“Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience…” vs. 6
Not too long ago our refrigerator was a bit out of tilt. I thought maybe we weren’t shutting the door tight or something was pushing against a door. I would go to get milk in the morning and it would be warmer than it should but not bad. I’d get frozen yogurt at night and it would be soft, and this wasn’t soft serve yogurt. Not good. I kept trying to figure what was wrong and then it dawned on me that the doors a bit tilted but I didn’t have the owner’s manual to look up how to fix it. We bought the refrigerator used and we didn’t get a manual but it is by far the best refrigerator I’ve ever owned and I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel on it. But I am a bit stubborn about hiring someone, especially when I think I can fix it myself. I was stumped for a bit until my wife suggested that I go on line and look up the manufacturer and see if the manual is on line. I hadn’t thought about that and so I went on line and the manufacturer had all the manuals for all their different models on line and they were easy to print out and follow. I felt a sense of pride and assurance about fixing the refrigerator. It is amazing how much is available on line. I was thinking back and quite a few years ago a trend started to help people be able to do things on their own. It was with those “Dummy” books; you know “Refrigerators for Dummies” and “Piano for Dummies” and Computer’s for Dummies” and the list goes on. It was a trend that gave people a sense of pride and accomplishment in being able to do some things on their own that maybe they never thought they could or would. So what can you fix by yourself? It would be really nice if everything had a Do-It-Yourself Dummy book that could get you through some of the most of the tough situations of life. “Oh, your have a relationship problem, follow these steps.” Your marriage is not working right? Follow these 6 easy steps. Let’s look at a story from Genesis 20 where Abraham used his own Do-It-Yourself fix-it plan.
Read Passage – Genesis 20
1 Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Then Abimelek king of Gerar sent for Sarah and took her. 3 But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” 4 Now Abimelek had not gone near her, so he said, “Lord, will you destroy an innocent nation? 5 Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.” 6 Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know you did this with a clear conscience, and so I have kept you from sinning against me. That is why I did not let you touch her. 7 Now return the man’s wife, for he is a prophet, and he will pray for you and you will live. But if you do not return her, you may be sure that you and all who belong to you will die.” 8 Early the next morning Abimelek summoned all his officials, and when he told them all that had happened, they were very much afraid. 9 Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said, “What have you done to us? How have I wronged you that you have brought such great guilt upon me and my kingdom? You have done things to me that should never be done.” 10 And Abimelek asked Abraham, “What was your reason for doing this?” 11 Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me because of my wife.’ 12 Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father thouh not of my mother; and she became my wife. 13 And when God had me wander from my father’s household, I said to her, ‘This is how you can show your love to me: Everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’” 14 Then Abimelek brought sheep and cattle and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham, and he returned Sarah his wife to him. 15 And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.” 16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.” 17 Then Abraham prayed to God, and God healed Abimelek, his wife and his female slaves so they could have children again, 18 for the LORD had kept all the women in Abimelek’s household from conceiving because of Abraham’s wife Sarah.
When Weakness Meets Threats
I went through an exercise this week in a pastor’s group I am in called S.W.O.T. You name three strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The speaker made the point that when our weaknesses confront perceived threats we can respond out of fear. I think that is where Abraham is in this story. He has a bit of a weakness when it comes to perceived threats. Now he is confronted by a man named Abimelek and he perceives him as a threat. This man of God who is known for his incredible faith He is so known for his faith that God makes sure it’s mentioned in the N.T. in Hebrews 11. And in top of that, he has a pretty good looking wife. From multiple passages we get the idea that she was pretty attractive. So he has some concern that others may try to kill him to get her. And that;’s where we are here in Genesis 20. So his response is to try to fix it himself and he does that by lying. Abraham’s solution to facing his fears is to respond with lies. Really he compromises his integrity.
