Abraham moved south to live just outside Canaan. We don’t know why. Maybe the ash from the burning of Sodom and Gomarrah affected the land where his animals grazed. Maybe he finally sensed it was time to go releasing Lot to the Lord. Abraham stayed in Gerar and again he lied and told the Abimelech king that Sarah was his sister. She was beauty at 90 years old and she was married to one of the richest and most influential men of the region. Being in Abimelech’s harem was also probably a political statement. Abraham was afraid and had weak faith in God. He thought if Abimelech knew she was his wife, he would be killed. So Abraham lied again as he did when he was in Egypt. What was he thinking? Fear can make us irrational. This shows us that we as well as Abraham can slip back into sinful habits.
The king took her to be his wife, but God spoke to the king in a dream and told him she was a married woman and did not let him touch her. He was to return Sarah to Abraham or he would die. Abimelech asked Abraham why he had done this to him. It is sad to see a pagan king in the right and a man of God in the wrong. Abraham said Sarah was actually his half-sister as well as his wife – Gen. 20:11-12. He tried to justify his lie by telling a half-truth, which is always a whole lie. “When God called me to wander from my father’s house…” – Gen. 20:13. Here he indirectly blamed God for the problem. Abimelech didn’t argue with God. He gave Sarah back to Abraham. God told Abimelech that Abraham was a prophet and that Abraham would pray for him and his people. Abraham was still a man of powerful prayer and God’s mercy didn’t leave him even though he didn’t trust God the way he should.
Abimelech was kind to Abraham even though he was deceived. He gave Abraham sheep, cattle and money to show he was sorry for his actions. Abraham took the money to show he didn’t blame Abimelech. Abraham did suffer though. He suffered shame and the loss of respect among the people and lost the opportunity to be a witness.
God will protect anyone and anything that gets in the way of His plans. No mistake of ours will stop God. It’s clear in Gen 20:17-18 that the women in Gerar could not have children. God sometimes caused women not to have children and at other times he gives children to women. Why does He do this? Maybe when at last a child is born, we give God the credit. It shows how wonderful God is. He wants to show His power. God answered Abraham’s prayers and Abimelech’s people could have children again.
What half-truths have you told?Do you struggle with your sinful nature?
How has God been merciful to you?
Why does Abraham continue to be better off? That’s a description of God’s lavish grace. Jesus took our place and died for our sins even we don’t deserve it. When He returns and we take our place in heaven with a rich inheritance, that is lavish grace.
What are your insecurities - fear, jealousy, bitterness, anger, control?
How is fear stealing your faith?
Principle:God’s grace allows the repeat offender to confess sin and be restored.
Genesis 21:1-21 – Living by Faith
At last Sarah gave birth to a son, Isaac just as God had promised and at the time He had promised. It had been 25 years and God was faithful all along the way. God gave Abraham and Sarah faith. They were very happy, but Abraham’s other son, Ishmael was not. Ishmael was the son of a slave mother and knew he would never be as important as Isaac. He became cruel to Isaac and mocked him. Sarah knew that he was jealous and that there were would be many problems between them to come. She also didn’t want Ishmael to oppose Isaac’s right to lead the family. So she took matters into her own hands again. The last time she did this it was a disaster. She told Abraham to send Hagar and Ishmael away. Abraham was distressed and concerned for his son so this time he consulted God for guidance. This time she was right and God told Abraham to listen to her. Even though he loved Ishmael, Abraham obeyed God and sent them away with food and water. Why didn’t he send them away without a caravan of soldiers to accompany them and protect them? He must have believed that God would provide for them, because He had promised.
Abraham lived near Beersheba near the desert. Hagar and Ishmael wandered into the desert, which was very hot and dry. When the water was gone, Ishmael became weak before Hagar since he was just a child. He was sure to die. She felt hopeless and put him under a bush. He begins to cry, but God heard Ishmael’s cry. An angel from heaven repeated God’s promise to her and for the second time God provided water for them by showing them a well. Why did God promise to bless Ishmael? Because as a descendant of Abraham, he was included in God’s covenant. They continued to live in the desert. Ishmael married and had 12 sons that became great nations just as God promised. – Gen. 21:14-21. These are the 12 nations of the Arab world.
Isaac had a distinct purpose and Ishmael needed to be removed. God has a distinct purpose in your life.
Will influences hinder your walk with God?Has God asked you to do something as you study His word?
Do you want to give up?
Do you feel like Ishmael, crying because you need God’s help?
Are you under a bush with your tissues and chocolate?
Will you let God lead you?
Principle:God can be trusted with whatever our obedience requires.
Genesis 21:22-34 – Living a Testimony
Now Abraham was living his life was a witness and all the people knew that God was blessing him. He had become very wealthy and had many servants. There was a dispute between Abraham and Abimelech over a well that Abraham had dug. Abimelech didn’t want to battle Abraham so he asked for a peace agreement. He knew how big Abraham’s God was and to fight with Abraham would be to attack his God, too. Abraham also wanted peace so he gave gifts to Abimelech. He gave a special gift of the well. This agreement or treaty was made between them and they called it Beersheba. Then Abraham planted a tree and called upon the name of the Lord. He lived in the land for a long time. – Gen 21:22-34. This was the first time that Abraham claimed the land. The planting of the tree showed that he would stay in the region.
What physical reminders do you have to worship God?Will others say you can be trusted?
Principle:As we cooperate with God, He changes us on the inside so others see Him and His gift of grace.
We all live a testimony to something. How is Abraham showing a testimony? He is a man who doesn’t do everything right, but the God loves him and us even though we make mistakes. God is still faithful.
What is your life a testimony to?How does your life show the presence of God? None of us deserve God’s divine intervention.