Thursday, December 30, 2021

Abraham Lies to Abimelek: What lessons can we learn from this story?

Abraham Lies to Abimelek
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Abraham Lies to Abimelek

Abraham is one of my favorite people from the Bible, but he wasn't perfect.  In Genesis 20, we open up with Abraham telling a lie, the same one he told in Genesis 12, that Sarah is his sister rather than his wife. Since Abraham passes Sarah off as his sister, Abimelek takes her.  However, God speaks to Abimelek in a dream telling him that he "is as good as dead" because he has taken a married woman.  Abimelek makes a plea to God explaining that he had not yet touched Sarah and the only reason he took her in the first place is because Abraham told him that Sarah was his sister, not his wife.  God tells Abimelek to return Sarah to Abraham and Abraham will pray for Abimelek, but if Abimelek fails to return Sarah, he and all that belongs to him will die.

The next morning, Abimelek calls his officials and explains what has happened.  Abimelek calls Abraham in and says, "What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done . . . What was your reason for doing this?"

Abraham Lies to Abimelek
Image Credit:  Wenceslaus Hollar - Public Domain Image via Wikimedia Commons

Abraham explains that Sarah is actually his half sister.  They have the same father but not the same mother.  Sarah eventually became his wife.  The problem here is that Abraham told the half truth in order to deceive.  A half truth is still an untruth.  

Abraham's actions could have brought destruction upon Abimelek.

Abimelek returns Sarah to Abraham.  He also brings out sheep, cattle, and male and female slaves to give to Abraham.  This action is a public testament that the wrong here has been righted.  

Abraham prays to God on behalf of Abimelek (intercessory prayer again).  God heals Abimelek and his household so that the females in Abimelek's household are no longer barren as God has kept the women from conceiving because of the situation with Sarah.

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Lessons from Genesis 20

1.  Even when we mess up, God can intervene and use our mistakes for His good.

2.  A half truth is not truth.  It's still a lie.

3. One wrong action on our part can negatively impact the lives of others.

Here is an article by Elizabeth Mitchell from Answers in Genesis that explains more about this story.


Abraham Lies to Abimelek
Abraham Lies to Abimelek

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