This is our Podcast. We're a Bible believing Church meeting at Barncroft Primary School, Havant, Hampshire, UK
Please note: we had technical problems in the audio recording for this study
After the destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah (which Abraham would have observed at a distance), Abraham ups and goes to the land of the Philistines, and spends a year or more with Abimelech. Once again, Abraham omits to mention Sarah is his wife, for fear he might be killed because of her beauty. Proverbs 29: 25 tells us that fear of man brings a snare!
Seemingly, despite the promises and assurances God had given him, to bless and prosper him (“I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” – Genesis 12:2-3) – Abraham had become more focussed on the current circumstances and allowed them to take his eyes of his Lord. We do the same! What makes God’s promises so ‘exceedingly great and precious’ is that it's God who gives them. But if we forget, if we allow the ‘present sufferings’ to cloud our minds, we don't have the peace that comes from knowing the glory that shall be revealed in us (seeRomans 8:18).
It wasn’t wrong to say Sarah was his sister, but it's wrong to hide the fact that she is his wife! Abraham had allowed the ‘covering’ that he should have been for his wife to be removed. Something he shouldn't have done.
Dr Bill Cooper points out in ‘The Authenticity of Genesis’, the discovery of the Nuzi tablets have shed some interesting insight on the actions of Abraham in the chapter. There existed at this time a law whereby a woman could be made both a sister and a wife – thereby elevating her status. As Bill Cooper states: “such legal transactions were a newly-established feature of the law which governed much of Mesopotamia where Abraham and his forebears came from. This is why the pharaoh was flummoxed by it, as Egypt knew no such provision; and so was Abimelech or Gerar, a Philistine king. Thier puzzlement was doubtless due to the comparative novelty of the sister-wife law at that time, again attesting to the antiquity of these events. But it also explains why Abraham was sent away from both kings loaded with gifts. Abraham, no doubt, was able to demonstrate his lawful integrity by the presentation of the contracts under which Sarah had become first his sister, and then his wife, even as Isaac would have been able to do at a later date. Kings who discover that they been duped by a rascal, do not usually send him away the richer for his lies. He’d be lucky to escape with his life!”
What is the real point?
Abraham’s time with Abimelech ended up serving an object lesson for Abraham and Sarah. The result of Abraham’s omission that Sarah is his wife led to Abimelech taking Sarah into his harem. The result being God closed up the wombs of Abimelech’s wife, his maidservants and of the other women ‘in his house’. When everything came to light – probably after three months of Abraham being there – God told Abraham to pray for Abimelech and God opened their wombs that they conceived.
The lesson is simple but profound: God can open closed wombs! God promised to do his part for Abraham and Sarah and bless them with a son, but they needed to do their part! Surely it's no coincidence that after this demonstration of God’s miracle working power that Sarah conceived, and 9 months later gave birth to Isaac! Sometimes God uses circumstances around us to get our attention back on to Him, and remind us He is able!
Filetype: MP3 - Size: 10.97MB - Duration: 46:33 m (32 kbps 44100 Hz)