Monday, September 22, 2008

Genesis 20:8-13 Misleading Half Truths Still Lies!

Genesis 20:8-13: Then Abimelech called Abraham and said to him, “What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” And Abimelech said to Abraham, “What have you encountered, that you have done this thing?” And Abraham said, “Because I thought, surely there is no fear of God in this place; and they will kill me because of my wife. Besides, she actually is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife; and it came about, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said to her, ‘This is the kindness which you will show to me: everywhere we go, say of me, “He is my brother.”’”

Abimelech gets the word from God as to what he has to do and he acts. He summons Abraham and asks, “What have you done to me and my kingdom? How could you let me sin against you? How could you allow such a sin to be brought on me and my people through your lying?”

Now here’s the next line that I really like: “You have done to me things that ought not to be done.” What did Abimelech mean? Did he mean Abraham should not have lied to him? Did he mean Abraham should not have lied in such a way that allowed Abimelech to take Sarah not knowing she was Abraham’s wife? Did he mean he should not be sleeping with another man’s wife? We don’t know but we do know that all of the questions could be answered as follows. Abimelech should not have slept with Sarah and thankfully God did not allow it. That would have stemmed from the fact that Abraham should not have deceived Abimelech. And in turn that would not have happened if Abraham had not lied. We can always work backwards from our troubles to the basic sin causing them. In this case, it was the lie of Abraham.

But Abimelech probes a little further. As a king, it appears he was wise enough to know that Abraham must have had a reason for lying. He asks him, “What have you encountered that caused you to lie to me?” What are you afraid of Abraham? Did we treat you unfairly? Did we threaten you? Why did you lie?

And then Abraham’s response is rather lame. He tells Abimelech that he thought because Abimelech and his people were not worshippers of the true God, they would likely kill him in order to get his wife for themselves. Abraham does two things here worthy of note. First, he makes assumptions perhaps with some valid reasons, but no real proof. We need to be careful not to make such assumptions whether it be about circumstances or about people. We need to do our homework well and try to ascertain truth in all matters. That principle should be applied to all aspects of our life, including church life and how we deal with other believers.

The second thing that Abraham does here is that his primary concern is himself. He didn’t want to be killed. This wasn’t about Sarah or her protection. When we become selfish in our thoughts and actions, we always tend to make a mess of things especially for the number one person we care about most – ourself.

Then Abraham embarks on his own defense and justification that perhaps he had not really lied, for after all, Sarah he said, “actually is my sister.” Nice try Abraham, but she’s still you’re wife and the issue was not about whether Abimelech could have your sister, but that he could not have someone’s wife. And you knew that, Abraham.

And if that isn’t enough, Abraham tells Abimelech that he had planned this lie with Sarah so that she would support him in saying, “He is my brother.” Abraham was not only prepared to lie, but he got his wife to lie as well. It’s one thing for us to sin, it is somehow a graver offense I believe to cause someone else to sin. We need to be careful that we not cause others to sin because of our own selfishness or any other reason.

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