Last week we saw the tragic results of Lot's wasted life in the world. Tonight we will see the journey of Abraham continue, but not without its problems. When we last saw Abraham he was in fellowship with God interceding on behalf of his nephew.
This chapter opens with the statement that Abraham continued his journey. However, in verse two we find that he falls back to his scheming ways and resorts to deception to protect himself from harm. If we did not know who Abraham was, and we would read this chapter for the first time, we certainly would not think that this would be the man God would choose to build a great nation and bless all the people of the world!
This is a reminder of the truth of God's Word. The Bible tells us exactly the way it is, and when we look at a character we find that God shows us all of the blemishes and flaws. We can learn some things from Abraham's failure about what happens when a believer sins.
I. Believers Do Sin. v1?2
A. Abraham deceives Abimelech.
1. He resorts to the same tactic he had used in Egypt.
(Genesis 12:13) Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
2. He had told the Egyptians that Sarah was his sister out of fear for his life.
3. Then Pharaoh took Sarah to be his wife.
4. This brought the judgment of God upon Pharaoh's house.
B. Abimelech the King took Sarah to be his wife.
1. It was the custom for a king to take any single woman that pleased him.
2. Even though she was past 90 years old, Sarah was still a very beautiful woman and was taken by Abimelech to be his wife.
3. Abimelech had no idea that Sarah and Abraham was married ... he believed them to be brother and sister.
C. Why would Abraham do this?
1. He was like each of us, he still had a sinful nature.
2. He was walking by sight and not by faith.
(Genesis 20:11) And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife's sake.
3. He had failed to judge this sin in the past, and now, Sarah had shared in the lie.
(Genesis 20:5) Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
II. When Believers Sin, the Result is Suffering. v3?7
A. Abraham lost his character.
1. Abimelech is the one with integrity.
2. Abraham is the deceiver and liar.
3. God agrees with this assessment.
B. Abraham lost his testimony.
1. How could he talk with Abimelech or others about the God of Truth when he had proven himself to be a liar?
2. Lot lost his testimony in Sodom, and Abraham lost his in Gerar.
C. Abraham lost his ministry.
1. Instead of being a source of blessing, he was the cause of judgment.
2. No babies were born during this time.
(Genesis 20:18) For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.
3. When a child of God gets out of the will of God, the discipline of God usually follows.
4. It usually affects others: Jonah and the sailors on board; Achan and the defeat of the army; David brought sorrow to his family.
D. Abraham tempted God.
1. Through his deception he forced God to intervene miraculously.
2. Abimelech would have innocently taken Sarah as his wife.
3. What would have become of the promised seed?
4. God had to intervene and stop this from happening.
5. So He speaks to Ahimelech in a dream and explains what was happening.
III. Sinning Believers can be Forgiven and Restored.
A. Abimelech confronts and rebukes Abraham. v8-10
1. How embarrassing this must have been for Abraham.
2. To have an unsaved man rebuke you for what you have done.
3. "...Thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done."
B. Abraham makes excuses for his sin. v11-13
1. He says it was because of his fear.
2. He then tries to convince Abimelech that he really wasn't lying ... she is my half-sister.
3. At this point Abimelech isn't responding to Abraham's reasoning.
4. However, Abraham apparently did confess and repent of his sin before God.
5. He is later seen praying for Abimelech and God answers his prayers.
C. Restoration and healing takes place. v14-18
1. Abimelech and his servants understood the importance of obedience to God.
2. They responded out of fear, not out of faith.
3. Sarah was returned to Abraham along with presents and a thousand pieces of silver.
4. Abraham was able to be a blessing to Abimelech after all.
Perhaps God included this account to help us not become too self-righteous in reading the account of Lot's tragic life. Even a man who was the friend of God can fall. God never defended Abraham's deceptive sin, but He did defend Abraham. God does not reject His children when they sin anymore than a parent rejects their children when they do wrong. Thank God we are justified by faith, and our position in Christ is not determined by our practice on earth.