Who do you look up to? Have they ever disappointed or surprised you by what they said or did? Abraham is among the hall of fame of faith, and yet he sometimes struggles to believe just like me.
Read: Genesis 20, 21, 22; Mark 5
Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife’.” Genesis 20:11
Sometimes we don’t connect the dots to see the whole picture. Let’s put Abraham’s story together, so we can better understand what happened when he came into Abimelech’s territory.
In Genesis 17, two significant things happen in his life at the age of ninety-nine. First, God appears to him giving him the covenant of circumcision, the sign of God’s promise to multiply his descendants and give them possession of the land. Every male eight days old or older was to be circumcised in his flesh; anyone not circumcised had broken covenant with the LORD and was to be cut off from among the people. On that day Abram and every male in his household were circumcised according to God’s word.
That same day the LORD changed Abram’s name, which meant exalted father, to Abraham, which means father of a multitude. Likewise, God changed his wife’s name from Sarai to Sarah; both mean princess, but the subtle change may reflect the distinction in dialects having come out of Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan further tying Abraham and his household to the Promised Land. However, what should not be overlooked is that at this time the LORD specifically tells Abraham that he will be given a son through his wife Sarah.
Soon thereafter the LORD again appears to Abraham at the door of his tent by the oaks of Mamre. Abraham has a covenant meal prepared and while they eat it together, the LORD tells him, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife shall have a son” (Gen. 18:10). Following the meal, the LORD looked down toward Sodom; the LORD asked the men (most likely angels) with Him if he should hide what was about to happen from Abraham. Thus the LORD reveals that he is about to pour out His judgement upon Sodom and Gomorrah because of the outcry of evil from these cities. Abraham interceded with the LORD to not destroy the righteous with the ungodly; ultimately, God agreed that if even 10 righteous people were found, the cities would be spared.
In chapter 19, God rescues Lot and his family from Sodom and Gomorrah. Early the next morning Abraham returns to the place where he had interceded before the LORD and looks down into the valley. From that place Abraham sees, “the smoke of the land went up like the smoke of a furnace” (Gen. 19:28).
Chapter 20 begins telling us that Abraham journeyed from there and lived between Kadesh and Shur. It is here that Abraham tells those living in the land that Sarah is his sister, and she affirm his story saying that he is her brother. As a result Abimelech takes Sarah (a 90 year old woman by the way) into his harem. She is there for some time because the LORD closed all the wombs of the women in Abimelech’s household making them barren.
Why did Abraham act in this way causing Abimelech to sin even though he acted in with integrity of heart? Look again at what Abraham said, “I did it because I thought, ‘There is no fear of God at all in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife’.”
Have you followed Abraham’s storyline with me? The LORD gave him a specific promise that Sarah would give him a son within the next year. The LORD also displayed His power over those who did not fear God giving themselves continually to the evil desires of their hearts. So exactly what did Abraham have to fear knowing the LORD’S promise and power?
Abraham is known as ‘the father of faith,’ for by his faith the LORD declared him righteous. Yet living in Abimelech’s territory Abraham’s faith is weak. He is fearful for his life and doubts if the LORD will keep the promise made for Sarah to give him a son. Yet even in the weakness of Abraham’s faith God intervened reuniting him with his wife Sara. Months later, Genesis 21 tells us that Isaac, the child of promise, was born just as the LORD had said.
God showed mercy to Abraham. And the LORD has been merciful to us giving us the sure hope of eternal life. Therefore, the scriptures tell us to “have mercy on those who doubt” (Jude 1:22).
When with uncertainty I face difficulty I need to remember God’s mercy and faithfulness to me and not give into doubt or fear. And when others doubt I need to allow the Holy Spirit to help me encourage them to not give up.
Yes to Yield
LORD Jesus, thank You for Your faithful mercy. You provide and protect in unexpected and sometimes even in unknown ways for all of us who belong to You. Forgive me when I act in doubt rather than faith. Holy Spirit strengthen me to not focus on my circumstances but upon Your faithful love. And LORD, help me to also recognize when others are struggling with doubt, and give me wisdom to speak words of life to lift their spirit to trust in You.