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Saturday, October 26, 2019

2019.10.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ Genesis 20

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Abraham go in Genesis 20:1? What does he say about his wife (Genesis 20:2)? Who takes her? Whom does God visit in a dream in Genesis 20:3? What does He say to him? What does Abimelech ask him in Genesis 20:4? What do we learn that Sarah has done in Genesis 20:5? What claim does Abimelech make about himself? Who agrees with this claim (Genesis 20:6)? What has God done for Abimelech? What does God command Abimelech to do in Genesis 20:7? What does God call Abraham? What does Abimelech need Abraham to do for him? If Abimelech does not return Sarah, what will happen to whom? When does Abimelech rise (Genesis 20:8)? Whom does he tell about this? What is their response? Whom does Abimelech call in Genesis 20:9? In what manner does he speak to him (Genesis 20:9-10)? What specific question does he ask? What is Abraham’s (ironic) answer in Genesis 20:11? What excuse does he give in Genesis 20:12? Whom does he blame in Genesis 20:13a? How does he take some of the blame off of Sarah in verse 13b? In addition to returning Sarah, what else does Abimelech give to Abraham (Genesis 20:14)? What invitation does he make in Genesis 20:15? What value does Abimelech assign to what he has given Abraham to restore Sarah’s honor and set her right (Genesis 20:16)? What does Abraham do in Genesis 20:17? What does God do? What had God done (Genesis 20:18)? What does the Scripture call Sarah in Genesis 20:18?
Back in chapter 12, it must have been jarring to the Israelites who first received the book of Genesis to hear Pharaoh (the wicked Egyptian!) rebuking “good” father Abram. But now that we’re in chapter 20, and he’s a believer, and he’s grown in the faith, and his name is Abraham, he would do better in the same situation, right?

WRONG!

Here in chapter 20, it’s again jarring to hear Abimelech (the wicked Philistine!) rebuking God’s prophet (cf. Genesis 20:7) Abraham. Some readers think that perhaps the rebuke is not well-earned, and that Abraham has done nothing wrong. But the text itself emphasizes that Sarah is his wife (Genesis 20:2) despite what he said, and that she is his wife (Genesis 20:3), and that she is “the man’s wife” (Genesis 20:7), and that Abimelech restored his wife (Genesis 20:14)… and even concludes the account with “Sarah, Abraham’s wife” in Genesis 20:18.

Even Abraham’s sheepish explanation in Genesis 20:11-13 falls on its face. It is Abraham who did not fear God enough, and Abimelech whose fear of God (Genesis 20:3-5) features prominently in the passage and is confirmed even in Genesis 20:6. When Abimelech takes Abraham’s words at the end of Genesis 20:13 to refer to him as “your brother” in talking to Sarah in his public speech in Genesis 20:16, it settles accounts for her public name, but brings shame to Abraham’s weak excuse.

But the point of the passage isn’t so much Abraham’s continued failure. Believers who know ourselves are often shocked to find old habits of sin rearing their ugly heads once again. But, it isn’t great comfort merely to know that other saints have experienced this too. What is a great comfort is to observe God in this passage, relating by grace to His stumbling servant! He’s still defending Abraham’s interests (Genesis 20:3). He still considers him a prophet (Genesis 20:7). He still responds to his prayers as those of a righteous man (Genesis 20:7Genesis 20:17, cf. James 5:16).

It was not for the sake of Abraham’s obedience that the Lord was merciful to him, but for the sake of Christ’s obedience that became Abraham’s righteousness through faith (cf. Genesis 15:6). When we stumble into old patterns of sin, let us rejoice that our Redeemer is this same God of Abraham, and our righteousness is that same righteousness of Christ!
In what ways have you stumbled recently or in the past? What if you stumble again?
Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH433 “Amazing Grace”

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