Just days before writing this, as the Lord was massaging the message into my heart, our older daughter visited a new church with Roy and me. We sat behind a single father with his two young daughters. The girls were about four and six years old, and when their dad was called out of the service for a few moments, the girls immediately began to squabble. The younger girl hit the older (not too hard), and the older responded the same. The younger gave an angry face and the older dissolved into tears. I saw Trina, watching them intently, and wondered what she was thinking. She elbowed me and giggled – no doubt remembering those days with her sister. Or maybe she wanted me to DO SOMETHING. I thought about stepping in, but no real violence had been committed, and so far no profanity. Then I wondered how often our Heavenly Father watches His children mess up and mess around, all the while holding back until we cross the line. Well, in today‟s Scripture, one of God‟s children made a choice that could have damaged God‟s ultimate plan, and that crossed the line. So God stepped in.
Gen. 20:1-2 – “Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, 'She is my sister.' Then Abimelech king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her.”
- Isn't this eerily, awfully similar to Abraham's earlier sin in Egypt, when he lied to Pharaoh and said Sarah (Gen. 12:13) was his sister? But don't get caught up in the theology. Get caught up in the moment. El-Shaddai promised Sarah would bear Abraham a son – within a year. Abraham lied to save his life, and Sarah is taken to another man‟s harem. You're Abraham. Can you say, “Uh-Oh!” God needed to step in – not because Abraham deserved it, but because God purposed it. Abe messed up – again.
- Notice that God's parental safety net extended both to the chosen (Abraham) and the “unchosen” (Abimelech). There is no indication that Abimelech had recognized El-Shaddai before this moment, yet God extended mercy to him and protected Abimelech from doing a detrimental thing.
- Can you see the squabbling children – Abim and Abe? Instead of obeying God and talking to Abraham right away, Abimelech calls in his friends for their opinions. Then, he publicly accuses Abraham, who makes excuses and justifies his sin instead of owning his deceit. If God could get a heavenly headache, this might do it.
- God moved in Abimelech's heart to: 1) let Abraham remain in the Land (Abimelech had no idea) God had promised to give his descendants; 2) add to Abraham's wealth; and 3) honor Sarah (who was ignored in Egypt's restitution).
- God moved in Abraham's heart to pray for the man who had stolen his sister/wife, and in doing so Abraham saw God's hand not only work on his behalf but through his prayers. Abimelech may not have fully understood why the wombs in his household were closed, but Abraham most certainly knew. Imagine God's power now evident in Abraham's mind – to close wombs…and to open them.