Questions for Littles: Where did Abraham end up in v1? What did he say about Sarah there (v2)? What did Abimelech the king do? What does God say to Abimelech in a dream (v3)? What does Abimelech say back to God (v4-5)? Who had kept Abimelech from sinning (v6)? What does God say Abimelech has to do (v7)? What does he need Abraham to do for him? Who lectures whom for his wickedness in v9? What excuse does Abraham give in v11? How does this compare with v8? What other excuse does Abraham give in v12-13? What does Abimelech do in v14-16 to show that Sarah is returned with honor, and not as someone who has been used? What does Abraham do in v17? How does the Lord respond in v17-18?In the passage for this week’s Old Testament reading, we see that the prayers of a righteous man avail much. We also see that the sins of a righteous man can cause much harm.
Imagine, hundreds of years later, being an Israelite in constant warfare with the Philistines, and tempted to look down upon them as irredeemable wasters, and then you read v20. There’s Father Abraham on the receiving end of a stinging, accurate rebuke, and making himself look even worse with his ridiculous excuses.
But there is also the Lord looking out for his interests. The Lord is keeping Abraham’s wife from being violated. The Lord is terrifying the local king on Abraham’s behalf. The Lord is calling Abraham His prophet. The Lord is listening to Abraham’s prayers.
What is going on here? Grace. Abraham’s growth in faith and holiness comes in fits and starts, sometimes with pretty significant setbacks. Does that sound familiar?
Yes, these are opportunities to repent and look anew to God for forgiveness and for strength to redouble effort against sin.
But these are also opportunities to remember that it is God’s absolutely free choice to show favor that is the only ultimate cause of salvation. Just look at what we being-saved people sometimes look like… even Abimelech has a word of rebuke for us! And our Lord patiently listens to our prayers anyway.
The prayers of a righteous (by grace!) man avail much.
Of what sin do you need to repent? Why would God still listen to your prayers?Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or HB300 “Take Time to Be Holy”