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Series Theme: FRAMEWORKS: Genesis

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FRAMEWORKS: Genesis 20: Abraham & his failure with Abimelek


v.1,2 Abraham goes south

v.3-7 God rebukes Abimelek in a dream

v.8-13 Abimelek Challenges Abraham who explains

v.14-18 Abimelek puts it right



v.1,2 Abraham goes south


v.1,2 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.


[Notes: Abraham goes south again and pretends Sarah is his sister again. The local king comes and takes her. He has still not learnt that the Lord will protect him after the debacle in Egypt back in Gen 12. What is amazing about this is that she is clearly an old lady although, presumably still very beautiful.]



v.3-7 God rebukes Abimelek in a dream


v.3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.”

v.4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation?

v.5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,' and didn't she also say, ‘He is my brother'? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.”

v.6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her.

v.7 Now return the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.”


[Notes: In a dream the Lord rebukes the king who protests his innocence. The Lord says He is aware of that which is why He has kept her from him. He should return her to Abraham and if he doesn't he will die.]



v.8-13 Abimelek Challenges Abraham who explains


v.8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid.

v.9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.”

v.10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?”

v.11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.'

v.12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife.

v.13 And when God had me wander from my father's household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”'”


[Notes: The king tells his officials of this and calls Abraham to account who confesses his fear.]



v.14-18 Abimelek puts it right


v.14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him.

v.15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.”

v.16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”

v.17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again,

v.18 for the Lord had kept all the women in Abimelek's household from conceiving because of Abraham's wife Sarah.


[Notes: The king returns Sarah to Abraham with gifts and Abraham prays for him. What is amazing about these two chapters is that they do not show up this family in a good light and yet clearly remain under the Lord's care.]



Lessons or Challenges to Ponder from Genesis Chapter 20


1. In this chapter we see that Abraham's faith, so exalted in some ways, is really hitting rock bottom again as he repeats his earlier behaviour (see Ch.12) and demeans his wife. The fact that God continues on with His ‘Abraham Project' speaks volumes of His grace, mercy and understanding of frail humanity that keep getting it wrong.

2. The challenge must be to bring this into our lives today, not to use it as an excuse for getting it wrong, but a reassurance that God will keep on with us when we do on, hopefully, rare occasions, (see 1 Jn 2:1,2 - note the ‘IF' in v.1)



Continue to Chapter 21