Notes Genesis 20

Last week we saw the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and our last look at Abraham was back in Genesis chapter 18 when Abraham stood with God from their vantage point on high and interceded for the people of the plains. This scene shows the great faith of Abraham and the favor he has with God and this favor is exhibited in Genesis 19:29.

And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.

However in Genesis 19: 27-28 we read;

And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.

Having this in mind I want to read the first 2 verses of tonight’s lesson.

Genesis 20:1-2

And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

I want you to look on the map and see where Abraham is headed. Abraham is on his way back down into Egypt and not only is Abraham on his way back to Egypt but it appear his old nature has sprung back to life.

So what happened? Just two chapters ago Abraham was physically having dinner WITH GOD! And after dinner Abraham took on the role that our Lord Jesus Christ now has; in interceding for the lost and for the righteous that are in trouble.

Fear came upon Abraham.

Genesis 19: 27-28

And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.

Fear is opposite of faith.

Psalms 119:120

My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.

This fear is pachad pakh’ad to dread, fear terror.

This is the fear Abraham was most likely experiencing when he looked down on Sodom and Gomorrah and saw God’s judgments.

Now most of us have heard Psalms 111:10

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.

However the Hebrew word here is yir’aw yaw-ray’ a reverent fear; what Abraham felt when he stood before the Lord and interceded for the lost.

One fear draws you closer to God and the knowledge and the other fear drives you away for God.

This is an extremely important lesson for us to learn; especially when dealing with the spiritually weak and lost.

If you tell a person that is lost that God is going to see his sin and destroy him; the turn or burn attitude this is going to drive them away for God.

The lost already know they have messed up. They know they have disappointed their parents, often their spouse. They have even disappointed themselves, so if you tell them; come to God just as you are but you better get right; because God is a just God. They are going to say; I don’t want to have anything to do with coming to God and disappointing or failing Him.

We need to understand that the Cross of Jesus makes all the difference in the world.

Isaiah 45:21-22

Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.

I want you to see something;

Exodus 19:1 KJ

In the third month, when the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai.

Most Bible scholars believe that the Berkeley and several other translations have a better rendering of this verse from the Hebrew;

On the first day of the third month….

Verse 3

Moses went up unto God and the Lord called unto him out of the Mountain.

This was the day Moses went up and received the 10 commandments.

And since Numbers 33:3 tells us Israel left Egypt of the 15th day of the first month; that means that God called Moses up to the mount to receive the 10 commandments 50 days after they left Egypt or the first Pentecost.

But what happened when Moses came down with the tablets?

Exodus 32:25-28

And when Moses saw that the people were naked; (for Aaron had made them naked unto their shame among their enemies:) Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD's side? let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. And he said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Put every man his sword by his side, and go in and out from gate to gate throughout the camp, and slay every man his brother, and every man his companion, and every man his neighbour. And the children of Levi did according to the word of Moses: and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men.

But on the contrary let us read about the Day of Pentecost on Acts chapter 2:1-4

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And what was the direct result:

Peter began to preach

Acts 2: 22-24

Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Acts 2:37-41

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the LORD our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

That is why Paul in Romans 8 speaks of the Spirit as life and the law as death

Romans 8:1-5

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit.

Praise God for the Cross and for the Gift of the Holy Spirit

We should be preach the Gospel not the law. The Gospel is the Good News the Law Judges.

listen to Romans 2:1-4

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

You may say well if I looked over the cities of the plains and saw God’s judgment I would want even more to do right.

The trouble with that is we can not walk out righteousness without the Spirit of God, no matter who much we might fear judgement.

Galatians 5:16-18

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Finally before moving on…

As I pondered fear this week I began to realize another aspect of fear that I have never seen before and that is fear often causes us to be “self- centered”.

When we fear poverty we draw back and will not give unto others. We do not trust God to replenish what we have given and the fear makes us keep what we have for ourselves.

When we fear others it causes us to draw back, draw into ourselves and not give our ourselves.

