Faithful Father, bring Your cleansing, renewing power to my wayward heart through Your Word and Spirit now.
Read Genesis 20:1-18
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“The Bible is not written to a perfect people, but to a perfecting people” (Jane Hansen).
Just when God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah is about to reach fulfillment, we encounter a nail-biting setback. Abraham reverts to an old habit. This man was brave and victorious when he set out to war against four kings. Yet when he looks at the continued sexual attractiveness of his wife, even in her maturity, he has a fearful fantasy of assassination. Once again he involves Sarah in a lie, and she is abducted by a king. There are similarities with the incident involving Egypt’s Pharaoh (Gen. 12:10-20) but there are marked contrasts. Abimelech of Gerar proves to be a conscientious, God-fearing ruler. His good behavior shows up Abraham’s failures. If Abraham rose in our estimation when we compared him with Lot, he comes down to size again.
The real hero of this story is God. His grace and blessing are not conditional on Abraham’s merits. Despite his failures, Abraham has been chosen to be a prophet (7) with access to the heavenly council (18:17). He is to exercise his ministry by praying for Abimelech and his women folk. They are in real physical danger and distress, and God heals them. This sequence makes it clear that Abraham’s God is Lord of all the nations on earth. As his chosen servant and prophet, Abraham’s role to bless reaches well beyond his own community. With this prayer, the women of the household become fruitful again. We shall soon see his personal prayer for Sarah answered. She also conceives, and we are firmly assured that Abimelech had nothing to do with that (6,17). Out of the incident comes mutual respect between Abraham and Abimelech, and this opens an area of the Negev to Abraham’s household. It will be very important territory for Isaac in the years to come.
Are there failures that you should recognize and confess? If so, do so and ask God for help to avoid future ones.
Loving Lord, I am grateful to know that sometimes You use me in spite of my waywardness. Help me refocus on You and Your priorities for my life.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.