A Daily Genesis

Genesis 20:4-8

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[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:4a . . Now Abimelech had not approached her.[/B]

It wasn't unusual in the ancient world for new additions to a harem to undergo a period of beautification; like Esther did. But I think something else happened. God may have tampered with Abimelech's ability to breed. In verse 17 it's revealed that God fixed it so no one in Abimelech's house could have children, including him. Do I have to spell it out? Hint: the problem can sometimes be remedied with Viagra; which wasn't available in that day.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:4b . . He said: O Lord, will You slay people even though innocent?[/B]

There is an important principle in play here; and it's this: ignorance is no excuse. Though Abimlech wasn't aware of that principle; God was and saved the man's life by stopping him before he inadvertently crossed a line. Compare Num 15:27-29 where Israel's covenanted law stipulates that even when people sin inadvertently they have to bring a sin offering to the Levites.

"Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults." (Ps 19:12)

The "secret faults" about which the psalmist prayed weren't skeletons in his closet; but rather, sins about which he was totally unaware.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:5 . . He himself said to me "She is my sister" and she also said "He is my brother." When I did this, my heart was blameless and my hands were clean.[/B]

I can just about guarantee that Abimelech is developing a very strong dislike for the Abrahams right about now. He knew of Abraham's prosperity and about his skill in war. But what he hadn't known till now was that Abraham could be a bit dishonest at times. You can bet that really ticked Abimelech off. He just never expected a man like Abraham to pull a stunt like that. And the wife was in on it too! They were like grifters setting up a mark for a sting. That had to agitate the old boy just a bit; don't you think?

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:6 . . And God said to him in the dream: I knew that you did this with a blameless heart, and so I kept you from sinning against Me. That was why I did not let you touch her.[/B]

If Abimelech had touched Sarah, God would have taken it very personal. Those kinds of sins are the very worst because it's one thing to appear in court for stealing a car, but it's quite another to appear for stealing the judge's car. In other words: a sin against God is a trespass rather than just an ordinary act of conduct unbecoming.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:7a . .Therefore, restore the man's wife-- since he is a prophet, he will intercede for you --to save your life. If you fail to restore her, know that you shall die, you and all that are yours.[/B]

This is the Bible's very first appearance of a prophet; which in Hebrew is [I]nabiy'[/I] (naw-bee') and simply means an inspired man; viz: a man influenced, moved, and/or guided by a divine connection.

Abraham wasn't the first of God's inspired men. The earliest was Abel. (Luke 11:50-51)

There's no record of Abraham ever foretelling future events like Isaiah and Habakkuk. So then, just because someone is inspired doesn't necessarily mean they're some sort of prognosticator.

Divine inspiration is a very mysterious thing. People can be inspired and not even know it because God's influence is paranormal, and impossible to detect with the five natural senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Every Christian is supposed to be inspired (1Cor 2:11-15, 1Cor 12:7, 1John 2:26-27) which makes an inspired Bible teacher's job a whole lot easier.

This is also the very first place in the whole Bible where the word "intercede" appears. Webster's defines it as: to intervene between parties with a view to reconciling their differences; viz: mediate.

When you stop to think about it; mediation between God and Man by a human being is quite remarkable. It implies that the human being who mediates has to first be at peace with God or they would be in need of a mediator themselves before they could mediate for someone else (cf. Gal 6:1).

I think it goes without saying, that mediators, then, have to be righteous first before they can qualify as candidates for the activity. This section in Genesis says a lot about Abraham's standing before God in spite of his bad habit of lying about Sarah.

Who mediated for Abraham in those days? There's but one textual possibility and that's Mr. Melchizedek, the priest of the Most High God back in chapter 14.

But I don't think Abimelech was much impressed with Abraham's inspiration. The man was now a proven liar; and lost whatever credibility he might have once had in Gerar.

"Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking smell: so does a little folly him that is in reputation for wisdom and honor." (Ecc 10:1)

However, do you think Abimelech needed to be told twice? No way. He got on it lickety split at first light. But not because he feared Abraham. No, because he feared Abraham's god. Maybe Abraham's word was no good; but his god's word certainly was and Abimelech really took it to heart.

[B][COLOR=#ff0000]†. [/COLOR]Gen 20:8a . . Early next morning, Abimelech called his servants and told them all that had happened;[/B]

Under normal circumstances Abimelech probably wouldn't have bothered to tell them what was going on. But since they were all in the same boat as he, and all inflicted with the same reproductive malady, I think he felt they deserved an explanation. I think he also wanted to set their minds at ease about their condition so they would know it wasn't permanent if only they sent Sarah back to her husband; a move which they would certainly question if he didn't give them a reason why.
[COLOR=#ff0000]†.[/COLOR] Gen 20:8b . . and the men were greatly frightened.[/B]

They had good reason to be frightened. God gave them a token that He meant business by tampering with their ability to breed. So they knew something serious was afoot and that their king's nightmares weren't just bad dreams brought on by cheap Russian vodka tainted with fallout from Chernobyl.

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