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October 10, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“So Abimelech rose early in the morning, called all his servants, and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were very much afraid. And Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, ‘What have you done to us? How have I offended you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done deeds to me that ought not to be done.’ Then Abimelech said to Abraham, ‘What did you have in view, that you have done this thing?’ And Abraham said, ‘Because I thought, surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will kill me on account of my wife. 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. And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that 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.’”—Genesis 20:8-13 (NKJV)
If you’ve ever heard the words, “What were you thinking?!” then congratulations! You’re a normal human being. Everyone makes mistakes—even Abraham, the faithful friend of God. It’s actually reassuring when we see great men of the Bible slip up. After all, even the best of men are men at best.
What’s more foolish than making mistakes is the absurd excuses we often use to account for them. Again, Abraham is no exception, as seen in today’s section of Scripture. This gives us two object lessons, one on diligence and one on disobedience.
Abraham made the mistake of lying to Abimelech by saying Sarah was his sister, not his wife. God’s divine intervention through a dream alerted Abimelech to the deception and warned him of the potential consequences. God then offered a way out for Abimelech—restore Sarah to her husband (Genesis 20:1-7).
This is where diligence comes into play. Look at verse 8: “Abimelech rose early in the morning . . . ” There was no excuse or hesitation on his part. Abimelech had zero relationship with Jehovah God, yet he recognized Him as a divine being. Without delay, he responded to God’s rebuke by rising early and telling others what God told him. Then, he incredulously asked Abraham, “What have you done?!”
To add insult to injury, Abraham excused himself by essentially saying, “No offense, Abimelech, but this looked like an ungodly place, so we just did what we’ve always done since God sent us out to wander the land—Sarah says I’m her brother, which is partly true.” What we see from Abraham is disobedience replacing faith. Not just his own faith, but the faithfulness God had shown him for twenty-five years.
Object Lesson 1: We see Abimelech, who just met God, diligently respond to what he’s been told. Then, he questioned Abraham, this prophet of God, as to what was “in his view.” Certainly God was not. Who do people say we have “in view” when difficult situations arise?
Object Lesson 2: Abraham made a mistake and then offered three feeble excuses. He indirectly blamed God (who caused him to wander) and didn’t trust God to protect him. When fear crept in, it was easier to fall back into his old way of doing things. What do we fall back on and who do we blame when fear creeps in?
I hope the next time someone asks, “What were you thinking?” it’s because he or she sees Jesus shining within you. If so, congratulations! You are a child of God!
DIG: How would you characterize Abimelech compared to Abraham, based only on what you read in Genesis 20? Go back and read the whole chapter for a refresher.
DISCOVER: Where else did Abraham lie and use this excuse? Hint: Read Genesis 12. What was the same and what was different?
DO: It’s natural to make mistakes, but the next time a compromising situation arises, keep God in view. You’ll save yourself a lot of heartache, and you will definitely be a good witness for the life of Jesus in you.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.