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Repeated Mistakes — Genesis Chapter 20

This blog post will cover the devotionals #100, 101 for Genesis Chapter 20.


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[100] Genesis 20:1-18

King Abimelech had ‘innocently’ taken Sarah to be a part of his harem (considering their claim to be siblings). Even when done in ignorance, sin is still sin, and inexcusable / unjustifiable. Thus, there were consequences for the presence of sin in their home. The women had all become infertile, and Abimelech (at the very least) was going to die. God is so merciful. He came to the king before he’d officialized his intended relationship with Sarah. God said, “Look, you are a dead man because of the woman which you have taken, because she is a man’s wife…Yes, I know that you did this in the integrity of your heart; I also prevented you from sinning against Me: therefore, I did not allow you to touch her. Now therefore, restore the man his wife…he will pray for you, and you will live: and if you do not restore her, know that you will surely die—you, and all that are yours.” God cared about these people and maintaining their integrity. He was warning him what their inevitable course would result in—sin and death. Once Abimelech was made aware of his sticky situation, and of the wrong he’d do by sleeping with Sarah, he was able to make a conscious decision before it was too late. He could’ve moved forward, justifying himself based on Abraham and Sarah’s claims, but he would’ve suffered for it. Thankfully, Abimelech only justified his innocent intentions based on their claims and did nothing further. He immediately confronted Abraham about his deception and returned Sarah to him. Abraham prayed and God restored the king’s household to perfect health. Ironically, the same issue Sarah had (until just after this incident) is what this king’s household suffered with (until things were made right)—infertility. In devotional #81, we saw Abram and Sarai’s family sojourning in Egypt. Here, we see them sojourning in Gerar. Both times, they made many of the same mistakes. The first time they lied about their relationship—the king who took her to wed was affected by plagues. The second time, the king was affected by infertility and impending death. We saw, the first time, that Abraham’s allowance of the king to take his wife to himself was putting him at risk of losing the promise God made to him to provide a son through her. Now, just before she was to provide that son, so many years later, he allowed the same risk to come up again. As we’ll see, in devotional #101, it was right after this happened that Sarah was finally able to conceive Isaac (Genesis 21). Imagine being so close to God’s fulfilled promise, and to just barely miss it with one mistake! However, this was no mistake. The first time was a mistake. This time, there was no excuse for it. Both Pharaoh and Abimelech took their knowledge and applied it to wisdom—and returned the woman to her husband to end the consequences affecting their households and avoided sinning. Both times, Abraham acted out of fear for his life, rather than depending on God to preserve him. Both kings were highly offended by the deceit and the sin it caused them to commit (or almost commit)—even if in ignorance. Both times, they were sent away with riches (though for different reasons). It had to be a severe case of déjà vu for this couple. Two times, Abraham and Sarah made the mistake of claiming to be merely siblings. After the first situation with Pharoah, and what it led to with Hagar (as we saw in devotional #85) you’d think they wouldn’t have repeated the same mistake! And unfortunately, as we’ll see in devotional #122, Isaac (their son) and his wife would repeat the exact same mistake with Abimelech, king of Gerar. I bet he must have gotten tired of that family’s antics!

[101] Genesis 20:16

When Abimelech spoke with Sarah concerning the wrong done, he referred to Abraham as her brother (which is what she and Abraham had both called him)—pointing out his own ‘innocence’ in the matter (though he was still sorry for his ignorant sin). There were several things he could’ve been saying by the phrase, “Look, he is to you a covering of the eyes…” Abraham should’ve guarded her from the desiring gazes of other men (but didn’t), and the shame committed against her should be concealed / overlooked (because it was made right). Now, the verse states that she was ‘reproved’, but the Strong’s Concordance definition shows it to mean, ‘justified’ or ‘righted’. In giving Abraham the large sum of money (along with the cattle and the right to dwell where they wished)—it’s shown to mean that Abimelech had made amends for what he’d done, and that he’d treated her honorably, and they shouldn’t need to feel shame for the indignity. By mentioning all those that were with them (Sarah’s family)—it was referring to the need for her character (and that of her family) to be publicly vindicated for the appearance of evil. In many cultures, when a woman became the mistress of another man, her whole family was disgraced. Thus, Abimelech’s gift wasn’t only to save the honor of Sarah, but of her whole household.

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