God's Sovereign Protection [Genesis 20]
1Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. 2Abraham said of Sarah his wife, "She is my sister " So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. 3But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, "Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married."
4Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, "Lord, will You slay a nation, even though blameless? 5"Did he not himself say to me, 'She is my sister'? And she herself said, 'He is my brother ' In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this." 6Then God said to him in the dream, "Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. 7"Now therefore, restore the man's wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours."
8So Abimelech arose early in the morning and called all his servants and told all these things in their hearing; and the men were greatly frightened. 9Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, "What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done." 10And Abimelech said to Abraham, "What have you encountered, that you have done this thing?"
I was looking forward to reading Genesis this morning. My heart was still stirred with the joy that the fulfillment of the promise of a son for Abraham and Sarah was in sight. I opened to Genesis 20 ready to hear about the birth of Isaac. Instead, I read this story. What? I know this story but it happened at this time in his life? Within in the next three months she is going to get pregnant! I am stunned. My thoughts burst out, "Abraham, what were you thinking?" My husband looked up and said, "He was probably thinking, 'This is what my wife wants, so I'll do it.'" (He had no clue what story I was reading, but his answer spoke volumes.) I retorted back, "No, he was worried about saving his own skin."
I want to slap him. He endangered his wife, his marriage, the covenant he had with God, his future, all because he was afraid someone would kill him for his beautiful wife? This is the man who was righteous because of his faith? But I see God's response to Abraham's foolishness is very different than mine. God intervened and saved Abraham. And Sarah. And the covenant. And Abimelech who was innocent. And his kingdom.
I am getting the sense that God understood Abraham fears. He had had this fear for years. He answered, "and it came about, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said to her, 'This is the kindness which you will show to me: everywhere we go, say of me, "He is my brother."
(She was his half-sister but she was also his wife.) I also see that God was gracious to let him get into this situation that would finally address this fear. Especially at this time. His wife is about to become pregnant with their first child. And as I think these thoughts I am so thankful that God did not respond in disgust the way I did. His love for Abraham included loving him enough to bring this fear to the surface without condemning him. God addressed it with truth. He used a sticky situation and an innocent man to ask Abraham the question he needed to answer. He provided protection for everyone involved while working in Abraham's life. Wow.
Lord, we praise You that You are so Sovereign that You can use something like this to work for Your good in everyone involved. You are able to protect us in the midst of our foolishness and redeem it in a way that purifies our faith. In love You train us for our good so that we may share in Your holiness. (Hebrews 12:10)