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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“And Abraham journeyed from there to the South, and dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, and stayed in Gerar. Now Abraham said of Sarah his wife, ‘She is my sister.’ And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, ‘Indeed you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife.’ But Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, ‘Lord, will You slay a righteous nation also? Did he not say to me, “She is my sister”? And she, even she herself said, “He is my brother.” In the integrity of my heart and innocence of my hands I have done this.” And God said to him in a dream, ‘Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart. For I also withheld you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. Now, therefore, restore the man’s wife; for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you shall live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours.’”—Genesis 20:1-7 (NKJV)
Genesis chapter 20 is complex, has a touch of the supernatural, and leaves us wondering why the Lord gives us this glimpse into the past. But there are object lessons to be seen and among them are fear and integrity.
The first seven verses show Abraham moving into a new region, Gerar, where his wife Sarah catches the eye of the king, Abimelech. Just as with Pharaoh in Genesis 12, Abraham lies and claims Sarah is his sister. We might scratch our heads wondering why he would repeat this deception. The same reason any of us would: fear. Men were often killed in order to free up their wives, but a brother would be spared.
For those who know Scripture, the question could be posed, “Was it a lie? Isn’t Sarah Abraham’s half-sister?” Yes, she was. But a half-truth is still a whole lie, and this faithful friend of God chose the path of deception to deal with his fear. Not surprisingly, God intervenes.
Through a dream, God supernaturally spoke to Abimelech, bluntly announcing he was a dead man. The misled king pleaded his innocence and defended his integrity with a curious word: Abimelech addressed God as “Lord.” Does this mean this pagan king knew of and respected God? That’s unknown. But what we do know is God prevented and preserved Abimelech from sin and death.
Object Lesson 1: We see Abraham, who has been walking with God for twenty-five years. Yet, he lies out of fear. Friend, no matter how long we have been walking with the Lord, there are times we might repeat sinful behavior we thought we’d overcome. That’s okay. The next time fear or temptation rises, just remember God gives wisdom for those with integrity, and He guards the way of the faithful (Proverbs 2:7-8).
Object Lesson 2: We see Abimelech, a man of integrity with some awareness of God. Yet, he is watching a man of God make ignoble choices. Friend, we are ambassadors of Christ, and people are watching. They see the choices we make and the outcomes. We have the blessed opportunity to show them that when fear or temptation rises, we will defer to our risen Lord Jesus who underwent the greatest fear of all and faced it trusting the Father with the outcome.
Let this glimpse into the past be a clear view of the path to take in the future. Surrender any fear and walk with God in integrity.
DIG: What was the root cause of Abraham’s lie about his relationship to Sarah?
DISCOVER: Note how God alerts Abimelech (a pagan king) to his impending sin. Why do you think He did this?
DO: Charles Stanley wrote, “Are you willing to commit to speaking truth even when it’s costly? [It] isn’t worth the loss of character that comes with deception. Seeking to please the Lord and letting Him handle the consequences will always be the best course of action.” Keep these words in mind.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.