Abraham does it again! He passes off his wife as his sister to protect himself. Boomerang sin. One that he engaged in before and it came back to him so he could do it again.
After all that has happened in his relationship with God, he still does a CYA move. After passing Sarai off to the Egyptians as his sister. After God rescued her from this lie. After telling Abram that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars. After the huge sacrifice offered to God. After changing both Abram and Sarai’s names. After telling Abraham that Sarah would have a child in ONE YEAR. After rescuing Lot and judging the valley. Abraham once again lies to protect himself.
He finds himself in a similar situation as in Egypt, and instead of trying a different approach, he tries out the same behavior that got him into trouble the first time; boomerang sin.
It is interesting that Sarah is 90 years old and still turning heads. More than twenty years earlier Abraham had felt threatened by her beauty and what others would do to him in order to acquire her. He still feels this fear at her current age. I wonder what beauty treatments she was using. Women of today would spend a FORTUNE to know her secret! Maybe it was all in her genes.
I’m also curious to know why Abraham started wandering again. He is still within the boundaries of what will eventually become Israel but now he comes in contact with another group of people. Was he trying to distance himself from the valley that God just judged? Was he trying to get out of sight range of it? He saw the smoldering valley the day after it happened. Was that too much for his heart to bear? Did God let him know that Lot was safe? Or did he think Lot had died along with the rest of the people. He certainly knew at that point that God couldn’t even find ten righteous men in Sodom.
Whatever the reason for Abraham being there, he fell back into old habits. He relied on his own schemes to care for his family. Actually he wasn’t even protecting his family, he was watching out for his own skin. He wasn’t trusting God in this situation. He wasn’t even asking God what to do at this point.
This should have been an exciting year for Abraham. This was the year Sarah would give him a son. Is it possible that Sarah was already pregnant when Abraham told those in Gerar AND Abimelech personally that she was his sister? Was she a mother of nations when Abimelech took her as his wife? Oh Abraham what did you do?!
Praise God! He was still watching out for this little band. HE kept Abimelech from having relations with this beautiful woman who was supposedly free of entanglements. HE warned Abimelech about the situation before it could go any farther. HE protected Sarah’s fidelity even though her husband didn’t, nor did she. Either one of them could have spoken up and ended this farce, but they were too afraid to. How had they both missed that God was truly on their side?! Did they not even think back to what happened in Egypt and how God had intervened then?
God passed judgement on Abimelech for this sin. I’m wondering again why Abraham got off scot free for his part in this. If I were God, he would have been called on the carpet for his behavior. But that’s probably part of why I’m not God. I have a feeling my “judgements” wouldn’t be any more consistent than Abraham’s behaviors. I repeat the same sins I have brought to Him before and still ask AGAIN for forgiveness. But why are we not told that Abraham repented EITHER time? Did he? Or because this was a partial truth, did he have to? I think he should have, but then again I’m not God.
“What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom this great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done” (verse 9). Abimelech lays the fault right at Abraham’s feet. But he also acknowledges that the sin is his own too. He did take another man’s wife to be his own. He is not denying that. He wants to know why Abraham set it in motion in the first place. “What did I ever do to you to be treated this way?”
Abraham’s answer is the same as it was in Egypt. He was afraid that because his wife was so beautiful that he would be killed to make her a widow and eligible for marriage. Something that one of his great great great grandsons will do later on. Here though, Abraham tells us why his statement isn’t really a lie. Sarah is his half-sister. Also this was something they had agreed to do from the beginning. I wonder if the people living near Beersheba had heard this story. Did they believe it? If so, did they continue to believe it after living in close proximity to them for so long? Did they have to share the truth with them to explain how the “sister” was going into the “brother’s” tent at night or vice versa?
Abimelech accepted all the responsibility for making the situation right. He gave gifts to Abraham and told him that he could live anywhere he wanted to. He also paid for Sarah’s innocence. Then Abraham interceded with God on behalf of Abimelech.
Was part of Abraham’s prayer for Abimelech a prayer for forgiveness for himself too? I’m wondering how long Abimelech’s household had been stricken with barrenness. Was his taking Sarah as his wife initially an effort to break that cycle in his household? Boy was he barking up the wrong tree if so! She had been barren for all of her years and only now was promised a child through Abraham, NOT Abimelech. They couldn’t have been with them very long because of the angel’s promise about Sarah having a child the next year. Or did Abimelech even realize that his household had been stricken with barrenness? BOTH households would bear children after Abraham’s prayer.
Everything worked out in the end, so one might be tempted to say “All’s well that ends well.” But that’s not necessarily true. So many things could have been avoided if Abraham had just told the truth. He could have proved his faith in God’s promises. Later on when he offers Isaac back to God, he trusted in His promises. So why didn’t he trust God during this portion? Did his faith make a GIANT leap when Isaac was born? We know his faith was great enough to take God at His word when He showed him the stars. Where did that faith go in the face of this situation? GOD rebuilt it again! But not until after Abraham showed how far he had fallen.
God never gave up on him, even in the face of all his failures. What an AMAZING God!!!
Father God, I honestly have no room to judge Abraham. I have made MANY more mistakes than are recorded for him in You word. These probably aren’t the only mistakes that he made either but they are enough for me to learn from. What I’ve learned from them is Your faithfulness. You made a covenant, not a contract, with Abraham. And in a covenant, even when one side is unfaithful to the terms, the other side still holds true to them. THANK YOU GOD for that distinction!
Our relationship is one of covenant too. It is a blood covenant sealed with Jesus’ blood. That doesn’t free me to act in any manner I choose but it gives me security for when I stumble and fall. You won’t abandon me for my mistakes any more than You abandoned Abraham for his. You corrected him and his mistakes but You didn’t remove Your promises or Your hand from his life. Did You deal with his heart personally over this sin? You don’t have to tell me; I was just wondering. Probably like one child wonders if the other got in trouble too for their part. It’s between a father and his child and The Father and His child.
Thank You for loving me enough to call me out on my behaviors. Thank You for also putting Abraham’s behaviors out there for me. Without seeing the “heroes of the faith” stumble I wouldn’t have any hope for my life. I Love You Lord and I want to make You proud of me. Help me stop falling into pits of my own and my own making. Help me recognize what I’m doing to our relationship when I start to engage in one of my “boomerang” sins.