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July 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; for the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.”—Genesis 20:17-18 (NKJV)
Oftentimes, we come to the end of a book or a movie, and we can look back and say, “Oh! That’s why that happened!” The entire plot suddenly comes together, and the little details we may have overlooked actually play the biggest role in completing the storyline.
Perhaps through your reading of Genesis chapter 20 you overlooked one seemingly insignificant line. God had said to Abimelech, “I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her” (Genesis 20:6 NIV).
Think about it. How and why did God keep Abimelech from sleeping with Sarah? The how is simply a mystery (as infertility can sometimes be). However He did it, God made it impossible for not only Abimelech but his entire household to bear children. This could have been going on for months, we don’t know. But a significant amount of time went by for everyone to notice there was something wrong. In that time, barrenness was often associated with divine displeasure. Perhaps this is the tenor of God’s warning to Abimelech that he was a “dead man” in verse 3. With no heirs, his line would die out.
But more importantly, why did God prevent Abimelech from sleeping with Sarah? To answer this, we need to look back and then forward in Scripture. Remember, in chapter 17 God had promised Abraham he and Sarah would produce an heir, specifically Isaac. If we peek ahead, we read God visited Sarah, and she conceived as God had promised (Genesis 21:1-2). Then, in Genesis 22:18 (NKJV), God announces to Abraham that “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.”
Had Abimelech been intimate with Sarah, there would always be the question as to Isaac’s paternity. But thanks to God’s divine intervention, there is no doubt God’s chosen seed came from Abraham. The apostle Paul reminds us that believers worldwide are the recipients of that promise of blessing through the seed of Abraham, and that offspring is Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16).
So, as the chapter closes, we see it all come together. God’s sovereignty, grace, protection, and blessing follow through in the households of Abimelech and Abraham. Despite Abraham’s deception, God’s mercy and grace covered him, albeit quietly in the background of a tumultuous time.
Given this, I pray we look for God in the details and never fall short of remembering that Jesus plays the biggest role in completing our storyline.
DIG: What role did God’s sovereignty play in the lives of Abraham and Abimelech?
DISCOVER: What has this chapter showed you about God’s grace and the promise of Jesus as Messiah?
DO: Looking back on your life, can you see areas where God was orchestrating the details of your life to prevent you from sinning or bringing you blessing?
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.