Read Genesis 20:1-18
I would have thought that by now Abraham was starting to get it.
I think God has been pretty clear about Sarah. Last time Abraham let another man have her, he was publicly embarrassed, led out of Egypt by Pharaoh’s soldiers.
Still, here he goes again: “She is my sister.”
And again, I wish we knew what he was thinking. Is he counting on another rescue from God? Or is he just afraid and doing what comes naturally?
I suppose I should remember that, when I read the story, all the visits from God are jammed together into a few chapters, but to Abraham the visits are few and far apart, with countless ordinary days between them. We do know that the last visit was less than a year ago, since God promised them a baby within a year – but it could have been a few months ago. Long enough to sort-of forget.
And now Abimelech is in his face and God is, you know, invisible. So Abraham falls back to the plan he made before he knew God, “tell them you’re my sister”. It’s not technically a lie but still it is, because it leaves out that she’s also his wife – which matters.
I wonder if maybe this is just normal behavior for the time and place, but then I watch both Pharaoh and Abimelech and I know it’s not. They are outraged. They feel cheated and lied to. Clearly, what Abraham does is wrong, even by the standards of his day.
And this is the man God will use to bless the whole world.
So, what does God do? What does God do with Abraham now that he should know better but still doesn’t? Still makes the same mistakes he did at the start?
He helps him.
God talks to Abimelech and basically says: You mess-a with Sarah, I break-a your face.
And Abimelech believes.
But that’s not all God does. Abraham wimped out and Abraham lied – again – but still God deliberately honors him before Abimelech by answering his prayers and healing Abimelech’s people.
What do you think this does for Abraham and Sarah?
I think their faith grows, and their love for this incredibly patient, wonderfully consistent God who seems determined to bless them, no matter what.
Even sin and failure won’t stop him