Genesis 20:1-7,15-18 Now Abraham journeyed from there toward the land of the Negev, and settled between Kadesh and Shur; then he sojourned in Gerar. Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream of the night, and said to him, “Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is married.” Now Abimelech had not come near her; and he said, “Lord, will You slay a nation, even though blameless? “Did he not himself say to me, ‘She is my sister’? And she herself said, ‘He is my brother.’ In the integrity of my heart and the innocence of my hands I have done this.” Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. “Now therefore, restore the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not restore her, know that you shall surely die, you and all who are yours”... Abimelech said, “Behold, my land is before you; settle wherever you please.” To Sarah he said, “Behold, I have given your brother a thousand pieces of silver; behold, it is your vindication before all who are with you, and before all men you are cleared.” Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelech and his wife and his maids, so that they bore children. For the LORD had closed fast all the wombs of the household of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
The last time Abraham asked his wife Sarah to say that she was his sister was back in Egypt when they had sojourned there (chapter 12). The problem was similar and the result was the same - God spared Abraham, Sarah and the rulers who took Sarah to be their wife.
We need to remember here that even though Sarah was in her 90s, she obviously looked physically much, much younger and was certainly so beautiful that men found her attractive and wanted to have her as their wives.
Also, Abraham was not lying about his relationship to Sarah because she was his sister through his Dad but not through his Mum. This whole situation seems bizarre but in those days, there were many such cultural oddities that we will not understand till we get our heads around their culture and the growth of polytheism and resultant sinfulness.
The question that comes to my mind when I considered this passage is God's support for Abraham and the purpose of this situation?
Abraham's way of dealing with this situation prior to God's intervention seems rather strange considering he had a bitter experience before in Egypt, but it seems to be a result of living in a land not his own and trying to save his skin and his wife's as they dealt with people of no moral repute.
God's timing was perfect because He gave Abimelech the opportunity to make amends before he went too far and Abimelech's response to God shows his conviction in his rightful actions. Eventually, Abimelech makes the right choice and spares himself and his nation from God's wrath.
Obviously we as God's children do not always seek God's will before we act but God who is sovereign brings His will to pass regardless of the brokenness of the world and we can take comfort in that.
Also, we need to remember that God gives us opportunities to pray for one another and the prayers of a righteous man have much fruit. We are not righteous in ourselves but because of Jesus Christ who shed His blood on the cross as a payment for our sins.
In His Loving Service,
James 5:16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
If you would like to know about Jesus, then please click here.