless Israel because we fear them or anyone else.
We bless Israel because we fear God and what He will and can do if
we don't. The fear of God is
clearly lacking in western nations today.
In verse 16 Abimelech
said to Sarah that he was giving Abraham a large sum of money to cover the
offence. He not only gave
Sarah back, but he gave Abraham money and cattle.
Sometimes repentance requires restitution, yet I believe this
particular act of restitution might well have been voluntary.
One thing that restitution shows is that the repentance is real.
Verse 17 tells us that
Abraham prayed for Abimelech and so God healed him, his wife and his slave
girls. Verse 18 tells us what
the problem was. God closed
the wombs of Abimelech's wife and
also his slave girls because he took Sarah to be his wife. But now, God
fixed that. This means that
Abimelech could now have sex with his wife and his slave girls in order to
have children. This raises the
question concerning adultery here.
Was God suggesting that
it was okay for Abimelech to have sex with his slave girls?