There is another man here, Abimelek, Abimelek are two men going in tow different directions at this point. Abraham is thinking Abimelek is lacking integrity and that he cannot trust him. Isn’t it interesting that his response to his perceived lack of trust is to lie. When Abimelek finds out about the lie he says to him:
“Then Abimelek called Abraham in and said…You have done things to me that should never be done.” Vs. 9
Abimelek calls Abraham on the carpet here for his actions.
The sin is confronted here. This isn’t just a spur of the moment type of thing, this is something that Abraham had in place for a while and Sarah went along with it too. This was there plan B when they felt threatened and were in fear. Verse 1:
“Now Abraham moved on from there into the region of the Negev and lived between Kadesh and Shur. For a while he stayed in Gerar, 2 and there Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” Vs. 1
I think this begs the question “What do we do when we are faced with fear and threats and it seems like there is no way out? We confront sin daily and the steps we take, the reasoning we use has a lot to do with how we get through them.
The Limitless Resources of God
God’s gives us resources to help us; his resources are unlimited. But…we are not going to look to Abraham for our example today but to Abimelek. This story takes a twist on us and we aren’t looking to the man of faith but to the man who we might say has little faith if any.
The first resource we have is the ability to listen. Verse 3:
“But God came to Abimelek in a dream one night and said to him, “You are as good as dead because of the woman you have taken; she is a married woman.” Vs. 3
Like Abraham we think that people (mainly those we perceive to be ungodly) don’t recognize or hear God speaking to them. Remember when Abraham is confronted later by Abimelek what he says to him? Verse 11:
“Abraham replied, “I said to myself, ‘There is surely no fear of God in this place, and they will kill me…” vs. 11
In our story it is Abimelek that God speaks to and it is Abimelek that listens to God. We should recognize that God is speaking, all around us and we shouldn’t limit God as to when He speaks. Do you know how God speaks to you? Do you listen?
Ill. God speaks to me through my wife, my circumstances, my heart, his Word.
The challenge is for us to pay more attention to God and how and when He speaks to us.
- Living Right
A second resource is that Abimelek is living right so when he is confronted with the wrong thing, he recognizes it. I am not saying he was living like a believer, but he must have had a standard he lived by that was pretty high because he says to God that he has a clear conscience. Verse 5:
“Did he not say to me, ‘She is my sister,’ and didn’t she also say, ‘He is my brother’? I have done this with a clear conscience and clean hands.” Vs. 5
Many non-Christians live good and honest lives. When we live with high morals and standards, especially Godly standards, it is easier to recognize the things that are wrong.
Third he trusted.
“… and he (Abimilek) returned Sarah his wife to him.” Vs. 14
Abimelek could have chalked those dreams up to a bad night, or a something he ate, or even just blown it off because, after all, he is the king. He can do what he wants. He can have anything he wants. But when he finds out that Sarah is Abraham’s wife, he returns her. He trusted what God revealed to him. We can sometimes not believe God. He speaks and we say, “noh, that wans’t God,” or even’ “No, God doesn’t’ really want me to do that.” But Abimilek does trust God that what he told was truth.
- Take Action
And fourth, he didn’t just settle for the easy way out, he took action on it because he did trust what God said. Let’s clarify that a bit too. He took truthful action. And…he even went above and beyond what really needed to be done. Verse 15-16:
“And Abimelek said, “My land is before you; live wherever you like.” To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you…” Vs. 15-16
He gives Abraham and Sarah servants, cattle, sheep, etc. and makes sure they are taken care of. Most of us (myself I know for sure) would just be glad to get out of the situation. But Abimelek takes it a step further.
Moving Ahead With Confidence
Let me end with this: When we include God and use his resources, we can mve ahead with confidence. God blesses Abimelek as we see at the end of the passage by allowing his wfe and the women of his nation to again bear children.
Also, when it came to Abraham, this wasn’t his demise. God works in Abraham’s life despite his imperfections and in the midst of his sin. God can do that for you and I too. He is not limited but limitless. And He works all things out for his good.