Genesis Chapter 20

Abraham and Abimelech
Opening Question: How do you feel when someone tells you that you’re wrong and you know they’re right? I. Observation

A. Context: Near Sodom & Gomorrah, after its destruction (Gen 19:27-28); moved to the Negev, in Gerar (about 10
mi. S. of Gaza [Ryrie]) between Kadesh and Shur (v. 1-2) B. Abraham & Sarah in Gerar 1. In unknown land, so Abraham again poses his wife, Sarah, as his sister (Gen. 12:13, w/Pharoah) 2. The King of Gerar, Abimelech, takes Sarah into his harem (v. 2) but did not go near her (v. 4) C. God confronts Abimelech in a dream 1. His offense: taking a married woman into his harem (v. 3) 2. His reply: innocence, due to Abraham & Sarah’s deception (v. 4-5) 3. God’s reply: “I know…I kept you from sinning…now return the man’s wife” (v. 6-7) a. God did not let Abimelech touch/sleep with Sarah to keep him from sinning against God. b. Possibly by moving in his heart/mind not to, or physically preventing him from doing so (v.17) D. Abimelech’s response to God’s command: Repentance and Restitution 1. Repentance a. Early the next morning (v.8)…made haste to obey God’s command b. Publicly sought out Abraham to confront his dishonesty and make things right (v. 8) 2. Restitution a. To Abraham, he gave livestock (sheep & cattle), slaves (male & female). b. Returned Sarah to her husband and gave Abraham 1000 shekels of silver on her behalf. • This was done publicly as an apology; 20 shekels was the approx. price of a slave [Ryrie] c. Gave them permission to live wherever they wanted on his land. E. Abraham’s response to Abimelech’s confronting his dishonesty: Making excuses for his actions 1. “No fear of God in this place”: He feared for his own life, but what about protecting his wife? 2. “She really is my sister”: This was true (same father, different mothers), but is nothing more than an attempt to make his wrong seem less offensive or even permissible; BUT deception WAS his goal. 3. Previously agreed upon arrangement between him and Sarah; like he was keeping a deal with her. F. Abraham’s response to Abimelech’s repentance and restitution 1. He prayed to God and Abimelech, his wife, and slave girls were healed & could have children (v.17) a. This may support the idea of a physical barrier to Abimelech’s intimacy with Sarah. b. Abimelech is mentioned here as one being healed, but from what? Seems related to bareness. 2. God lifted the curse which He apparently placed on Abimelech’s house because of Sarah (v.18) II. Interpretation A. God sees acts as right or wrong, regardless of our knowledge or motive (see v. 3-7) 1. Abimelech was still held accountable for his wrongdoing, even though it was done in ignorance. B. God interacts in our lives to accomplish his purpose and directs our paths toward accomplishing his will. 1. God had promised that Sarah would bear a child by Abraham. 2. Preventing Abimelech from touching her protected the purity of her womb (even though Abraham did not) & prevented doubt that Isaac was Abraham’s son (not Abimelech’s). C. God deals with man’s sin today just as he did then: Brings it to light & allows us to choose our response. 1. Abimelech chose to respond by repenting and making things right 2. Abraham chose to respond by making excuses and shirking responsibility. 3. In both cases, God gave them the opportunity to respond from their hearts; God did not control them. III. Application

A. Right and Wrong are not relative terms; God’s standards of right and wrong are constant and do not change based on our motives or knowledge/ignorance.

B. God uses the Holy Spirit to convict us of our sin, but he does not control our response (free will). We must consciously choose how we will respond to God’s illuminating our sin. Will we respond with repentance and obedience, like Abimelech, or with excuses like Abraham?

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