Simply the Bible Blog

Daily Devotion and Podcast

Genesis 20 “Abraham and Abimelech”

“Whatever possessed you to do such a thing?”

Genesis 20:10 (NLT)

Bad habits are hard to break. Our brains form patterns of behavior, and it requires great effort to break out of the rut. I used to have a nightly routine of eating my favorite breakfast cereal before going to bed. But then I started gaining weight. I heard that it is best not to eat past 8:00 pm, so I made the effort to break the habit. It wasn’t easy, and I still am tempted to snack before going to bed. But now I rarely eat cereal a night.

Today we see that Abraham had a bad habit that was difficult for him to break. When God first called Abraham to leave his father’s household and go to a place that He would show him, Abraham made a pact with Sarah:

“Do me a favor. Wherever we go, tell the people that I am your brother.”

Genesis 20:13 (NLT)

Somehow I can’t imagine that line going over so well with my wife! Why did Abraham say this? He wanted to protect his own skin. Because Sarah was so beautiful Abraham was afraid that if the Canaanites knew Sarah was his wife, they would kill him and take her. He did the same thing when they went down to Egypt, and Pharaoh took Sarah into his harem. When he later discovered that she was Abraham’s wife, he told Abraham to take Sarah and get out of town! Now Abraham repeated the lie with Abimelech of the Philistines. This lapse of faith endangered Sarah and Isaac with whom she was probably pregnant.

Abimelech would not have known unless God intervened.

“But that night God came to Abimelech in a dream and told him, ‘You are a dead man, for that woman you have taken is already married!’”

Genesis 20:3 (NLT)

Abimelech wasted no time in confronting Abraham.

“‘What have you done to us?’ he demanded. ‘What crime have I committed that deserves treatment like this, making me and my kingdom guilty of this great sin? No one should ever do what you have done! Whatever possessed you to do such a thing?’”

Genesis 20:9–10 (NLT)

Abimelech is like many “good” people in this world. He had integrity of heart and innocence of hands. In fact, he behaved better than Abraham. Nevertheless, a death sentence hung over his head. God required that Abraham intercede for him so that he would be forgiven.

This story teaches us two things. First, we see that God’s people are not perfect. Sadly, there are people in the world who act better than many Christians. Second, even though people may have integrity of heart and innocence of hands, they still need an intercessor to be forgiven of their sins. Our intercessor is Jesus Christ who has satisfied the righteous requirements of God on our behalf at the cross. We all have a death sentence hanging over our heads until we receive His grace and forgiveness by trusting in Him.

It seems that after this ordeal Abraham finally learned his lesson and broke the habit of lying to protect himself. Maybe he realized that people in the world weren’t as wicked as he assumed. Hopefully, we don’t require such drastic means to repent of our bad habits!

Listen to the complete podcast

Photo by Sean Mungur on Unsplash

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