When we fear death as Abraham did we draw back and often put others in danger to save ourselves just as Abraham did.

So we see that “an event” has taken place around Abraham that has caused him to draw back from God, to draw back from his walk in the Spirit and the bingo the flesh is right there…alive and well.

Abraham instead of focusing on what he knew about God allowed the circumstances around him to change his concept of who he knew in his heart God really was.

We can NEVER, NEVER, NEVER allow our circumstances or the circumstances around us cloud our vision of God.

When Tom gives our testimony he talks about “settling the issue that God loves you” we can never, never judge God’s love by our circumstances.

Tom says,

If I looked at the loss of my health, the loss of my business, the loss of our home, the loss of 2 children; we could not see God; all we could see was our loss.

But we chose; despite our circumstances to believe the Word of God despite our circumstance. This is where we can give Abraham a little slake because the word was not yet written but he did know God and he allow his knowledge of God to become clouded by the circumstances around him and when he did this fear moved in and Abraham drew back from God instead of running to God.

So let’s read this story of Abraham;

1 And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

I want to look back some thirty years earlier when we read;

Genesis 12:14-17

And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house. And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. And the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.

Once again Abraham is acting out of fear and not faith and puts Sarah in danger to save him self and in doing so he also puts God’s plan of salvation also in danger.

I want you also to see that there is another force at play here. The enemy of our soul would have been aware of God’s promise to Abraham that all nations of the earth would be blessed through his seed.

Ephesians 6:11-13

Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Let us look at this armor and see what Abraham has done.

Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, (truth about who God is) and having on the breastplate of righteousness; (Right standing with God) And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace;(Abraham’s peace is gone) Above all, taking the shield of faith,(he is acting out of fear not faith) wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation,(our salvation is by being in relationship with God, looking to Him for our salvation) and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Abraham had God’s word which was personally given unto him when he said, I AM thy shield and thy exceeding great reward.

So God in His mercy for Abraham and for all who will be saved through the seed of Abraham must step in and intervene.

Verses 3

But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife.

One short note; I want you to see how God views the taking of another man’s wife.

Yet this sickness that came upon Abemelech and on his people was not to destroy them but it was to get their attention so that God’s will could be preserved.

I also want you to see how our acting out of faith can affect those around us.

Verses 4-5

But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, LORD, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? 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.

Abimelech defends himself by saying he did not know she was Abraham’s wife.

And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.

There are several things to look at in these verses.

1. This sickness came upon Abimelech as an act of God’s mercy so that Abimelech would sin and interfere with God’s plans.

2. If Abimelech did not align himself up with God’s will the sickness would remain.

3. If he obeyed God he would live.

4. God calls Abraham a prophet was latterly means “one inspired by God”. I don’t believe he was inspired by God to go down into Egypt but God is going to deal with that.

5. God still connects Abraham with Abimelech’s blessing. God chooses to work through his people. Even when we mess up, God will deal with us; I believe this is God mercy in protecting Abraham.

Verses 8-10

Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing?

Listen to the anger of this King. It is a good thing he knows his healing is going to come through Abraham’s prayer.

And isn’t this the question that is on our heart when we see one of our leaders in Christendom stumble.

Verses 11-13

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. And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father's house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother.

This is a poor defense and I believe that Abraham knows it. Once again Abraham is corrected by those he should be an example to.

Verses 14-16

And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.

Once again we see how God through his mercy can turn our mess into a miracle.

Verses 17-18

So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham's wife.

This prayer is not recorded but I am quite certain there was some repenting going on. We cannot judge our brother, they are God’s concern, if anything we need to be praying for those who have stumbled and made poor decisions. We do not know the scope of the events that caused them to turn from faith to fear and from God centeredness to self-centeredness which is always the fruit of fear.

But we do see that God hears and answers Abraham prayer and heals Abimelech.

I want to close with 2 scriptures from the New Testament.

1. 1 John 6-9

If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

2. James 5:15-16

the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.